It’s time for everyday environmentalism that works for everyone
This might sound strange coming from the president of a company that makes green cleaning products, but I have some mixed feelings about Earth Day. I mean, I’m as big a fan of the environment as any other thoughtful and conscientious person. But to me, sometimes Earth Day feels a little like a combination of New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
I admit that metaphor wasn’t exactly self-explanatory, but stay with me here. As I mentioned earlier this year, I’ve never been crazy about making New Year’s resolutions—because trying to force your life to go exactly right just doesn’t work in the long run. And the whole idea of Valentine’s Day has never seemed quite right to me; after all, shouldn’t we be showing our loved ones how much we care about them every day of the year?
So I guess what I’m saying that if we decide to recycle, conserve water, or ride a bike instead of drive on Earth Day, that’s great. But if we don’t keep making those same green choices repeatedly, Earth Day means pretty much nothing—just like Valentine’s Day flowers or a New Year’s pledge to lose weight mean nothing if your good intentions don’t translate into consistent action.
Of course, there’s one big problem: environmentalism is really ridiculously difficult. Seriously. Case in point: recently I wanted to replace my shower head with a more efficient model that would conserve water. Seems simple enough. So I set up a stepladder in my shower—which may sound strange if you don’t know I’m 4’10”—and climbed on top of it. Of course, there wasn’t quite enough space in the shower to open the stepladder all the way, but I figured that wouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong. Who knew the price of environmentalism would be a face-first collision with a tile floor?
So I’ve been thinking about how to make environmentalism work better for me and my family. Like many “-isms,” it has historically involved deeply entrenched points of view, typically accompanied by equally dramatic actions. You know, picket lines, people chaining themselves to trees—the sorts of public demonstrations that make the news. That type of radical environmentalism is one thing, but what about everyday environmentalism, the type that works for people who are super busy, a little bit lazy, or even just too short to reach a shower head?
And then I realized that all it really takes to be a better environmentalist is to find the things that help the planet and make your life easier—and there are more than you think:
- If you’ve got young kids, their school teachers are sure to find a way to reuse those old plastic bottles, paper cups, and toilet paper rolls for arts and crafts. So collect them and donate them to your kids’ classrooms, even if you haven’t been asked (in which case you may want to quickly leave the items and run away … for the good of the planet, of course).
- There are light bulbs that are energy-efficient and last 20 years! This is big news for short people who can’t reach overhead light fixtures. By the time I need to change the bulb again, my kids will be tall enough to do it for me.
- There’s nothing easier than reusing unwanted items around the house. Old, ugly, out-of-fashion men’s ties make for great Easter decorations if you use your imagination! Plus, that saves you the extra step of walking to the trash can and throwing them away. This is environmentalism based on not doing something—it doesn’t get any easier.
- Eating over the sink is a classic, time-honored technique for reducing the water and energy involved in washing dishes—plus, it’s equally well-suited for the busy or the lazy. Enough said.
These tips may sound slightly silly, but I believe they’re great examples of how caring for the environment can involve small, everyday steps that don’t disrupt your life. In fact, that’s the philosophy behind Jelmar’s entire “greenvenient” CLR® product line, which we reformulated to meet EPA standards for environmentally friendly products (instead of creating a separate green line). We wanted people to be able to continue using the products they’ve always loved, with the added peace of mind that they could help the planet with the simple action of cleaning—which, to me, is what everyday environmentalism is all about.