Going Green

Last week I got a note from the energy police that I’d left my computer monitor on in my office. I was praised for turning the computer itself off. I even got a piece of candy. But there was a strong implication that I should not forget the monitor next time.

I hope no one has checked my office this weekend. I’m sort of afraid I forgot again. I don’t want to forget. I really care about lessening my impact on the environment and saving my school some energy costs. The problem is nothing more than a lifetime of bad habits. Those habits are so strong and so prevalent that the school expects to pay the salary of the person going around checking up on us out of the energy savings from everybody just turning stuff off.

Who knew?

When I got my energy waste citation, I decided I needed to start paying more attention at home as well as at school. Turns out small electronics were on and unused all over my house. I’d never noticed. A printer here, a DVD player there, a clock in a seldom used room that had been blinking 12:00 for possibly a matter of years rather than weeks or months.

I don’t know how much turning all that off will matter, but I’m going to do it on principle if nothing else.

I’m also going to research ways I can lessen my impact on the environment.

The day I decided that I received an email ad for a book called No Impact Man. I’m sure I’ll read the book, and I’m sure it will be fascinating. I can tell you now, though, I’m not going that far. I’m not giving up toilet paper.

A few days ago I made a facetious comment about how killing trees had sent me to college and I wouldn’t mind if more were killed to get me stuff that I wanted. I was joking. Mostly. But I will say this. My dad never cut a tree in his life without replanting. He’s probably planted far more than he’s ever cut. I’m absolutely certain he’s planted enough trees in his life to keep me in toilet paper for all of my life. I’ll go paperless on everything else, but I’m not giving up Charmin extra soft.

Alas, I must look for other ways to improve my green status.

That thought led me to considering the air conditioner. It uses more electricity than everything else in the house put together. Just turning it off or turning the thermostat up can make a huge difference. It can indeed, but my resolve to do that lasted for about 20 seconds. Apparently, I’m not that kind of girl either.

That’s why I was glad to hear that Mississippi is getting a solar panel plant. I hope this is an indication that the cost of converting to solar energy is going to inch a little closer to affordable in the next few years. If so, I would gladly switch over to solar in lieu of rationing my use of electrical appliances.

I’m so interested in whether this will become cost effective in the next few years that I’m considering assigning it as a research project for my students so that I can find out. What’s the point of having an army of source gatherers on hand if you don’t put them to good use, after all?

Solar is something I think we should all be taking a closer look at. The cost is prohibitive right now, but I believe it is coming down. Even so, there are far more difficult ways to go about doing your part for the earth. Air conditioners run just fine on solar power. We don’t have to give them up to be good. That’s what I’m telling myself.

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