Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints

Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

Charles and I have spent a lot of time camping and hiking with the girls, so this practice is well engrained in our family psyche. It takes on a new meaning, though, now that we’ve learned about carbon footprints. Can we continue to enjoy long road trips, airline flights, and epic movies, knowing how burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change? How can we have fun and still be good to the planet?

Thanks to the teaching and example of our parents and grandparents, we learned to have fun in environmentally friendly ways long before we knew that it was important. They sent us outside to play in the yard and joined in our games with the neighborhood kids. They taught us to play music, cards, and board games, shared the work and satisfaction of planting and harvesting, instilled a joy of reading and sharing; in short, they allowed us to entertain ourselves instead of being entertained. Now we’re passing on these values and practices to another generation.

Taking photos is one hobby both Charles and Katharine enjoy. Today’s digital imaging and rechargeable batteries make it easy to take a lot of pictures and only print the best ones or just keep them on the computer. Kirsten gets together with friends for tea parties in the garden, going caroling, and putting on plays. Every so often we have a Monopoly marathon. We still hike a lot and enjoy the economy of tent camping, without generators or bright lights. Of course, we make sure to bring a comfortable sleeping pad!

I figure these activities will help balance out the occasional splurge; sort of like saving your loose change in order to buy a special treat. It takes some discipline, which makes the reward all the sweeter when it arrives. While we can’t eliminate the footprints we leave, we’ll continue to work on making the carbon one as small as possible.

Patti Turkle

Read Patti’s previous post, An Illuminating Experience.

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