Recently an ad aired on television which asked the question:
“If every American household replaced one incandescent light bulb with one Compact Florescent Light bulb, how many homes could be powered by the electricity that was saved?”
The answer was 3 Million.
As there are about 100 Million households in America that would represent a three percent reduction in the amount of energy we use to light our homes. I did a quick audit of my house and discovered that I have in excess of sixty old-fashioned bulbs sitting in various fixtures. So, in theory, if everyone had as many bulbs in their homes and replaced all of them with CFL’s we would be able to make all American homes energy independent – in fact we should produce a surplus of electricity. As I looked at my conclusion I realized that there was a flaw in this logic.
Long before we became concerned about conservation on a national level, my parents taught me that it was important. Perhaps they didn’t think of their admonition to “Turn the lights out when you leave the room,” as something of global importance. But they knew and taught me that using less electricity reduced the bill which dutifully arrived monthly from Con Ed. And it was obvious to me that if we sent less to the electric company, that meant there was more to spend on something that was even better than lighting the apartment – like food on the table or putting one extra dime in the Poor Box at church.
Returning to the ad which I at first thought was sponsored by some governmental agency such as the EPA, I was surprised to learn that it was presented by Exxon Mobil Oil. It is one of the more successful ads that I have seen as it got me thinking. If we could save a lot of energy by switching out one of our lamps to a CFL, what else could we accomplish by making other small changes?
What could we do to conserve energy if we walked to the store once a week instead of driving our cars?
What could we do for our health if we substituted one glass of water for one of the sodas we consume?
What could we do for the environment if we didn’t charge our phones and tablets as often because we used them to play games one hour a week less?
What could we do for our minds if we watched one less hour of television a day and read a worthwhile book?
What could we do for those we meet if we withheld one criticism and instead found one thing about that person to compliment?
This list is far from complete so feel free to add your own thoughts to it. But in a world consumed with a craving for energy, perhaps we are looking in the wrong place. The real power to transform the world is in the power of one. And each of us is that one – or at least we may be if we so choose.