[I've been sick] A Greener China

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November 24th 2006
Published: November 24th 2006
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solar hot water heatersolar hot water heatersolar hot water heater

These are all over the rooftops everywhere, city, countryside..
A Greener China

I’ve spent this last week battling or coddling a cold. Finally, I stopped by the University Foreign Affairs office and coughed my way through the request, “I (hack, hack) need a (hack, hack) doctor.” They responded immediately and I was at the university clinic at my requested time with a translator. I have amoxicillin and three Chinese meds that seem to be a generic cold pill to dry me out, a cough depressant pill that tastes like licorice, and several miniature bottles of teeny-tiny pills, like seeds, that numb my mouth and throat. I’m a lot better today. Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Today, 11/24/06 we will have a potluck meal at Gimling College with the American and Chinese teachers, maybe other westerners too. Now that I’m feeling better I have a lot to be thankful for.

A Greener China
Not only has the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China set environmental issues as a high priority, but on a daily basis the general population is very environmentally conscious. Yes, China has terrible pollution, air, water, noise, even light, but individuals are taking a lot of steps towards change. Some that I’ve seen were new to me.

Solar water heaters:
I subscribe to “The Dollar Stretcher” a frugal living, email newsletter. Here are some statistics from a recent email about saving energy. “In a 20-year study, a single solar water heater was shown to have produced 50 tons less of carbon dioxide emissions than a regular, electric water heater. And, solar water heaters are, of course, energy friendly, and can even be installed on your roof! An estimated 1.5 million people in the US have opted for solar power water heaters, and when surveyed, 94%!s(MISSING)aid it was a good, cost-effective investment. Some states also offer a renewable energy credit or rebate on taxes for installing solar power devices. Check with your accountant to find out if your state qualifies, or look up your state on the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website.”

Well, the Chinese have solar water heaters all over the rooftops. From my balcony, I see several hundred. I took pictures of some for sale so you would see what they look like. Oddly enough, they were for sale in front of the mobile phone mall.

Open windows on skyscrapers:
Every office I’ve worked
open windows on buildingsopen windows on buildingsopen windows on buildings

I wish the windows would open on our skyscrapers. How often do you wish for some fresh air?
in that was newer than 50 years old had sealed windows. Here the new skyscrapers—office buildings—have windows that open. Look at the photos and see the open windows. Now that I’m conscious of this phenomenon, I see them everywhere.

No clothes dryers:
Apparently, it’s a principle not to use clothes dryers. They use too much energy. All apartments have a place to hang clothes either inside a balcony area or outside, sliding bars out large windows. Everyone hangs up their clothes, everything, underwear, padded bras, slippers, sheets, comforters, etc. The first time I saw my apartment, before I asked, I was told no dryer, uses too much energy.

No heat at school:
The faculty lounges on one campus have heater/air conditioners. Maybe some of the administrative offices have heat and air, but not in any of the classroom buildings. Nor in the dormitories. I haven’t checked the library yet. These buildings are cold because they are made of cement and tile and granite. The new campus (where all my classes are held) buildings each has a central courtyard and inside balconies, like a motel with a swimming pool in the middle, but we don’t have the pool. It’s
students looking into the courtyardstudents looking into the courtyardstudents looking into the courtyard

These are some of my students on break, standing in the sunlight.
fine for blistery hot days, lots of air circulation; but darned cold in the winter and especially in the rain like today. The bathrooms aren’t heated either. So yesterday I wore five layers of clothes and two pairs of socks. The university heating bill is probably very low. You’re expected to wear long underwear. (I have a funny story about the foot masseuse putting my socks on me after he was done, then trying to find my long underwear under my jeans to straighten before he straightened my jeans legs.) (I just ordered silk long underwear from New Zealand. They deliver to China.)

Bathrooms short on supplies:
No public bathroom, except in an upscale hotel or restaurant, has toilet paper, towels or soap, or seldom a mirror. Carry your own paper tissues; don’t dry your hands; and never touch your food with your fingers. I have learned how to eat a hard boiled egg without touching the egg; or how to eat an orange, tangerine, etc. without touching the flesh. I’ve learned by watching very gracious women eat snacks in the faculty lounges or by watching people eat in the dining room. Everyone carries small packets of tissues. The
another skyscraperanother skyscraperanother skyscraper

More open windows in a skyscraper. It was a nice day so there were a lot of open windows around.
ones here are smaller than those in the U.S. and a lot are 3 ply. The students also use them to clean the chalk dust off the desks and chairs in the classrooms. Before I leave home in the morning, I check for my keys, my tissues, and my mobile phone (that word is pronounced “moh-BYle"). I can be persuaded that that’s the correct pronunciation.

