Earth Hour took place last weekend across world, and as a Canadian resident, I participated in it too, turning off the lights of my apartment.
But if I had lived in Japan, I would have Earth Hour every hour every day.
This is called conservation, but it’s more of saving money, than energy.
My family, particularly my mother, has been an expert on it, shouting, “What a waste!” in every corner of my house.
One of her biggest concerns was how to use up the bathtub water. Water ends up being huge chunk of the monthly bills for an average Japanese family.
In Japan, we don’t take showers, but instead, we wash our body outside the bathtub using the water inside the tub, and heal our exhausted body and soul in the tub.
My mother had banned the use of the shower to save water. She uses leftover tub water for washing clothes, floors, watering flowers and even flushing the toilet if something gets stuck.
She even uses it to fill up the fish tank, in which two of my gold fish have survived for nearly ten years.
Her furious effort was not only for water. She made sure every one of my family unplugs appliances, like the TV, computer, toaster and washing machine, everything except for the fridge.
Moreover, she appreciates the power of nature so much that she never turns on the light until dark, and hands in a fan to us when it’s 40 degrees with almost 100 per cent humidity outside.
If anyone in my family were to break the rule and take shower or turn on the air conditioner, which hasn’t been turned on for many years, she would say, “What a waste!” and give us a long lecture.
For me, conserving was an everyday occurrence in Japan. I didn’t call it as conservation until I came to Canada.
We take the train, walk or bike to work and school instead of driving. We recycle or separate garbage in at least eight different ways and everyday of the week is garbage day.
In Canada, I have seen many people keep the water running while not using it, use at least a meter of paper towel to wipe off their hands each time, cutting a tree for two-week long celebration of Christmas, and consuming a lot of wrapping paper.
The World Energy Statistics show that Japan’s per capita energy use is 5.5 kW, while that of Canada is about 11.5 kW.
On the other hand, Japanese par capita GDP is close to $40,000, while that of Canada is $25,000.
Of course the harsh Canadian winter is contributing the energy consumption of each Canadian, but I still think that people should think about how their behaviour will affect the future generation, and even their power bills.
I don’t want to find myself shouting, “What a waste!” on daily basis while living here