greener pastures

March 9, 2010

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Vintage green!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month we're writing about being green — both how green we were when we were young and how green our kids are today. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Hi there! I am currently drinking coffee out of a styrofoam cup.

Oy.  This is a toughie.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm not very good at being "green".  I do try to be aware, it's just not second-nature to me the way it is to many kids who are growing up today.  My childhood was in the Midwest during the 80's, when being environmentally friendly mostly meant turning the faucet off when you brush your teeth.  In fact I remember a huge push being made about that on the news at the time, like that would save the world.  And don't get me wrong, those little steps do add up to big change, but that was so typical of the attitude about the environment at the time- it was more of a novelty than an actual way of living.

That's where Jude comes in.  I can admit that being environmentally friendly is sometimes a struggle for me but I can also take the steps to combat that and work to correct it in the next generation.  The whole point of this parenting thing is to make the next generation better than us, right?

(Also, cuddling.  That might also be the point.)

So, here's my beginner's draft of goals- things I'd like to share with the Jude.  Scarily enough, many of these things may require me to change my own behavior because kids learn best by example:

We recycle, and actually we recycle quite a bit.  What I'm not good at is knowing what exactly is recyclable and when and how and what and where.  Recycling is more effective when you're doing it correctly, which sometimes means separating out by the right levels of plastic, glass, paper, etc.  And to make it even more complicated, this also varies by your location and the recycling center that you use.

We're learning more and more about how plastics can sometimes be dangerous and contain harmful chemicals.  I want to be more aware about what the levels of plastics mean (here's an excellent article listing all the plastic ratings on Babble).  I also want to reduce our dependency on plastics, though obviously that's incredibly challenging because of the amount it is used in toys and packaging.  But these are, you know, goals and hopeful aspirations.  I'm a big fan of wooden and handmade toys.

Water Conservation
I grew up hearing about this but not taking it very seriously.  In fact until we moved to an old house where the pipes back up quickly I wasn't even very good at turning off the water when I brushed my teeth (Thanks Indianapolis news! You fail.) Thankfully now that bad habit has been totally quashed.  But, taking shorter showers, using a rain barrel, and just being aware that water is precious on our planet are all things that I hope Jude can know as common sense information.  I want him to catch me in a few years and get all up in my business, "MOM, geez, turn the faucet off, don't you know anything?!"

Organic Foods
As much as I would like to, it's unrealistic for my family to consume a 100% organic diet.  We just don't have the budget for it.  But the first step in the right direction is memorizing the list of foods you should always buy organic.  Milk is not a problem around here because I am already totally obsessed with drinking organic milk.  Mmmmmm, delicious organic milk.  I should also maybe not eat a baloney sandwich every day.  But as far as I'm concerned I'm allowed a few vices which may or may not include disgusting tasty processed meats.

There is a weird problem I have with turning out the lights when I leave a room.  And Mythbusters has proven that it actually really saves energy, but it's also a really annoying habit for me to break.  I'm bad about turning off the lights in major rooms or areas I walk though on a regular basis, thanks in part to the fact that I am still mostly scared of the dark.  So MAN UP, lady, and turn off the damned lights already.

Waste and "Things"
Our culture is so in to owning "things" and having more "things" and accumulating these "things" and then... letting them sit around and fill up space.  I'm hoping (and this is a lofty goal) to at least give Jude some perspective on owning all this wasteful stuff and using our resources judiciously and with discretion.  This is a hard one for little kids to get but I think more important in the long run.  In fact I'm not even sure how to do that.  I guess just model this in my own choices, for now.

I feel like I could probably go on and on about more things I'd like to do, but in order for this to be successful it's more realistic for me to start out small.  Let's be honest, changing old habits is a bear.  But it's also important, especially since this is an area I'll probably have to work extra hard in to compensate for my greenery failure.

So first, I'm going to go turn out the light in the basement and then run up the stairs as fast as I can without biting it.  Damned creepy old basement.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Code Name: Mama and Hobo MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Enjoy the submissions by this month's other carnival participants:


    Dionna @Code Name: Mama

    I remember that push for turning the water off ;)
    Do you have to take your recycling to a center or do you have a truck come pick it up for you? We don't have a pick-up option, so we trek to the center once every month or two. Kieran really likes helping toss things in the bin, and it has helped me know what can be recycled. Not only can I do all plastics (except for styrofoam), but I can combine my plastics and tin cans in one container b/c they go in the same bin. Excellent!


