Posted by: chlost | April 22, 2012

Do what I say, not what I do. Please!

I remember the first Earth Day.

I was in high school. That certainly dates me.

At the time, we lived in a very small rural town. The area was primarily agricultural. There were the “town kids” and the “farm kids”. But no one identified themselves as an activist. I think I may have put up a poster about Earth Day. There were no marches or parades in my town.

For one of my English papers, I wrote on the subject of saving resources. I clearly remember writing about turning off the faucet while brushing teeth as a way to save water. I also did some writing about recycling and overpopulation. Radical stuff for the early 70’s. To think that we’d been letting the water run, and using pastel-colored tissues and toilet paper without a thought!

So I was the only “activist” in the high school. I may have had a reputation as a bit of a nut. I didn’t go without shaving my legs like my college roommate (I had fought that battle with my parents long and hard, I would never have given that up!); but I did try to be responsible about my habits as best I could. I only bought white toilet paper.

My mother worked a nurse for planned parenthood back then. She traveled the rural areas, trying to reach the isolated farm women to provide them with health care. Overpopulation was the issue I saw as most important. I believed that ZPG-zero population growth-would make the difference in saving the world.

Yeah, so Merle and I have three kids. Shows how well that went.

Now I watch my adult kids and their friends. One of the young men writes for an environmental online “magazine”. He is quite prolific, and tackles some very interesting and controversial issues. He has traveled all over the world, photographs endangered wildlife and spaces and then writes about it.

My children all eat mostly organic foods. Both my daughter and daughter-in-law hope to live on a farm or become urban farmers. If they could, they would go back to the subsistence farm life.

Both of them also recycle and compost. My daughter-in-law buys thrift-store clothes for the kids and my son and her as part of her dedication to recycling.

We recycle through our local trash company. I hope that the stuff that goes into that recycle bin is actually recycled rather than dumped with everything else into the landfill. But I am not sure.

We try to buy locally grown food. But I do enjoy an orange in the winter. And I’m pretty sure that kiwi are grown nearby. Right?

Our kids are part of the community agriculture program where they get a box of local farm produce every week during the growing season. There are things like turnips and rutabagas. All of our kids go to the farmers’ market to buy produce regularly.

I have never eaten a turnip or a rutabaga. Our local farmers’ market is on a Thursday evening, so even though I have had good intentions, I just forget to go there.

Our kids bring reusable bags to the grocery store. They carry them in the trunk of the car. They actually bring them into the store and use them to  bring home the groceries.

I always forget to bring reusable bags with me to the store, and if I do have some, I forget them in the car. I certainly can’t go back to the car for them once I am in the store.

My point? Our kids seem to be doing a much better job at the Earth Day philosophy than we, who started the whole thing, have done.

We talked the talk.

They have walked the walk.

I just hope that their kids go even further.

Because we may have started the Earth Day observance, but we have been pretty darn lousy at saving the Earth.



  1. Congrats on not producing a burden on society! Seriously, it’s good to see them turn out well. I was a college freshman for the first Earth Day. It was a big deal back then. While I have done some occasional backsliding myself, I think the whole movement has kept us from drowning in our own refuse, so far. It is amazing to note that the US population has more than doubled and the world has more than tripled in my short lifetime.

    • I don’t think I have had much to do with it, as my habits show. I am worried about the third-world countries which are still learning the limits of the world.

  2. We sure have done a lousy job. But if our children do better than we did, that redeems us somewhat.

    • Somewhat. At least we raised the alarm.

  3. I guess we didn’t know what we didn’t know back then. But thankfully, our children have it right and so do we…now that we know what we know.

    • Yes, and I hope we continue to improve our actions. Thanks for stopping by.

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