Category Archives: Conserve

To Read or to E-Read?

I have loved reading ever since I can remember. As a kid I sometimes even preferred it to playing with friends. My fondness for books hasn’t diminished as I’ve grown up, although the way I read books has changed.

I now read most books on my Kindle. Why? Because it’s light and because I can have all my books with me at anytime. And because it remembers the last page of all the four books I am reading at a time. But most importantly because it saves paper, and that means it saves trees.

A lot of people tell me they can’t imagine reading books on a device like a Kindle since they would miss the touch and the feel of the paper. Well, do we still send people letters and snail mail? We use email because it’s faster, more convenient and more efficient.

Physical books are actually quite inefficient – how many times do you really re-read most books you buy anyway? Books require paper (and thus trees), chemicals for the ink, electricity for printing and then are transported over long distances. You then sit in a car (or public transport) and go to the bookstore to buy them. Whereas an e-book requires only a fraction of that energy to retrieve it from the servers of the website you buy it from.

At the end of the day, the important question we need to ask ourselves is where we would rather have our trees – gathering dust in our homes on bookshelves or out in the open where they can actually have a positive impact spreading shade, capturing CO2 and maintaining healthy ecosystems?

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23. That’s the number of languages in the instruction manual that came along with my toaster and hairdryer. 4 of the 43 pages were intelligible to me – 2 in German and another 2 in English. And I am probably never going to reread those 2 pages on how my toaster works.

We live in multilingual world. But surely there’s no need for a product I bought in Germany to have a manual written in Chinese and Arabic – someone living here speaks/understands either German or English. Maybe companies don’t want to have to deal with having different manuals printed for different regions. Would it take a big effort for the companies to change this? Probably. Is worth the effort? Definitely. And in the end, they’ll stand to gain from it – by saving costs on paper, printing as well as by shipping lighter weights.

So, is it laziness on the part of corporations or regulatory bureaucracy that is resulting in wastage of paper, printing and shipping energy? I am not sure. What I am sure of, though, is that it needs to be changed.

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Message in a bottle

Ever heard of the expression ‘Selling ice cubes to an Eskimo?’ We might laugh at it, but that’s exactly what Nestle, Evian, Aquafina, Bisleri, etc. are doing when they get us to buy bottled water. It’s funny  how we let these companies bottle up this building block of life, which is, and should remain essentially free.

What most of us don’t realize though, is that by consuming bottled water, we are actually helping these very companies ensure that we increasingly depend upon them for the drop of life. Here’s how:

– Approximately 1500 bottles end up in land fills and the ocean……every second.

2,500,000 tons of a carbon dioxide was produced in the manufacturing of the plastic bottles each year.

– There’s an area estimated to be the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is basically a swirling mass of plastic trash.

– About 272 billion liters of water are consumed each year, worldwide, just to make the empty bottles.

In most cases, the water coming out of your tap is good enough for you to drink. If not, installing a simple water purifier or water filter will ensure that. Der Dopper and Hydros are two social enterprises helping spread the message with their re-usable water bottles. So let’s all be a little smarter about our choices – avoid plastic when you can. If you know you’re going to require water when outside, why not pack a bottle of water from home?

Still not convinced? What is EVIAN spelled backwards?