My grandparents, the ones that aren’t genetically related to me, but still equally awesome, retired in the book business. My grandma was a librarian and my grandpa was a Dean of Library Sciences for a pretty big deal university.
When I was a kid, my grandma would send us discarded books from the library and send along cassette tapes where she’d read us books. Our personal library of books was huge and never lacking. Name a children’s book, I’ve read it. That’s part of the fun of having small children, being able to read them books I loved as a kid and also remember what I felt like when I read Bailey Goes Camping or Goodnight Moon for the first time.
Books can take you anywhere, and read at the right time in your life, can change you.
That’s how I felt when I read The Lorax for the first time.
I think deep down I’ve always been a tree hugger. I know that my empathy runs pretty deep, but I think I had always been content just being a sweet kid.
Then I read The Lorax.
When I see trash on the ground, I pick it up. Just yesterday when Mae and I went for a walk around the neighborhood, I picked up at least 4 smashed aluminum cans off the road to put into our recycle bin. My kids see what I do, and when they see something, they immediately go to pick it up. Typically I can intercept and grab it for them, but the fact that they think about it makes my heart swell.
When I was around 10 or so, I had a book called 50 Ways You Can Help the Earth and I swear I did at least 45 of those things. I nagged my dad to put bottles in the back of our toilet tank to cut down on water, I asked my mom if I could turn the heat down a few degrees in the winter. I picked up trash in my neighborhood and insisted on planting a tree or two. I started a compost pile and lovingly threw old banana peels and onions into the pile.
I took it as a personal insult if someone didn’t recycle.
Just a few weeks ago at my grandma in law’s 90th birthday party, while cleaning up, I had to throw away plastic bottles and cans and if my car wasn’t full already of things that my sister in law gave me for the baby, I would have given Matt the eyes that said, “Can we please, please, please take these home to recycle?”
Instead, I silently cried, and moved on.
And to this day, it still bothers me that I had to do that.
Yes, I know I can’t let go of things very easily, but it’s very important to me. Just like some people care about having their hair done nice, a certain car to drive, a favorite book series or a hobby, I care about things like recycling and using vinegar over Clorox.
I know I’m not perfect. Not by a long shot. I know I do a lot of things that still hurt the Earth. I don’t cloth diaper, I use a dishwasher, I drive a SUV. But I’m trying. I’m still trying to do a few things here and there to help decrease my impact.
While reading the book to Claire this afternoon before naps, she looked at me and asked why people don’t care more about the Earth. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well, you do, and I do, and that’s better than no one. Just keep caring and maybe others will follow you.”
I do my best, that’s all I can do.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”