A lesson for Kermit the frog Posted on October 29th, 2009 by

This year I will dare to be green.  I vow to reduce my energy consumption, conserve water and eat locally. 

A year ago, I had to drive twenty minutes to get to school and back home, at least five times a week.  Now because I have vowed to go green, I will walk.  It takes 30 minutes each way but in addition to reducing carbon emissions, I’m also improving my health. 

In Minnesota, the days are getting shorter and lights have to be turned on earlier in the evening.  But at 3° south, the length of our days remains pretty much constant throughout the year.  Even though I am already using indoor lighting less, I promise to shut of the lights when I don’t use them and even use candles from time to time. 

And since we reside at a toasty distance from the equator, it will remain warm enough to air dry clothes even in January.  So I pledge to hang my clothes on the line and let them air dry instead of using an energy sucking drying machine. 

As for water conservation, I swear to use as little as possible and reuse as much as I can.  I promise to wash dishes by hand and take shorter showers.  I promise to shut of the water when I brush my teeth and to not water the lawn.  I promise to remember the age old adage, ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’ even though that can be a little gross.

Finally, I will eat locally.  I vow to buy as much food as I can from local farmers.  I vow to buy as little food as I can that has been shipped in across the country, continent or world.  And as long as I’m at it, I’ll try to eat foods that are unprocessed and packaged foods that have less than five ingredients.

Today I begin and for the rest of the year, I will be green.  I will use less energy and water.  I will eat locally.  I will do my part to help our planet.  What about you?  I dare you to go green.

Now that I have given you my word of conservation, there are a few things I should tell you.

First off, I should admit that I really can’t drive to school because one driving in Tanzania is crazy and two I don’t know how to operate a stick shift.  Second, part of my energy conservation is mandatory.  We often loose electricity, especially in the evenings and have no choice but to use candles.  Third, we don’t have a drying machine to use.  Actually we don’t even have a washing machine.  Laundry is done manually in the kitchen sink which is a real pain.  Air drying clothing is fine by me but hand washing all of you clothes gets old after the first pair of socks.  I no longer take a washing machine for granted and I have a much greater respect for anyone who washes their own clothes.

Water is also akin to electricity.  The water is regularly turned off, most commonly in the afternoon and evening which can make cooking dinner and doing dishes difficult.  Last week I was in the middle of a shower when the water was shut off and I had to wash off the soap with cold water from a reserve bucket that we keep in the bathroom for emergencies such as that one.  And flushing the toilet is only possible when we have water.  We don’t have a dishwasher either, so dishes must be done my hand.  Since we can only rise with boiled water (see the upcoming post on water), we are very careful to use as little a possible to save the extra effort of purifying more water.

Eating locally is just one of the benefits of living in a warm climate.  Getting fresh local veggies here is always an option, unlike Minnesota where unless you want scurvy, you have no choice but to import your fruits and vegetables.  Same is true for processed foods.  Almost none of the foods here have more than five ingredients.  No artificial flavor, no preservatives, no corn syrup, nothing.  The food here in general is healthier. 

Kermit must not have been an African dwarf frog because, Mr. Kermit, being green really is easy – especially in Africa.


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