Babies, Going Green and a Movie!

Is it just me or do you feel uncontrollably drowsy in a moving car too? I have heard babies have this habit of going off to sleep the minute they step into a car, some friends of ours kept this as a last resort option to calm down baby when all else – monkey faces, lullaby singing and frantic rocking – failed. So is this another of my childlike habits, or are adults prone to the fall-asleep-in-car syndrome too?

Yesterday marked the first time the husband and I successfully remembered to a) pack in reusable paper bags that were so far gathering dust at home, b) carry them from the car to the grocery store and c) request the cashier to use them instead of plastic. Phew! Despite all our good intentions, this is the first time we managed to achieve all three together!

The cashier at the Indian grocery store seemed pretty surprised incidentally and everyone else in the queue kept eying us with what looked like surprised, amused, admiring, indulgent and in some cases, sadly, cynical looks. On a more positive note, there is also our local farm store that offers brown paper bags free of cost, and also gives a small discount if you bring your own, to encourage reuse. I wish the Indian store would take note too!

We went out for a movie for the first time in months, or so it seemed to me, last night! Ghost Town is a happy-sad, sweet and funny movie, one I would recommend for a fun Saturday night out with friends. I was initially apprehensive about the title, (I must be the biggest scared puss ever!) but while the movie IS about ghosts, they aren’t really ghostly ghosts, if you know what I mean! I especially liked the part where Dr. Pincus (a funny name in itself – try pronouncing it a little differently!), a man whose people skills leave much to be desired, slips into dental jargon when pushed into an awkward position, those scenes are simply hilarious!

Surprisingly for such a light comedy, the movie managed to slip in a beautiful message amidst all the tomfoolery. We all know we get to live only once and none of us know how much time we have left, yet do we really stop to think – How can I best use the time I have? If I die this very moment, can I die in peace, knowing I lived my life to the fullest and did my best for the people I love? Or will I leave behind regrets, unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises?

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Support the Earth Hour 2008 initiative and show that you care!

Friends, I am a supporter of the Earth Hour 2008 initiative online and have a feeling a lot of you would be interested in it too.

“Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.

This simple act has captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world. As a result, at 8pm March 29, 2008 millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane and Tel Aviv will unite and switch off for Earth Hour.”

Please spare a few minutes to read about the initiative here – http://www.earthhourus.org/faq.php.

If you feel as strongly about this issue as I do, do sign up and participate to show your solidarity with the cause here – http://www.earthhour.org/user/c1Ny.

And please spread the word among your friends and family too. Thanks for making the time and showing you care!

P.S. Thanks to the MadMomma for making me aware of this wonderful initiative. And for linking up to my two previous posts on global warming. Thanks again, MM!

What can I do? A followup post.

When I wrote my previous post on the Global Warming challenge, I was all fired up with the information I had gathered and the ideas I had in my head. It seemed pretty obvious to me that everyone reading my post would feel similarly too. I guess that’s a mistake most of us tend to make when we feel passionately about something.

With hindsight, and after taking the husband’s feedback, I realized that my post might have come across as a sudden and impulsive whim to some. Here she is writing about her life, her family and other mundane stuff for so many months, and suddenly one day she comes across a television programme and thinks up some crazy challenge when she has no idea what she’s taking about!

That’s how some of you might have thought and perhaps you are right too. I am a bit impulsive like that. But I’d like to clarify a few things here. When I mentioned watching the programme ‘today’ I did watch it the day I wrote the post, but that day was not yesterday! I’ve been chewing on this post and gathering more information for quite a while now. And only wrote this post after I was sure I truly believed in this cause and it was not just a passing fancy.

So although I may not be the best-informed person on this topic, my intentions are the best and I am completely open to, nay, I’m actively looking for your feedback and suggestions. This is going to be your challenge friends! Having said that, I do have a few ideas that I’d like to bounce off you.

1) The first step would obviously be to brainstorm and come up with some cool ideas that we agree to implement as a group.

2) I think we might be better off starting with simple ideas that would be easy to implement. I’m not saying this is going to be painless, but lets take it one small step at a time, shall we? So relax, no one is going to badger you to sell off your dream SUV tomorrow, but it would be nice if you could replace some of those high-wattage light bulbs in your bathroom sometime soon!

3) A nice way to keep things on track might be to have something like an ‘Idea of the month’ series, wherein we go on making one small but helpful difference to our lifestyle every month, making sure we continue the good habits of the last month of course!

4) Group approval and peer pressure are perhaps the greatest motivators ever, so why not have something like a ‘Concerned Individual of the month’ badge, awarded to the most diligent implementor of the month? I know we have lots of talented and creative bloggers around, so making a cool badge that we could proudly display on our blogs should be a piece of cake, right? 🙂

5) Spread the word. Beginning at home and making a difference individually is wonderful, but what’s really going to help is making everyone around you equally aware. When I was reading up on climate change online, it seemed obvious to me that this was probably THE most important issue we should all be talking about and working towards.

