...Do What He Says
Remember all those little nuggets of wisdom Dad doled out over the years? ("Turn off the lights!" "Stop driving like a maniac!" "Go outside and play!" etc., etc., etc.)
Ah, the advice you hated to hear ... Have you noticed that these are the same sage tips recommended by the architects of the new green movement? Gasoline at $4 a gallon and a world turned upside down by global warming have made Dad's attention to every watt of energy seem smart, even (gasp!) trendy.
Impress Dad this year by saving all that energy you might otherwise spend driving to the mall. Dads are notoriously hard to shop for, and notoriously stingy. This Father's Day, celebrate Dad's wisdom by recognizing just how green he really is (even if he doesn't know it).
So skip the gift and tell Dad he was right. Tell him he's always been right. Tell him he keeps getting more right all the time. (Just do it. Father's Day is only one day a year.)
...Tune Up the Old Clunker
Inflating your tires can increase fuel efficiency by about 3%. Having your oil changed, filters replaced and other general maintenance can save 10% or more. Dad might not have known the stats (OK, he probably did), but he knew the car maintenance checklist. He made sure you knew, too.
Tire pressure? Check.
Admitting he was right? Check.
...Save Hand-Me-Down Clothes
Few would look to Dad for fashion advice. In fact, most would look to anyone but Dad.
But as frustrating as it was to slip into an older sibling's clothing, the ol' Hand-Me-Down Family Express is a great vehicle for reducing waste and stretching the family budget.
Besides, the photos of the younger generation squeezed into outdated styles are priceless. In some ways, he was just visionary. Those old corduroys would, given a decade or two, come back into style.
If the shoe fits, tell your little brother to wear it.
...Get Your Old Man a Beer
Assuming it's organic beer why not? It's his day. He's worked hard.
Plus, it will help him drift off into a blissful nap that will stop him from suggesting any more infuriatingly correct pearls of stingy wisdom.
...Clean Your Plate
Dads carry the banner for the Depression-era mantra about eating every speck of food, even in this gluttonous food-clogged era.
Some food for thought:
- It takes about 1,250 gallons of water to raise enough beef for a half-pound burger, so bite off only as much as you can chew. (Choosing a quarter pounder and eating the whole thing, in a sense, saves 625 gallons.)
- Americans waste as much as $75 billion in food every year.
- The average family wastes 14% of its food, costing about $600 per year.
Dad could line up more shocking statistics that would make you green your diet, but a stern shake of the finger should suffice. (Oh, and don't forget to eat your veggies.)
Remember those intolerable errands with Dad, as you, strapped in a car seat, watched him go to the hardware store ... then the dump ... then the auto parts shop...then the flower shop (what a sweet husband!) ... then the grocery store ... then the TV repair shop...then the post office, then ...
He planned that, and it wasn't just to bore you to tears. He knew that avoiding unnecessary car trips saves gas, money and time. He may even have known that a warm engine uses less fuel than a cool one. He really knew how to get under your skin.
How can one man know so much?
...Stop Taking So Long in the Bathroom
Nothing boils the Old Man's blood like a long, hot bath your bath, that is.
A full tub holds about 70 gallons of water, while a five-minute shower will use just 10-25 gallons. With 2 to 5 gallons disappearing down the drain every minute, every second counts.
Or, just tell Dad he was right.
...Go Outside and Play
Dad might have just been looking for some peace and quiet, or some time alone with Mom (please, no!) but he was on to something when he told you to "Get out!"
Fresh air, exercise and a little communion with your inner adventurer can do a world of good.
Not only does getting outside feel good, the inspiration that comes from time outdoors goes a long way when you're faced with the more mundane suggestions Dad has to offer. You may suffer from all sorts of disorders your family passed on (post-traumatic stress, anyone?) but nature deficit disorder is not one of them.
...Use Old Clothes for Rags
Nothing was more infuriating than a dad's special power to embarrass, and perhaps nothing was more embarrassing than that old undershirt he would pull out to dust the windowsill. But what are the alternatives?
Old clothes that can't be given away or saved as hand-me-downs (yup, he was right about those, too) make perfect rags. Otherwise, they end up in the landfill.
They're cheap, and they get the job done. Sounds like some dads we know.
...Shut Off the Lights
Who didn't hear it from Dad: "Turn off those lights when you leave the room!" Well, Dad may have been dead wrong about everything else (or so we'd like to think), but he was right about the lights.
By now you've probably heard that lighting is responsible for about 11% of a home's energy bills. And you've probably heard that a compact fluorescent light bulb uses about 75% less electricity than an incandescent bulb.
No bulb saves energy like one that's turned off. So flip the switch. And tell Dad he was right.
...Stop Buying All This Junk
Come on, kid. Do you really need a new shirt?
Shopping trips with stingy dads aren't the most fun, and certainly are not the most extravagant. This is by design. Dads don't like spending money. It's in their DNA.
So take a page from Dad's handbook the next time you go shopping: Think twice (or seven times) before you buy, and buy only what you need.
Aim for that Dad-like Zen in which you enjoy the few things you have so much that it becomes impossible for your loved ones to find you an appropriate gift ... Happy Father's Day.
...Don't Be Such a Hotshot
The father's ear is a highly evolved sense organ. How else could he recognize tires squealing from such a distance? How else could he know you drive too fast?
Speeding, zero-to-60 shenanigans and sudden braking all waste gas. Aiming for a smooth, gentle acceleration that tops out at or below the speed limit is best for conservation. Every 5 mph over 65 you drive costs 7% in fuel economy.
So drive (slowly) to your father and thank him for the good advice. And remember, it's Father's Day. Wait until tomorrow to tell the Old Man he drives like an old lady.
...Put On a Sweater if You're Cold
What is it about fathers and thermostats? The anger-to-temperature ratio seems to suggest the two communicate via some kind of wireless connection.
But you really can save about 1% on heating bills for every one degree cooler you dial down the thermostat, which is why he wanted you to pull on a sweater (to please Dad, choose the ugliest sweater available) and pile another blanket on the bed. The same savings rate applies to summer air-conditioning.
Not that Dad would approve of air-conditioning. What a waste. That's what cold showers are for.
...Leave Your Mother Alone
OK, so he was talking about the mother of his children when he said it, but how about leaving Mother Earth alone for a few minutes. (She just needs to rest her eyes.)
...Save Now for the Next Generation
When it's time to get all Hallmarky with your dad, call to mind the fatherly way in which he saves up, penny by penny. When Dad isn't out buying himself something nice (and, really, when has he ever done that?) he's saving for the future. Your future.
It takes a mom to raise the next generation, and a dad to save enough today to ensure the next generation's future is bright. Don't expect him to start using the word "sustainable" around the grill, but you can appreciate that there is nothing more green than thinking ahead. The next generation will benefit if we starting thinking with the foresight of fathers.