Having grown up the way I did, but knowing that it was quite different from my American peers did not quite prepare me for life with my husband, who was used to much more waste and "non-reverence" than I could ever be comfortable with. So for me it is quite clear that I want to share my way of life with my kids, even if I have to educate DH on the way. That said, the article was a boost in the butt, so to speak, because there is always room for growth. For example, I have been feeling rather guilty in the back of my head about not going more to second-hand stores for DD's clothes (or mine too for that matter). I have good reasons why I don't at the moment, but still.
We do recyle, we do compost, we do not flush everytime, we do not use the dryer for every wash load, we do wear clothes that are "lightly" soiled, we do buy organic foods, we use public transit daily (b/c we live in a city with good public transit), we do try to reduce junk mail and catelogue mailers, we do try to reduce consumerism....but it is a constant education. I know that it drives DH nuts sometimes, but I have such strong feelings about not ravaging our Earth, the one that DD will inherit, that I push these issues anyway.
I really feel that I have an easier time with making these issues a regular part of my day because they have been a regular part of how I life all my life. I hear ya that you are totally swamped and some of these things do take more time. But by sharing positive ways to save our earth with your children, you are giving them a great gift. But it doesn't do any good to beat yourself up about it. Maybe pick one thing per month that you will change. You can't do it all in one day! Include your kids as much is age appropriate. Small steps will add up.
And kudos for the intention! That is the first step!
PS I hope I don't sound too preachy about all of this. It is just a subject dear to my heart and just wanted to share because I feel that my background is a bit different that most, and could be helpful to some, or put-offish to others.
and I yes, I have to get dh to read that article.
he was actually the one who "pushed" me down the road to eating organic and being more healthy. but now, I am definitely the one who is more environmentally minded. Once I discovered the natural food store, Mothering and MDC, and started learning about all these things that are obvious to most people here , it's hard to stop.
when I brought up the article to him he said "you're turning into a complete hippy now. I've lived with hippies all my life, I don't want to live like that" I know he doesn't really mean it 100% but still. he's the one who brought up the idea of composting and talks about a garden, and I think "oh, great, he's turning around!" and then he goes and gets donuts and tells me my granola is gross I realize noone is 100% perfect and eating junk and watching tv once in a while does not make you a bad person.. But that article really gave me a good kick in the butt to start living life like I would really like to.
so needless to say, we're in a work in progress
ITA about changing one thing at a time. I wrote an article about this that gives some examples. (I really need to update it w/things I've changed in the past 4 years. ) If you look at all you're not doing, it can overwhelm you. Focus instead on ONE thing you're not doing and figure out a way to do it--like if recycling bins clutter your kitchen too much, maybe you could put them in another room?
Like Moonshine, I started with an advantage because my parents were environmentally responsible (at least, more so than other families around us) when I was little, and they taught me good attitudes toward the earth. They certainly weren't perfect in their habits, but the basic attitudes they conveyed have motivated me to improve my own habits. I think it's really important to teach kids these attitudes and to let them see you making positive changes. In fact, it's probably MORE educational to see parents admitting that they've been doing something wrong and working to change it, than to see them being perfect from the get-go!
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 9 years old and a new little girl EnviroBaby !
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.
It would be interesting to hear what her response to this thread is. Maybe you could write it as an editorial and send it to the mag, or even print this thread out and send it in. Hang in there and do everything one step at a time.
Midwife, Homeschool Educator and Crafter.
I had dh read it and he agreed with most of it (not buying used clothes though, but he barely buys clothes and when he does he wears them until they are patched so much you can barely see the original fabric)
Right now it is hard to live the way I want to, we are living in a condo in the city although we are able to recycle and buy organic. This summer we are buying a house far from the city and plan to have a garden, a compost, have a clothes line... I can't wait!! Our goal is make or grow everything ourself, dh even wants to build a green house so we can grow our own veggies year round.
moonshine - I didn't find your post preachy at all, it just re-inspired me
But we don't have the same need for compost, we lead a different lifestyle that calls for some prepared foods, namely the bags of organic chopped vegetables in WholeFoods' freezer. Because if we didn't keep those, on a hectic day we'd end up with take out.
I too, have been reluctant to recycle as much as we could because of the clutter factor. And the time it will take to educate myself on how to do it properly. But when I think of other reasons, and again keep in mind that I may not be perfect but I can be better, I'm ready to work harder.
I hope "Mothering" continues to print articles that really make you want to get up off your butt and be a better person.
There are so many small choices you can make to make life more ecologically responsible. We do as many as we can, and ours include:
-buying everything possible in bulk. Packaging is a major evil.
-buying no bottled water!!! Carbon filters instead, like Brita. If we buy a bottled water, we keep the bottle and refill it a million times to keep in the diaper bag.
-composting. We live in NYC and do this so anyone can. We keep a huge bucket under the sink and keep all foodstuffs in it, then give it once a week to our local community garden
-buying all organic food
-if it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, let it mellow.
