Posted on May 05, 2014 by Rob Kellaghan
Lead a healthier lifestyle with our Beijing guide to organic and sustainable living.
Present day China is going through many different changes, all of which are taking place at breakneck speed. The country is rapidly urbanizing and modernising, the flow of people from rural areas to already heavily-populated cities continues to increase, and with these changes may come negative impacts to society and the environment. Adopting steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle is becoming increasingly important. In this guide to organic living, we look to the capital city, Beijing, to see how its residents can begin to live in a more rewarding and environmentally-friendly way.
Recent scares in China have propelled food, health and safety to the forefront of citizens’ concerns. Tainted milk and infant formula, exploding vegetables and fruit, and meat being injected with water to help boost its weight and consequently its price have highlighted the problems the industry faces. As more and more people become concerned about the food they are eating, attention has turned to organic foods and how they can become a viable alternative.
In Beijing, the organic food market is small yet growing steadily. While many of the foods available are imported, some stores stock produce that has been grown locally.
One such store is Lohao City, which specialises in organic foods for pregnant women, women that are nursing, and foods for infants. They now have five stores throughout Beijing, their website is bilingual and they provide an easy-to-use online order and delivery service.
The World Health Store chain has arguably the widest range of organic produce. It stocks everything from organic fruit and vegetables to nuts, coffee and cereals.
Jenny Lou’s is another popular brand with nine stores throughout Beijing. It offers home delivery service and imports many hard-to-find Western products.
The Organic Farm is one of Beijing’s most popular online organic vendors. They have a diverse range of imported and local produce, including spices, herbs and dairy products. Deliveries are made six days a week and to all parts of Beijing.
Olé Supermarket is one of the more expensive organic food stores in town, but it remains popular with expats due to their large selection of produce and their willingness to accept payment with international credit cards. With fresh bread baked in-store daily, this supermarket is fast becoming one of the city’s go-to places for organic foods.
2. Water Usage
Water is one of the world’s most abundant, and precious, natural resources. Monitoring and reducing the amount of water we use each day is critical to helping the environment in Beijing. We can take a number of steps to conserve water usage, such as: having quick showers instead of baths; checking and fixing leaking pipes, taps or the toilet; never leaving the tap running; and finally, reducing the number of times we use the washing machine each day.
3. Grow Your Own
Granted, this may not be easy for residents of downtown Beijing, with the exception of those with a nice, sunny balcony. Simply swap plants or flowers for some pepper, spices or tomato plants, and provided they receive enough sunlight and water, you can have your own organic garden, however small and basic that may be. Every little bit helps.
With a population in excess of 21 million people, proper disposal of waste in Beijing has become a crucial concern for environmentalists. One of their biggest tasks is effectively spreading their message to inform and educate the general population of the importance of waste disposal. Everybody can play a part in this process, so here are a few steps we can take to personally make our own contribution to properly disposing of waste:
Know your waste
By separating our waste, we can recycle and reuse as much of it as possible. For example, by creating separate bins for glass and bottles, paper, plastic and food items, we can significantly reduce our overall waste and increase the amount of items we discard that can be recycled or re-used.
Start a compost heap
Instead of simply throwing out leftover food, why not start a compost heap and put that food to good use? Compost is full of nutrients which can act to revitalise plants and soil. Just be careful not to try and compost meat, fish or animal bones as they will attract insects and pests.
5. Cleaning Your Home
An important aspect of organic living is using natural or chemical-free products to clean your home. Some of the shops and stores mentioned above stock organic soap, washing powder and more, which can help you to keep your home naturally clean and fresh. Additionally, using steam as a method for cleaning has long been favoured by those living a sustainable lifestyle, while everyday products such as baking soda, vinegar, salt and borax can all be used as alternatives to cleaning products that contain chemicals.
6. Getting Around The City
Beijing’s ongoing battle with poor air quality is well known, and while the government take steps to reduce the pollutants in the air, residents can play their part. Those with cars should try and cut down on the amount of time they spend driving their vehicle. Public transport should be used whenever possible, or better yet, revert to the traditional way of travelling around the city: using a bicycle.
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