Respectfully green

Published 10:39 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A popular 1980s book began with a short essay on the important life lessons that most of us learn as children. In “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” author Robert Fulghum wrote that he’d found wisdom “not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.”

Among the important lessons he shared with readers were these: “Put things back where you found them,” and “clean up your own mess.” They’re simple ideas that responsible parents begin teaching their children even before the children enter kindergarten.

Somehow, though, as a society, we seem to have forgotten what our mothers taught us. Or maybe some of us just choose to ignore the lessons. Whichever the case, our planet suffers from the disrespect of people who won’t pick up after themselves or put things back how they found them.

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Though we’re skeptical of the extent to which man is responsible for global warming, it’s clear that mankind has blighting effects on the environment it inhabits. A drive along any American highway tells the tale: Garbage strewn along the roadside proves we are disinclined as a society to clean up after ourselves. A recent press release from the Hampton Roads Sanitation District confirms it. In truth, the very fact that people have to be told not to dump their used turkey fryer grease down the storm drain means the situation is even worse than we thought.

This holiday season, give the Earth — and the rest of us who share it with you — a gift. Pick up your own trash and dispose of it properly. Responsibly take care of your turkey grease. Try to remember that you share the planet and treat it the way your kindergarten teacher probably taught you to take care of all of your classroom’s shared resources — with a little respect.