Carbon Footprint Awareness

My Story – Then & Now

When I was a small child I would get very upset when I saw anyone littering and not putting garbage where garbage should be. I remember imagining the river with tons of litter floating down stream. Mother told me not to worry about it, but my young mind foresaw what I have since seen to be a reality in today’s world. I remember saying “but if everyone does it, there will be a problem”.

Now, 50 years later we know we have a problem and it is not just litter and garbage anymore – it is the carbon footprint we all leave on this planet by merely being alive. When I was growing up in a small rural town close to farmers and away from the big cities we could still live our lives without worrying about our impact on consumption. We did everything in an Eco-friendly way because that was the only way there was.

Our Food Supply Then

Our fruits and vegetables were home grown or purchased from the farmer next door to us. There was very little gas needed or packaging to get food from where it was grown to our table. All processing costs or energy consumption used to get food, including meat, milk and eggs from farmer to consumption was minimal. Our family and all of our neighbors grew our own fruits and vegetables, raised chickens, owned a milk cow or two and had a pigpen where we threw our leftovers. That pretty much covered our food supply. In autumn we would kill the chickens and actually can them in large see through quart jars. The pigs would be slaughtered and we would make farmer sausage to last through the winter.

Delicious food and a much simpler way of living. I didn’t say easier, I watched my parents work very hard, but simpler – yes. In terms of a carbon footprint much cleaner – for sure!

Our Clothing Supply Then

Mother sewed 97% of our clothing, we all wore hand-me-downs or bought clothes at the second-hand-store. I was always so excited when I grew into my older sisters clothing. The only thing that was new would be shoes because they don’t fit well after another person has worn them any length of time. Closets were small so number of clothes were limited. Still we were always well dressed and did not feel a lack of anything.

Energy Consumption Then

As I said earlier our food supply used very little energy. Our car was not used to drive children to sports events or practices; we walked or rode our bicycles. Our family of 10 lived in a 4 bedroom home comfortably. The car was used to get dad to work and to drive to church on Sundays and maybe visit relatives Sunday afternoon.

That was only 50 years ago! Rereading this it sounds like a pioneers life and in a way I guess it was, but that was everyone’s life then. In terms of carbon footprint it was carbon footprint neutral.

Water Use Then

We had an outdoor biffy, the word isn’t even in our spell check now, but it used no water. A well on our neighbors property had the best drinking water for miles around. When we had baths the young ones would get bathed first and us older children would use there water. When you have to fetch and carry this only makes sense. Many of my friends say, oh I could never do that. Well I think otherwise, they would have had they lived our life.

Washing clothes was done in a washing machine that we manually filled with water and clothes were washed form cleanest to dirtiest so as not to use too much water. The clean clothes were then hung out in the sunshine to dry, both summer and winter.

We lived with a different mindset then. Everything was valued, nothing was taken for granted and certainly nothing was ever wasted, period. This generation would feel very hard done by, but only after having lived as everyone does today.Then it was our life there was no other chose.

Lets Examine Life Today! – Carbon Footprints

Our Food Supply Now

We drive to the grocery store where we buy green string beans grown who knows where. We do this summer and winter and never give it a second thought other then maybe complain about the lack of garden freshness that we demand. We have just created a carbon footprint. The gas we used to drive to the store, plus the gas needed to bring the beans to the grocery store in the first place. The refrigerated truck that traveled from Mexico in the middle of winter to deliver this garden fresh produce to our grocery store.  It goes on and on – meat again needs to be kept cold or frozen. We need to count the carbon footprint cost of the growing, the packaging, the delivery cost and lets not forget the food preparation cost as well.

Our Clothing Supply Now

I own about 60 pair of shoes, some leather, some man-made material only about 2 pair that are really comfortable. I prefer to go barefoot and do whenever I can. So why the many pairs of shoes – who really knows – a habit I developed over the years, before I started thinking about my personal carbon footprint.

I have pretty much stuck to clothes shopping at second hand stores, old habits die hard they say. In the past, that was a matter of taste more than awareness of consumption. My closets are full to overflowing of clothes that do not fit me anymore. I have been gifting them to people I know will wear them but then I still go out and replace them out of a non-awareness habit. Now that I am making a concentrated effort at reducing my own personal carbon footprint this has stopped.

The footprint we all leave due to our consumer habits are frightful when evaluated in terms of real needs met. When I allow myself to think in terms of what am I doing to this planet and what will be left for my grandchildren and their children, it becomes super easy to say no to anything – really. I can still mow my lawn with a push mower and besides its good exercise for me and I don’t need a new pair of shorts to do it either.

Energy Consumption Now

We drive across town for a greasy hamburger and french fries at that great diner where all the truckers stop to eat. We drive our children and grandchildren all around town to practice after practice without a thought of carpooling even though our neighbors children play on the same team. Oh, but I need to shop after practice is an easy excuse to use our car and gas. We drive everywhere instead of walking. We leave TVs on, computers on, lights on. We just love to consume. A vacation is never evaluated in terms of what carbon footprint are we leaving.

Water Use Now

15 minute showers are considered short by most people. Running tap water to brush our teeth is the only way to go. No one gives a second thought to running a half filled load in the dishwasher or washing machine.We must have the greenest lawn on out block so we water it endlessly even though it is the “un-greenest” thing we can do. I know, you know, and get the point.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint.

I’m only saying we need to be aware of our carbon footprint. No one person can change how life has progressed, but each and every one of us can do our part. This website Earth Smart Choices has been setup in order to do my small part.

To read an excellent article about protection of the environment and the movement associated with it  follow this link





2 Responses to Carbon Footprint Awareness

  1. Darline January 9, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Being over 60, myself, I remember fondly all you’ve covered in this post, and so appreciate your comments! Boy have times changed. I’d love to be able to go back in time, and live as you describe some 50 years ago. Yes, folks had to work hard, but life was easier, without all this darn technology! As I type this on my computer. :)

    I still pay attention, as best I can to my own consumption, and live with as little as I can. I think, possibly, with the down economy, many others are either doing the same, or at least thinking about it, due to necessity!?

  2. Essy April 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Hi Darlene

    I agree with you life was easier, in a way, yet more difficult in many other ways. I would not want to go back to that place in time just for the lack of human behavioral psychological understanding back then.

    We have come a long way in more than just technology, parents would send their pregnant teenage daughter away for a year, give the child up for adoption, and think they were doing the right thing; saving their and their daughters reputation.
    How archaic was that?

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