As a father, it is my responsibility to teach my children values. One value that I work hard to instill in them is being proper stewards of the planet. When they leave on lights after they leave a room, I remind them to conserve electricity. When they fill the bathtub to the top and leave the water running while brushing their teeth, I remind them to conserve water. And they often get a lecture on protecting our forests when they grab a handful of paper towels to dry their hands.
However, none of my speeches would have any impact if I didn’t model the behavior myself. My family thinks I’m some type of Environmental Czar because I’m constantly going around the house turning off water, turning off lights, and retrieving discarded items that can be reused. Last year, I attended a conference called “Restore America’s Estuaries” and discovered new ways to help the environment (I also scored a cool hydro-powered calculator). Although I was excited to share all the things I learned with my family, their response was, “Meh.”
But I don’t allow their lack of passion for environmental matters to discourage me from trying to influence their behavior. Each year, my company holds and Eco-Fest, where we are encouraged to make green pledges. I often make several pledges for myself and on behalf of my family. Here are the Earth Day pledges I made:
My wife, KayEm, and I have an ongoing disagreement about the proper way to wash dishes. I like to fill the sink 1/4 full of water, add silverware and cups, wash and then rinse in the sink. By this time, the sink is half-filled with water. I then add plates and bowls. Repeat. When the sink is full of water, I add pots and pans. I’m able to wash and rinse all of the dishes with only one sink of water. KayEm on the other hand fills the sink with water and leaves the water running the whole time. I’ve posted this pledge as a reminder to her. I’ll probably have to sleep on the couch for the next few days, but I don’t mind. It’s for the environment.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve told my kids to turn off the lights, I’d have enough money to erase the Federal deficit. But I think my constant preaching has finally impacted my 10-year-old daughter, Nee. We recently remodeled our kitchen and added a dimmer switch. Nee gave a nod of approval and said, “Nice work mom and dad. That’s a green choice.”
When I was a kid, my mother never threw anything away. She’d reuse whatever she could until it was totally worn out. As a consequence, I try to reuse as much as I can. While I call it recycling, KayEm calls it hoarding. For example, I’ve acquired an unbelievable amount of reusable shopping bags. Unfortunately, I always forget to bring them when I go to the store (note: I do use the plastic shopping bags as garbage bags). Therefore, I’ve decided to leave a couple in my car as a constant reminder. I’m a bit dismayed that our Home Owner’s Association discontinued the recycling program to save money because it was a convenient way to sort paper, plastic and glass. Now I have to drive to a recycling location, which leads me to my next pledge…
This one’s easy because I already take the bus to work everyday. A few years ago, I made a 146 mile round-trip drive to work each day. I had a Jeep Cherokee and had to refuel 2-3 times per week. After a year of making this journey, I took another job with an easier commute. Since then, I’ve made it a habit to carpool or take public transportation.
Question: What have you done to live a “greener” lifestyle?