Thursday, August 19, 2010

Varying shades of green

As a child growing up in the 60's, my mom taught me to reuse and recycle.  Even back then I have memories of my mom bundling up newspapers with string and having them recycled.  I can also remember reusing every scrap of paper and bag we had for art projects and household use.  We had never heard of the word "green" back then to describe what we were doing.  It is just what we did.  We didn't waste a lot of resources, but I think it was primarily for economic reasons rather than any grandiose plan to save the earth.  My mom had a garden and we had a compost pile.  It wasn't some fancy composting bin like they sell now at Home Depot.  It was simply a pile in the corner of the yard where we threw grass clippings and organic material.  I remember how bad it smelled on hot summer days.  We were "green" before it was cool to be "green".   We were just of a different mindset back then.  We didn't waste things.

Fast forward forty years.   My kids preach to me about how we need to conserve resources, save the planet, save the whales, and all good things like that.  I couldn't agree more.  I have been doing my part for many many years.  My mom did her part by teaching me to be thrifty and practical with what I had. What I find interesting is that I would call my kids' commitment "light green". They are all talk.  When it comes down to actually participating in what they preach, they only do it when it's convenient for them. 

Case in point:  High school senior leaves for school in the morning.  She has taken AP Environmental Science, so she is enlightened about all subjects environmental and has told me about how we Americans are wrecking the planet.  As she goes out the door to her gas-powered car, she leaves her bedroom light on and the stereo blaring.  So much for conservation of energy.  What happened to simply turning off the power?

Second case in point:  Middle school kid who wants to save all living things has decided that this year it will be better if I drive him to school rather than him taking the bus.  So, each morning we are burning extra gas to go back and forth.  Hmmm, that is not very earth-friendly, is it? 

Third case in point:  I clean out the backpacks from the prior year.  There are about a dozen half-used spiral notebooks in perfectly good shape.  But do my kids want to reuse these?  No!  They would like new notebooks and would like to throw the old notebooks away.   What do I do?  I salvage all of their half used notebooks for my own personal use to write my rantings in.  The paper is perfectly fine.  I am the one who is saving the trees, not them. 

I could go on and on. 

I would like to believe that they will one day change their ways when they become a bit older and wiser.  I'm not saying that I'm perfect.  I drive an SUV and probably use more than my fair share of gas.  But I do know that I am doing my small part, and I think I am actually living in a brighter shade of "green" than a lot of the young people in the world.  

I hope I can pass on some of these values to them like my mom did to me, but sometimes it feels hopeless. 

Every time they begin talking about the gigantic subject of saving the earth I just smile and keep doing what I'm doing.  Maybe one day they will get it.  It's all the small things on a daily basis that really make a difference. 

Peggy McNeal

1 comment:

One Girl Creative said...

I love this piece, Peggy. It's so true. My daughter does the same thing every year. It must be around the time that her school or teacher goes into detail about saving the planet, et al. I love her energy and her enthusiasm about it, but you're right, she does it when it's convenient.

We've had a recycle bin in her bedroom for a few years now and she definitely uses it everyday, but when I take it down to the recycle bin outside, I notice (like you) several perfectly fine notebooks with unused paper in tact. I find it a bit ironic, and perhaps hypocritical. But, she is only 10 so I'll give her some slack there.

All in all, times have changed and even though you were taught early on before the 'green trend' hit, our society still didn't adhere to these philosophies like we do now.

Although, I do remember watching my mother sit in front of the TV while doing her yoga routine—in the 70s. LOL