A Family Visit: A Lesson in Sustainability
Last week I had a great time entertaining my daughter, her husband and their two children ages 2 and 6 months. They made the long trip from Missouri to visit “Nano” and I am thankful for each moment together. I thought they may become full-time Florida residents because the drive down was not easy with the children and each day the adults commented on how they dreaded the trip home. I am happy to report the children must have understood their parents’ frustrations because the trip back was reported to be a “breeze” by comparison.
During their visit it became apparent to me how much my life has changed since moving here and affiliating both professionally and personally with people who are so in tune with sustainability and returning to the earth what is rightfully the earth’s to redeem. When the weather looked cool and rainy, I filled a children’s swimming pool and allowed my two year Trenton to have some water fun in the garage of my home. As their departure approached, I had several offers by my son-in-law to empty the pool. I soon learned that his idea of emptying it and mine were very different. I bucketed water and watered all my plants and then put the rest in plastic tubs in the garage to be used similarly in the next few weeks. No longer would I consider allowing it to flow down my driveway to be wasted. Would I have done this five years ago before I learned so much about sustainability? I don’t think so; my children certainly did not reflect that understanding. Wakulla County citizens, you have taught me well.
Because I have a very small yard, my compost items come to the Extension Office to be added to our unit. Reminding my children with every fruit they ate that the garbage disposal was not the place for the leftovers was another new lesson for them.
Due to the movie “Blue-Gold” that Sustainable Big Bend and the Extension Office has been showing around the county to interested groups concerning the water wars that soon will replace the oil wars, I was very aware of the long showers that were taken by all and how my grandson was surprised that when the bathtub was filled with an adequate amount of water for his bath, more water was unnecessary flowing from the faucet to provide a waterfall in which to play.
I think my children departed with evidence of how much I have learned and changed through my work and play in Wakulla County. This beautiful County and its people make sustainability a central issue of importance in the lives of people.
Conservation not only allows me to do my part to protect the environment it can also help me save money. Consider these reminders:
- Use appliance efficiently. Turn them off when you don’t need them. Turn off your water heater when you are going to gone for several days. There is no need to heat water when it will not be used. Cook in small appliances such as slow cookers and microwave ovens. Rediscover your pressure pan. Use smaller pots and pans. Keep refrigerator and oven doors closed!! Teach your children not to stand in front of an open refrigerator as they decide on a snack.
- Save energy when cooking. Prepare casseroles and other one-dish meals that let you cook the whole meal in the oven or on the burner at one time. Fill your stove with additional foods to cook and re-heat later. The cost of heating the oven is the same whether it is full or partially so.
- Cut down on your preheating time. Preheat the oven just before you need to use it.
- Repair dripping faucets. One drop per second can waste 700 gallons of water over the course of a year.
- Turn off the water. If you have enough in the sink or are not using the water, turn off the faucet. Remember to scrape with a brush instead of rinsing a dish under a stream of water.
- Prepare food properly. Burned or poorly prepared food can end up in the trash, so plan ahead and follow recipe instructions carefully.
- Cut back on disposables. Have a rag bag in the kitchen for clean up or for general cleaning. Save the paper towels for the exception instead of the rule.
- And finally, less is more. Prepare the right amount of food and store leftovers safely. Reach for products that have less packaging or buy items in bulk and store them in reusable packaging. Cut down on all the plastic bags you might purchase for temporary storage; purchase and reuse containers again and again. Remember, waste from product packaging makes up a third or more of the trash people create. It uses up resources, such as fuel used to transport trash and takes up space in landfills.
You can make a difference!! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repair.