That comment was directed at me, but that is only because the person saying it was only acquainted with me. I definitely got some side eyes from people that do know me thinking that it wasn’t too far off from my truth. I’d say it’s a new thing, but, I’ve probably always been this way.
Like most personality traits do, it started when I was young. We lived on a lakefront property (pretty common where I grew up, where there were 25 lakes in the town and several large ponds and a stream/river) so I cared about water quality. The particular lake I lived on was near a main road and some businesses and we’d frequently find disgusting amounts of trash in the water. At a young age, I became an advocate for proper garbage disposal and recycling to keep our water safe.
Speaking of recycling, we didn’t used to have curbside recycling. You had to drive to the dump to do it and so most people wouldn’t. But my mom always did. We’d drive there and an older man (whose name I wish I could remember) would direct us where to go and help us unload and teach us all about the different types of material that was recyclable. And he’d give us a lollipop too for doing our part.
I got a little older and my mom had to work on the weekends so I tagged along with my dad to meetings and events. He was a founder of the hazardous waste disposal day in town that still goes on today. I was at the inaugural event, standing with an old man I came to adore over the next twenty years (maybe he wasn’t that old then, I was maybe ten and everyone was old to me). The two of us asked the cars coming to show proof of their residence (I got to look at their license) and directed them where to go. To this day I won’t throw anything hazardous into the trash.
I was also a little kid when I got to go to the top of the landfill in town. Yes, we were home to one of the two operating landfills in the county. I can see both of them from my office. My work is built on a landfill. Half of this area is landfills. The massive amounts of garbage we throw out each day are sickening. I started to see this from a young age and again, became more conscious.
On top of all of that, my parents always grew a lot of their own vegetables. I was probably close to a teenager before I ate green beans that weren’t home grown. They were disgusting. I cannot eat canned green beans to this day. I grew up planting and weeding and picking green beans, carrots, melons or pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower peppers. I had to help preserve them which meant making tomato sauce and cutting ends off beans.
As I’ve gotten older and moved out, I haven’t forgotten any of this. I haven’t been able to grow vegetables (thanks wildlife) or do as much as I’ve wanted, but I’m starting to get there. I pride myself on having a half full garbage bag each week (and I keep trying to convince the garbage company to do pickup every other week). I throw a lot of vegetable scraps into my fire/compost pit (I am still working on getting the Old Man to let me have a compost pile). I am conscious of packaging when I buy products. I don’t participate in yard waste pickup, instead choosing to mulch for a better lawn and creating less work for big trucks that drive by. I hang dry most of my clothes, and use small amounts of detergents. We limit our water use because clean water is a luxury. If the town would let me, I’d even have a few chickens.
My future plans involve fruit trees and bushes and more garden space. As for the missed showers, well, you aren’t really supposed to shower every day and unless I was sweating at work or at home (we don’t use a lot of air conditioning), well, maybe that two shower thing has already been passed…
Are you a hippie? What things do you do to reduce your environmental impact?