The hopeful thing is there’s something we can do!

A few months ago Kid Two brought home An Inconvenient Truth, the movie that won Al Gore an Academy Award.

As we watched it, two things hit me like a ton of bricks. The first: why am I truly just taking the enormity of this issue to my heart now? Why has it taken so long? The second: why did this man not become president of the United States. Take the money spent on war in Iraq and global warming would be solved!

The best part of that film is its hopeful ending. There is something each of us can do.

Sunday and Monday nights, my first husband and I watched the Attenborough film on global warming. It too had a hopeful conclusion. Empowering, even.

When the issue is worldwide and so big, when China is poised to live like the western world, with our consumptive habits, can we really halt the change we have wrought?

No longer will I listen to people who laugh this issue away as fearmongering. I believe.

So, as a family that’s been composting since 1972, what else can we do? Well, we can become absolutely vehement about the organic program, that’s for sure. And we can purchase food that comes with no packaging at all… and get out of the middle aisles in the grocery store. In fact, we can buy locally produced food as much as possible.

We can turn off the tap as we brush our teeth, quicken our showers, and switch the washing machine to cold wash, cold rinse. Done. We haven’t used our dishwasher since the kids left, so that’s a good feeling.

We can make a goal to reduce our car use by 20% this next half year. And how do we do that? We carpool a little more, and we schedule our workdays so there are whole days where we do deskwork and don’t even turn the key in the ignition. Change the schedule, help reduce carbon emissions.

The Attenborough film suggested we should all move to vehicles that get at least 60 miles to the gallon. Well, we’ve done that! No gas guzzlers for us.

Even if you’ve lived a consumer life that’s aware, there’s still so much to do. Natural cake soap instead of liquid soap in yet another plastic container. Minimal or no packaging. Recycle old clothes into rags, drop off serviceable goods to second hand locations. Turn off stereos, televisions, computers, printers if they’re not being used. Better still, restrict their use to one hour or less a day. Well, the television, anyway. But, it might not hurt to cut back on computer time, too.

Cook in a toaster oven instead of a stove oven. Take a long look at the chemical content of whata’s washing our dishes, our bodies, our clothes, our floors and dusting our furniture. Get the most natural formulations possible, not just for the cottage but all year long.

Stop driving through drive-throughs. Park. Get out. Walk inside. Say hello to the person behind the counter. Get your stuff. Walk back out. Get back in vehicle. There now! Feel a little healthier? Sure, you do!

Take cloth bags to not only the grocery store, but to the clothing store, the electronics store, the office supply store. Turn down plastic bags whenever possible. Ask for paper bags at the grocery store and then use them in our organic bin. Makes sense.

Put environmental lightbulbs in every single socket inside and outside our house. Every single one. Watch the hydro bill drop.

Consider wind energy. Consider calling Dommel Valley Green Power and see what alternative power really looks like. Consider solar. Call Chris Colthius as Solar Wind Electric and get the goods and a quote on alternatives.

Look at just-in-time hot water systems. Look at the cost of a high-efficiency furnace.

Don’t throw out water… grade its use.

As we listened to both shows, we decided we could step up our efforts to live more responsibly on this earth. We looked out on the deck at the Christmas presents that are waiting for winter to leave… environmentally friendly kayaks and human powered movement systems (paddles) and we long for the warmer weather that will let us take recreation in a meaningful way.

There is much we can do. I guess it starts with awareness. And both of those films are excellent stimuli for change. A great family activity to watch and develop a game plan.

In fact, I’m interested in changes you and your families are making, at work, at home, at play. Let me know and I’ll share them.

Al? Thanks!