Home > Family, Parenting > Changing the world, one plug at a time

Changing the world, one plug at a time

I got my family’s monthly electricity bill yesterday.

Electricity bills aren’t usually newsworthy around here, but this one reflected something worth celebrating.

A couple of weeks ago, my seven-year-old, Li’l D, expressed concern bordering on despair over the state of the environment.

“Hey, now,” I told him. “Instead of being afraid about what’s already happening, let’s look at all the things we’ve already done [to make a positive difference]!”

recycle or trashOne of the items we discussed was unplugging electronics while we’re not using them. Li’l D suggested this, so that he felt proud of the suggestion even before he had proof of its impact.

When I saw the electricity bill, I was excited to see the difference. “Hey!” I called Li’l D. “Guess what?!”

I explained to him that we usually have higher electricity bills when his dad’s not working on a show, like now. This time last year, his dad was working on a single-cam show, which meant long hours away from home … and very few hours using electricity here.

On this bill, I explained, we had the exact same usage as we did last year. “If you hadn’t suggested we start unplugging more things and turning off more lights, it would have been much higher–maybe $10 or $15 higher! That’s $10 or $15 of dirty energy we didn’t use for one month, all because of your suggestion!”

Li’l D beamed when I told him this. He skipped off to tell his dad what I’d just told him.

Is there a lot of work ahead to ensure a habitable world for today’s children? Certainly! But much of it needn’t be done by politicians on high. In fact, the little things that we citizens–even seven-year-old citizens!–do day after day after day can make plenty of difference.

One more family being mindful of electricity usage won’t itself change the world, but dozens or hundreds more could make a real dent (even if some are renting and can’t yet go solar, ahem). That’s rad.

Today even more than last month, I’m heartened by the prospect of all we Earth citizens can achieve if we cast our pennies together.

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  1. December 23, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    If you see this twice, it’s not a mistake! The original post didn’t show up in either my husband’s feed or mine. When it didn’t show in my husband’s multi-site aggregator, either, I opted to repost. This (re)post is showing in my feed. 🙂

  2. December 23, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Politicians could learn a ton from your son. I love reading these posts!

  3. December 23, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    This is so sweet, and I’m really impressed by how much of a difference it makes! It’s something I need to start being more mindful of, but I think that’ll be easier when I’m in charge of my own place 🙂

    • December 24, 2016 at 6:41 am

      It’s taking a lot of practice. We’re only at remembering to turn off lights and unplug maybe 50% of the time, but we’re getting better the more we practice. I think it takes a couple of months to ingrain new habits, so we’re well along the road … with eyes open for more opportunities!

  4. December 24, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Awesome! Ours was really low last month, hoping for the same this month! The first email didn’t link to anythiing, but the second one was good.

    • December 24, 2016 at 6:44 am

      Fingers crossed for both of us! I’m hopeful we’ll see a slight decrease as we get more consistent about these new behaviors. 🙂

      I was puzzled how a couple of people found the original post without it showing in the reader. Your comment gave me the aha/d’oh moment of remembering the emails. So one part of it worked!

  5. December 24, 2016 at 8:02 am

    That’s too cool, you’ve got a smart little guy there!

    • December 24, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      I love the way he thinks, though some of his new seven-year-old characteristics are a little challenging. (Aaah, as I typed that, he demonstrated another set of them!) Keeps me on my toes, though, and that’s a good thing. 🙂

  6. December 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Right on! Big changes start with “baby steps.”

  7. December 24, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Such a positive post, Deborah. I remember when we used to be careless about water. For instance, we’d have the tap running, as we brushed our teeth. We’re starting our children off young these days and that can’t be a bad thing. We all need to do our part.
    But there’s a but. If we’re ever going to be serious about the environment, we have to understand that resources are limited and be serious about what to do about population growth. We live in an electronic era. All of us making use of gadgets can’t be good for the environment. But if we stop travelling by car or by plane, we can at least limit the carbon foot print by choosing to travel by social media and face time and Skype. Unplugging a power point is a good start, but there’s more to do if we want to make a difference to the environment.

    • December 24, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      This is not a standalone post, such that one little suggestion should be taken as the key to changing the world. For example, the first post I linked above included a list of some of the steps we’re taking in this household, which includes talking to other folks about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Alone, we can do a little; together, a great deal. That’s the whole idea of the “pennies together” post linked at this post’s conclusion.

      The post about my discussion with Li’l D was the culmination of a sequence of posts across two blogs. “The Human Party” is one of those that’s probably the best single reference, listing starter ideas about how to begin effecting changes on a personal level now, but the thread of taking active, individual steps to protect the environment is woven throughout many posts.

      The problem with making ominous generalizations like “there’s more to do” is that it’s daunting to those who already don’t feel like their steps could possibly make a difference. This is why I try to address individual actions that folks can take now. I don’t own what anyone does after taking any of those first steps, if they choose to take them (which I encourage), but … in my experience, the discovery of genuine agency leads to much, much greater steps arisen from the context of one’s own life, aspirations, and capacities.

      I’m aiming to help inspire a sense of possibility in those who read these posts, to push against learned helplessness and nudge toward the potential that may flow and grow from taking any action to start.

      • December 29, 2016 at 10:36 am

        I thought this was a great post. These small actions can result in real change. As you said, focusing on the entirety of the problem often scares people into inaction. The accomplishment of any great goal or journey is a sum of many small steps. Keep spreading your message. I will try to do the same.

  8. January 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    What a wonderful experience for Li’l D!

  1. December 24, 2016 at 1:26 am

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