Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Let's all do our part, and save a few bucks in the meantime

I suppose it's bad to encourage Californians to conserve resources and reduce personal spending in the midst of our "crisis." But, as I'm so often fond of saying, the economic shits come and go, but our planet is here to stay, so I've compiled a list of ways to reduce consumption of resources at home and in the office. Best of all, I think all my ideas are both simple and easy. Like a good hair color in a box.

1. Ditch paper towels. Alrighty, I suppose it's pretty nerdy to walk around with a dish cloth at your side. But if something spills on your kitchen table, give a reusable towel a try instead of tree-eating paper ones. (I've learned to carry around a cloth towel with me at all times because the photo lab very intelligently does not stock paper towels, and it's not a good idea to rub your chemical-soaked hands on your adorable stretch [96% cotton, 4% spandex] jeans.)

2. BYO Bag. At the grocery store or student store or drug store or pet store, bring along a canvas bag, your backpack, or re-use a grocery bag. Most establishments will even give you a five cent discount for using your own bags. Ooohhhhh! That's enough to buy a Bazooka Joe.

3. Read the Squelch. Okay, I admit this in itself won't do squat to conserve resources. But, after you are done enjoying the latest issue of irreverant and clever hilarity as dished out by Cal's most talented and physically attractive writers, and of course if you don't save one copy of every issue for archival purposes, recycle the magazine, pass it along to a friend (especially a friend who doesn't go to Cal or who's under 18), or give it back to us (just slide it under our door on the third floor of Eschleman).

4. Shop at thrift stores. This is a swell way to not directly consume resources or feed sweat shops. (You can argue there's an indirect demand created. But only very indirectly.) Plus the styles are always original and less expensive. If you shop at a non-profit thrift store like the Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul's (on San Pablo & University), you're helping to give people jobs and support humanitarian efforts.

5. Only wash your hair every other day. Or every other week, if that's your game. I'm not saying cut off showering altogether, but washing your hair half as often will help greatly reduce your water consumption. You'll save some money on your gas and water bill, plus spend half as much on shampoo and conditioner. And let's not forget that everyone looks 15% more sultry and mysterious when he or she sports a slightly greasey 'do.

6. Scratch paper! This one is especially good at the workplace. I have a nice 9 to 5 (or 10 to 3:30, or 12 to 5, depending) in a non-profit office, and you wouldn't believe how much paper these tools use each day. People writing each other useless notes on Post-Its when they could just as easily communicate it with their voice. I like it when I get a piece of paper, and there's a big Post-It on it that says "5 copies," and the person giving it to me usually also tells me to make 5 copies. What a waste! And if you must write a note, you can do it on scratch paper; just dig through the recycle bin in your office to reap bounties of prefectly re-usable copy paper that's only been spoiled on one side. Also make double-sided copies whenever you can.

7. Cut back on the meat. Vegetarianism and veganism are about more than just animal rights; it also just so happens that the average American onmnivore diet requires eleven (!!!) times the water, chemicals, fertilizer, transport and other resources than your average vegan diet. That's because when you eat an animal (or an animal's byproducts) you are also necessitating the production of all the grain that the lil' pig or chicken or cow or monkey ate. You loose 90% of the food energy in plants when you feed them to animals and turn them into meat. Pretty inefficient. Anyhow, you don't even need to give up meat or milk or eggs completely; like all conservation efforts, just doing a little at a time adds up to big results. Plus you'll help lower your cholesterol, and lower your chances of colon cancer and heart disease. Everybody wins! (Excpet the pig farmers.)

Alright, I hope you find my suggestions easy and fun. God speed, all you little-bit-at-a-time conservationists in the world!


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