What can I do against pollution? Share your Ideas!

After reading through Air Quality - an Open Letter I was asking myself what I personally do or could do to improve the world we are living in.

Let’s come up with some ideas and try them out

Here are 10 things that everyone can try without much effort, and perhaps a little bit of adjustment.

Off the top of my balding head:

  1. In general, save energy. Less energy used = less energy needs to be produced = less firing of coal and other fossil fuels = cleaner air.

  2. Save energy by not using an air-con during the hot months. It can be tough, I sweat all summer long, but it can be done. Without the neighbors running their air coolers 24h it would be easier. But I remind myself that having no air con running myself means that others who really need the cool air can turn it down a notch; so this is a bit like taking one for the team.

  3. Sleep early. I try to go to bed at 10pm nowadays. Used to be way past 12. Two hours less light, computer, TV power consumption. Small steps. Sleeping early and getting up early the next day is actually good for your body. More energy, in your body. Great.

  4. Take cold showers. I tried it many times. Starting each summer I tried to keep doing it through the fall. Failed many times. This time, no warm showers since July. So proud. It actually is easy and enjoyable, addictive perhaps. Once you get over the hump and your body is used to the cold attacks (it’s actually easy in Taiwan; can’t wait to try with 5 degree C water in a colder country) each day, you don’t look back. Once you do cold, you’ll never get old. Or something along those lines. Energy saved? You bet. Water saved? Of course. Less time waiting for the warm water to finally come through the shower head, no keeping the water running through the soaping and shampooing, no gas consumed, less time using the bathroom lights. And it’s sooo good for your body, immune system and all.

  5. Take public transport or ride a bike. I don’t ride my motor scooter much anymore, only sometimes to get food from the hypermarket, that’s it. Much more enjoyable to take the bus or MRT. Less dealing with exhaust fumes and annoying idiots. Occasionally I ride a YouBike, but I don’t like the idea of breathing more heavily during rush hours.

  6. No more apples from Cali. Read a book about modern food production and trade. Holy… The perversions of the food industries are countless. Food trade has its place in the world, but I don’t see the need to buy apples from giant food producers, heavily dosed with chemicals and supported by tons of fertilizers, shipped around the globe, anymore. Can’t be good. The energy needed to grow these crops is immense. Let’s support local producers of fruit and vegetables, preferably organic farms and shop owners who try to save the planet. Of course it costs more!

  7. Less to no meat. I have the occasional chicken and fish, but that’s it. The perversions of the meat industry are even worse than the rest of the food producers.

  8. No more plastic bags. I have a shopping bag with me most of the time and will use it whenever I buy something where a plastic bag is not needed.

  9. No more throw-away coffee cups. If you buy your latte everyday around the corner, bring your own mug. Easy done. Even saves you a little bit of money.

  10. No more cigs. Twenty years ago I read the book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Allan Carr. A classic and one of the best books I got my hands on during college. After that, one final cigarette and that filthy chapter of my life was closed. Cigarette smoking is one of the worst things you can do if you are concerned about pollution, environment, health, big corporation, the end of the planet. Zero benefit from that. 100% negative impact on yourself and the world around you. And it makes you feel so much better once you have left that ill cycle of self-torturing-pretending-to-be-cool-but-in-your-heart-you-know-this-is-shit-but-you can’t-stop-it-so-you-need-to-pretend-you-enjoy-it.

Just a short list of ideas. If you have any good ideas, I will add them here: :slight_smile:

  1. (Kowtow) Refrain from incense burning at temples.

  2. (ranlee) Split up your garbage from recyclables

  3. Don’t buy cheap plastic things you’ll likely throw away soon.


I’m with you on most of those except for:

No. 2: Summers in Taiwan with no aircon? I might as well kill myself, which of course would be a huge energy saver. Seriously, it would be easier to just move somewhere with a cooler climate, unless you’re a serious masochist. My current workaround is spending most of the summer in California, which is great, except for the serious carbon footprint of a long international flight.

No. 5. I try to take public transportation when it’s the most convenient way to get from point A to point B, but a lot of the time it isn’t, so there’s no way I’m giving up my scooter. Besides, a well-maintained reasonably late model 4-stroke scooter puts out a minimal amount of pollution. I’m all for immediately eliminating all the remaining 2-strokes on the roads, but that’s not going to fly with a government so afraid of getting its ass chewed by the public.


No.7 would be my focus. Eating just veggie at least twice a week and keeping it moderate consumption rest of week.
The amount of energy and water let alone land used for rearing cows is massive, and they produce significant amounts of greenhouse gases.


I visit my fair share of temples around the country and 99% of the time I just use my hand to pray without using any incense.

Getting rid of the incense burning at Xingtian temple was a great step.


