The Zero Waste Home

Hello Friends,
I have been reading this blog for a little while and find it refreshing and informative. It’s an informal journal of one family’s journey to produce as little waste as possible. In telling her story, the author shows the readers possibilities to consider.

The current entry is a letter from one of her readers. A new phase of the blog.

http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/

Great TED Talk on Gaming

I have just posted a link to a talk about how gaming can be used to help save the world. It’s such an excellent presentation and idea. It is possible. It is happening. Take the eighteen minutes to watch it. Here’s the url- http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

For more current info about Jane, here’s here blog url.

http://janemcgonigal.com/

Yes or No?

Dear Friends,
The following is an excerpt from an email that I wrote to a friend.

I understand your cynicism. It’s easy to feel that way in when one looks at the actions of politicians, bankers, wall street and many corporate leaders. However, as much as I am aware of and frustrated by the above, I choose to focus on other segments of the world’s societies. As an example, The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). I was begun over twenty-five years ago by the scientists Amory and Hunter Lovins and a few others. It is a non-profit consultancy. They began by showing businesses how by saving energy and reducing waste, they could increase their bottom line. A simple concept that seems obvious but was not considered by most businesses back then. RMI is now a very large organization that is involved in many different projects. They were recently involved in the retrofit of the Empire State Building. They have been consulting with the defence department for many years. The cost of a gallon of gasoline in a battlefield situation is multiplied enormously do to the security issues while transporting it. The military have gone big time into the use of alternative energy application. A visit to the RMI website is very interesting. I receive their free newsletter. On a different tack, there is the Open Source Software movement. Thousands of programmers around the world have been working for decades to produce software that is free to use and alter. Not only do you have the well know Linux operating system but you have software such as GIMP that is an equivalent to Photoshop. There is the Libre Office Suite that is equal to MS Office and translates Office documents both ways. There are many others both large and small. Going to my home town, Byron Bay, we have a community radio station run by over one hundred volunteers with a few paid part time staff. There are more community radio stations in Australia than there are commercial radio stations. There are international organisations such as Transition Towns that promote local community based economics. In Byron Shire we have producer’s markets four times a week in a different location each time to service just 20,000 people. The markets are cooperatives.You have to produce what you sell and the other members can show up at any time to verify such. Besides the fruits and vegetables, there are coffee growers, a small vinyard, dairies producing cheeses, pork and beef, and even local seafood. Some of it is certified organic and most of it is grown that way. You can find many more examples of people helping people and doing positive things for the earth. The number of NGOs has grown immensely in the last thirty years. My own experience meeting many people in many countries from different races, religions and cultures is that the vast majority just want to live a life of security and basic comfort with friends and loved ones. I live a simple open life as much as possible while being aware that there are those amongst us who are very confused and desperate. It is amazing how people will respond to a genuine smile and a genuine “thanks” or compliment.

Love, Kundan

My Newish Razor

It all started when I decided to shave under my chin again. I have been just trimming closely for quite a while now. It feels much better than scraping a razor across my neck. However, it takes a while to do properly and needs to be done more often. Maybe I’m getting lazy.

I proceeded to the local store looking for a good old fashioned double edged safety razor. In amongst a multitude of plastic razors I could only find some generic double edged razor blades. No razors to hold the blades. Puzzled, I went to another big store. Same selection. Only cheap plastic thingies with clip in cartridge blades. I broke down and bought what was on offer.

I was underwhelmed. The cartridge had three blades imbedded and they did a lousy job and were impossible to clean; clogging with beard hairs. With much frustrated work, I managed to do the job.

Perhaps it was an unconsciously purposeful event, I left the cartridge razor handle behind when I went up to visit my sister. OK, start the hunt again. Same result! Big selection but only those crappy plastic things. I mentioned my dilemma to my sister. She went into her endless closet and came out with a small tin box covered in a very worn khaki cloth covering. Inside was an authentic chromed steel double edged safety razor and a small box for the blades, as well as a removable metal shaving mirror. Printed on the inside, “‘Property U. S. Army’,  the Gillette Logo, ‘Known the World Over’, ‘Khaki Set’.” It had belonged to her father-in-law. He carried it through World War One. I did a little research. The Gillette safety razor was patented in 1903. During WWI, the US Army distributed these razors to all of their personnel. By the end of the war, 3.2 million razors had been distributed. This is one of those. (Gillette, now owned by Proctor and Gamble, no longer makes double edged razors. You have to import from Europe or China. Merkur, a German maker, one of the best today, makes “The Merkur 41”, a copy of the razor that I now own.)

Back to the store for blades. Cleaned up the old set. Loaded up. Hot wet towel to the neck. Lather. Slide the razor along. So smooth. Easily cut a through a two week old growth. Done in no time. Loosened the blade holder and rinsed the whole thing. Eazy-peazy! Now, that’s what a safety razor should be.

Ruminating that night, I remembered those displays of “safety razors” at the stores. Two brands have a monopoly of the market in the USA; Gillette and Schick. By only offering their crappy products with cartridges, they are limiting customers to only using their cartridges while  also manufacturing a device so poorly that you will need to replace the whole unit on a regular basis. Over the years, their advertizing campaigns have convinced people that these cartridges are more efficient. What a load of shit. I have decided to call this “The Gillette Syndrome” and will comment further in my next post.