The Honking Goose

something to honk about

do I need to close the refrigerator door or can I leave it open sometimes?

I self-identify as an environmentalist. I started shopping at thrift stores and vintage stores when I was in high school. I gave roommates lectures about recycling. After my mom died, I changed colleges so I could fulfill my dream of becoming a treehugger. I went to protests, I climbed trees, I did lock-downs. I learned about passive non-violence and idolized Julia Butterfly Hill. I started eating mostly organic food and using natural cleaners in my home. I garden and grow my own sprouts. I’m against clearcutting. I’m against fracking. I don’t think there is any such thing as safe and clean nuclear power.

conifer tree drawing

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

But as the years have gone by, more and more I fall into the mentality that I am just one person and my contributions are negligible. I turn lights off every time I leave a room, but somewhere there is a mansion with dozens of light bulbs burning in empty rooms. I don’t leave the faucet running. I don’t water my lawn in the summer time. When I pour my kids a glass of juice, I close the refrigerator door and then open it again to put the juice away. But our table is only a couple of feet from the refrigerator. What if I left the door open while pouring the juice and then put it back and closed the door?

open refrigerator

Image source: Internet

I’m tired. I try and I try and I try, but I can’t do it all. I fed my toddlers all organic food and wiped their faces with cloth napkins. But as they’ve grown bigger, so has our grocery bill, and I can’t afford all organics any more. The cloth napkins always looked dirty, so I finally gave up and started using paper.

People may say humans are “destroying the environment”. Strictly speaking, that is not true. The environment may become, sooner than desirable, uninhabitable to humans along as well as other more majestic and intelligent species. But the environment won’t go away. It will still exist, albeit in a irreversibly altered state. So, after many millennia, our actions may not matter.

But what about now? I want my children and my grandchildren to inhabit a world that is rich and beautiful and clean. I want them to believe they are taking care of the Earth and their actions always make a difference. I just don’t know if I am embodying that message as much as I want to be. When I was a teenager, I believed in myself. I thought I could make a difference. I had no idea it would be so hard. Some days I just want to live my life without all these heavy concerns weighing me down.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has doubts like these. Please share your thoughts. Were you once as idealistic as I was? Are you still? Do you ever leave the refrigerator door open or the faucet on?

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42 comments on “do I need to close the refrigerator door or can I leave it open sometimes?

  1. dbp49
    January 7, 2015

    I still consider myself to be an idealist, but like one of your earlier readers here said, I pick my fights. I think one of the worst things that happened to all of us dreamers and schemers, was that the Silliness Brigade got us worrying about so many inconsequential little things that were really totally insignificant, that we simply burned out and no longer had the energy to go out and fight for the things that were truly important. How can I have time to launch a major battle against the huge Pharmaceutical Corporations or the Big Oil companies, when I’m busy interfering with the lumber company who somebody has convinced me is destroying Sasquatch’s habitat. Or once we convinced everybody that cigarette smoking was not very good for you, is it really necessary now to tie up all our forces convincing everybody that vapour inhalers are going to destroy the planet?! I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we need to spend more time fighting the truly important battles, and I’m not saying that I even know what those battles are (they change faster than I change my socks) and less time exerting all our effort on silly little things that actually only boil down to a matter of, “I don’t do it, so nobody else should do it either”. Then we might actually get something done, and still have enough energy left over to have a life of our own also.

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  2. I finally finished this piece…

    Thank you for giving me permission to include your post-

    http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2014/12/08/altruism-open-refrigerator-door-nicholas-winton/

    Let me know what you think –
    ~Jane

    Like

  3. MEN HEAL
    October 26, 2014

    I used to be very idealistic. I would now describe myself as compassionate and realistic, as well as authentic. Self-compassion is particularly important. Balance your needs with the needs of others.

    Just do your best well feeling good about yourself. If you’re too tired to cycle somewhere then drive and totally forgive yourself.

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    • thehonkinggoose
      October 26, 2014

      I used to be more idealistic too. Am I turning into my parents? Younger me would be disappointed in older me, but older me knows better. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • MEN HEAL
        October 26, 2014

        Yes me too! Older me is happier than younger me. Younger me would be amazed at the wisdom of older me (compared with himself, I’m not saying I’m highly wise, just comparatively so with aging).

        Like

  4. alexandraest
    October 26, 2014

    I think to be environmentally conscious you have to ‘pick your fight’. There is a lot we can do and a lot we can’t do, but if that is our main focus all the time it will consume all our time and effort and thinking. We need to leave space to live and love and be ourselves. So I believe you don’t have to beat yourself up about leaving a door open or forgetting to switch a light off. Just be the best you that you can be and love life.
    Thank you for following my brand new blog!

