We do read at bedtime, too. Smidgen is a high-energy kid, and takes a lot of winding-down; so we entice her with a story (ok, or 2) first, then songs. She's listened her way all through Charlotte's Web, Redwall, and the first 3 Little House Books now. Took a few tries to get her past the point of wanting to flip to the next picture, but she's there.
It's a big chunk of time, every day. And every once in a while, I find myself nudging myself about some chore that's still waiting - "hurry this up, for crying out loud; it's taking forever, and X is bloody urgent, and you know it..."
X IS bloody urgent. But this is where this sleep ritual turns into training for the parent; of a particularly forceful and valuable kind.
Most times, it's relatively easy to look at the almost sleeping child and see- what's REALLY the most important thing here. And the most ephemeral.
I'm blessed to have 2 grown sons with whom I get along very well; they were best men at my wedding, for crying out loud. My head knows, and remembers, the joy I had in their babyhood; the snuggles, tears, discoveries, bandaids and songs.
Oh, but- my body does not remember, not really. Until - I feel the small warm fingers of this present Smidgen in my hand, and listen to her breathing quiet, and hear her very small yawn.
Then, I can physically flash back- and fully recapture; I had this same moment, with both boys, at one time or another. It was so precious, and so fleeting. It makes me try harder to fix this current moment in memory- to hang on to it. It makes me KNOW- in the deepest philosophical sense- this is what's most important. And most urgent.
And it sinks in. This takes time; requires time; demands time. My time. Now. The rewards, in this case, are immediate, and powerful. There is nothing else I could be doing that could reward me like this.
If I'm not too sleepy by this point, the progression of thought is pretty straightforward. Essentially- everything worth doing takes - time. Slow, thoughtful, mindful time.
Almost everything on your list of "green" or "sustainable" actions will have that requirement. You need to be "present" - beginning to end- and I fear it will never be "like falling off a log".
I'm inclined to think that's a good thing, though. It just takes some getting used to.
On a very different note; I got a good pat from Andy Revkin today, at DotEarth- comment #41, in case the link doesn't land you there... DC, and Crunch, I see movie posters... :-)