Being Mindful about Conservation

I came to a sudden realization last week that made me really understand the mentality and emotion behind the work that the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada does. It was one of those moments where the proverbial lightbulb lit up the room and gave me an understanding of something that, as a newcomer to the Institute, I have been trying hard to really grasp. Ironically, it involved an actual lightbulb, and my decision to shut it off.

You probably remember the freak storm that hit Toronto a couple of weeks ago.

Toronto Storm

The view from my office as the storm rolled in – right when I wanted to leave!
Photo Credit – Zac Schraeder, 2013

Side note: I live and work in the city, and I just loved the fact that the storm hit at exactly the moment I decided to make my way home from work. I had the lovely opportunity to experience this strange weather event quite intimately. In addition to getting completely soaked, my power went out, friends’ basements flooded and the subway system was paralyzed because of all the water. The day following the event, an enormous strain was placed on the city’s power grid because of outages. There was a danger of sweeping, massive power outages hanging over the city throughout the following days.

I made it to work the day after the storm, armed with the knowledge that the power could go out at any point. The only way that this precarious situation could have been prevented was if people worked together to limit their power usage, and to conserve energy however they could. As I turned my office lights on, I thought twice: “Why am I doing this?” It was 8 in the morning. Sunlight was pouring in the windows, rendering the lights mostly useless anyways. Knowing that there were people in Toronto who depended on the limited power supply, I shut the lights off. I didn’t want them to suffer or go without because I was needlessly wasting energy.

By limiting my own unnecessary consumption of something that was in short supply, I was contributing to its conservation. I was helping to make it possible for all of us – all across Toronto – to avoid a complete outage.

Ding! The lightbulb (in my mind) lit up!

Sound familiar? This is the essence of the JGI Canada mission: reduce needless consumption, and conserve the resources we have, particularly when we don’t need them. There are others out there who depend on what we waste, and who are negatively affected by the product of our waste. The zinger for me is to do it mindfully – To be aware of how our actions are actually impacting people (and chimpanzees) oceans away – and in return impacting us. The fact that I turned off the lights benefitted me as well! We reap what we sow. It really is a win-win situation!

The light in my head is still lit up – but the lights in my office aren’t. They’ll only go on when I actually need them – say, if another freak storm darkens the skies?

Why and how do you conserve your energy? Let me know! Tweet, email or message me!

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