1. You learned to take “military showers.”
If you weren’t getting wet or rinsing off, the water better not be running. And God forbid you take longer than fifteen minutes, regardless of hair length.
2. The sinks were never to be used on full power.
You were conditioned to cringe at the sound of the water blasting out of the faucet, and you never let it run if you were brushing your teeth or shaving.
3. If you weren’t directly visible from the entrance to a room, there’s a possibility someone will turn the lights off.
Mom or Dad was always on light patrol so see if anyone had left the lights on after leaving the room, so be ready to holler when you’re in the basement and it suddenly gets dark.
4. No two TVs were ever allowed to have the same program on.
Not ever, so squeeze yourselves into whatever room had the bigger screen.
5. You had to develop X-ray vision to settle on a refrigerated snack.
If the fridge stayed open for longer than five seconds without anything being taken out, Dad could detect the slight drop in the house’s temperature and come running to the kitchen.
“Take out what you want or close the door!”
5. If the ketchup bottle was running low, you knew to set out an extra butter knife on the dinner table.
Just because squeezing or banging the bottle didn’t get the last drops out, doesn’t mean you have any right to throw it away. And if the geometry of the bottle negates the butter knife’s reach, add a few drops of water and pop it in the microwave.
7. If the air was on and you were cold, you sucked it up for your siblings.
If you dared pull out a blanket while watching TV, one of your parents would excitedly ask, “Should I turn the air off?”
8. Your bedroom windows got more exercise than you did.
You never could figure out your parents’ AC-windows temperature algorithm, but you knew exactly what they meant by “Hey, I’m turning the air off!”
9. It was necessary to distinguish between a used and unused napkin.
Perhaps they meant it as a joke, but probably not, since Dad was known to re-use everything, from plates to utensils, and yes, even a slightly used napkin.
10. Crumpling a napkin after one use never failed to incite a lecture.
Yeah you wiped your mouth once, but what about the other 85% of that thing?
11. They taught you to pay attention to the impact you had.
Whether it was utility bill dollars or CO2 emissions, you now realize how important it is to know how your life affects everything around you.