It was some ungodly early hour. I could hear the wind howling just outside. I donned a base layer, followed by a second fleece layer, and finally down parka, hat and face protection. I wasn’t really thinking clearly and the mere thought of food made me nauseated. A fresh layer of snow was on the ground making a walk up a short incline more difficult. Just a few short yards to the destination…
High camp, Everest?
No, Ohio winter, heading to the bus stop.
As 6-year-old Samantha and I reached our destination – a suburban corner, she asked, “Why the heck didn’t we drive?” I answered, “First of all, don’t use the word heck. Secondly, it’s only 2 houses down to the bus stop. Thirdly, gas costs a fortune and it’s bad for the environment.” Not accepting of my answer, but realizing she would not make any headway on this point, she huddled crouched at my feet hugging my legs shivering.
As father and daughter tested the limits cold tolerance of the human being, our three bus-stop companion families sat toasty in their SUVs and minivans, radios and DVD players on, heaters blasting. Cars spewed exhaust into the air for the 5-10 minutes before the bus arrived.
This scene repeated almost every school day of the winter and rainy days too. It was a surreal experience standing there in the crisp and dark of the winter morning, which under some circumstances might be an exhilarating experience, the scene marred by the sounds of cars idling and the sight of car exhaust floating into the air. The walk to the bus stop is my small, but very cold effort towards conservation.
I don’t consider myself a radical conservationist (or a radical anything for that matter). I’ve never come along side a huge tanker ship in a rubber boat. I’ve never chained myself to a tree. I certainly haven’t burned down any ski resorts in the name of the environment. To be honest, I never even saw Al Gore’s movie. Maybe I’ll Netflix it someday.
By that same token, I made a conscious decision long ago, that being green doesn’t take a whole lot more effort than not, so why not be green? There are a few things we to try to do to be more green. We recycle. We’re in the process of switching all our light bulbs to compact fluorescents. We don’t let the water run when we brush our teeth. I carry a refillable water bottle whenever possible rather than disposable plastic water bottles. We use reusable containers for lunch and leftovers rather than plastic bags. These are the simplest actions towards conserving.
Do these little things make a difference? In isolation, it probably doesn’t have a huge impact. However, if I stop running the water while I’m brushing my teeth, I probably save a gallon of water a day. If my whole family does this, we save 4-5 gallons per day or perhaps 1500 gallons a year. If my whole neighborhood did this – well you catch my drift. These are the everyday things that can really make an impact on the world we live in going forward. These are the kinds of lessons I wish to impart to my children so that their children might live in a world that still has trees and clean water. I try to teach them to consider that small actions have greater meaning. In a sense, it’s a bit like teaching children to respect their teachers and parents. It’s my way of imparting the feeling that one person can make a difference.
What kinds of everyday conservation tips do you all have?
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