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    • The more I think about this piece… the more I think it expresses the feelings so many people have about wanting to practice good stewardship actions to preserve our precious planet… but how disparaging and confusing it can seem at times.

      I’m currently working on a post about my own experience coming to grips with this. Your post, an article in environment 360, and a story on the national news all fell into my awareness the same week. Each spoke to me, and collectively may provide the key to answer my search for where my actions for practicing good stewardship might lead.

      May I have your permission to PDF your post (with credit to you, of course) to include in the post I’m working on as a references/resource?

      (When I rebloggged your post, I put it in “private” so I could easily find it as food for thought.)

      Kind regards,
      Jane

      Like

      • thehonkinggoose
        November 5, 2014

        Yes, I give you my permission. Thank you for taking such an interest in what I wrote. I look forward to reading what you write about this topic. It is something I think about a lot. 🙂

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  5. newtonaturalmama
    October 23, 2014

    It is the collective thought that continues through you to your children, and through others and their children till hopefully one day it will be the norm!! You make a difference! Be easy on yourself! It is hard to hold the world on your shoulders!

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 23, 2014

      It’s true, you’re right. Some say children are the future. I say, We’re raising a conscious army.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed these days… with so many more BIG environmental issues coming to the surface. Social media connects the globe in ways we didn’t imagine to be possible when we were back in the high school days you’ve described. Now more folks are aware. Imagine if everyone took on the number of environmentally-friendly habits that you have… what a difference the collective will make. Don’t give up… YOU are on course. If you leave the refrigerator door open once in a while… not to worry, just don’t do it all the time 😉

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and giving a “follow.” I too, struggle with earth stewardship habits.
    -Jane

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 21, 2014

      Thanks for checking out the Honking Goose. That is just it, I’m trying to avoid being overwhelmed by it all, because that doesn’t help anyone. I’m on information overload these days and just grocery shopping is like wading through a sea of questions about what is best. It’s complicated! I appreciate your words of support. 😀

      Like

  7. mercedesparkles
    October 20, 2014

    I do have a concern for our environment as well, although I haven’t acted on it as fully as you have, but I can understand what you’re feeling.
    I have to say, it’s impressive for you to have dedicated that much of your routine to reducing your “footprint” so to speak. It does seem pointless sometimes, as you said for every light you turn off, there’s another in an empty room burning for hours somewhere. But keep faith that the little things YOU do DO make a difference!!
    That’s not to say, however, that you should feel ashamed for doing things that are not so eco-friendly. If you don’t feel like closing the fridge because you’re just pouring a glass of orange juice, then leave the sucker open because you leaving the door open for a second isn’t going to be the straw that breaks mother nature’s back. Don’t feel guilty for it. But DO feel proud for even the little things you do to contribute to a cleaner planet. 🙂

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  8. Pingback: About Comments, Commenting and the interruptions In Between | Not Really A Blogger

  9. Herman
    October 19, 2014

    Hi there. Thank you for visiting and following HoB. Much appreciated!

    Like

  10. Ethel and Everett Go RVing
    October 18, 2014

    Each of us has to set our own priorities and act according to our local needs. I grew up in Maine with a well for water. To me it wasn’t “wasted” to run the water and let it go down the drain, as once down said drain it went through our septic system and back to nature in the ages old cycle. Now I live in FL and fresh water comes from a water treatment plant and flows down the drain back to a treatment plant and I recognize that running it for my convenience is definitely “wasting” it. So I don’t let it run, I take shorter showers, and I turned off the automatic lawn watering system that came with the house. I buy local produce. I drive a well maintained, high MPG, 10 year old car and take care to combine trips for efficiency (grocery store, post office, library, and yarn shop all on my way home from work). I recycle everything I can and re-use much of what I can’t. I used to have a compost heap in Maine but here in FL they seem to be frowned on (probably because there are more creepy critters to be attracted to them). You do what you can. You live your life to the best of your ability within the parameters of your personal philosophy. You try to raise your kids to do the same. You participate in online forums like this to spread your philosophy while realizing the worst offenders aren’t listening. I believe that one person doing it right, quietly and without arrogance, DOES make a difference – like that a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect the weather in Central Park (Google THAT!). Be proud of what you HAVE accomplished!

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    • thehonkinggoose
      October 18, 2014

      Thanks for your comment. You are right about the butterfly wings, that is a good way of looking at it. I came across your blog and I had to give you a follow because of the name Everett. Our younger son is named Everett and I just love that name. 😀

      My dad’s house is on well water, too, so the same thing applies there. This whole getting older thing just really changes things. I was so idealistic when I was younger and I feel myself slipping further and further away from that every day. Sigh.

