I have always tried to be a good recycler – I put the plastics, aluminum cans, glass bottles, and newspapers in the bin for the collectors each week. I even dig through the trash can in the kitchen to pull out stuff that is sometimes “accidentally” dropped in. I am learning about starting a compost pile and buying organic foods. In Europe I started using reusable grocery bags. In Paris, there are several stores that charge you per plastic bag if you don’t bring your own bags. Others don’t even provide them; you have to bring your own. We didn’t drive a lot in Paris. It was easier to walk or take public transportation. We left the Toyota Sequoia in storage in the States and purchased a Ford Focus while living there for times we did need a vehicle. It was nice to be able to zip in and out of places, but squeezing a family of 5 large people in was a bit of an accomplishment. In the States, my husband has always liked to bike to work; although we have found that where we live now is not too bike friendly. He’s been yelled at, cursed at, driven off the road, and even chased down in traffic.
I was nearly ecstatic to be back in the land of wide open spaces on our return to the States. I know from personal experience that Japanese and Europeans don’t know what personal space is. I give people in front of me in line at a store a couple of feet or more, so I don’t feel like I’m breathing down their necks. But I learned quickly that you cannot do that in some countries; someone will think you are not in line and will jump right in front of you. I am a “this is my personal space” kinda gal, so it was nice to have others with this philosophy around me once again. I was also excited to get back into the driver’s seat of my Sequoia. I know SUV’s are gas-guzzlers; I know they are big; I know, I know, I know… But I have 3 children who play sports with lots of equipment, and they have friends that I often cart around as well. And when the 5 of us go on a trip, it is oh so nice to be able to split the kids up just a bit and not have to listen to “Quit laying on me” or “Stop touching me!” Since I don’t work outside our home, that is all that vehicle is used for. We’ve only put 70,000 miles on it over its 7 years of life.
Right now we are in the middle of looking at house plans. We are leaving the military life next summer and are going to finally settle down in one spot. We have lived in so many different houses that we’re pretty sure of how we’d like ours set up. My husband is having fun thinking of ways to be green. I don’t think he thinks of it as being “green;” he just gets into the creativeness of it all – thinking up ways to use solar energy to heat water or planting our own garden. We’ve looked at so many house plans, my brain starts spinning and I have to take breaks. I like a few ideas from one, and he likes some from another, but we can’t quite find “the one.” So now we are now trying to design one with all of our ideas. He’s taking in to account the angle of the sun at different times of the day and making sure everything’s set up well to have a slide coming off the balcony from our bedroom into the swimming pool in the backyard. (Some men just never grow up, do they? 🙂 I, on the other hand, am concerned with the flow through the house. My children love to dump their backpacks, instruments, shoes, and sports equipment the minute they come in the house. At our current residence, the only place to enter is the front door which has a small foyer. So, guess where all of that stuff ends up each day? When I finally get sick of it all and have to wade through dirty socks and last week’s science project, I sometimes end up threatening to throw it all out on the front lawn. If they’re not careful, one day something might end up in the recycle bin or the compost pile I’m planning to start.