I'm a person who, when building a house thirty years ago, was blocked by government regulations from incorporating a rainwater tank (breeds mosquitoes), using grey water in the garden and to flush toilets (carries disease) and putting in a number of energy saving systems (we don't want ugly solar panels on roofs). Now the government and the media has woken up and we're being encouraged (through rebates of various small amounts) or bullied (by advertising that tells us how irresponsible we all are) into installing them.
Unfortunately all the rebates in the world won't make retrofitting of energy and water saving devices either affordable or even possible in many older buildings. This is what I find so insulting about the current spate of television shows where some "experts" come into a household, tell the residents how appallingly wasteful they are and proceed to lock garbage bins, disconnect water and power or otherwise totally disrupt basic hygienic living necessities. After the family has struggled with this they turn around and praise them for their efforts - and they certainly have made heroic efforts to cut back - and proceed to install thousands and thousands of dollars worth of equipment to help them maintain their reformed standards. I don't know about you but I don't have thousands of dollars and no-one is going to give it to me. Sadly I'm stuck with what was forced on me all those years ago however much I would like to change things.
The world is awash with suggestions of how we can be less profligate but they rarely consider that everyone is not well off, young or healthy. Yes, it is desirable to ride a bicycle to work or utilise public transport but if you have a disability that may not be an option and, if the public transport system is badly designed so that a return car journey takes only forty minutes and a bus/train return journey takes two to two and a half hours, it becomes impractical. The same applies to many areas - watering decorative gardens may be wasteful but what about home food gardens that cut back on harmful chemicals and don't receive the lavish watering of commercial market gardens? Energy saving light bulbs are a brilliant idea but what about the evidence that they increase migraines? Won't this lessen productivity?
I have always tried to waste as little as possible and many of those I know do the same so I resent the way the community is being treated as a single entity. Wanting to do my bit, I visited various websites that hand out advice on not being wasteful. I found that I've been doing everything recommended all my life. This doesn't stop me being harangued by the media and government instrumentalities telling me how wasteful I am. Er, excuse me. One size does not fit all.
So what are my options? I guess all I can do is my best. I'll keep doing as I always have - turning off lights and appliances where possible, taking my own shopping bags, making whatever water savings I can, not driving if I can walk or use public transport, sorting my garbage for recycling. It may not be much and sometimes I might be forced by circumstance to use more than I would like to but at least I am doing something - and while I might not make much of a difference if enough others do the same we might have a future for our planet.
Just a reminder: it's Earth Hour 2008 on March 29 at 8:00 pm. What began in Sydney is now global with people and businesses being asked to turn out their lights for one hour. I doubt that it will make much difference to the energy used on the planet but it just might act as a reminder if anyone's commitment to saving energy is wavering. This can only be a good thing.