But apart from a handful of organizations and some global conferences, hardly anyone seems to be aware of what we are facing here. Ever seen climate change news splashed on the front page of a mainstream newspaper? Becoming the centre-piece of an election campaign? I have no idea why this has not happened till now. Vested interests perhaps?

Again, I am no expert on this and all my information comes from online sources such as this one. It may or may not be a 100% authentic, but even the slightest chance that it might be, is enough for me to want to do something about it. Plus, who can deny that most of the simple measures we are talking about here make great economic sense too! Who wouldn’t like to reduce their electricity or fuel bill if it can be done? 🙂

And if all this is true, we cannot really overestimate the power of spreading the word! Doesn’t it seem obvious to you that working to prevent global warming is a selfish need. We talk of giving our children the best possible education and the best available lifestyle, how about giving them a healthy planet to live on and clean air to breathe in? Because this is what it really boils down to, to be honest.

Okay, that’s all that I can think of right now. As for the actual ways in which we can make a difference, there’s a lot of handy tips online, but let me mention a few simple but important ones as a sampler here.

1) Move your thermostat 2 degrees down in winter and 2 degrees up in summer. Better still, my suggestion would be to rethink if you really need a cooler/air conditioner running fulltime in summer. I can understand needing a heater in bitter cold winters, but am not so sure of summers. Especially in places like my hometown, Mumbai, where the air conditioner is not really a necessity but a luxury. Do we really need it? No. Is it nice to have? Sure! (Thanks to my over-zealous parents, I have practiced this myself, so I think I can speak about it!)

2) Carpool with your friends or coworkers while commuting to work or going on a picnic. This one is self-explanatory and plain commonsense really. Easy on the pocket and great fun too!

3) Cover your pots and pans while cooking. Better still, use a pressure cooker whenever possible.

4) Use double-sided single-spaced options while printing your office documents. And before you print, ask yourself – do I really need a copy of this document for each person attending the meeting? Could two or three persons share a copy? Is anybody going to even scan through my copy or are they going to chuck it away without a glance after the meeting?

5) Plant a tree. Moved into a new home or apartment complex with lots of open space? Planning to go for a picuture-perfect landscaped lawn look? Why not think of a nice foresty nook with lots of tall trees instead? Looks great, lots of natural shade and fresh air and a wonderful space for your kids to play in too!

Think about it friends, how many of these measures require great sacrifices on your part? Aren’t they more about making some conscious and well-thought choices and simple adjustments to your lifestyle? And think of the benefits involed! So let me ask you again, are you ready to participate in YOUR climate change challenge on this blog?

What can I do?

The husband and I are hooked onto the National Geographic and History channel these days. But while I am intrigued by a lot of their stuff, their series are not very different from my favorite sitcoms in the sense that I tend to forget about them once I switch off the television, there’s nothing in there that makes a tangible difference to my life. Till today, that is, when a series on global warming chilled me to the core and really spurred me into some action.

Now it’s not as if I’ve been living in a bubble all these days and had never heard of the concept of global warming, but it was always something that people kept talking about as a distant potential catastrophe hundreds of years away. In fact, I remember reading a semi-fictional novel a few years back which scoffed at the idea, saying there was no such thing as global warming, it was a sinister global conspiracy and what not! Ever since, I have taken these dire predictions with a pinch of salt.

So perhaps you could say I was living in a bubble after all. And while I still am not sure whether global warming is about to threaten our existence next year or if it is just a figment of some paranoid mind’s imagination or more likely is something very dangerous somewhere in between those two extremes, I know one thing for sure – if there’s something I can do to help in my own small way, I definitely want to do it now.

But how and where to start? A quick Google search and I had all the information I wanted. There were sites explaining the science behind the phenomenon, others offering quick estimates of my carbon footprint, and lots of handy tips to minimize our impact on the environment. The husband and I talked it over and we realized there were some simple things we could do at once, like turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees, carrying our own shopping bags to the grocery store and ditching forever our dream of owning an SUV someday.

At once – I really cannot emphasize the urgency of this phrase enough. If what I’ve heard and read so far is true, it might already be too late and even if we still have some time left, there’s surely none to dither and debate and waste. Sure, our generation might just about get away with doing nothing right now, but what about our kids? Is a ruined planet the kind of legacy we want to pass on to them?

So if you feel convinced friends, I have a small suggestion. How about if all of us get together to pool our ideas, inspire each other and take up this challenge? There’s a whole lot of stuff we can do with just some tiny changes in our everyday activities. Like this small community in New Hampshire that has taken on the global warming challenge, we could spread the word and try to do something through our small blogging community.

So friends, how about it? Do you feel just as seriously about this issue? If yes, what have you or your community been doing to help? Or do you think I’ve gone completely bonkers? All opinions and suggestions are welcome, so please do write in! And please take a minute to answer this poll which, tech-unsavvy programmer that I am, took me more than an hour to set up! (Okay, I exaggerated a bit, but you get the picture, don’t you? :-))