Img_1495_2 My parents were not real hippies. My mother never burned her bra, and my father never torched his draft card. They did not smoke pot, hitchhike, or go to Woodstock. They did, however, listen to Simon and Garfunkel. A lot. And there were a lot of significant events going on when my parents were growing up that shaped and defined their (and our) country. They saw the civil rights movement unfold, knew people fighting in the Vietnam War, and watched Watergate unravel a presidency. My parent’s generation also pioneered the environmental movement. They organized the first Earth Day and went on to found companies like Patagonia and Whole Foods. The visionaries of the sixties reshaped the way we think about our relationship with the Earth.

Growing up, my parents taught my sisters and me the importance of recycling. Coffee grounds and egg shells were always set aside for the compost pile, and in the summer dinner included tomatoes, rhubarb, or zucchini from our garden. Our family vacations were often taken in state or national parks and we always slept in tents. My parents not only understood the beauty of nature but they passed their love of the outdoors on to their children.

And recently, my parents did something huge to help fight global warming. They just bought a Toyota Prius and they are not alone – the typical Prius driver is over 50! Hybrids like the Prius use a duel combustion/electric engine, which means the vehicle can shut down the combustion engine that needs gasoline to run at low speeds or when the car is idling. The Prius is the most fuel efficient vehicle sold in the US, getting on average over 46 mpg.

Not everyone can afford to buy a hybrid car. But we can all put pressure on the auto industry to raise fuel efficiency standards. And there are many other ways we can individually reduce our impact on the world. NWF’s Campus Ecology members are constantly embracing new technologies to aid in the fight. From BallStateUniversity’s tireless efforts to bring bio-fueled hybrid buses to campus, to 2006 Campus Ecology Fellow Scot Miller’s online interactive guide to all of the environmentally friendly companies on and around Harvard, students today are making a difference. All of us can impact the world around us. For ideas on what you can do, check out our website and get involved today!

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Published: October 24, 2007