Last week, good friends of ours invited my husband and me to a talk featuring actor, Ed Begley, Jr. and architect, Matthew Coates at the Seattle Town Hall. It was titled “Leading the Way toward a sustainable future.”
Mr. Begley is a successful actor and an environmentalist. You can visit his website here. He easily captured the crowd with his sense of humor and stage presence, but what I really enjoyed about his message was his statement on how we can all start to be environmentalists in our own way.
Mr. Begley started being an “environmentalist” in 1970. But, obviously, in those days it didn’t have that label. Living as a struggling actor, he found ways to cut his expenses; he rode the bus, rode his bicycle, grew his own vegetables, composted, recycled and saved up for solar panels. Starting with small actions, enabled him to move onto bigger and better solutions to be environmentally responsible. He also believed that many of his habits were ingrained in him by his father, who grew up during the Depression. But, he said his wife just calls him “cheap”!
I do believe that circumstance can really have a big impact on who we are, how we live and our thoughts and beliefs. I grew up in Tokyo, where public transportation is a necessity. Catching the bus, taking the train and walking is what most of the population do. The city was built and works that way. But now, I live in the suburbs. You need a car, you need to drive and the public transportation is very limited that it may take hours to get to your destination, when driving yourself would take just twenty minutes. Do I feel guilty that I drive everywhere? Well, not really because I don’t have much of a choice. It is a necessity where we live now. We live here because we believe it is a good area to raise a family. Maybe there will come a time when circumstances will change and we will make the necessary adjustments and do the best we can under those conditions.
But, we are here now. That is something we are not willing to change at this time. So, there are other things that we are doing to do our bit for the environment. We do compost and recycle and my husband has started his little herb and vegetable garden. It’s still a process of trial and error, but he’s learning quickly. We’ve enjoyed some unusual Asian greens and it was wonderfully fresh!
Another easy thing we are able to do is to control the thermostat. Where we live, many don’t have air conditioning because it’s relatively cool during the summer. Instead, I installed solar blinds. They really make a huge difference and keeps the house quite cool. However, in the winter I do freeze. I wear a lot of clothes to stay warm.
Last year we got rid of a bit of concrete from our pathway. How is this good for the environment? As the world keeps developing, they found that concrete increases the surrounding temperature compared to soil. Plus a permeable surface, such as pavers and gravel have less rain run off and cools the earth and waters the vegetation.
Yes, these are all little things, but every little thing can add up. Everyone I know is very conscientious and does their own part for the environment. If you have any tips that you would like to share, please let us know!