      On the other hand, my kids are growing up to be conscientious and caring human beings, so I feel pretty good about accomplishing that!

      Like

  11. Underdaddy
    October 17, 2014

    I obsessively turn stuff off, I don’t know why because I’ve never been particularly activist over much of anything. I too feel like I have no effect in general, my kids don’t even hear me. Where is that Osment kid from sixth sense? I have a new theory…..

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  12. claire
    October 17, 2014

    I guess do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t. if you have a garden growing your own veg is a great way to up your organic intake. It’s also a very kid friendly activity. If you are in the US food is very important as many things banned here in Europe (GMOs, steroids,and some chemicals and pesticides) are freely added to the food there.( As was stated I close the fridge to keep my bills down.) Though sadly it’s probably too late to “save the world” (probably going to take some major calamity) but working with nature carries its own rewards, better heath and knowing how to survive on a little and not be extravagant (keeps us solvent and safe.)

    Like

    • thehonkinggoose
      October 18, 2014

      Yes, gardening is one of my favorite things. I only managed a small garden this year, but it is always worth it to see my kids grub down on healthy vegetables straight from our yard. This year we grew broccoli for the first time and it tasted so much better than anything (even organic) that we’ve bought from the store. My children liked broccoli after eating it fresh from the garden. Even I liked broccoli more! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Bowrag
    October 16, 2014

    Everything in moderation

    Like

  14. ljaylj
    October 16, 2014

    I spent over 23 years in the U.S. Navy with many of those years on aircraft carriers. We took 3-minute showers and shaved in 90 seconds; sometimes with JP-4 jet fuel residue in the water. Our clothes reeked of the fuel as did so many other items. That is just a minute view of shipboard life. I saved water for so many years only to find out that people back at home were squandering their share and mine. Well, everyone that took long showers and watered their lawns then often tell me now that I need to save water because my actions are quite possibly harming the environment. I’m going to say this as nice as I can, I don’t give a rat’s tail. I do and will continue to shower as long as I wish (I often leave the water running when shaving) and water the lawn in the summer and will use my regular 100w light bulbs until they no longer exist; and I will leave the refrigerator door open if I choose. I do not purposely harm the environment, I pick up trash, I recycle and properly dispose of my engine oil but after sacrificing what others previously would not, I will do the things that make my life comfortable, now. When it comes to change, only each person can make that choice. Remember, without change there cannot be Salvation. I recommend that you be less harsh on yourself, do what you can to take care of your area of responsibility; and just don’t let it make you crazy.

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    • thehonkinggoose
      October 16, 2014

      That’s exactly it, thinking about all these details makes me crazy. I need to find a way to let go of some of that, while still being true to myself.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response.

      Like

  15. The Daily Blabber
    October 16, 2014

    I have a 16 year old son, a husband, a mortgage and I pay rent. I can’t afford organic anymore. I recycle plastic, glass, aluminum, steel, paper, cardboard, and things like talenti gelato containers (I use them to store coconut oil) and plastic bags (I used them in the smaller trashcans and for the cat liter). I leave the fridge open for the 10 seconds it takes me to pour juice. I turn off the lights if I am leaving the room with no intention of coming back. I try to be a good human being for this planet that I am leaving for generations to come. How good I am depends on the day.

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    • thehonkinggoose
      October 16, 2014

      That sounds a lot like me. I’m really enjoying all your comments recently. Thanks for hanging out! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Daily Blabber
        October 16, 2014

        I enjoyed reading your blog. So much so that I didn’t get my academic reading done until a few hours ago lol

        Like

  16. Norbert Haupt
    October 16, 2014

    Cold air descends. That’s why trunk-freezers are efficient. You open the top, and the cold air stays inside. Same with coolers at picnics. Front-loading refrigerators or freezers are really inefficient. Imagine the cold air in the fridge is Ping-Pong balls. When you open the door, only a little, balls start falling out on the floor, cascading over your feet and spreading all through the kitchen. The longer the door is open, the more balls will roll out.

    Once I put that image in my mind, I started keeping the door of the fridge closed as much as I could, not because of the environment, but because I am paying to cool the air down again – or create new Ping-Pong balls once the door is closed.

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    • thehonkinggoose
      October 16, 2014

      That imagery is really wonderful. It makes me want to stand with the fridge door open and think about ping pong balls cascading out. Maybe I’ll get some juice while I’m at it. 😉

      Like

  17. hairballexpress
    October 16, 2014

    The humans reuse and recycle but they can’t always afford organic either. As fur me- I just take a nap- that makes a difference (fur me)! MOL!

    Like

  18. Yoshiko
    October 16, 2014

    Even I want to make a difference, but I know it is so hard.

    Like

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