by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
August 14, 2007
SAVING THE PLANET
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- As John walked through the living room he said, not unkindly, "I spend half my time turning off lights. We have to save the planet, you know." What could I say? He managed to stifle me this time. I am not going to deny a fellow earthling the right - our duty, he claims - to save the planet.
Normally, John slips up behind me - rightly thinking I've dozed off - to snap off the lamp.
"I'm using that light," I fairly scream while the cat skitters from my lap, knocks my book out of my hands and crosses the room to the safety of corner darkness. John will turn on the light again but talk about the planet while I complain that I have dim vision.
"Put on your glasses," he'll say.
"I didn't say I have poor vision; I said I have dim vision. I notice the electric bill went down, is that because I've been stumbling around in the dark?"
"No, smarty, the electric bill went down because I installed a power- saving attachment to the air conditioner," he answered with playful mockery.
John is really serious about doing all he can do to save the planet - and, frankly, if he ends up with a few extra coins in his pocket, well, that would be an incentive, too.
I, on the other hand, am just beginning to pay attention to waste, landfill overloads with non-biodegradable materials like styrofoam cups, disposable diapers, and the like. We were tossing out dozens of empty water bottles until John installed a water filter on our kitchen faucet. The bottled water was cheap enough but the $5.00 filter provides the same assurance that I won't be drinking plain Georgia tap water, a sulfur-smelling liquid not to my taste.
Little by little. I notice John's efforts at complying with recommendations put forth by organizations dedicated to the same beliefs we were raised with: Conserve, collect, reduce, reuse, recycle, and share. We learned most of those principles during the Great Depression when adhering to them meant survival.
These were also building blocks of character instilled long before we knew keeping America beautiful was up to us. Our country was almost knee-deep in trash before we started making it a crime to toss so much as a gum wrapper. We even have a name for the criminals: Litterbugs.
And now, we focus on the planet where many other people have been focusing all along. Thank goodness for those among us who forewarn us of what's not only possible but probable if we don't act. And, they set examples. John quietly goes his own way but our showers are equipped with low-flow shower heads. I would have rejected that installation but I've been using it and never knew the difference. That John!
I'm running out of closet space but not paper towels. One of the admonitions about saving our planet is to buy in bulk. We have cartons of paper products and cat food. We buy non-refrigerated products by the case. Of course, shopping at places like Sam's Club and Costco does save us money - but, not when you consider the cost of gasoline for the bi-weekly 65-mile drive just to stock up. We're may not be saving money but we are saving the world.
We're not saving it for us in our lifetime but making a strong effort in the right direction will do it after we're gone. Should we care? Well, we must. Look at it from the standpoint of a business. I'm quoting the following to offer an analogy - setting a standard in business and setting a standard for human behavior:
"The International Organization on Standardization - which produces environmental standards known as ISO14000 - summarizes how business might look at this new thinking: 'Any manager will try to avoid pollution that could cost the company a fine for infringing environmental legislation. But better managers will agree that doing only just enough to keep the company out of trouble with government inspectors is a rather weak and reactive approach to business in today's increasingly environment-conscious world.'"
My vision may be dimmed, but I'm beginning to see my way clear; John is not only keeping us safe for our lifetime but for the lives and the lives and the lives and the lives of those to come. Saving the planet is such a simple thing; it's the least we can do.