Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eco Conscious?

We bumped into our friends on “Nomad Life” while we were in Malaysia. We hadn’t seen them in a year or so, since we were in the Pacific. While they were over on Toboggan for happy hour (evening drinks), Graham stated “cruising has changed him permanently”.

He has become “environmentally conscious”. When he goes back to work, he will naturally conserve power and water and other resources, in a way he can’t imagine he would have before. Graham explains that we each know our daily consumption of liters of fresh water, of amp/hours of electric power, of liters of petrol and diesel, sheets of paper towel, etc. etc. etc. Since we don’t take our boats to marinas, where we can’t plug in to power, water, fuel, and we don’t have easy access to loading and unloading groceries and other goods. We all of our goods and resources are purchased on shore, carried to the sea side, put it in our dingy and transported back to our boat which is always at anchor. It takes a lot of time and energy. It’s a pain in the back, because it’s all quite heavy. So we Count and Carry every resource we need.

We conserve the resources in what we would have once thought were ridiculous ways. When we wash dishes, they are first cleaned in salt water from the ocean, then cleaned in the least possible fresh water. Our shower water is first measured into a solar shower bag before use. When we take a ‘bath”, we use about a cup of water since it is actually just a wipe down with a soapy wet wash cloth.

Our digital monitor stares us down all day telling us our consumption and production of electricity. No standard 60 watt light bulbs here. To read at night, I use an LED lamp that uses power measured in the milliamps. I shudder every time I see Nancy turn on the toaster, and see the power monitor surge. Is that part of what it takes to be Environmentally Conscious? Do you need to carry it, measure it, and monitor it to understand how much of it is actually wasted?

We never meant to concern ourselves with such things, but it’s a way we have chosen to live for the moment.

While Graham goes on with his storey, I have another drink and start to dream about the good old days. The BMW luxury car, our nice furniture and art glass, spacious home, fresh drinking water out of the tap. Yes, treated drinking water flowing out of a tap and down the drain, incredible! I enjoyed that resource rich life. But in the good old days we were too busy to monitor everything, to collect rainwater for showers to count and weigh the use of energy for each task.

I am not certain our motives are sustainability, maybe we haven’t changed for the better. Perhaps we just conserve all the resources now because it is so difficult to get more, and so expensive. Perhaps we are just lazy and frugal.

I write this from Sri Lanka, an unplanned medical stop for us. We found free washrooms and showers near the jetty so I had a proper shower today. The showers have water flowing from a spigot in the wall. It might not be drinking quality water, but clean water none the less. Many places we have been, the shower water is from tanks of stored rainwater.

The last real shower I had was just a month ago. We didn’t have one in Thailand at all and we were there 3 weeks. In Malaysia, we had friends so when visiting them, we could have one every day. Funny thing, I remember each one. Even though I didn’t have to carry the water myself, showering for me now is a process of allowing about a cup of water flow out onto my head, and drizzle over me. Just enough to apply shampoo and body wash, then rinse with the bare minimum of water and repeat the process. It was heaven!

Even with free water available on tap, I was taking a frugal low water consumption shower. When I realized how water conservation minded I though about the conversation I had with Graham two months ago in Malaysia. Maybe he is right. Maybe part me has changed. Or maybe I was just glad that those were another few liters of water I didn’t need to carry to the boat.


Anonymous Jim Kennedy said...

Hi Steve and Nancy,

Here's wishing you a safe journey as you near and approach the Red Sea. Have been following your blog for quite some time and have enjoyed the good reading.

Take care,
Jim Kennedy

4:07 PM  

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