I’ve been casually following the recent demand from young people that we “older” folks should get it together when it comes to the environment and be ashamed of the state of the planet we are leaving for our grandkids. Frankly, I find that position mildly amusing, at least here in Midcoast Maine. I remember growing up in Camden when all the cars spewed blue smoke out the exhaust, mills were pumping who knows what into the air and water, and you could build a house or cottage right on the shore of a lake or the ocean. We have to continue the be good stewards of our environment but give us some credit for cleaning it up a lot. Having said that, let’s look at what can be done, going forward.
Kids are our future and they absolutely can and should be driving the initiatives of our future. After all, it’s their future, not ours. I go back to when the seat belt was being promoted, long before wearing it became law. Awareness at the time educated us parents that our children should be restrained in a car seat. When my son was old enough to tell me, he insisted that if he had to be strapped in, I needed to be, as well. So, I did. And wearing a seat belt became so comfortable that I feel uncomfortable if I don’t buckle up, so kids have a powerful influence if they choose to use it.
The carbon footprint and its contribution to global warming is a huge topic and many of the youth are getting on board with protests and such. While I readily admit that the climate is changing as it does, I’m not certain that the CO2 global warming connection is solid, but hey, it can’t hurt to cut back. Calls for solar projects are popular and gaining steam all over. Those things are fine, but they all cost money and many require permits and municipal votes, etc. I admire their interest and passion, but there are things that they can do in their everyday life that can make a HUGE difference in their carbon footprint and not cost a cent. In fact, they can save money doing it. This is something that I witness every day, but never noticed until it was brought to my attention.
Here is an opportunity for youth to make a difference that returns almost instant results. If you drive by any school at afternoon release time, you will see vehicles filling the pickup area and often out on the street. This isn’t as obvious at school opening of course, as the vehicles just drop of the students and drive away. But wait. Taxpayers buy buses that could take 50 or 60 kids to school and take them home in one vehicle. Imagine that? I don’t think you can blame the parents for all of this. If the kids were begging to ride the bus, the parents would probably go along.
There is a small hiccup in my plan and that is that some youth go to schools that don’t provide transportation, but I’m certain that is in their master plan and will be implemented fairly soon. The school bus transportation is also an area that environmental savings could be realized.
I don’t travel a lot of bus routes, but here’s what I’ve observed: Just watching the Rockland North Main Street/Camden Street route I don’t know how the driver and students keep from getting dizzy. Down near Dunkin, the bus goes down and up streets that are not much longer than the bus and stops time after time on each street. Then it crosses North Main and does the same thing on the other side. South Main Street is even more dramatic. The bus hardly moves before it stops again.
I’m not picking on Rockland as they, like every other town are responding to citizen needs. Kids need to learn to get along. Meeting at a bus stop in close proximity to the house is a valuable life lesson and a money saver. You can make a difference here if you insist on meeting other kids at the bus stop. As a bonus, your parents won’t have to go outside in their pajamas.
Kids. I’m with you. Let’s make this happen. Talk to your parents. Beg them to let you ride the bus for the sake of the future of your planet. A word of warning. Your parents likely won’t jump on board right away. You know how parents are. They can be weird and sometimes they don’t understand, but you need to be strong. Insist on the bus.
We all need to be thinking about the bigger picture, and us boomers who can only make a small dent in the problem are depending on you.
Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com. He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant.