Schwarzenegger household green plan: short showers, hydrogen Hummers

September 24, 2009

Here’s some advice for Californians who think Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s climate change policy goes too far: just be happy you’re not his kid.

Before he became a body builder, before he was the Terminator, and before he turned into the Governator, it turns out that Arnold was the youngest in a family that had no running water and relied on an outhouse. That’s what he told fourth graders who innocently asked about how he spoke to his kids.

“I have major fights with my kids,” he responded, quickly segueing into the difference between post-World War European poverty and the Golden State.

“We had kind of a system where we carried the water from 200 yards away from the well, to our house upstairs to the second floor where we lived, and then my father would wash himself first, and then my mother would wash herself, and then my brother would wash himself in the same water, and then I would wash myself, and it was all dirty, because I was the youngest. So that’s how I grew up because conservation was big in Europe. Especially since I grew up after the Second World War. There was no food, there was little electricity, there were blackouts left and right, there was nothing. After the war was worse than during the war. So we had absolutely nothing,” he said.

And while the Governor now has solar panels to heat the water in his pool and jacuzzi, a hydrogen-powered Hummer, and he recycles, it seems conservation is still BIG — and mandatory — in the Terminator household.

He recalled watching his kids take a stool into the shower to sit and enjoy the hot water — for a long time.

“I’m sitting outside timing it now, and it’s 15 minutes, and still they are in the shower. So I open the shower door and turn off the hot water and then all of a sudden they start screaming, because it is cold,” he said, adding that he had created rules: no shower longer than 5 minutes — or else.

Here’s the three-minute history of Arnold’s conservation conversion, at a Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco:

Click here to listen to the speech.

(Photo by Reuters/MAX WHITTAKER)


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Arnold is spot on. People in the US have built up the habit of wastefulness which should be rechecked.

I’m from the U.K and Europe is much less wasteful. A very typical example is when u go to eat. The size of the serving and the amount relative to what u pay is crazy. Nearly every time I patroned a restaurant, I was unable to finish my meal becoz of the size of the serving.

I believe alot of obesity originates from this social norm.

Teaching your kids to respect our resources and conserve is key to our future. Arnold knows this and you should always teach them when they are young.

Posted by Victor | Report as abusive

Moderation in everything is not only good for your mental and physical health, it is supremely important to our planet.

Posted by Tactical_Grace | Report as abusive

No doubt his children will grow up able to handle lifes delimnas without having to go to a shrink twice a week. They arent likely to be tossing themselves out of a window after a major market crash. Its the little things that we are taught to appreciate and burdens to bear that give us the ability to see our way through tough situations and to come back out on top. There are still many countries that people dont have running water and have to carry it in buckets where it is shared by the community

Posted by Mr New | Report as abusive

(comments were prematurely submitted by accidently tapping of the submit comment button) Unfortunately it usually takes a major catastrophe and the loss of these daily privaleges before we rediscover thier value and the need to treat our resources conservatively. Perhaps the failure to teach these things will be the very backbone of such a catastrophe. Life for the human being is tentative on thier ability to live. Make your children able and teach them to value all that we have.

Posted by Mr New | Report as abusive

No weinerschnitzel play-ink in zee show-ah!

Posted by i,robert | Report as abusive

Good for the Governator!

While I had a comfortable childhood, unlike the Guv (I was born in 1951 in Texas), in recent years I’ve become more acutely aware of environmental concerns, so set out to reduce my home utilities. Depending on the month, I save from around 40% to around 50% on my monthly utilities compared to what I was paying before I set out to cut back on energy and water usage. I admit to loving wallowing in a nice, hot bath for a long time, my coffee cup close at hand and a good book to read — but when I moved a little over three years ago, I moved to an apartment that has only a shower option. (I live abroad.) I never have enjoyed showers, not like a nice soak, so reducing my shower time was no sacrifice, really.

I haven’t the faintest idea how much I’m lessening my carbon footprint by my conservation, but it’s got to be something worth the effort, at least in percentage terms. Especially if you multiply by a jillion other people taking comparable steps.

People may smile at the Governor’s recommendations, but my own experience shows it can add up to something worth considering, both for one’s personal bottom line and for conservation of resources.

Governator, now that you’ll have to move out of the governor’s mansion come next year, what’s next? The Senate?

Posted by Mekhong Kurt | Report as abusive

changing climate is not in your hand!
change your law if you can !

Posted by kiran kant | Report as abusive

Recycling is one thing, however, one need to consider how the products were produced and their inherent qualities which also determines for how long they’ll stay in the market.

Consequently, regularly buying new products adds to the line of carbon dioxide emissions e.g. constructing the product entails a range of emission sources i.e. manufacturing and transportation.

I have started to consider classifieds sites as an optional way of addressing this issue; I try to recycle my products using in terms of selling but also buying whatever I’m looking for, thus keeping products in the market for a longer period.

Posted by SavvyTom | Report as abusive

The ability to look back on California Government after having lived in the Southern California city of Claremont for thirty years is interesting. Washington follows many of the CA policies, such as vehicle emissions testing, except they are less expensive and ne state kickbacks.
After loosing a house in a CA forest fire started by kids and fire works in 2003, I felt less tied to CA. However, considering that background, I see the Government there as doing what they can with what trial lawyers and previous Governors have set up. Keep up the good work.

Posted by Merlin D DuVall | Report as abusive

What a great article. Thanks Arnold!

Posted by Emily | Report as abusive

I like saving when I think what I can do with the money instead: Save toward dreams and donate money to causes. I was seriously considering shutting off my water heater until shower day.

Posted by sean john | Report as abusive

I think the most important thing to tell your story is why you think it is important, why you think it is worth to tell and what we can learn from it even though our situation is different from before. Use the story as a good cause and teach people why we should care about our environment and what we can do to help.

Posted by Nan Gabriel | Report as abusive