Two of my favorite recent documentaries are Who Killed The Electric Car? and The 11th Hour. The first film is about the creation and almost immediate destruction of an eco-friendly electric car and the mystery behind the destruction of something so desperately needed right now. The second centers around the idea that it's still possible to make a positive impact regarding the global crisis we're in. The human race is responsible for destroying the delicate balance of earth's ecosystems and it's our responsibility to fix it-before it's too late. I recently sat down to watch them again-this time with my kids-and it really got me thinking. During the films I had to hit pause over and over to explain certain factors to my kids to help them understand. Then the idea struck me: what better way to learn than from example. So I decided to set a challenge for my family.
The idea is to help us figure out ways we can cut our dependence on electricity, gas, oil and other planet-harming modern conveniences by reducing the amount we use them once a week. It's not an all-or-nothing, radical and extreme change of life. But something that's flexible (if we need to visit someone who lives three hours away, we'll get in the car) and doable. As a family I'd say we're already pretty green. I stay away from plastic toys, buy organic food, use only organic cleaning products and (of course) only organic bath and body products for the entire family. We've also been renovating our home with environmentally conscious updates such as low water toilets and non-toxic paints.
So during the experience I want to actively cut out electricity, without going overboard. We won't use lights (only candles), run the dishwasher, use the washing machine, turn on the computer or cook food with electricity. Obviously a few things will have to remain plugged in-the refrigerator for example. It won't do us any good to waste all of the food in my freezer. And there are cases when it's just necessary to flush the toilet. But for the most part we'll ride bikes to get where we need to go, eat raw food and use nothing that requires batteries.
When the weather is hot we'll open the windows to circulate the air and close the blinds to keep the rooms cool. And in the winter we'll warm up in front of our fireplace. I don't know if it will be successful. Because-like it or not-being 'plugged in' is very much a 21st century idea. And my kids are a product of their century. But even though I anticipate complaining, I hope that once we get started, they'll start to have fun. I can already envision us playing board games in front of the fireplace in a room lit with candles. And just as important as family bonding is the opportunity to for my children to learn a valuable lesson about being conservative when it comes to using energy. I challenge you to try this idea with your family-once a week or just once. Email me to let me know how it worked out.