There is an excellent commentary in the Wall Street Journal today that shows the debate between environmentalism, freedom, and something so simple as the wash machine. It begs the questions, "How far can/should environmental laws go? Should Americans be confined to wearing slightly soiled clothes in order to save water and energy? Because environmental energy laws have made it much more expensive to buy a high quality wash machine, is it correct that poorer Americans have such a hard time having clean clothes?" Most people would agree that a clean environment sounds nice. But what if it means that the average person's clothes are less clean?
One thing my wife commented on during our first years of living in America was, "How can the strongest country in the world have such poor functioning wash machines?" I didn't know the answer then because I rarely thought about how clean my shirt was when my mom cleaned my clothes. But according to the article, America's top load washers all worked very well, according to Consumer Reports, in the 1980s. Since then, because top load washers are not allowed to use as much water as they used to, they don't function very well. Front load washers function better, but they, too, are limited in their washing ability because of environmental laws.
I think this discussion about the effects of environmental laws on the quality of life is an interesting one to have with teenagers. Teenagers tend to be idealistic and are more readily to agree with laws that clean up the environment, especially if they are not the ones doing the laundry and buying the clothes. I would be curious how they would think about the quality of life diminishing in order to somehow benefit the environment.
Teaching with the Take a Stand! series helps me get to know my children and students better and it helps them how to think critically, form historical judgement, and express themselves in speech and in writing.