-recycling as much as possible--if you do throw away a recyclable, like a cardboard pasta box, flatten it. Leave no air space in garbage.
-taking public transportation. Or buy a hybrid car!
-never using fertilizer in flowers or garden.
-buying organic cotton clothes or hemp when possible and affordable, and organic feminine products, preferably non-disposable
-using natural cleaning products! This is one that's actually cheaper than buying the mass market stuff. Use white vinegar and water instead of floor cleaner and fabric softener and Windex, for example.
Letting the yellow mellow is a way to reduce flushing to save water...kind of like wearing clothes more than once.
If no community garden, then find a place outside to pile it up. Depending on where you live there are creative ways to do it (if in the city or an apartment) Also you could start a worm bin, my DH knows more (like everything) about worm bins and organic gardening...you could use one of those plastic storage bins, they did that in DS's Waldorf school. I think you justadd some dirt, worms and then kitchen waste...like veggie peelings, eggshells. The worms eat the waste and poop it out and it is called "black gold" bc it is so rich in nutrients.
No fertilizing bc the idea is to enrich the life in the soil, not just to fertilize the plants, sort of like the idea of eating organic foods and nourishing your whole self (body , mind , and spirit) instead of buying shiny new clothes. The soil has so much life in it...some fertilizers are chemical and don't enrich the soil maybe even destroying some of the good parts.
Hope that made sense, DD &DS started fighting the minute i started to reply
BTW, i didn't read the article, but your post sounded like i could've written it. I have been feeling very bad about some of my choices in the moment and esp the tv thing bc it goes against everything i believe....i just keep striving to live up to my ideals *and* i had to re-examine some of them and let myself off of the hook.....the most important thing is that they see you struggle and strive to be your best self IMO
|Originally posted by gaiamom
Ok I don't mean to be a dummy but inform me please! Why not use fertilizer in flowers or gardens? And why not flush the toilet when you pee? One more question, what types of things can you put in a compost bucket, and if you don't have a community garden, what can you do with it?
Do you live in the country? If you have a yard, you can compost easily--the food burns rapidly until you have a pile of beautiful, rich soil that is a natural fertilizer!!! Compost is the BEST fertilizer, actually, and you're getting rid of food waste at the same time instead of filling landfills with it. You could probably do a Google search on composting and find simple instructions on how to start one. My mom has one in her back yard in the country; she just tosses food on the pile, throws some sawdust on top, and that's that. In the city, you have to be a little more resourceful.
When my BIL came to visit us, he laughed when he saw our little trash can in our kitchen. We use the bags from the grocery store (anther excellent way to reduce on waste, reuse those bags and don't buy trash bags!), which are bigger than the container by just a bit. He said that they fill at least 3x that amount of waste IN A DAY. I was a bit shocked, as we can go many days before it is full. We recycle everything that we can...plastic, glass, cans, paper/cardboard, we compost all the food, and I do try to not buy things with so much packaging, like buying bulk. Plus, we use cloth diapers, which they don't. We are very proud of our little trash.
I set up our recycle bin last night
and informed everyone of what to put in it.
I really hate those little plastic grocery bags. I used them as trash bags up until a month ago but I would like to eliminate them all together. Anyone know where to find canvas grocery bags that you take with you to the store?
Also following the advice to "let the yellow mellow"
Any other suggestions about how to live more "responcibly" would be greatly appreciated.
For those of you with limited space, don't worry about it! Our compost bin is about half the size of one of those plastic outdoor trashcan. It's made of black plastic and has LOTS of airholes (crucial if things are going to break down quickly). We keep it in a sunny area, and we have never emptied it. That's right, not even to use the compost. You know why? Because it breaks down so quickly! We find that it pretty much stays at the same level (1/3 full) year round, despite the fact that we put things into it on a regular basis. I will warn you though - you're not going to want this bin right next to your patio or anything.
Okay, I have to fess up now though - we haven't actually composted anything in about a year. We've gotten two horrid cases of fruit flies in the house, and those episodes sort of sapped our composting enthusiasm. That's the thing about composting - you absolutely cannot be lazy about getting those scraps out of your kitchen on a daily basis...
If you have a yard, keep it at the far end. The food will smell in the beginning of the rotting process. A big way to keep the smell under control is to use sawdust, and turn the pile occasionally with a shovel. In an apartment, use a bucket and it should be emptied once a week since compost needs to decompose aerobically (with oxygen) not anaerobically (with no oxygen--then it just becomes rancid).
We use the grocery bags instead of trash bags as well. gaiamom, our local hf store sells nice net bags to use to shop, you might be able to find something like that. Otherwise just use your plastic bags over and over again.
Have you replaced your Soft Scrub and Windex and Downy fabric softener with white vinegar and baking soda yet?
Ten tips to help heal the planet
This year, the National Audubon Society compiled a list of ways to improve our planet. Based on conversations with America's top scientists, the society is encouraging individuals to make simple changes in daily routines to minimize human influence on the Earth's environment.
