We’re continuing on the journey of 11-year-old Clare, who’s inspired by a school project to go green. This week, she attempts to be eco-friendly by herself, but finds that everything she tries ends up getting her into trouble…
The next day at school I search the library and internet for as much information on eco-living as possible. I’m going to prove I’m serious about this. Unlike the vegetarian fiasco.
There are a lot of books on eco-living in the school library, most of them quite thick too. I can’t believe how much you need to think about – water, electricity, waste, toxic chemicals in the home, food shopping, eco-investment?! Suddenly the task of going green seems huge! But I don’t panic, at least not much. Our teacher told us that even doing small things regularly can help. Just switching off a few lights, or taking a bag out shopping with you, like those ‘bags for life’ shops sell – Mum has a drawer full of those. I decide to write a list of things to do at home. I’ll start with saving energy.
After school, as I wait for Mum by the gates, I am reminded of one of the things I’d dearly like to change, but can’t. Mum’s big silver four=by-four, once just a car, is now a guilt machine. I wince as it rolls up beside me. I wonder if I can persuade Mum to let me take the bus from now on?
Back home, I launch straight into my eco campaign. I start by switching off and unplugging all the unnecessary appliances we have. Such as the hall lamp, which is left on at the same time as the main hall light – making it about as useful as a torch on a summer’s day.
On my way upstairs I pass Ben’s bedroom. I peek round the door. He is lying on his bed with his laptop, MP3 player and TV on, all at once. He has his games console and DVD player on stand-by and there seem to be a million plugs coming out of one multi-plug socket. I notice the TV remote next to a sock on the floor, and quietly pick it up, holding my breath, to switch off the telly. The moment the TV is off Ben notices.
“I was watching that!” he exclaims, irritated. For a young man, he can certainly make his voice go high.
“No you weren’t”, I argue, “You were on your computer and listening to music. How could you even hear the cartoon?”
“I’ve seen it before. I don’t need the sound on”, he replies grumpily. I roll my eyes.
“Well, I was only saving a bit of energy”, I explain.
“Yeah, well do it in your own room. I’m trying to do college work”, he snaps, putting his earphones back in.
Never mind, I’ll sneak back into his room and turn off everything later. I finish switching off the upstairs unnecessaries, and have started reading Confessions of an Eco-Shopper by Kate Lock in my bedroom, when there’s a bang and a yelp.
“Ow! Okay who turned off the hall light!?” Mum calls from downstairs. I open my bedroom door and look out. Daisy has left her room too and is leaning over the stair rail.
“Wasn’t the table lamp on?” Daisy asks over the rail.
“No”, I hear Mum say, as light suddenly spills up from the hall, “I think the bulb has blown.”
Blown? Oops, I hadn’t thought of that.
There’s another sudden yell.
“Oh my God!”
“Peter?” Mum calls, concerned. I hear Dad run into the hall.
“Right! Who pulled out the TV plug?! The blooming thing hasn’t recorded the match!” Dad yells.
I shrink back into my doorway. Oh, double oops. I notice Ben emerge from his room across the landing.
“Hey, what’s going on? I’m trying to work”, Ben asks, looking more puzzled than annoyed.
“The hall lamp wasn’t on, so Mum banged into the small table. And someone unplugged the TV, so Dad’s missed the match”, Daisy explains.
“Oh. Well, that was probably Clare, she was in my room earlier trying to turn stuff off”, Ben says, loud enough for everyone to hear. There’s a moment’s silence.
“Clare!” Dad calls, “Come down here please! Now!”
Oh, I’m in trouble. I trudge down the stairs. In the hall Mum and Dad are stood, looking irritated. Mum sighs when she sees me.
“Your eco project again?” Mum asks.
“No. I just wanted to do my bit for the environment. So I turned off a few lights and things on stand-by. I also started putting fruit and veg peelings into a pot for compost…” I explain. “You know Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!” I add cheerfully.
“Listen, Clare,” Dad says, “We don’t mind you trying to be eco-friendly, but please ask us before you do anything.”
“Alright.” I say, then I have a thought, “Daaadd….?”
“How much does the electricity cost?” I ask hopefully, “Because you know, saving energy also saves money! And all we’d have to do is a few things, like buy low-energy bulbs!” There’s a pause as Mum and Dad share a questioning glance.
“The electricity bill was rather high last month”, Dad says slowly, looking at Mum.
“I suppose switching the bulbs wouldn’t take too long”, Mum says carefully, “Why don’t we discuss it during dinner?”
“Good idea”, Dad nods, heading back to the living-room. I grin. They’re actually going to think about changing the bulbs! I’m so pleased, I don’t say anything for fear of jinxing it.
“It’s nearly seven, I’d better make a start on the cooking”, Mum says, dumping her papers on the hall table, and wandering into the kitchen. I go back upstairs to continue reading, but with a bounce in my step. As I trot up, though, I am followed by the sound of Mum’s puzzled, and swiftly irate, voice through the kitchen door.
“Why is there a banana skin in my £70 designer bowl!”
I decide not to hang around, but I can’t wait for dinner.
Finally after weeks of trying, Clare’s mum agrees to give eco-living a go.
Click here for part one in the series.