What better way to start a Sunday than with the first instalment of a brand new fictional series on Blue & Green Tomorrow by an exciting, up-and-coming author, Katherine Sankey. Earth Saver follows the story of 11-year-old Clare, who’s inspired by a school project to go green, but is having a tough time convincing her family to share her views…
Oops. Sounds like Mum’s tripped over my school bag. Again. I quickly hop off the chair that I’ve put on top of the new table, at great risk to my pocket money, and begin to drag it off when Mum appears in the kitchen doorway. She is holding a disarranged bundle of papers, and looks flustered. I freeze.
“What are you doing with that chair?”
I almost use the modern art excuse, as according to our art teacher even messy beds are art, but I tell the truth automatically instead.
“Checking the light bulb”, I say slowly. Mum’s eyes widen at exactly the same time as her eyebrows go up.
“What?!” She cries, dumping the papers on the table. “You could’ve hurt yourself! You could’ve fallen off and broken your leg!” She picks up the chair and plonks it on the floor, scowling. “And why do you want to check the light bulb anyway?”
“It’s a school thing”, I reply. “We’ve started doing climate change and sustaina-bal-ity.”
“Sustainability”, Mum interjects.
“Yeah, that, at school. Our homework is to see how eco-friendly our home is against this checklist and then write an essay about our findings. One of the checks is counting all the low energy bulbs in the house.”
“Alright, but ask next time before you start risking your neck”, Mum says, and then frowns at the table surface, rubbing it with her finger, “And the furniture.”
“Okay…” I sigh.
“Good. So, don’t do it again, please”, Mum says. “As for your homework, I can tell you if there’s a low energy bulb in a light or not.”
“Is there one in that one?” I ask, pointing to kitchen light. I hope there is, so far the only one I’ve found was in the coat cupboard.
“No, afraid not”, Mum says simply, starting up the coffee machine.
“Really?! But that means we only have one low energy light bulb in the whole house!”
“Do we?” Mum replies distractedly, “I suppose we do. Being eco-friendly never really occurred to me and your father when we chose the light fittings.”
I look at what I’ve put down on the check list, with the exception of the lone bulb, all I can tick off is that we recycle. Oh, and that we have a bowl made from a recycled record, and even then I found someone had dumped six dead batteries in there. I sigh.
“Listen I have to finish some paperwork. Dinner at seven as usual”, Mum says, taking her coffee and papers.
“Okay”, I reply, as she disappears off to her office.
I decide to continue with the checklist. The next thing is how many appliances are left on, and how many are left on stand-by normally. I’d never noticed before, but we seem to keep every light in the house on, and we seem to have loads of lamps, as if Mum’s been subconsciously collecting them.
The checklist also requires that I check our appliances for the EU Energy label. The teacher explained that these labels show a grading from A to G; A being the greenest and best rating, G being the lowest. Most of our appliances only have E, if they have a label at all. I go through the kitchen cupboards and find all those things we never use, the waffle machine, the toastie maker, a candy-floss machine? I drop the electronic juice maker on the floor searching for the label. When I pick it up again it rattles. I decide not to mention this to Mum and Dad. After all, they’ll never know, Mum gave up that smoothie diet months ago.
Finally I review the checklist. It’s not good. Our home has a very low score, putting it in the very, very bad section. The only way we’d be worse is if we started creating our own nuclear waste. Something I wouldn’t put that past my brother Ben, frankly. He’s studying chemistry, and he claims he wants to be an evil scientist.
There’s no time for me to start my essay though, before Mum calls for dinner, but there is enough time for me to decide that I have to do something.
At dinner, I make my grand move.
“Everyone, I’d like to call a family meeting to discuss an extremely serious crisis”, I announce sternly. Mum and Dad exchange slightly puzzled and worried looks, Ben and Daisy exchange disbelieving ones.
“The polar ice caps are melting!”
I am immediately interrupted by the snorting and giggling of Ben and Daisy.
“Uh?” I exclaim. I can’t believe they’re laughing.
“Stop it you two!” Dad scolds.
“This is serious!” I cry, “We’re experiencing global warming, and oil shortages.”
“So?” Daisy shrugs. “You can’t stop it.”
“Yes we can. I saw a movie at school about it called the Inconvenient Truth”, I say quickly.
“That film contains inaccuracies” Ben says.
“The teacher mentioned that too. But global warming is still happening”, I turn to Daisy, “I checked the internet, and other websites agreed. Including NASA.”
“Phooey”, says Ben, flicking his fringe out of his eyes.
“I didn’t say it wasn’t happening”, Daisy says exasperated, “I said it was too late to stop it. Doesn’t matter how many solar panels you stick on a house.”
“Yes it does!” I cry.
“No it doesn’t”, Ben says, through a mouthful of pasta.
“Alright” Mum calls, “Enough!”
We all shut up.
“Thank you”, Dad says, “For that lively debate, but lets finish our dinner shall we? Peacefully?”
“But I haven’t finished”, I squeak, “Everyone interrupted me.”
Mum sighs,“Go on then, what were you going to say?”
“And skip the speech”, Daisy says, rudely. I glare at her.
“Well, I was going to say that I don’t think we’re very eco-friendly.”
“Of course we’re eco-friendly”, Dad says, smiling, “We recycle.”
“Dad, everyone recycles”, I groan.
“We have the allotment”, Mum says, “And grow organic.”
I decide not to point out that the allotment is just a field of nettles at the moment, and that the only thing we’ve had from there were a few small potatoes, two mouldy carrots and a bunch of salad tomatoes; and Dad used greenfly killer on them, I saw him. He bought my silence with an ice cream afterwards.
“But we could do more! We’re wasting so much energy. All the light bulbs need changing to low-energy ones for starters, then there’s water… I mean, do Daisy and Ben both have to have a shower every night?”
“Ben does”, Mum says grimly. Ben rolls his eyes. I interrupt before we get into another smelly feet argument.
“We use too many appliances, don’t have anything solar powered, we own three cars… in fact…” Suddenly I realise what we should to do. “… Why don’t we go completely carbon natural?!”
A snigger from Ben. Mum sighs.
“I think you mean carbon neutral”, Dad explains, “And, it’s a nice idea, love, but we can’t go completely carbon neutral just for a school project. Remember how much hassle we had just redecorating the dining room?”
“Dad, this isn’t just for school. I’m being serious”, I tell him.
“That’s what you said when you decided you were vegetarian”, Mum points out, “Remember how much tofu we had to throw away?”
“But Mum, Dad…” I cry, but they’ve started asking Ben and Daisy about college. Great! I’ve been argued with and ignored. So this is how Al Gore felt. I’m not giving up though. No way…
Clare attempts to be eco-friendly by herself, but finds that everything she tries ends up getting her into trouble.