On Rituals, Initiatives, Politely Living Green and What I Learned From a Seventeen Year Old

Ritual n. Established procedure or routine.
Initiative n. The power or ability to begin or to follow through energetically with a plan or task.

When my son was 17 years old, we had a weekly ritual.  Every Thursday evening, I would politely ask him to take the garbage out to the curb for removal on Friday morning.  My son would then tell me he was busy.  I would persist.  I would tell him that I wanted it taken out “right now” as he would forget to do it later.  He then would usually give his most valid excuse.  He was "doing his homework" and asked if I wanted him to get good grades or not.  I ended this ritual each week by taking the garbage out myself. This ritual, which had gone on since he was 15, taught me three important things. 


1. I added many more clicks on my pedometer when I took the garbage out, which was a good thing.  I could use the exercise. 


2. Even though I tried to cut back on what I was adding to the local landfills, I noticed I was still throwing away more "stuff" each week. That was not so good. 


3. Trying to persuade a 17 year old to do anything he or she does not want to do, is as pointless as trying to teach my cat how to reply to my texts, or to tweet for me.  If I had the power to do that, I would be thrilled!  My cat’s paws are much smaller than mine.

Now, I knew #1 and #3 weren’t worth me stressing over.  It was #2 that had me bothered.  I had to wonder, in such a small household; How did we accumulate so much.... well, garbage?  I have long been a "recycler". When I was a child, my mom was the only parent I knew who talked about the environment and what we needed to do to stop polluting it and changing things. As time and technology marched on however, we seemed to accumulate more “stuff”.  It was bulging out all over the place, so I started selling a lot of things on Ebay.  I felt like I was making a difference, and in the 4 years since my son was 17, I do feel a bit less overwhelmed.  I would also, in an odd way, feel more polite.

Why are so many garbage containers green?

In a 2009 company post by news organization "Asia One", the author stated, "I believe we should inculcate that its almost mandatory, natural and being good manners to be green in our processes." Later in the post, the author suggested that companies who go green with their practices will become more popular.  Now, I agree with the part on manners.  We are sharing the planet here.  It is polite to share, and polite to take care of something someone else is sharing with you.  So I do agree with that part of the company letter.  It is exhibiting good manners to live more green.  I have a problem with the idea that I should do it to be popular though.

I never enter popularity contests.

I have never really worried about being popular.  When people join a new movement or cause, simply because it is popular, it often leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Popular people, causes, things... they usually fall out of popularity quickly.  Popular restaurants are hard to get tables at.  Popular rides at amusement parks have the longest lines.  Popular people usually fall victim to ego inflation and trends, and the people who made them popular in the first place are thrilled to see them knocked off of their pedestals and replaced by the newly crowned "popular person." Popular songs are played to death on the radio and commercials. No... I am more of an underdog lover.

I'm an Underdog fan!

I like to see the overlooked and well-deserving people get their due.  Not that I consider myself an underdog either.  No.  I am the "people watcher" who is soaking it all in as others pass by my life.  I am the one who hears a song I like, finds out who sings it, then clicks through other songs of theirs on iTunes and get a couple of them.  I avoid trends.  I look for the gems, and sometimes they appear to be junk to others.  I am totally okay with that.  So I do not like the whole "Green Movement" as a popular bandwagon to jump onto, simply because it is "the thing to do right now!" Those bandwagons run out of steam quickly.

Everything imaginable for jumping onto the Queen's Jubilee bandwagon!

I liken trying to "live green" to having a host or hostess offer me an unusual or exotic food.  I should treat them the same.  As new environmental initiatives and laws come along, I feel I should at least be polite and try them out
(Explains all of those canvas and fabric reusable bags I bought from Target and Ralph's stores) If don't care for it, then I'll be graciously civil about the matter, and politely decline the offer of more.  I do not want to be hit over the head by environmentalists though, screaming loudly and claiming they know what is best for everyone.  If there are proven facts, remain civil and polite.  Please give the facts to me.  Then I can make the informed decision and not be angry about the whole matter.

I never throw cans or bottles away. They are recycled.

Like I said, I have been aware of the environment all my life.  I have always recycled.  I used a lot of simple household trash to make crafts with my grandmother, or my mom when I was young.  I was always turning in cans and bottles I found, or that we had used at home.  My mother was way ahead of things compared to friends' parents.  She used to say things like, "You can't just bring non-native plants, swimming pools and irrigation to a dry place, and not expect some changes to occur!  Bugs and birds follow those plants and trees, changing the whole landscape and weather." or "You don't need all of this new junk! The old ones work just fine.  All of this new stuff is unnecessary!" 

Palm Springs in its beautiful and unnatural state.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, a friend was shocked that I was going to use disposable diapers. When I replied to her shock with, "Well, all of that washing and sanitizing of cloth diapers will ruin our water, not to mention the electricity and natural gas I will be using to wash and dry them.  All that energy used wouldn't be good." she was suddenly speechless. I even get bonus points for still having, and using, my original iPod mini and I still have a VCR.  Mom was right.  They work fine!  I have not needed another iPod and if I want to watch something I have on VHS tape, I can.  Yes.  I remember a lot from growing up.

The original iPod Mini


One thing I recall however, that in the 1970s we were being told that the earth was headed toward another "Ice Age".  (I guess this current "Global Warming" stuff sure showed Mother Nature she can't mess with us!) The one thing I am having the hardest time with though, is my daughter's continual nagging about my use of plastic bottles, flatware and bags.  I need them, and I use them!  Then I re-use them, over and over again.  (Well, except for the flatware.  Plastic flatware used by my etiquette class students cannot be "washed and re-used" as my daughter suggested.)  

Looks like Bella forgot proper knife and fork technique!

I refuse to give up plastic bags and it drives my daughter nuts.  I have politely explained to her that if I do not use the free ones from the market, or the local Target store, or wherever, I will have to buy them just so that I can have some to use.  I politely repeat that to her, every time she cringes when I come home with a plastic bag or two, or when she makes a snide comment. I do have lots of reusable canvas bags, mind you. I use those too.  My biggest problem with the canvas and cloth bags however, is the weight of them.  

And more popular, too?

  Those bags can hold a lot of goods, and I simply cannot carry them at times, due to physical disabilities I fight daily.  So when I do use them, it is usually to carry napkins or other lightweight items from my car to my classes.  Or boxes of tissues, etc... from the store.  If my daughter wants to not-so-politely tell me how to live my life with regard to plastic bags ("Someday there will be a landfill named after you!"), then she can do all of the shopping.  I'll still be okay.  I save all of the plastic bags that my son and his girlfriend graciously bring in from the store when they shop for themselves anyway.

This bag is more polite as some people I meet! This bag is thanking me.

Now I am not going to hold my breath, but if my daughter does truly get fed up and decides to do all of my shopping for me, I’ll have that free time I need to start teaching my cat to text and tweet for me.  I can just see the fur flying now.  After all, it took forever to teach him how to work my son's old Game Boy!


"Okay, I got it turned on, now what? I can't get past 'LOL', then it's all gibberish!"


  1. I do not understand why it is always necessary to get the newest gadgets. Cell phone companies deliberately discontinue phones so we have buy new phones when it is too much of a challenge to fix the old ones not because they are hard to fix but they want to make a new commission off of us.

    Great post!

  2. Hysterical! I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post! So glad I looked through these previous posts.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts