When my youngest daughter was in sixth grade, twenty years ago, she participated in an Earth Day program to which parents were invited. I became so excited about what the children had to say about our planet and how we can all take part in making our earth a better place to live. On that day I pledged to begin my part by turning off the water while I brushed my teeth. That was the beginning a life-long habit of making a difference in our environment by going green.
Each year new ideas were introduced. We began hanging up our clothing to dry on a line outdoors. Yes, often the lines sagged with the weight of heavy jeans and other work clothes. But I watched with pride as the clothes and sheets billowed high in the wind. Sometimes we had to go rescue them when the lines snapped or the rains came suddenly.
In winter we turned down the heat and bundled up in warm sweaters and long johns under the pants. In summer we opened windows and darkened the rooms with light-filtering shades in an effort to keep cool without the constant use of an air-conditioner.
Recently I met an older lady who boasted that her electric bill had dropped from over $100 to $43.00 per month. I was impressed and asked how she had accomplished such a commendable feat. She said she turned off and unplugged all unnecessary appliances, fixtures and gadgets that continue to drain electricity even after they are turned off. Good call, Grandma! Now we cannot all go quite that far with unplugging all equipment using electricity. But we certainly can go through our homes and plug-ins: Turn off the extra clock, the microwave light, the electric blanket light, and unplug that delicious air freshener, opting instead for a hand spray.
Each year my husband plants a garden. It is the joy of the neighborhood to watch it grow and produce a voluminous harvest. Everyone gets to share in our abundance. This year we have decided to go with a neighborhood garden. Anyone who wants to devote the effort can apply for a space to plant what they would like. We live in a mobile home park and will obtain permission to use a vacant lot for this purpose. Each person or family will police their own plot and pledge to keep their dogs penned at home. If the Lord provides an abundant harvest, we will load up and head to the local Farmer’s Market to sell our produce. Or like me, I can, freeze or make jam of everything I can get my hands on. I am already lining up recipes and ideas for preserving our produce so that it will last through the winter.
Involving the neighborhood families in a garden project is one of the best ways to teach children of every age the life sciences. It also inspires them to develop a greater desire for wholesome foods and reconnect them with nature. In addition, they will learn respect for the earth and for one another as they work together. Our environment is what we put into it and we must each do our part to plan and prepare for the future.
Make plans with your family to carry Earth Day, 2011, one step farther. Go online to “A Billion Acts of Green!” and submit your pledge for an act of green. Currently, 45,771,651 pledges have been made. Do your part and make a pledge.