Thursday, July 19, 2007

10 Little things I do to try to respect the environment

The funny thing is that the vast majority of them also allow me to save money. So, I wonder why not everybody do that. Mostly unawareness I guess, but also lack of care unfortunately. Or is it the other way around?

1. I stash a little stock of bags in my car, so that when I go grocery shopping I can reuse them and don't get new ones that will end up in the environment. At the same time, I teach the cashier not to give away too many plastic bags.
This is a photo of a tree that is located downwind of the Maui landfill. It doesn't look too happy, and I'm sure the birds that used to nest on it aren't happy either.

Now, that is one of the few trees that are on the road downwind of the Maui landfill. One wonders... what happens to the other plastic bags that don't end up stuck in those trees? Well, if you know Maui geography, it's easy to guess that they will sooner or later end up in the downwind waters of Kihei and Maalaea and do even more damage.

This is the site where I found that photo (that makes me sick in my stomach...): read it and see how you will feel next time you get plastic bags at your grocery store.

2. I try to keep all the electric appliances at a minimum when at home. In six years that I've been in Maui, I think I used the drier once or twice (in very rainy weeks). Otherwise, I do it the way I always did in Italy (there's NO driers AT ALL over there): I put my clothes on a line and let the sun dry them. Guess what? My clothes last a lot longer too!

3. I shut down all eletrical appliances when not at home. Here in the States, there's a horrible habit of leaving on lights, fans, computers, a/c, radios, ect. in houses and offices. There should be fines for that.

4. I own a 4 cylinders, manual shift, small engine car that does 33 miles per gallon (up to 35 lately!!). Compared to european cars it still sucks, but for here it's pretty good. How come a super technologically advanced country like the US doesn't make efficient cars? Maybe because the automobile industry and the gas companies have strong lobbies in the government? Most businesses can write the money for buying a large SUV/truck off their taxes...
And how come a large number of Americans proudly own 6 or 8 cylinders, 3 liters or bigger engine, huge SUVs/trucks? I'd say a mix of brain wash from tv commercials and lack of awareness. In most cases though, they just don't give a fuck about the environment.
This guy is so proud, he even wrote it on the plate!

5. I reuse stuff as much as I can. For example, since I spend quite some time at the beach, I always need to have two plastic bottles filled with water in my backpack.
I have personally installed a reverse hosmosis water filter at home, so that I can refill my two bottles as many times as I want. Doing so, I also save money (big time) compared to buying new water bottles every time.
Now, is refilling water plastic bottles safe for your health? That's one of the things I couldn't really find a clear answer on the internet... oh well, at least I'm eventually doing something bad to myself, not to a defenseless turtle.

6. If I can't reuse, I recycle. Thank god a couple of years ago they introduced the 5c cash back when recycling beer bottles and cans in Hawaii too, so that more people would be motivated to recycle. Actually, what I noticed is that most rich people keep don't giving a fuck, but now at least there's hords of poor/homeless people digging in the trash that do the job in order to make a few bucks...

7. Whenever possible I pick up trash, especially from beaches. I've always done that while teaching at Kanaha, but since I saw the movie "Hawaii a message in the waves", I try to do it everywhere. I love nature and animals and I just can't stand the thought that all that trash will eventually kill a bird or a fish or a turtle.

8. I use rechargable batteries.

9. I try to teach people to respect the environment. Hopefully this post will do better than my individual little efforts.
Especially if you guys will add your suggestions too. And, for this specific post, I kindly ask you to do so using my new forum, instead of the comments. In that way, the discussion can go on for longer. Here's the forum address again:

10. The last one is a quite generic one: I try to live as naturally as I can. Let me try to explain this.
The nature is an amazing self-adjusting wonderful system. I've been watching a really killer documentary lately (BBC's Planet Heart available also in DVDs) and two things appear clearly:
a) all animals act driven by the survival instinct that allowed them to evolve and survive for millions of years
b) the humans are the only species that has deviated from this natural course.
Thanks to our gift (can we really call it a gift?) of some kind of intelligence (questionable in most cases), we have been able to develop habits that are far from being natural. As a conseguence of this, at the same time we are also destroying the environment and that is a fact that, unfortunately, not many people of the western countries know well enough yet. I would recommend the vision of Al Gore's "An inconvenient truth" for a heads-up on the still incredibly UNDERESTIMATED global warming issue. Here's a photo of the Vorab glacier in Switzterland that they are trying to save from melting covering it with a huge blanket...

