Redux: the global warming “band” wagon

Warning: Contains some scatological references; please do not read if offended easily by mention of or reference to bodily functions.

More from Sheryl Crow, whose bio-diesel tour bus was mentioned in an earlier post, on saving the planet:

* Ration loo-roll to one square except on pesky occasions when 2 or 3 may be needed;

* Instead of paper napkins, use a cloth dining sleeve;

Interesting as these ideas are, I think they stem from deeply-ingrained cultural practices too difficult to change. The mantra for being green goes “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Sheryl Crow’s ideas are based on ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’.

What about alternative ways?

It may surprise her to know that even in countries where there is a paucity of water, people use water, not loo roll (you could call the bidet a kind of western equivalent).

Further, I agree that paper napkins are a waste, but there is no consensus on the ‘green’ economics of paper versus cloth napkins. Much energy is consumed in washing and then (presumably) ironing cloth napkins, whereas paper napkins could be made from recycled paper and degrade easily without further use of washing up liquid, water or energy. An easier solution? Let’s all learn some table manners, use our hands to dust off loose flour and bits etc, and wash our hands after eating. Having grown up in a developing country, I can tell you with confidence that it takes about 30ml of water to wash one’s hands without soap, and about 100ml with soap.

While we are on the subject of eating, I must mention that many a time, I have been asked why Indians eat with their hands. Well, I explain, it is more sensible to trust the hygiene of one’s own hands than to trust cutlery that has travelled many a mouth. Further it saves washing up, but this ‘explanation’ I have admittedly made up. Instead of promoting the cultural shift needed to start eating with one’s hands, I would again mention innovation in edible cutlery about which my friend Shantanu wrote last year, and which I found in a neighbourhood vegetarian/ vegan store right here in the UK shortly thereafter. No cutlery, no washing-up, no detergent used, no water needed.

Too radical for Ms Crow?

37 thoughts on “Redux: the global warming “band” wagon

  1. Reason why Indians eat with hand. Ofcourse the hygiene factor of one’s hand as opposed to that of multi-user cutlery. But also, because it makes immense sense to ‘feel’ the temperature and texture before putting the same into a sensitive area called the mouth. No burnt tongue/lips while drinking soup…just put a finger in to check! Does that gross you out?

    Like

  2. Reason why Indians eat with hand. Ofcourse the hygiene factor of one’s hand as opposed to that of multi-user cutlery. But also, because it makes immense sense to ‘feel’ the temperature and texture before putting the same into a sensitive area called the mouth. No burnt tongue/lips while drinking soup…just put a finger in to check! Does that gross you out?

    Like

  3. Reason why Indians eat with hand. Ofcourse the hygiene factor of one’s hand as opposed to that of multi-user cutlery. But also, because it makes immense sense to ‘feel’ the temperature and texture before putting the same into a sensitive area called the mouth. No burnt tongue/lips while drinking soup…just put a finger in to check! Does that gross you out?

    Like

  4. Piya, thanks for your note. I do not know why you think it might gross me out. I am Indian too which is why I can defend it so vigorously especially when the question is put to me with the assumption that eating with hands is gross.

    There is a more complex explanation of the choice, in my mind. And that has everything to do with connecting with what we eat at a visceral level. Food in some cultures is not just subsistence, it is central to our relationships, our social life and our emotions (and that last one in more than one culture). Italians eat pizza slices, lifting them instead of a fork to their mouths; I have seen some of my Greek and Spanish friends eat with hands too.

    Of course that rather nuanced explanation was not going to sit well with the Sheryl Crow proposals so I left them out..

    Thanks again.

    Like

  5. Piya, thanks for your note. I do not know why you think it might gross me out. I am Indian too which is why I can defend it so vigorously especially when the question is put to me with the assumption that eating with hands is gross.

    There is a more complex explanation of the choice, in my mind. And that has everything to do with connecting with what we eat at a visceral level. Food in some cultures is not just subsistence, it is central to our relationships, our social life and our emotions (and that last one in more than one culture). Italians eat pizza slices, lifting them instead of a fork to their mouths; I have seen some of my Greek and Spanish friends eat with hands too.

    Of course that rather nuanced explanation was not going to sit well with the Sheryl Crow proposals so I left them out..

    Thanks again.

    Like

  6. Piya, thanks for your note. I do not know why you think it might gross me out. I am Indian too which is why I can defend it so vigorously especially when the question is put to me with the assumption that eating with hands is gross.

    There is a more complex explanation of the choice, in my mind. And that has everything to do with connecting with what we eat at a visceral level. Food in some cultures is not just subsistence, it is central to our relationships, our social life and our emotions (and that last one in more than one culture). Italians eat pizza slices, lifting them instead of a fork to their mouths; I have seen some of my Greek and Spanish friends eat with hands too.

    Of course that rather nuanced explanation was not going to sit well with the Sheryl Crow proposals so I left them out..

    Thanks again.

    Like

  7. Noah: Isn’t it just that simple?

    Logic might suggest that this would be a common practice in cultures where main meals contain high specific heat products such as potatoes. I suppose things, however sensible, do not always travel well across cultures.

    Thanks for your note.

    Like

  8. Noah: Isn’t it just that simple?

    Logic might suggest that this would be a common practice in cultures where main meals contain high specific heat products such as potatoes. I suppose things, however sensible, do not always travel well across cultures.

    Thanks for your note.

    Like

  9. Noah: Isn’t it just that simple?

    Logic might suggest that this would be a common practice in cultures where main meals contain high specific heat products such as potatoes. I suppose things, however sensible, do not always travel well across cultures.

    Thanks for your note.

    Like

  10. Shefaly,

    //…things, however sensible, do not always travel well across cultures.//

    I think its only sensible things that do not. There’s any number of examples of nonsensical things not only travelling across but even finding hospitable environments to put down roots.

    Like

  11. Shefaly,

    //…things, however sensible, do not always travel well across cultures.//

    I think its only sensible things that do not. There’s any number of examples of nonsensical things not only travelling across but even finding hospitable environments to put down roots.

    Like

  12. Shefaly,

    //…things, however sensible, do not always travel well across cultures.//

    I think its only sensible things that do not. There’s any number of examples of nonsensical things not only travelling across but even finding hospitable environments to put down roots.

    Like

  13. Oh, sorry for the pun, butt you needed a scatological reference in this thread at least once and “loo-roll” just didn’t work for me.

    -Noah

    Like

  14. Oh, sorry for the pun, butt you needed a scatological reference in this thread at least once and “loo-roll” just didn’t work for me.

    -Noah

    Like

  15. Noah: Thanks for both the puns 🙂 Loo roll is how we refer to toilet roll in the UK. It may not have worked because we are two nations separated by one language? Perhaps? 🙂

    Like

  16. Noah: Thanks for both the puns 🙂 Loo roll is how we refer to toilet roll in the UK. It may not have worked because we are two nations separated by one language? Perhaps? 🙂

    Like

  17. Nah, I had better stop the buns. Thanks for helping me wipe out my ignorance, though. I have your blog listed on my bog-roll, in case anyone else needs help with theirs.

    Like

  18. Nah, I had better stop the buns. Thanks for helping me wipe out my ignorance, though. I have your blog listed on my bog-roll, in case anyone else needs help with theirs.

    Like

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