Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Earth Day Resolution


I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, at least, not in January. I make my resolutions in April, for Earth Day. Each year I find one small thing I can adjust to make my footprint just a little smaller.

Last summer in Colorado was painfully dry. Scorchingly dry. Swaths of national forest burning dry. So my resolution for this year has to do with water:

I am going to try to keep my vegetable garden alive on greywater. That’s going to mean a lot of trips from the kitchen sink to the backyard, but that’s fine with me—it’s not only the Colorado drought that has water on my mind.

My debut novel, Parched, is a story that explores what happens to two kids when the water is gone. When I do school visits, I hand kids a bookmark with space for them to write on the back and ask them for 3 ways they can conserve water at home or at school. Before they start writing, I ask for a show of hands. I love to hear the ideas that kids have come up with. Things like:

                “I won’t take any more showers.”

                “I won’t ever flush the toilet.”

...and then (when the teachers’ eyebrows have risen to a panicked all-time high) we modify the question slightly. “Okay,” I say, “how can you take care of the water in your area while still taking care of your body and your community?”

Then the really good ideas start to roll:

                “I could turn off the water while I brush my teeth.”

                “I can turn off the faucet while I wash my hands.”

                “I can invite the neighbors to come play in my sprinklers so the water is on in only one house, not two.”

Parched isn’t about water protection and conservation. It’s about two kids, and the emotional and physical struggle they endure in order to survive. But the story is set in our world, one generation down the road, in an all-too realistic premise. So I hope the story will prompt my readers will think about how they use water and to make a few adjustments.

I’d love to know—what’s your Earth Day resolution? Please share in the comments—who knows—your idea just might inspire someone else to try it too!

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Author of PARCHED (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 2013) Melanie Crowder holds an MFA from Vermont College. Visit her online at www.melaniecrowder.net!

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