Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be environmentalists
Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be environmentalists. I know, I did. In the past, I’d read articles about the recently published article “Survey finds 97% of climate science papers agree warming is man-made,” but the importance of it all didn’t click. I was raised like the typical city dweller. My home lacked a true hearth. Instead we had a thermostat complete with central air. Over the years, I’ve learned from my children, both environmentalists, and I’ve grown in my perspective about the need to reduce my carbon footprint. Although I haven’t reached the level of proficiency for which my son is striving, my husband and I have adapted our lifestyle recently. We’re not cowboys—or environmentalists—like my children, but we’re not the typical city dwellers any longer, either.
I raised my children in a house on the corner in a busy neighborhood of cozy homes, and ours boasted seven bedrooms. As a completely remodeled and “updated” Victorian home, the fireplace had been removed. Built from wood, and fashioned with middle-grade windows, the heat we pumped into the excessive square footage leaked in the winter. In the spring, summer, and fall, we often ran the air-conditioning even when we could have cooled the home by opening windows. The traffic noise was bothersome otherwise. After the children left home, and my son began to preach the importance of taking care of our larger home, planet earth, my husband and I considered our carbon footprint in the move. We reduced the size of the house, and we chose one with a wood burning stove and a fireplace. After adding insulation, we updated the windows. With less housework needed, I’ve found the time to increase the size of my garden. I’ve learned to process food with home canning. My son is proud of my accomplishments, but next year he intends to go further.
I tease him this is coming year will be his “Thoreau Experience.” He’s found a cabin outside of town in Athens, Ohio, the town in which he works as a facilities manager for an organic foods processing plant, Shagbark Mills. He’s added a wood stove to the corner, and he intends for it to be his only source of heat. (Yes, as a mother, I’m worried he has no furnace.) At present, he lacks running water, and he showers at a friend’s cabin that boasts more amenities. In the meantime, he is acquiring a cistern and hopes to use rain water in the future. He may run electricity or a solar panel, depending on whether or not the land owner will allow him to remove a few trees to create a break in the tree canopy. With only the summer to prepare before the winter hits, I feel as if he’s gone off homesteading into the Wild West. He’s minutes from Athens, my husband keeps reminding me. He has a car and a cell phone. He has friends and a workplace.
Still, I worry. It’s my city roots telling me everything should always be push-button and accessible without my prior planning. The food should appear in the grocery store, and all I have to do is go to work and pay my bills. I remind myself, reducing a carbon footprint calls for more planning and bit on inconvenience. I do it for my children and their children. I do it because my son, along with my daughter, who is studying Environmental Geography, have educated me. My children have caused me to grow up a bit. I hope to take very little from this world, and as for my son and daughter, I’m proud to leave them behind.
Written By: Tami Absi