GREENING THE FAMILY

 “STOP TRYING TO SAVE THE WORLD!”

(AND OTHER PESKY RESOLUTIONS)
A few years ago I was more than ready for the New Year. In contrast to previous celebrations, I was equipped with an amazing resolution. I could hardly wait for the ball to drop in Times Square. C’mon Dick Clark, I’m ready! Having been too self-absorbed for years to think about the environmental problems we face in our everyday lives, I had recently awakened to the cause. The world needed me! And I was prepared to join the fight for the planet! I felt like a superhero—I couldn’t wait to fight our enemies (I myself being one of them)!

Seeing as we all live here, in the world, I figured I’d have plenty of people joining me. Conserve energy! Buy a car that gets good gas mileage (22 on the highway does not count as good)! Recycle! Consume LESS. Remove high fructose corn syrup from our diets! Wow, I was on a roll. “Who’s with me?” I shouted via email, backyard BBQs, and at work. “Can’t you see what YOU need to do?”

That’s when I heard the crickets. Hello? Anybody? Attention people of Earth! I have come to save you!

Is anyone listening?

Hello?

Still nothing. Was I not loud enough?

Yes, there were pockets of people out there fighting the good fight, and I aligned with them, but it seemed like The World, well, wasn’t interested in being saved. Could this be? Yes, I was a zombie to “the call” myself for years, BUT NOW I’M READY!

Then I remembered my previous resolution gaffes. The worst thing one can do, in late December, is announce, “I’m going to lose twenty pounds!” Such an announcement sets a rather high bar, and the next time you see your friends, they will EXPECT to see a change. A big one. A twenty pound one. But wait! I was just TALKING about losing the weight. Oops. All talk. No action.

The World wasn’t interested in my talk. So what next?

Devouring all types of “Green” publications and websites, I read the words that gave me my answer. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi said that. Good ol’ Gandhi!

My World! Duh. How simple. The World is a rather big place, and while my intentions were good, my scope may have been a bit large. But my world, and the things that encompass it, now that was something I could change! And save! And getting our family of four in line seemed less daunting than, yes, working with all the rest of you.

Greening The Family: Part 1, Slow and Steady

Any change can be a shock to the system. We are creatures of habit, we Americans. Get up at the same time, eat the same thing, get coffee at the same place, drive the same route, etc. A schedule creates balance, and we don’t like many surprises. So Going Green can be daunting, like any change. So let’s go real slow. No huge checklists, promise.

Here’s something you can do right now! Yes. NOW. Read this, go do it, come back. Ready?

If you own your own home, go to your hot water heater, and TURN DOWN the hot water temperature. How much?

That’s up to you. Mine has an A, B, or C (hottest) choice. So I’m between A and B. Still plenty hot. Go ahead, I’ll be here when you come back.

Hum hum hum…do do da…la tee da…

There! Easy, huh? Less than a minute I bet. Hot water bill? Lower. Saving money? Check. Conserving energy? Check-a-roni. First step on the road to Greener Living.

What’s that? This is easy? You want another one?

OK! This one also saves money. Weekend away money, and it may be my favorite, but be warned, it’s a change!

French press coffee!

I mentioned coffee. Mmmmm, coffee. Drinking one right now while writing I am. How many coffees do you purchase a week? Let’s go low, and say you buy one $2 cup a day, 5 times a week. I’m a writer, not a math guy, but that’s ten bucks a week, or a whopping $500 a year (notice I gave you two weeks off even)! This year you can use that five hundie in Florida, or Vegas, or in the backyard, or to pay those Fantasy Football dues. Can it be?

Yes. Brew your own. I don’t care how much you love Dunkies or are addicted to Starbucks, you have the power to make a much better cup o’ joe. Maybe there was a time when the coffee was brewed special by someone who actually cared, but as the level of service drops to lower and lower levels, and those lines get longer and longer, you can TAKE CONTROL back! Doesn’t matter how you do it, I would just recommend spending a little time figuring out the best way to make it happen. Change, creature, change!

I bought a French press (not fancy, not electric) at a thrift store for $3. Best purchase evah! I make coffee every other day, keeping the remains in the fridge for next morning’s “I don’t wanna make coffee.” How nice to find an iced coffee waiting for me right there. And besides saving HUNDREDS of dollars passing by the drive-thru, I also don’t create that PILE of Styrofoam cups that are in your backseat, rolling around in parking lots, using up landfills… everywhere! I can’t make everyone stop buying Styrofoam cups, but in my world consumption is next to nothing. And really, the coffee is much better!

Every week I drive past my neighbor’s huge trash can, overflowing with cardboard and plastic bottles, jammed with things that can be recycled. I get aggravated. Then I relax, because that’s a different world, far, far away. In my home world, I’m focusing on doing what I can, ‘cuz that’s all I can do. Right, Mr. Gandhi?

As the days roll into weeks and become years of my life, I find myself constantly tweaking my way of living. I remind myself daily that any change takes time, and the important thing is to keep the forward motion. I feel good about the little things I do to conserve and recycle, and most things we do we do to feel good. Like the runner who starts to depend on

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In my world, I’m focusing on doing what I can, ‘cuz that’s all I can do.

the pure rush of endorphins during a run, and the literal high afterward, I find myself eating, sleeping, and living better because of these little steps. It’s a buzz, one that you can share, and one that benefits everybody. Little steps become bigger ones. Bigger buzz? Yes, please (it is New Year’s after all).

“This year I will conserve energy, save some money, and drink better coffee!” Go ahead and shout it out loud! Who’s going to argue with that?

by Mike Gioscia.
Mike is a filmmaker, writer, DJ, drummer, and chicken wrangler. He is also a Board Member at the 125-acre Soule Homestead in Middleboro.

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The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
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