Since Father’s Day is coming up this weekend, it got me to thinking about the things I have learned from my father. They are of course too numerous to mention. But, as I thought about them, I realized that many of the things I do in my life to be “greener” actually come from him.
While I have often teased that he may be a bit too extreme in some of his earth-friendly habits, I have certainly followed his example, right down to becoming a gardener, and finally giving up fast food.
I also seem to be going through a stage of sorting through my life and the things I have learned. This is evidenced by some of the things I have already written here in the past month, including the life lessons I have learned from gardening.
So, in keeping with the theme of green exploration, here are a few of the green life lessons that my father has taught me.
- Life really is all about simplicity or the simple things in life and there’s nothing better than the simple pleasure of enjoying these things, especially your friends and family. While he has a nice home, and had a successful career, he has shown me that there are not enough material things in the world that can make up for a lack of these two things, and they really are all that matters. What some people might call simple things truly are the most meaningful.
- Reduce reuse and recycle, reduce reuse and recycle. There is no one thing that he does more of than this. Growing up during both the tail end of the Great Depression, and during WWII when rationing was in full effect, he is the poster boy for reusing and recycling. He applies it to every area of his life, from his kitchen to his garden. It has so influenced me that I cannot throw anything away without asking myself, “is there somewhere else or some other way I can use this again?”
- Only eat “real” food, fresh food if possible, food with identifiable ingredients, and little if any, processed food. As a kid I used to get so angry that he would not take us to eat at fast food restaurants. The only time he relented was when I would ask to go for my birthday. Even then, he always encouraged me to want something else. As a result of eating “real” food, he’s never had a weight problem and at 81 is still one of the healthiest people I know. He eats lots of vegetables, limits his meat, and most processed and fatty foods. His biggest vice (which I inherited) is his love of chocolate. But, he even tries to eat that in moderation.
- Grow your own food and share not only the harvest, but share the seeds. He has been gardening since youth, although there was a period in his life he didn’t have a yard to work in. Once he got a yard again, he made the most of it and despite resisting his attempts to get me to garden, I am now as hooked on it as he is. He is definitely proof of the health benefits of not only eating home grown produce, but the exercise you get from gardening.
- One of the things that I cherish the most is his love of the natural world. He taught me how to appreciate the beauty of nature, from watching the sunset as it sets over the Pacific each evening, to hiking through Yosemite. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer joy that he gets as we watch the sunset together, even though he’s literally watched thousands of them in his 81 years. I will never forget his reaction when he took me off to college. I attended UC Santa Cruz, which is covered in redwoods and offers sweeping views of the Monterey Bay. It is one of the most beautiful campuses around. As he was leaving me there, he said, “Wow, you aren’t going away to college, you are going to a national park. Enjoy every minute in this beautiful place. It will inspire you.”