I travel for a living. In fact, I travel so much that last month; the Amoco oil company owed me a credit (yes, I said “credit”) of 78 cents. “HA,” I thought, “Just let them drive the price of gas up to $4.00 a gallon and see if I care!” It seems like the only time I ever start my own car is to charge the battery back up once in awhile. I thought, “I am *SO* green right now…” and then I thought of my old friend Jerry.
Jerry was an eccentric older gentleman that I knew who used to wander around our church parking lot, picking up glass bottles and aluminum cans, muttering “We just gotta get these back into the system…” I wrote him off as a harmless liberal hippie who’d gone off the deep end; until I bumped into him once at the recycling center. I was dumping off some old cans of paint and there was Jerry, driving a pick-up truck and towing an enormous trailer full of recyclables. I watched as he weighed in and collected more than $1,300 for his booty.
$1,300 for miscellaneous trash seemed unbelievable to me. Jerry wasn’t crazy, just a lot more dedicated to the cause than I was, for sure. Suddenly, my own newfound “Green” attitude about my measly gas consumption seemed a lot less grand… after all, I still rented “mid-sized” cars or SUVs simply because I like the room they have. Moreover, I rented them almost “automatically” every time I booked a trip without the slightest consideration for the cost to my company, myself, or to the environment. I felt bad.
A few subtle changes can be very significant for the environment, especially if we all make them. Now when I book a trip, I take a few extra minutes to consider where I’m going. Most cities these days have good public transportation. Also, it’s usually very easy to find a hotel that is very close to where you’re working. I challenged myself to stay within three miles of my work site, and to walk rather than rent a car or take a Taxi. The benefits are enormous. I’ve lost weight, I stop and smell more flowers, I notice more restaurants and shops, I save my company money… most importantly, I’m not burning as many fossil fuels as I used to.
Now, I’m not saving the world or anything; but I do feel like I’m helping make a difference. Jerry died in a horrible car accident a few years ago and I still think about him. I wonder how many other people he influenced by just setting an example…
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