Archive for February, 2010

residential water use and water footprints

[Hooray!  I have a working laptop again, and most of my data from my previous laptop has been restored.  That means that this week I can finally publish a post that I started writing back when effectivism only existed as the idea of a blog. :) ]

I try not to waste too much water.  In the past two living arrangements I had, my roommates and I didn’t flush the toilet after we peed, so as to save water.  I also turn off the water while brushing my teeth and as much as possible when washing dishes by hand.  At the same time, I love to take longer showers than I need, and I can’t bring myself to turn off the water while soaping — the “sailor shower” that some of my friends advocate.  At some point, I started wondering how all this balances out.  How much water does it save to flush the toilet relatively infrequently?  Just how guilty should I be feeling about standing under the shower a minute or two longer than I really need?  Are there other relatively easy ways to save water that I’m not thinking of?  I decided to do some poking around.

» Continue reading “residential water use and water footprints”

Comments (1)

why are U.S. protest marches less effective than they used to be?

[Note: this post has a lower ratio of fact to “I think”/”someone on the internet thinks” than I would like.  Even more than usual, I’d love to know about more facts/research on this topic, if you can point me at any.]

I recently started working part time at UC Berkeley, where I often walk through Sproul Plaza.  Everyone at UC Berkeley talks about the protest culture of the school, and the protesters and protest organizers frequently gather in Sproul.  The other day, I got into a conversation there with an undergrad manning a table that said something like, “You’re radical and I like you!”

Me: What are you promoting?

Him: on March 4th we’re taking part in a march to protest the state of education in California.  We’re trying to get everyone to participate — get everyone at Berkeley to march off campus and into the downtown, but also everyone from the surrounding K-12 schools.

Me: What are you hoping to achieve with this protest march?

Him: Well, we have a lot of complaints… [he elaborates and hands me a pamphlet]

Me: Okay, but how do you hope the march will help address these issues?

Him: Well, there will be a lot of organizations involved.  People will get to see that they’re not alone in caring about this. It’s good to not be alone.

Me: So the march is an end in and of itself — a place to vent frustrations?

Him: Well, no.  We hope to change things.

Me: How?

This went on for a while before I took pity on him and left him alone.  I don’t think he was unusual in not knowing why exactly he was marching — but it got at an issue that I’ve been wondering about for a while, and have only been thinking about more now that I’m in Berkeley.  When and how do protest marches actually work?  It’s clear that they sometimes do have a large impact on society — Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington, the anti-Vietnam war protests, Gandhi’s march to the sea, and recent effective protests in places like Pakistan, Thailand, and arguably Iran (where the Green movement seems to be bringing about potential long-term social changes, even if the protested election results still stand) provide examples of how protest marches can aid social change.  Why haven’t we seen marches with comparable success in the U.S. recently?

» Continue reading “why are U.S. protest marches less effective than they used to be?”

Comments (1)