Introducing: the F.U.S. Files

I know I quoted this before, but I’m doing it again. It means that much to me.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

I complain every so often about how I don’t do enough environmental stuff on the blog. Yeah, I carry my flag around. Yeah, I post pictures of vegetables I’ve eaten. But I don’t want to be repetitive and I don’t want to be a bummer, and I also feel that I’m not really informed enough to write coherently about most of the things I see. Still, one commenter (Chris!) wrote that he’d actually like to see some photos of “Fucked Up Shit” that I come across. So be it! I hereby inaugurate the F.U.S Files.

I hope that doing so will:

1) Give me motivation to stick to my 3R’s

2) Help me to feel that I’m doing something good with the blog.

3) Turn my instinctive grumbling into some semblance of a thoughtful critique

4) Give readers occasion to see the grime as well as the beauty – both equally part of the reality of travel – and to reflect on the meaning of their own habits.

I’ll try to keep these F.U.S. posts short and relatively rant-free. Or, at least, preachy-rant-free. I’ll also label them all with “F.U.S. Files” in the title, so if you’re really not into them, you can skip them. But please don’t do that!

Without further ado, here’s the inaugural piece of F.U.S.:

2013-05-02 to Xiguba 056.JPG

A garbage truck about thirty kilometers south of Yunlong dumping its load directly onto the slope heading down to the river. I didn’t get any closer because I felt like the driver probably wouldn’t want me to photograph him. Then again, he probably wouldn’t have cared – right behind the truck was some sort of official-looking sign that probably said “solid waste processing facility.”

My impression from the last nine months in China is that no matter what you do with your trash, no matter how hard you try to assume personal responsibility to dispose of it properly, it will end up dumped somewhere in the countryside. This might be one reason why people here litter so nonchalantly.

What I’m doing about it: not buying anything that comes with plastic or paper wrapping unless I absolutely have to. Being very strict about what counts as “absolutely having to.” Not buying beverages in plastic and glass bottles. Refilling my water bottles at restaurants. Rescuing plastic bags that friends use once and are about to throw out. Or, sometimes, have just recently thrown out, but not in a place too dirty. Using said plastic bags over and over until they rip. Taking care so as not to rip them.

Best Friend in this fight: Stackable tupperwares and metal camping pot.

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5 Responses to Introducing: the F.U.S. Files

  1. Alex Kung says:

    I have also tried to not buying bottles of water or drinks like plastic bottles of Tea (no sense to buy Tea products), I mean it’s actually easy way to brew tea in home. But in Hong Kong, convenient stores are located in every corner, people don’t have sense to bring bottle of water out, instead spending their money to buy bottles of drinks when shopping on the street. sigh….

    • Michael Roy says:

      Totally. Why people buy something like tea at a convenience store is an interesting question. The stuff isn’t fresh, it’s probably not made with good tea leaves (not that I know the difference), and it often has sugar and other sorts of additives, so that it’s not even good for you. Not to mention that it costs a dollar a bottle, which may not seem like much, but adds up if it’s a regular habit (if you buy it daily, it comes out to $1000 every three years, which is enough for me to take a three month vacation), particularly if it also increases the likelihood that you’re going to buy a bag of chips, a candy bar, or something else to snack on. For some reason, lots of people nowadays prefer senseless spending to frugality and preparedness. I’d guess it’s because spending money relatively thoughtlessly can make you feel rich, whereas being careful with it may make you feel or seem poor…even if it’s the path to richness in the long run!

  2. 썌키 says:

    That’s so gross! I hope you road down river at least another 10 or twenty kilometers before you got naked and bathed in that stream.

  3. Marisa says:

    I love the F.U.S. file idea, Mike! It will definitely be eye-opening, and I hope it provides regular inspiration to me to decrease my waste. Also, the “best friend in this fight” in this post is awesome. Keep them coming. Tips and tricks to actually do something about the amount of waste we create is great. My tip: bring real silverware and a glass to work so you don’t uses paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. Recent revelation: use all of the envelopes that come in those dang unsolicited credit card applications and other pieces of junk mail. I now mail my rent in them. Next step: try to decrease the amount of junk mail I receive.

    • Michael Roy says:

      Thanks for the words of encouragement. I don’t know how many tips I can really give, since everything seems to boil down to “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but I’ll keep going until it gets boring! There’s definitely enough F.U.S. around to last me a while. Good work with your office-efforts, I hope you can start a mini-movement!