    They are still making a push for turning off the water while brushing your teeth. I think Nick Jr has taken over on that. We see it in the bumpers every now and then.

    We also don't eat organic, and I don't feel bad about it. We make sure to have a good variety of foods in the house. It's all about what works for your family.

    Written Permission

    My 61-year-old mother STILL refuses to turn the water off. Like a good child of the '80s, I have lectured her for going on 25 years to no avail. All I can try to do is use even LESS water to cancel out her wastefulness. Take THAT Mom! :)

    Sarah W

    Ha! I remember talking about turning the water off while brushing in school. Too funny.

    Thanks for the link to the organic food list! Very helpful as we are trying to make the switch too, but not liking the grocery bills we end up with.

    Joni Rae

    I suck. I forget to turn off the water when brushing my teeth!!!! I"m going to remember you every time I brush now! LOL


    Hobo Mama

    Dork alert! I happen to know that the Seattle recycling center website has an interactive recycling quiz to help us mere mortals figure out what is and isn't recyclable. That might be a resource for others to try — give your local waste control website a gander to see if it's helpful.

    I so agree that living green used to be a novelty, something you did in a couple small areas (like clipping the rings on six-packs to save birds or whatever it was), but now it's so much more far-reaching. I guess it had to start somewhere!


    I need to work on the waste and things part. I am such a cluttery person and I'll finally get to the point that I hate it being so cluttery and throw everything out. I know this is horribly wasteful. I should just not buy things I don't really need from the get go!


    Hey man, you gotta start somewhere! Before Austin developed a single-stream, recycle (almost) everything program they only took glass, some plastics, and certain cardboards. I could never keep them straight and I'm sure that a LOT of what could have been recycled got trashed. AND, why didn't I just get a sorting system and do the rest myself? Live and learn, right??

    The lights thing is a great


    Cuddling. I'm pretty sure cuddling is the point. :) I also suck at turning off lights. What, I'm going to walk back in the room in 2 minutes, I need to walk around in a cave? sigh, one day I'll learn.


    Hahaha- basements are ALWASY creepy, so don't worry, you're not the only one. :)

    I wish we could eat more organic too, but that stuff is ridiculous! Good job on drinking organic milk, I hear that's a biggie.

    "Ew" to the balogna sandwich, that's just gross. (Haha, j/k! :)

    I'm sure your son will learn a lot of great green things from you, mainly things you aren't even aware of. Keep it up!


    Ok, as I read this I looked around my house. Every light in every room in my view is currently on despite the fact that my husband and I are only in the one room.

    I am SO BAD at turning lights off! Thanks for reminding me!


    Too funny. My husband and I are weird about lights. He insists they are all off in the day time but leaves them on all night, like even when he's sleeping (he goes to bed waaay later than I do and when I get up at least 4 are on). I like to have light when I'm on the computer and he is always turning the light off saying there is enough light from the screen. Ugh! Lights are a source of contention here for sure!


    What a fun post. Your self-deprecating humor lends itself to everyone taking a good look at their behavior and trying to make changes without beating themselves up to much. You are a great grumbler and grunter. I think that your plan is a good one and I feel that once you get certain things mastered, it's easier to keep adding on. I love your writing.

    Ashley, The Accidental Olympian

    I agree that you have to lay out small steps you're willing to work towards instead of getting overwhelmed by the big picture and then doing nothing.

    Something my dad did to teach us to turn off lights when we left a room was charge us a quarter each time he caught us leaving a room with the lights on. Quarters were saved and eventually used on a girls and dad ice cream so that it wasn't ALL painful.

    And we did learn.

    Because even though eventually those quarters were coming back to us in ice cream, it takes a LOT of mistake rooms to earn yourself an ice cream!


    I was just reading through the carnival of parenting blogs this month and as a non parent but fellow too old to be still scared of the dark-er, The Boyfriend installed something pretty automatic sensored light. I do okay in our upstairs because we get a lot of natural light (and we have a nightlight for when it gets dark) but downstairs it's just SO dark, so in our main entryway (which is also where the stairs lead down from upstairs) he installed a sensor that stays on for about 5 minutes. This way if I stumble down in the dark it turns on, when I walk in it turns on, etc. Then it will automatically turn itself off so I don't have to be stuck in the dark.

    Maybe it'll help you too! They're pretty cheap at Costco and I Think you can get them in a multipack there too, we bought ours at home depot.

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