Back to my point: what I noticed is that the most naturally I live (and by that I mean following my natural instincts), the less I pollute and viceversa. I could list hundreds of examples. But I'm going to list a few very basic ones, just to give you an idea.
I pollute less if I eat a fresh tomato rather than one in a can.
I pollute less if I choose not to smoke a cigarette.
I pollute less if I choose to walk instead of taking my car (whenever possible, of course).
And the great thing is that by doing so I'm also healthier! Most of the human diseases, in fact, are caused by society induced behaviors.

So, my final message here is to try to live according to your natural instincts.
Unfortunately, in the western world, those have mostly been overrun by the desire to own an SUV...

How pathetic.



Lano said...

All good points GP, If everyone that reads this blog takes just a few of these points and applies them to their lives, it WILL make a difference.
We like you, are totally against plastic bags. Australians are now catching onto this as well and the supermarkets and delis are now selling envirobags, They cost a dollar each, but are very sturdy and you reuse them each time you go shopping. We also use them for going away, great for food, clothes, windsurfing gear etc....
We too have a four cylinder cars, unfortunately we have to have two cars as we live in the hills and my job requires me to drive around town a bit. We used to have only one car, running on LPG, saved us heaps of cash and was better for the environment, but we are now stuck between a rock and a hard place and have to have the two cars.
We have an open plan house that is quite cool in Summer, but very cold in winter and I would say that we use most of our energy heating the house. I encourage the girls to rug up, put the trackies and slippers on to keep warm instead of using the heater or combustion stove, but 3 degrees is pretty cold..

Great post GP....keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Photo of the turtle is as sickening as the car....

cammar said...

Thanks guys for the comments and thanks Lim for the question on the forum.
BTW, I just changed point 8 (going to sleep and waking up early fall into point 10) with an easier to achieve use of rechargable batteries...

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a little bit late for this? You seem like a terminal cancer patient, fretting about smoking one more cigarette. The horse is long gone. Closing the barn door does make no difference now. Even if you could get everyone to listen and follow your example, Cammar, this would not undo the damage already done. It's a tragedy, for sure. All you could do is prolong the inevitable. Unless you believe in miracles. Like, for example, an extra-terrestrial alien intervention, that cleans up the planet with unknown technology. Not likely. Enjoy life, my friend, and, if it makes you feel better to whistle in the dark, have at it, but understand, all you are doing is whistling in the dark, no matter how many others you can convince to join you in whisling your self-congratulatory righteous virtuous tune. Deeds divorced from effects are senseless and insane.

cammar said...

There's a discussion about this subject going on the forum.
post all comments over there so that everybody can benefit.

Anonymous said...

From Maui Weekly - recommendations for how to save trees can be found in the original - click here:

* A forest area the size of 20 football fields is lost every minute to paper production (

* Of the global wood harvest for “industrial uses” (everything but fuelwood) 42 percent goes to paper production, a proportion expected to grow by more than 50 percent in the next 50 years (“Paper Cuts,” WorldWatch Institute 1999).

* 12 billion magazines are published each year, and more than 95 percent of the magazine paper produced contains no recycled content (“Turning the Page: Environmental Impacts of Magazine Production and Recommendations for Improvement,” The PAPER Project).

My personal take on why does this matter:

- Forests are the lungs of the planet - they fixate CO2 (greenhouse gas).

- Forests provide habitat to myriads of species.

- Trees are pretty.

cammar said...

Anonymous and More gim facts, I copied you comments on the forum.
I'm just curious... why you guys didn't post them on the forum directly?
Is it the registration process?

Fernando said...


I do quite the same, I´m trying to reach your level.