happy birthday, dad

My father is one of the reasons I became so passionate about the environment and remains one of my inspirations in life. He and my mother instilled a sense of responsibility for the environment in my brother and me at a young age, and they led by example. While we didn't live a hippie, treehugger lifestyle, they always showed us how to care for the environment and do our part, while still leading traditional lives.

We recycled from the time it became available in the city – and we recycled regularly. We learned to sort our recyclables and put them in the right paper, plastic and glass bins. We reused items all the time, especially gift bags and gift bows. When I was a child, my father was a vegetarian for a few years, and I learned about healthy eating and the importance of organic food. We bought organic food from a co-op, which helped support farmers directly. We ate leftovers until there were none left, so we wouldn't waste as much as we could have. We were conscious about our energy and fuel consumption, and conserved energy. We would pick up litter around the neighborhood; sometimes it was what I chose to do as part of community service required by my school, and sometimes it was just to keep the neighborhood clean.

I love these values my parents instilled in me at a young age, and I believe that teaching children about environmentalism, recycling and conservation at a young age is so very important. Growing up with the idea that these things are just what you do on a regular basis is so important for the health of the planet, because it instills a value of caring from the beginning, instead of having to learn later and considering it an extra annoyance in your daily routine.

So, I'm wishing you a big happy birthday, Dad! Thank you for being an inspiration. Sorry I didn't adopt running the way I did environmentalism!

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