My family works hard to live a green life. I build and teach others how to build super efficient straw bale homes. We drive a car that runs on biodiesel and gets 40 mpg. We raise our own veggies, chickens (for eggs, fertilizer and meat). We buy beef from a local man who raises about 5 cows a year on his land.
My kids are reminded to turn off the lights behind them and keep the door closed when the weather is too hot or cold outside. All the stuff that anyone concerned about the environment and state of affairs might do. But how do we balance living a green life with just living a regular life and enjoying some of the things that are not considered green, but are still fun?
I immediately point to playing ice hockey. Both my kids, my wife and I love hockey. It is something that we have become very passionate about. I coach my son’s team (He is the goalie) and my wife is assistant coach for our daughter’s team (she plays forward and defense). Both teams play three times a week at a local rink and my son’s team travels up and down the west coast playing in hockey tournaments. That means a lot of driving. As I said, our car is efficient and runs on biodiesel, but nonetheless, has an impact on the World when used.
Trade offs. For all the fuel we use to play hockey, we work hard to make decisions that limit the use of fuel in other places. For example, we don’t go food shopping anymore unless we are going to hockey. There is a market right next to the rink so it is a perfect opportunity to shop during the same trip. After all, we need to food shop once a week or so anyway, so that makes up for one trip to the rink.
We are selling our second vehicle to further limit our carbon footprint. This way, other trips to town will be limited as well. Right now, it is far too simple to take two vehicles to town on the same day, just because we can. It is harder to have one car (we live 15 minutes outside of any town in the country) but it is more responsible. We now have to really plan our trips in, everyday! That is a trade off.
Now, how about the rink? That is a hard one because we will find ourselves skating in 30 degree weather (indoor weather that is) when it is 90 degrees outside! That seems very wasteful to me. How can anyone justify keeping a building at that temperature when it is so warm outside? This is where the issues come up for me most. The fact is that the rink provides a source of joy for my family and for others.
Should that joy be shut down when the weather heats up? One voice says yes while another says no. I have connected with the rink staff and inquired about the level of insulation in the building and it is very high. Certainly that helps. But more needs to be done. I have not been sure what until this week.
I was watching an NHL game (National Hockey League, not Natural Hydraulic Lime!) and saw a commercial about how the NHL has teamed up with Greenlife (www.greenlife.com) to do something about global warming and the impact that hockey has on it. Greenlife helps create a plan for reducing a carbon footprint and also works with companies to buy carbon offsets for those parts of their business they cannot eliminate. This inspired me to bring the concept to my own rink and see if I can convince the ownership to offset their carbon footprint. I may have an uphill fight, knowing the ownership, but it is a fight worth engaging in.
This is a long way of me saying that there are things in life that are not perfect. Even though I choose to live a green life, not everything I do is green. I am willing to live on that edge and feel the pull in both directions. That is balance. I believe that living in excess is a bad idea AND I believe that living in scarcity is also a bad idea. I choose to live in balance as much as possible inside myself, and outside myself. To me it is about remaining conscious and awake.
If I am awake to the decisions I make each day, I can be sure that they are the right ones for me. I am also willing to be wrong. In other words, if I make a decision that turns out to feel too impactful, I am okay to admit it and make a change.
I hope we all can step into a life that is awake. The fact that you are reading this blog tells me that you are already awake and looking to continuer to grow healthy change in your life. That is wonderful and I thank you for it and so does the planet and the generations to come.