"I can always do more."
"Environmental issues have been important to me since I was a
young person, growing up in California in a an urban area with limited natural resources (particularly water). I try to recycle, choose materials that are reusable like my coffee cup, and to limit my consumption of new materials and natural resources. One thing that helps with our family budget is to buy and sell used clothing at consignment shops or on ebay. I often sell my kids' outgrown winter coats and get "new" used coats for them with the money I've earned from the previous sale -- perpetual winter clothing! I have a hybrid vehicle, but even so, the area of my greatest failing is the burning of fossil fuels. Despite all of my efforts, one flight a year makes my carbon footprint too large. It is difficult to reduce our use of air travel when our family members are far away and our interest in the world compels us to travel far from home. We do try to take the train to Colorado sometimes when we go to visit family: just an 18 hour ride from Chicago to Denver!
"I bicycle to work when I can and feel good about exercise as part of the transportation. We are lucky to have the Kokosing Gap Trail, so that we can ride safely from Mount Vernon.
"My 13-year-old daughter, Sasha, has recently decided to eat a vegan diet, so I am helping her to do that. She was motivated by her concerns about overfishing and her love of animals and the environment. I love cheese too much to join her completely, but we do eat mostly vegan meals (or vegetarian meals for the rest of us) at home. I do sometimes splurge on a hamburger in a restaurant! My grandfather and uncle were cattle ranchers, but they were also stewards of the earth and raised grass-fed beef.
"I feel a bit awkward about this narrative, since I can always do more. I've mostly lived in urban areas where the typical environmental footprint is smaller: smaller living spaces to heat and cool, public transportation, less room to store new stuff in a small apartment. I try to keep those things in mind in my more spacious home now that I live in a small town. I would like to put solar panels on our house and replace my hybrid car with an electric one, when it gives out. I recognize the privilege that comes with having the financial resources to make these choices. (And I remember that flying is my biggest environmental sin.)"
Lisa is the assistant director of Kenyon's Center for Global Engagement.