Book Review: Dude Making A Difference (by Rob Greenfield)

autumn-2963219_640.jpg

Those of you who love to read will understand what I’m talking about when I say how this was one of these books that I just didn’t want to put down,  and gladly would have given up sleep for!  I started putting little sheets of paper into certain pages because I felt that there were some quotes there that I really needed to remember. (If it had been my own book, I would have highlighted them.)

Simply put, Rob makes me want to be a better human.  He really does.  Yes, he takes things to an extreme (such as standing up on his bike across an entire state) to raise funds for a charity, but what he does, he does to raise awareness.

This book is about a cross-country bike trip that Rob took a few years ago to raise awareness about taking steps to save our environment.  He decided on a few rules he would follow along the way:

  • only use electricity that was created from a portable alternative energy device (i.e. solar power), not electricity created by fossil fuels or from the grid
  • only use water that comes from natural resources, i.e., not from a tap or municipal system unless it’s being wasted (i.e. a busted fire hydrant, a leaky faucet, etc.)
  • only eat organic and local and unpackaged food (exception being that he could eat packaged foods if they were going to go to waste, i.e. in a dumpster, on someone’s plate at a restaurant)
  • cross the country on his bike only, so not using any fossil fuels (only exception would be if his life was threatened)
  • try to be as close to zero-waste producing as possible (i.e. if he bought something that was in non-recyclable plastic, it would travel with him the entire time)

Those are just some of the parameters he put in place.  Pretty impressive, huh?  Did I mention he also raised money for several non-profits, including Reuse Alliance, Growing Power, Solar Sister and Community Cycles, just to name a few.

Rob very rarely broke any of his rules, but of course he wasn’t perfect.   The book is mainly his journal that he steadfastly worked on during the entire trip.  It chronicles the many people who gave him shelter through the Warm Showers program, the many weather challenges he faced, his riding across the entire state of Pennsylvania without money.  He includes many nuggets of wisdom, such as:

  • “If you don’t support wasting water, then take shorter showers, do less laundry and pay attention to how much water you’re dumping down the drain.”
  • In terms of embracing all that the earth and your life has to give you, “[i]f your neighbors are too loud and keep you up at night, it means  your ears are functioning properly.  If  you smell nasty cigarettes at a bar or a rotting animal on the side of the road, it means your nose is doing its job.”

Another great nugget is:

“No human being has more or less time than any other.  Time is not something we can buy or win.  it is not something we can steal or borrow. . . .There is no such thing as not ‘having’ time for something.  We choose not to devote our time to doing something so that we can spend our time doing something else instead.  it’s a choice.  Life is a choice.”

My favorite quote of his is the following, and I think it’s because he exemplified this throughout the entire book.  He remained happy in the face of downpours, lightning strikes, you name it. He CHOSE to be happy rather than miserable.   So I will leave you with this quote.

“Life is a matter of perspective.  Change your perspective today and you’ll be living in a new world tomorrow.”

I strongly encourage you to read this book, however you get your hands on it.  I borrowed mine from the public library, but it is also available through Amazon (this is an affiliate link) and the book publisher’s website – New Society.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you have a comment, or a suggestion on another book I should read, please write me below! And if you think someone can benefit from reading it, or Rob’s book, please do feel free to share it!! And thanks!

Our Changing Environment

forest-110900_640.jpg
Forest, image courtesy of pixabay.com

As I move along in my Humane Education classes, I’ve begun thinking about some issues in more detail than I used to, and sometimes it can get a bit depressing, I won’t lie. When it gets to me, I try to remember a few essays we read in the beginning of the semester on keeping hope alive in the face of what looks to be insurmountable problems, such as the warming of the planet and what appears to be the unwillingness of many to acknowledge what is going on, and that we have to take some actions now to preserve the planet for our kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and so on.   All too often, it is to easy to just say “oh, I’m only one person, what can I do?” and throw your hands up in despair without having at least  tried to make a difference or a change.

To me, that is almost as bad a strategy to have about climate change as the one undertaken by many to deny it exists whatsoever. Such is the case with the Heartland Institute having mailed books to science teachers all across the country this past March.  Have you heard about the Heartland Institute? They’re the same organization that used to argue that second hand smoke didn’t cause cancer.  I think we all know how (un)truthful that statement is now.

One of those times that it seemed a bit depressing to me is when I talked to my sister in  Michigan, who has three kids, ages 15, 12 and 9.  I asked her what they were learning about climate change in the schools, if anything.  Turns out, they haven’t touched on the topic at all. Not even as part of a unit on something related to climate change like the hurricanes of this past summer, or the fact that what was once-in-a-century storms seem to be happening with much more frequency lately.  Why is that, I wonder?  Is it because it might be considered “controversial” and therefore they should stay away from it?  Is it because it’s not on a standardized test and therefore the school can’t show how proficient their teaching methods are?  If so, that’s just ….. sad.

tropical-cyclone-catarina-1167137_640.jpg
tropical cyclone, courtesy of pixabay.com

So if you’re reading this and you’re a parent, I would ask you to ask your kids if they are talking about any of the following in their science classes:  climate change, the weather (such as hurricanes, droughts in California, forest fires),  rising ocean temperatures,  coral reefs dying near Australia, how the ice is melting at the poles and in Greenland, how our glaciers keep shrinking every year.   You don’t have to ask them all of this at once – that’s way too overwhelming.  Just broach one topic at a time.

If you’re a parent, maybe you can attend a PTA meeting or school board of education meeting at your school to discuss the curriculum.  If there are any climate deniers on the board of education, you can point out some of the facts and studies that debunk the ideas espoused by the likes of Heartland Institute,  on the Skeptical Science website.   Call your school’s principal and find out if the teachers are using or mentioning Heartland Institute’s book.  If so, provide them with a copy of this flyer, explaining five reasons why the book shouldn’t be used in the classroom.

if your kids have questions that you don’t feel comfortable answering, maybe showing them one of the three flyers linked here, created by the NCSE (National Center for Science Education).  And take them to their local science museum – in Albuquerque, we have one that is very hands on, called Explora. (Check out your local library to see if there is a pass you can use so you can attend it at a discounted price or possibly even for free!!!)  The point is to get them thinking and getting excited about science and the human effect on the world around them.

If you’re interested in reading further about this, or how to talk to your kids about climate change and the environment, please check out the following resources, as well as those mentioned on my Helpful Books page.  (It’s been revised and republished!)

Or, even better, if there are woods or a lake nearby, take your kids there for a short field trip.  Encourage their love of the outdoors and ask them questions about the trees or the water, or any of the living creatures that might cross their path (age-appropriate questions, of course.)  You might want to talk about experiences you had as a kid with different animals or species we don’t see so much of anymore, such as fireflies.  (If you’re in the US, around my age, think back – when was the last time you saw one??  Didn’t they seem to be everywhere when you were a kid?!)  Ask your kids why they think that might be, that some species seem to be disappearing from our planet.

Finally, if your kids are learning about climate change or any of its related issues in school, I’d love for you to drop me a comment and let me know where you live (just a state is fine if in the US, or a country if not in the US), and how they are discussing it so that we can help spread the word.  And if they’re not discussing it, but you think they should, then let’s get a conversation started and maybe we can brainstorm ideas on how you can approach your local school or community and raise its consciousness on the issue of climate change.  It’s here.  Let’s not close our eyes to what is happening right before us.

If you’ve liked this post or think you know someone who could benefit from reading it, please hit the like button or any of the share buttons!  As always, thanks for reading.

flash-2568381_640.jpg
lightning flash, image courtesy of pixabay.com