@hannes this is an awesome and great follow up

I do some of the things that you’ve mentioned, but it will be tough for me to let go of the scooter. I hope that my 150km+ weekly cycling goal makes up for all my scooter commuting.

I’ll add:

  • Split up your garbage from recyclables! Taiwan is one of the leading countries in recycling, but I still see lots of people being lazy and throwing away things that can be recycled! Don’t forget those ah bei and ah yi that pick up recyclable items! They’re everywhere and could use your help! All you gotta do is split your recyclables into one bag or box and hand it over to them. They’ll split up it up themselves. You’d be doing them and the environment a huge favor.
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Couldn’t agree more with that.

I also can’t understand why many people in my building are just too lazy to separate the trash that is meant for recycling, when it’s made really easy. They will just throw it in front of the garbage containers used to separate the waste (we have paper, PET bottles and plastic, styrofoam, glass, and light bulbs containers). Then the poor cleaning lady, or the guys from Tzuchi sift through the junk. Everyone should be more considerate, so easy to put things where they belong.

Not to derail the thread too much but the sad part is that a lot of the stuff you have carefully sorted is burned or dumped.

I believe a large part of the plastics are incinerated anyway as it has no economic value and recycled plastic has few uses in reality as its properties are unpredictable.

I heard it’s also hard to recycle effectively and more expensive than just making new glass

Paper coffee cups and biandang boxes all have plastic coatings are often contaminated with food waste. I doubt more than a few % are recycled. Only one company can process paper coffee cups in Taiwan and they claim that they just process a small percentage of total.

Will try and dig out some real stats as to what happens to this stuff in Taiwan.
It seems very hard to find if one reads the Facebook post above.

Vast majority of waste by volume is probably incinerated.
Best to try and avoid using these so called recyclable products or at least use the hell out of what you have or use your own flasks, carrier bags etc.

Caveat- Taiwan at least has a great head start on places such as Singapore. A lot of food waste is recycled, that could be a good thing depending on your perspective.

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10 posts were split to a new topic: From: What can I do against pollution? Share your Ideas!

Which brings me to the next thing to do/not to do to save the planet.

Don’t buy cheap plastic things you’ll likely throw away soon.

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You make a good point and interesting article. Looking forward to your follow up.

I sometimes try to recycle too much. I know at the end of the day, some of it won’t actually be recycled, like the lunch boxes that are all oily and have small pieces of food left over on it.

However, as I see it, I throw 10 items into the bin and maybe 5 of them will be recycled. As opposed to the dude next to me who throws all his items into the garbage in which he’s 0 for 0.


The borderline cases confuse me - I’m not sure what I should do with them. I bought a “nicely” packaged pair of whisky bottles yesterday, and as soon as I got home, on the counter I had a cardboard box with the front panel plastic laminate, and one of those annoying inflexible plastic inserts that was holding things in place and potentially slashing my fingers as I tried to pry stuff out of it. All shit that I don’t want and I suspect can’t be recycled. They went in recycling anyway, but I’m not sure if they should have. (There aren’t any laws here about stores being required to take back excess packaging, are there?) Ditto lunch boxes - I wash them and put them in recycling, but with that laminate, I don’t know if they can be recycled.

The issue of recycling or using reusable utensils is complicated by sanitation concerns.

I would LIKE to use the provided chopsticks and utensils in restaurants but frankly their handling of utensils in a country where hepatitis virus is rampant is appallingly bad.

It’s a horrible thing to dump your ignorance onto the recycling ah bei and ah yi, but I think it’s best to just let them handle it.

My mother did some volunteer work for Tzu Chi at their recycling center and kept telling me to buy less bottles from convenience stores because the caps need to be manually separated from the bottles and sometimes, different colors means different materials or just…same material, but blue cap needs to be in the blue pile and so on and so forth.

I do try my best to buy larger bottles drinks or when I go out cycling, the group normally buys the largest bottle of water or we stop at police stations to refill our water bottles.

Those of us on scooters. Kill the engine at those long red lights (60 secs or more). For extra brownie points kill the engine before you even hit the lights and coast in. Also make sure your beast is running clean, change the oil as soon as its needed.


Yeah, regular maintenance is the key, and something a lot of people don’t seem to do.

Ooh, which leads to my next tip. Shame anyone at the lights with white smoke belching out their back pipe. Its such an easy fix. Even an oil filter every 5 years isn’t difficult.

The squid scooters definitely need to be dealt with. They give all the other scooter boys a bad name.

I’m all for killing the engine at long lights, but is it safe?

I’m thinking, In terms of having to move away if there was some kind of emergency or something in that nature.

So long as your ignition system’s working it doesn’t really slow you down.

[quote=“hannes, post:1, topic:157439, full:true”]
Take cold showers.[/quote]

Iirc the government of Singapore encourages couples to save water by showering together. Has Taiwan ever had a conversation about this?