sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Protecting the Planet is the Best Legacy that We Can Leave for Our Grandkids

By Becki Cohn-Vargas January 06, 2016 Family

In December, 2015, 195 nations approved an historic climate agreement. Louis Psihoyos, one of the speakers at the summit, suggested that we “Boomers” have changed the planet forever. Now, we need to decide how to respond.

We were around for the first Earth Day, in 1970. We also saw the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

In 1990, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200-million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. That year, I was teaching first grade and Rafael, one of my students, wrote an essay and won a $5,000 scholarship in the Macy’s Earth Day contest.

His suggestion for saving the planet was simple and beautiful. He said, “Every time that a child is born, we should plant a tree. And if I only take a bath once a week, we can save water.” Don’t you love the wisdom of a seven-year-old?

I don’t know about you, but, I have decided not to sit on the sidelines. Instead, I have decided to hold my own personal “climate change summit.” Here are a few suggestions that I am going to try to implement. I’d love to hear how you are changing the world for the better too!

Embrace Composting and Gardening

I have owned a compost bin for a long time. Unfortunately, I stopped adding to it, while I was waiting for the food to decompose. So, I decided that it was time to keep ALL of my food scraps from heading for a landfill.

Suddenly, I had an “aha” moment. I realized that I could use one of my extra plastic garbage cans as a second compost location, while the first one was composting. As a bonus, the vegetables are delicious! My favorite is homegrown kale. What are your composting tips?

Invest in Solar Panels

Last year, we leased solar panels through SolarCity. This plan requires no money down. Instead of paying the electric company, we pay SolarCity. For now, we’re breaking even, but, ultimately it will cost less, as electricity costs go up. I still need to look around the house at all the items I can unplug when not in use.

Drive a Hybrid Car

I am on my second hybrid car. The first one lasted for ten years and 245,000 miles. During this time, I saved so much money on gas. The next step would be to get an electric car. Have any of you had an electric EV car? Please add your experiences in the comments at the end of this article.

The Planet is What You Eat

The web site Racing Extinction explains that cows and other edible animals produce 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.

By becoming a vegetarian, you can cut more emissions than if you stopped driving your car. Racing Extinction suggesting taking a first step by starting a “meatless Monday.” Even giving up meat on one day can make a huge difference.

I am already a pescatarian (I eat fish, but not meat). If this sounds like you, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a downloadable Consumer Guide that shows which fish are safe and sustainable.

The next step, for me, is to be more careful about the eggs that I select. For example, I found out that “free range” might mean no cages, but crowded conditions. Selecting pasture-raised eggs assures the best conditions for the chickens.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Regift

On the topic of reducing waste, I recently heard a speaker talk about all the food that we throw away. According to Dan Nickey of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center, “Forty percent of all the food in this country never makes it to the table — at a cost of $165 billion to the U.S. economy.”

Think, Eat, Save offers suggestions for reducing food waste. Careful planning also helps save money. Eat Ugly is a campaign that encourages us not to throw away fruit and vegetables that are less than perfect.

What about reuse? We can’t take all this stuff with us, so why not share our forgotten or unwanted clothes? What treasures to you have hidden in your closet?

Don’t Forget About Saving Water

This year, we took out the lawn in the front of our house. We were lucky to be part of a program where our water district gave us a rebate for putting in a drip water system and mulch with drought resistant plants in place of the lawn.

Nancy, the woman who runs the program, gave us some great tips. She explained that we can safely use the “greywater,” which is gently used water for the garden. We put a bucket under our shower and another smaller container at the sink.

Start Your Own Special Project

My special project is called Makengue. It’s a rain forest preserve that my husband and I run in Nicaragua, his birth country.

Our property is located on the San Juan River, along the southern border. Our goal is to keep the virgin rain forest untouched by any kind of development. We built our house with wood from fallen trees and use solar panels for all electricity. We rescue and release animals and bring student groups for research projects and community service.

Becki and Rito in Nicaragua

I love to hear the howler monkeys roar and the haunting sounds of the frogs and strange birds at night. We love the local community. They have become our friends and share our love of the jungle.

Everyone can contribute to keeping the rain forests, the lungs of our planet, filled with trees. Protect an Acre is a project of the Rain Forest Action Network that preserves forests. Where do you like to go to experience that special connection to the earth?

While there is still so much to do, I am hopeful that we can win our “race against extinction.” Our planet is so spectacular. As humans, we have such a rich natural heritage, but also such a tremendous responsibility. As Boomers, we need to be leaders. Let’s all choose one thing that we can start doing today to make the world a better place. Our children and grandchildren deserve a bright and wonderful future.

If you are looking for a place to get started, here are a few of my favorite resources. Please also join the conversation at the end of this article and let us know how you are protecting the environment.

Racing Extinction Documentary

Understanding the Value of Organic Food

What steps have you taken to protect the environment? Do you believe that our generation has a responsibility to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren? Let’s get a conversation started!

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Author

Becki Cohn-Vargas, Ed.D, has been blogging regularly for Sixty and Me since 2015. She is a retired educator and independent consultant. She's the co-author of three books on identity safe schools where students of all backgrounds flourish. Becki and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have three adult children and one grandchild. You can connect with her at the links below.

You Might Also Like