Friday, August 19, 2011

Walking the Environmental Walk

Back some time ago, I was having an email conversation with one of my brothers that touched on, among other things, environmentalism. I believe strongly that we need to take better care of the planet than we are doing. It occurred to me, though, that, other than our regular recycling, I'm not really doing much that is specifically environmentally-friendly.

Now, I have my reasons. Composting is time-consuming, and because of Ken's carnivorous tendencies, most of our food waste has some meat in it, which I understand is not good to compost, especially in areas with meat-eating wildlife. And we have a whole pack of coyotes living in the quarry on the other side of our backyard fence. Giving up the car would mean not getting out much, since taking 5 kids on public transport requires lots of effort. And since most of my friends do not live somewhere I can reach by public transport within a reasonable amount of time, giving up the car would mean giving up on some people I am very close to. And so on and so forth.

In an effort to go beyond talking the talk into walking the walk, I asked God what I could do to be more environmentally friendly. Use less water.

I asked several times over the course of a couple weeks, and every time, it was like there was this tiny whisper of a thought: "Use less water. (But don't go overboard)." So I started trying to think of ways to use less water.

And immediately ran into a brick wall.

  1. I love the high-performance showerhead that we recently got, and while I might possibly be convinced to give it up, I don't think Ken could be.
  2. Again, I could possibly be convinced to adopt water conservation techniques, but I don't want to, and I'm pretty sure Ken would object strenuously if I suggested it.
  3. Any other attempt to reduce our water usage basically means doing less cleaning. Laundry; dishes; baths, those are pretty much our major water uses. I already make all of my kids share the same bathwater, and I try to do only full loads of laundry because I have to pay actual quarters for each load.

It seemed like any of my options would lead to some way of me failing as a wife or mother, so I didn't see how I could save water. But the thought would not go away. It kept nagging at me and bugging me for several months. Every time I did dishes or washed my hands, it would come back to mind. Finally, one day, when I was washing dishes and the thought was nagging at me again, in an effort to relieve my frustration with the thought, I reached out and turned the faucet down a little.

And there was peace.

I was like.... "Seriously, God? Seriously?!" I mean, c'mon here. We have seven people taking showers and baths, flushing the toilet down umpteen times a day, washing hands, seven plus loads of laundry a week, tons of dirty dishes that require sinkfuls of water to clean can turning the water faucet down ever so slightly make any difference? As I thought about it, though, I realized that all that other water that we use is needed. This tiny bit of water that is the difference between having the faucet on medium and having it on low - that tiny bit was superfluous. Not being able to do anything about the rest of the water we use didn't mean that this comparatively tiny amount didn't matter. I also belatedly noticed that it was when I was running the faucet - i.e. when I was doing dishes or washing my hands - that I had been bothered by the thought that I should use less water. That thought was not occurring to me when I was flushing the toilet or taking a shower.

So there you go. Now I'm trying to keep the faucet down low and use less water.


  1. I find that one of satan's most effective tools is to have me concentrate so much on what I can't do for very ligitimate reasons instead of what I can do. I constently have to remind myself that I am not called to do everything, just called to do my part and offer what I can. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. *Nodding along with what you said*. Yep yep. :)

  3. I think a reminder that the simple things make a difference is often much needed; I really get caught up in "this is too hard and overwhelming so I just won't do it at all" mode myself.

    In addition, because I really like your blog and not just because we're related, I gave you a little blogging award thing :) I am apparently supposed to comment and tell you this.