Sustainability Series: My Dad!

This is my mom’s live-in boyfriend, Dad.

Dad taught me all the cool things in life like how to lower the basketball hoop down to five feet so I can dunk the ball.  He also taught me about saving money, which I am very bad at.  In all seriousness, my dad also taught me to value life – this meant that we never killed a bug in our home and viewed nature in a way that should be treasured, not taken.

Dad (Roger Hughes) lives in the Chicago suburbs and is a retired psychologist – he had his own practice conducting individual hiring evaluations for companies for 33 years!  In his free time he likes to play basketball, volunteer with social justice movements to work for prison reform in Illinois, play bass in his band, DIY house projects, and do the crossword puzzle in the newspaper.  He and my mom are active in their church and also like to travel.

Check out his answers to my sustainability questions, below!


1) What ways you have reduced waste in your home? 

I think I live a pretty efficient life.  I don’t buy things I don’t need, and don’t throw out things that can be reused or repurposed.  My garage full of scrap wood, nails, nuts, bolts and other various odds-and-ends just waiting for an opportunity to be put to good use.  I also save paper that has a blank side for printing, or at least a blank area that I can use for my things-to-do lists.  I also have a tendency to drive my cars “into the ground” rather than replace them unnecessarily (as evidenced by my 2002 Camaro and 2006 Chevy Malibu).  This last trait is a mixed blessing–reduced vehicle consumption, but our cars are probably not as fuel-efficient as newer models.


2) Have you tried to reduce your fossil-fuels use?  If so, how?  What challenges have you discovered in this effort?

While not obsessive about it, I do try to turn off lights when not in use, close heat/AC vents in rooms that are seldom used, and use a programmable thermostat.  I don’t drive unnecessarily, but I find it hard to further reduce this area of fossil-fuel use.


3) Have you changed something about your consumption in an attempt to save money and discovered it was actually a benefit for the environment as well?

Being frugal, most of my environmentally friendly efforts have, at least at first, started out as a way to save money.  Re-using printable paper, using cloth napkins, not wasting water on lengthy showers, and turning off lights when not in use are some ways being environmentally friendly saves money too.


4) What are your favorite reusable items? 

I always use cloth bags when shopping.  I also often wear clothes past their normal life expectancy, sometimes to my wife, Clara’s, dismay.  For example, over time, new running shoes morph into workout shoes, then hanging-out shoes, then shoes for chores, and finally, painting shoes.  Only after this final stage of shoe-life do I put these loyal foot soldiers to rest.  Same goes for t-shirts, shorts, etc.


5) What is the biggest impact you see yourself making on the environment through your lifestyle?

I rarely drive downtown to Chicago, preferring to use our great public transportation system.  I also have become less of an animal-based food consumer, although not intentionally.  My wife, Clara, has been a card-carrying vegan for two years, and I have slowly adapted to this food regimen.  I didn’t really think individuals’ veganism would result in any dramatic societal changes in my lifetime, but now fast-food restaurants are offering plant-based burgers!  Who woulda thunk?  I feel good about doing my part to reduce the damage that mass-produced animal products inflicts on our environment.

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6) What about where you live makes it easier or harder to live a sustainable or eco-friendly life?  What would you change if you could?

As mentioned earlier, Chicago has an excellent public transportation system.  As it also is a world-class city, I don’t have to travel far to find great music, restaurants and culture. However, living here is not very rural, so having, for example, a “non-hobby” garden is not really feasible.  I also find myself taking vacations that require air transportation–one drawback from living in the Midwest.


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