Did I ever tell you I was in the “environmental club” in junior high school? I totally was. I joined because I wanted to get my picture in the year book one more time. We went on a field trip to the dump one time.
Membership in that club also gave me the knowledge of when Earth Day was celebrated. I then helped to plan an Earth Day Party with my church young women’s group. We picked up litter around the neighborhood and then enjoyed Earth Day cake and ice cream. Very eco-friendly of us wouldn’t you say?
My Father is very anti waste in his beliefs. Probably close to 50% of the exasperated words he said in my childhood were related to waste.
I used to sneak used paper napkins into the trashcan. If he caught me at it he’d scold that they were all perfectly good napkins he assured me that sitting politely in someone’s lap for a meal hardly spoils a napkin. Soiled napkins could be thrown away, rumpled napkins could not.
When I left home I threw things away with a vengeance. Napkins, plastic bags, all kinds of disposable stuff. I thew them away and when I felt a little twinge of guilt I’d wipe it up with a paper towel and throw that away as well.
More recently I found myself avoiding the use of disposable products. I certainly wasn’t going to keep a stack of rumpled napkins in the center of my table but I didn’t want to throw them away either. Avoidance of those products was the middle ground I chose to stand on.
A few years ago I became infatuated with envirosax. I really wanted some but I felt shallow about only jumping on the reusable shopping bag bandwagon when I happened upon attractive ones. By that time “green” as the cool thing to be but I didn’t view myself as green. I was also pretty infatuated with cloth diapers but if cloth still looked like it did when my mother was using them I never would have given it shred of thought.
I had thoughts like “I bought reusable shopping bags, but only because they were cute.” or “Sure, I use as few throw away products as possible, but only because my father branded it onto my psyche,” and “Yeah, I was in the environmental club but that was all about the yearbook picture.” I wanted to think of myself as an environmentally conscious person but my motivations for the green things I’d done didn’t seem pure enough to count.
Then one day it just dawned on me. “Hey, I’m an environmentalist!”
I’m counting down the days until I can drive a hydrogen powered car. A big fat solar array is on my wish list, I daydream about geo-thermal heating and I’m bound and determined to have toilets that flush with grey water from the sink. I don’t think any of those things are particularly shallow. They’re not thing’s I’ve done but thinking about them makes me nearly giddy so I must be an environmentalist. At least a little one.
I’ve never felt conflicted on the topic since, and my inner hippie stamped me with a peace sign of approval.