Friday, October 16, 2009

Of Pipe Wrenches and Shorter Showers

When I was very young my father had an on-going battle with my older brother about the length of his showers. My dad was and is very much a product of the Great Depression and we were very much a “turn off the lights and close the doors to avoid using excess energy” sort of family. Dad was a terror on waste so he devised a system whereby he would scoot out to the garage when my brother hopped into the shower and after about five minutes or so he would take a wrench and slowly turn off the hot water feed from the water heater. I am not sure that my brother ever caught on, but it was a pretty effective deterrent to long showers. Dad had pretty much broken off the valve handle by the time that I started my voluntary bathing era and the general attitude at that time was shifting to one of looking after energy use. My point in all of this is that often times it takes something to get us to behave the way we should. For my brother it was a pipe wrench and for me it’s remembering the Santa Clara Valley before and after urban sprawl. Sometimes it is something small like reducing the size of your garbage pail in the kitchen to remind you to recycle more and throw less away. And sometimes it is something big like seeing a fish kill or sea bird wandering around with a plastic soda can ring encircling its neck, to make you be more conscious of your home chemical use or beverage container choice. Find the things and signals that help you improve your behavior and celebrate them.

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