Posted by: Noni | April 17, 2011

My cousin Brent is making my 30 Day Challenge way more fun!

For those that haven’t been keeping up to date with me lately, you may have missed that I ‘m making a documentary film on making changes to reduce waste and impact on the planet. I started a 30 day zero waste, zero impact challenge on April 1st and for 30 days am looking for ways to cut my consumption and limit my land-fill contributions. 

When the quake hit in Tokyo I was so happy to receive news that my cousin Brent was safe and his home was only slightly damaged.  Over the next weeks we shared info and news via Facebook and emails. His perspective on saving power, water and face (Japanese are big on saving face) has been a fun way to compare the situations here in North America to those in the far east.

Here’s his latest column (not yet posted to the official website for 30 zero zero) on how the people of Japan are cutting back and doing their part to cut electric consumption in post-quake Tokyo.  To read more from Brent, check the archives on

Dear Alison,

After March 11th, the government announced that it was going to have to implement rolling blackouts in order to save energy and divert it north to the devastated Tohoku region.  The blackouts weren’t nearly as bad or as frequent as it was initially thought they would be, BECAAAAUUUSE, everyone in the rest of the country just PITCHED IN and SWITCHED OFF!  (Hey!  That would be cool on a t-shirt!  “Pitch in and switch off!”)

Despite the fact that nearly all the bulbs in our house are LEDs, we have most of the lights turned off.  We try to stay in the same room together so that we don’t have to have lights on all over the place.

Department stores turned off window display lighting and unnecessary interior lights; a bit gloomy perhaps, but nothing one can’t live with.  The convenience stores have cut lighting as well. Only some of the ceiling lights are on and the display cases are dark!  I can still see what’s on the dairy shelves and fresh produce shelves, so why do they need the lights on at ANY time?!   WASTE!!!  My gym only uses lights over the stretching area, everything else is dark, including the dance studio.  It’s actually quite relaxing without all the bright fluorescent lighting!

Most escalators are off at the train and subway stations, (as well as lights), and everyone is taking the stairs.  Good for the body, good for the country, good for the environment.  Even the elderly, and I’m talkin’ OOOOOOOOLLD people, are goin’ up the stairs with their canes and crutches.  One step at a time.  One step at a time.  NO ONE is complaining.  Everyone is pitching in for the common good.

My eight-story college has set the elevators so that they only go up to the upper floors.  You need to go to the fifth floor for class?

You take the stairs.  Staff room and student lounge are on the third floor.  Everyone takes the stairs.  Lights in the student lounge are off.  (Last Friday, however, I went out twice, and had to turn them off and scream at the kids, “THINK OF THE PEOPLE IN TOHOKU! IF YOU CAN’T SEE, THEN SIT BY THE WINDOWS! WE’RE TRYING TO SAVE ENERGY!!!”   (That “virago-personality-thing” runs in the family!!!)

Summer is going to be hard with the soaring temperatures and the jungle humidity.  Everyone has been asked to limit or eliminate the use of air conditioning to conserve power.  It always kills me when people in Toronto moan about how humid it is there.  They have NOOOOOO idea what humidity is!  Walking on the streets of Tokyo at the peak of summer when the temps go up close to 40 C and the humidex thingamy makes it seem like 48, is like walking through hot, wet blankets!  Two steps outside and you’re wringing wet, but most people, including men, carry hand-held fans which make a HUGE difference! Apparently the stores are rapidly selling out of electric

(!!!) fans.  I know they still use power, but nowhere near as much as an air conditioner.  We have to have SOMETHING! Shun and I didn’t use the air-con for years, until the elderly lady next door complained about the dog howling out the open windows at dawn.  He’s an Italian Greyhound, but I guess he’s got a bit of rooster in him.   Now we have to close everything up at night, so we use one air conditioner for a few hours just to sleep,  otherwise we would suffocate!  If you DON’T use any kind of cooling system, you actually acclimatize faster, and the heat and humidity don’t bother you nearly as much.

When I had my sinus surgery 4 years ago, I was given an “ice-pillow” to bring down my temperature.  FABULOUS!  Like a giant rubber hot- water bottle/douche-bag!  Bought two  for us and they are WONDERFUL behind a hot neck!  That and rubbing an ice cube over one’s wrists or applying cologne to one’s temples!!!  (I think I just had a Scarlett O’Hara moment!  LOL!)

We had yet another hefty tremor yesterday morning when I was walking Dinkey and it scared the crap out of both of us.  Usually when I’m inside you don’t notice the initial vibrations, just the jolt and rocking, but yesterday I felt the damned thing well before it hit, vibrating up through my Crocs, my feet,  my shins.  Unnerving and frightening.  At first I thought, subway?  Then I remembered there are no subway lines under where I was standing.  CRAP!  EARTHQUAKE!

IS IT GOING TO BE ANOTHER BIG ONE?!  Heart started racing and I was wondering where we could go when WHAM! it hit!  Short and strong.

Got home to books on the floor, but we still have a roof!

Anyway, my dear, hope all is well with you and yours!  XOX

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