Earth Day 2010 coincided with me reading the book A Life Stripped Bare: My Year Trying to Live Ethically by Leo Hickman, a London journalist who accepts the challenge to take a step back from his “daily habits and consumer choices to understand their true impact.”
Like this self-effacing family guy, I’m not crazy-reckless with resources, but I have room for improvement. My children and I already compost kitchen waste, recycle paper, glass, and plastic, recharge batteries, carry groceries in canvas totes, grow a vegetable garden, and slurp water from #2 refillable sports bottles. I turn off the faucet when I brush my teeth and switch off lights as I leave the room (residual habits from the ’70s). My monthly bills and invoices come to me as e-statements, and I pay them online. I’ve used the same family computer and cell phone since 2004. When possible, I bike to the market or hardware store and carry my purchases home in a dorky handlebar basket, much to the chagrin of my teenagers.
Having read Hickman’s book, I’m inspired to make a few more commitments to ethical living. I’m going to unplug the television and cell phone charger when we’re not using them to save electricity. Today I inquired about purchasing a half share of Community Supported Agriculture, and I’ll start buying milk and eggs from local dairy farmers. I still plan to get household staples at the commissary, but I’ll read labels more carefully so we use earth-friendly cleaners, soap, and toilet paper. I’ll install a clothesline in the back yard (as my daughter recommended a year ago) and patronize the Saturday farmers’ market, which is conveniently located within walking distance of our (modest) home.
Small, simple steps in my Earth Day pledge to live more thoughtfully and less wastefully.