When the discussion of waste comes up, the first thing on everybody’s mind is TRASH. Plastics, papers, metals, food and all sorts of other garbage. With all of the emphasis on recycling and landfills other types of waste get shoved under the rug. What I’m talking about is the energy and water we waste all day every day.
We use energy in almost every activity we engage in which includes watching TV, listening to music, even having a light on to read a book. Living in Ohio, I find myself (and my roommates) constantly fluctuating the dial for the thermostat to a livable temperature. This act of heating our houses is most likely one of the largest contributors to the energy we use throughout the months. I also constantly find that my roommates will leave lights on during the night, so I’ve formed an unwelcomed habit of waking up in the middle of the night to flip the lights off.
The difference between the waste of garbage and the waste of energy and water is that garbage is very tangible. Week by week you collect all of the trash you’ve used, bag it up, and take it outside to forget about. The waste you’ve used is in your hands, it builds up right in front of you (especially if you’ve missed a trash day).
Energy and water are completely different in this respect. You brush your teeth as the water comes out of the faucet, into your home, and as quickly as it came, it’s gone. The same goes with washing dishes, or taking a shower. Could you imagine how much less water we would be willing to use if we had to physically gather it up and dispose of it ourselves? My bet is that we would use far less. Energy usage is even further from our minds than water. This electricity we use comes from non-renewable sources such as coal and oil. There is a disconnect between what is being put into the light switch, and the effect the light switch has. We do not think about how much coal we are wasting when we turn on the TV, or when we crank up the heat in the house. Each and every one of us has to do our part in reducing all of this waste.
What I suggest, is to limit the waste of this precious energy to the minimum you are able to handle. This means turning down the heat in your house or (heaven forbid) turning it off completely. Grab a blanket if it’s too cold, or dress heavier. Not only will this fatten up your wallet for the electricity bill, but you’ll be wasting far less energy from coal and oil at the same time.
We’ve all heard this tactic, but when you brush your teeth turn off the water until you need to rinse the toothbrush. A common practice in Spain has you wet yourself in the shower, turn off the water, wash yourself, and turn the water back on to rinse yourself. We have to start thinking about similar ideas to cut back on the countless amounts of waste we produce in our daily lives.
For more ideas, check out Worldwatch.org. Even if it’s just a little bit, over time the effects will be much more beneficial.