How To Be A Good Stewart Of The Earth And Not Alienate Friends and Family

I remember years ago, when my kids were young and they watched Barney, the purple dinosaur on TV. Thinking back, Barney was polarizing, either you liked him or couldn’t stand that purple giant in the midst of much smaller children. Regardless, I wasn’t one of those who had an intolerant attitude toward him – I felt like he was harmless and generally taught children some good habits, and besides, he was on free TV. One thing that still resonates with me about Barney was being a good steward with resources and one example was conserving water while brushing one’s teeth. If you brush your teeth for 100 seconds, perhaps the water need only be running for 10 or 15 seconds. Just think of this one lesson many young people learned by watching Barney while they were young. My hope is that some of these people still handle water careful when bathing or brushing one’s teeth.

IMG_0977About that same time, I took a medical terminology class and discussing the Barney phenomenon with my instructor on a number of occasions. We were on opposite sides of the issue. I thought of one example where I thought Barney was trying to do well, instill that lesson in children not to run the water unnecessarily while brushing their teeth. Conserve the water and only use it when necessary. I would not consider myself an environmentalist; however, I respect our resources and physical environment and will do what I can to keep resources around for many generations to come.

It was such a common sense approach with a nod to the environment, how could you not like that approach. My former instructor could not get past her distaste for Barney to see the good he was trying to convey that she couldn’t see the trees through the forest. I was flummoxed, thinking this coach and trainer would have an open mind, especially when the lesson contained an exhaustible resource.

I see friends and family washing strawberries with the water running at full speed without capturing any of the water. As I watched this occur, I’m wondering how many gallons of treated water is used with one pint of strawberries? Or two pints? It’s a frustrating gesture as the results don’t have to be so much.

IMG_0975You may mention something to them about their water usage and some may say they’ve never thought of it and my response is, why not? I think as a silent aggressive that you have never considered how much water is used to wash fruit or vegetables? I may mention this to others who may not react so kindly to the idea so some of my future challenges may go muted.

Is there another way to wash berries and conserve too? Could you fill up a bowl of cold water and let them soak before running the water slowly to clean all the berries? Could you do the same thing in the sink? What about running the water at such a low level when cleaning them, with or without a bowl or container to catch the water. And possibly reuse some of the water for another usage.

When it comes to washing dishes, I’m old school and manually clean the family’s dishes if given the chance. I’m not exactly anti-dishwasher, I just don’t see much value or time savings with it. I learned to wash dishes when at age 6, my mom felt it was necessary to keep me busy and help out with the chores. Some evenings, I had to wash 9 plates, 9 glasses, 9 spoons, 9 forks, and large pots and pans. When my youngest sister announced her presence into the world, I had to add 1 more item to the list of dishes I was required to clean. I learned to clean dishes very thoroughly and efficiency so I never warmed up to a dishwasher.

If some guests, family members or friends want to use the dishwasher, I’m not going to get in their way, that’s their choice. However, my frustration when watching people use this modern appliance is how much cleaning and rinsing is done before placing the glasses, plates and eating utensils into the dishwasher. In addition, it’s not just the amount of cleaning and rinsing, it’s the degree to which the tap water pours out of the faucet. From my empirical experience, one can utilize 75 percent less water and energy by being good stewards of this precious resource.

IMG_0976How do you convince people of this fact? Is it my place to do so? Should I just walk away and ignore the amount of water that is not being properly utilized when washing fruits, vegetables and dishes? Do you over compensate by this excess by becoming more of a minimalist? On the other hand, do you stand up for the environment and risk being scorned by those who don’t care or don’t know there’s another way to be kind to the earth and a little more into conservation?



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