Some other energy saving actions:
--The buildings are set up to catch the southern sun. Savvy builders in the U.S. do that, too. Deciduous trees are planted on the southern side; evergreens on the north.
--Public bus drivers turn off the motors at red lights all the time; taxis often do the same.
--Most drivers don’t use their air conditioners in the summer, even in that blistering heat.
--I was told to turn off the circuit breaker for the hot water heater when I wasn’t using hot water.
--I turn off the heater/air conditioner and all the lights, of course, when I leave the house.
--There are dishwashers, but not a lot. People don’t have a lot of dishes, so they get washed more often. I have service for six and that’s more than
One of the faculty loungesOne of the faculty loungesOne of the faculty lounges

some faculty rooms get cushions as it gets colder.
most people have.

The rising middle class will probably change some of these life styles. Many people on bikes, want cars. I haven’t seen any parking garages—those many storied buildings of shelves for cars--although some may be underground. I haven’t noticed garages around the new apartment complexes.

Smaller is better:
My washing machine is small.
My refrigerator is small.
My kitchen is small.
My stove is two burners and no oven.
I ordered business cards and got 100, not 1,000.
People carry much less, tiny purses or empty ones.
Babies have split pants and don’t wear diapers, no diaper bags.
And to top it off, fresh crabapples and mandarin oranges are for sale everywhere. Mini-fruit!

I have no closets, just two wardrobes for all my clothes for all seasons. You can buy more, but why? I see a lot of people wear the same clothes for 2-3 days in a row. I’ve started doing it. If you hang your clothes on hangars to dry, then hang them in the wardrobe, you don’t have to iron them. A lot of shirts have those little wrinkles—very acceptable. The goal is to be efficient and effective, so spending a lot
hot water in faculty loungehot water in faculty loungehot water in faculty lounge

All faculty lounges have hot water; the students have big water machines available. It\'s cold. I like the hot water!
of time on your clothes doesn’t meet that goal. You probably get the picture by now. (Although, I do have a mini-ironing board and an iron.)

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


2 fingers2 fingers
2 fingers

This means 2, generally used for money and means 2 yuan or kwai.

This is 3 yuan.

I haven't had trouble recognizing 4.

Five fingers wasn't hard either.

Now, 6 is getting tougher to recognize.

Would you know when this was flashed at you that it meant 7 kwai?

No, it's not an L it's the symbol for 8.

I saw this hand signal over and over and finally learned it was for 9 yuan or kwai.
10-finger signal10-finger signal
10-finger signal

About three days a week I use this signal to get 10 'joudza' or dumplings.
students with me at the busstopstudents with me at the busstop
students with me at the busstop

These students saw me at the bus stop and came by to talk.

24th November 2006

Glad you are better
Sorry to hear of your illness. Sounds like you got some good medicine! Thanks for all the information about life in China. The environmental activities are fascinating--something we can learn from.
25th November 2006

Glad you're doctoring your cold
Susie - hope you are feeling better. Guess you had a meal on thanksgiving that in no way resembled the groaning table of turkey and pies! Loved all the details about living with a more sparing use of energy! It is estimated by scientist that if every nation reduced its comsumption by 2.5 percent we could stay ahead of the predicted decline of fossil fuel availability! Great to have our consciousness raised! Ironically, more development in a country seems to pave the way for more energy wasting, going from bikes to autos, etc. Glad to hear so much more detail about daily life and looking forward to the next installment! much love, nan
28th November 2006

Glad you are better....!!
Hi Susan: Sorry to hear you were ill, but glad you are better. Thanks for sharing your new life; it's all so interesting. All is well here...talked to Michele yesterday. She and I, Dotti, Kira, Orisa, and whoever else wants to, will try to have lunch once a month just to keep in touch..... Wish you were here but glad you are having this experience....!! Until next time.... Peggy
15th February 2007

something wrong
The 7 sign is wrong. It actually means 6.
16th February 2007

numbers are wrong
The picture labeled 6 is correct; the one labeled 7 is really 6; the one labeled 8 is really 7; there is no eight pictured. Sorry, Folks! Susie

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