"If each person who reads Audubon (magazine) does just one of the resolutions, that will be 450,000 people who will have acted in some way to preserve what we have and they will be more aware of how their actions (or inactions) affect the planet," says Audobon's Lisa Gosselin.
Below are Audobon's top 10 recommendations. Read carefully; some of the suggestions may surprise you.
1.Say "no" to exotics. To help the plight of endangered species, don't house exotic pets or purchase products that are made using animals at risk.
2. Go veggie. Vegetarian diets put less strain on the environment. Livestock guzzles nearly 50 percent of all water consumed in the United States and eats nearly 16 pounds of grass and grain for each pound of beef produced.
3. Coffee in the shade. Buying shade-grown coffee supports the preservation of rain forests and safeguards the habitat of many species.
4. Be picky, not fishy. When choosing fish to eat, avoid over-fished species such as swordfish.
5. Be heard. Voice your opinion by supporting local and federal legislation to protect the environment and its endangered species. Every person at your town's planning-board meetings can make a big difference.
6. Pay your dues. Some states offer the option of contributing part of your income tax to fund the protection of non-game species. Look for this option on your next form.
7. Buy the plate that pays. Some states donate revenue from special license plates to wildlife conservation programs. License plates with a conservation theme also help spread an important message.
8. Conserve energy. Buying energy-efficient appliances can significantly decrease energy use at home. If every US household was equipped with the most energy-efficient refrigerator available today, 10 power plants would quickly become obsolete.
9. Don't be afraid of the dark. Electricity used to generate light produces a large amount of carbon dioxide, which in turn contributes to global warming. Use timers or movement sensors to minimize electricity use. Fluorescent light bulbs outlast incandescent bulbs and yield significantly lower levels of carbon dioxide.
10. Stay cool. Make sure your furnace is working at optimal efficiency and keep the temperature as low as possible. Decreasing the temperature by even a few degrees lowers carbon dioxide emissions by hundreds of pounds over the course of a year.
For canvas grocery bags, try American Science & Surplus--they often have some w/weird misprinted logos for a few $ each.
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 9 years old and a new little girl EnviroBaby !
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.
I've been "letting the yellow mellow" but only during the day cause dh thinks its gross.
I've cut my cleaning supplies to baking soda, vinegar, Dr. B's and lavender e.o.
I bought some canvas bags at wal-mart for $1 a piece to use as grocery bags--you should have seen the looks I got at the commisary
I set up the recycling place in the kitchen and located a drop off not far from my house
I can't compost here on base unless I keep it in the house
: and dh won't agree to that
I stopped using paper towels and napkins--using cloth
I cut the kids tv time dramatically and have been trying to find things to do with them while I nurse the baby like reading and playing cards, ect.
Also I have started buying all natural soaps and lotions so no chemicals on our skin
And I've been using the baby's fleece topped hemp diaper doublers instead of disposable pads for postpartum bleeding
So how's that for a great start! I'm pretty proud of myself!
As far as DH poopooing some of your ideas, I know that at least with mine, he does come around to some ideas in time. He also things the lack of toilet flushing is gross, but he can't really argue that it isn't a good idea. And then I talk about how DD is inheriting the earth from us and we need to do everything in our power to make sure that we are taking as good care of it as possible. And then he sheepishly agrees. I am not above using guilt when I deem it necessary.
I've started tearing out the back pages of all my catalogs so I can send them cards saying take me off your list.
I set aside apple cores, lemon rinds, etc. for composting. Now we just need to find organic sawdust if there is such a thing.
I've been better about sorting out the recycling stuff so we have much less garbage!
And I'm using the baby gates for wet clothing hangers so I'm using the dryer less.
But alas, I worship at the shrine of the dishwasher. But with friendly cleaner.
We compost and recycle, and it greatly reduces our garbage, but that isn't completely the same as reducing our waste. Recycling is still not as good as reducing the amount of stuff that comes into our house. Reusing helps, too, so we buy used clothing at Goodwill and we take hand me downs from anyone who offers.
Anyway, I highly recommend the book. This book might be worth buying new (as opposed to reusing or going to the library as a great way to reduce consumption) because she is donating proceeds from the book to a variety of charities.
I totally agree about local and in-season food (organic too when possible, of course). We belong to an organic food coop delivery service, Urban Organic. I like it, although not all the stuff is local.
I have been making changes over the years too. We're not perfect of course. We are a two car family, we do laundry every day, I use the dryer, etc. But here's what we do.
Yellow is mellow Dh thought it was gross at first but it doesn't bug him anymore. I pee a LOT so it would be an awful waste if I flushed everytime.
Elimination communication so ds pees in the potty and it sits along with everyone elses, lol! This might be TMI, but we both poop first thing in the AM, so our poops often share a flush also. We use cloth diaper backup but because he goes in the potty so often, it's cut down our diaper laundry a lot. I went from washing dipes every other day to twice a week (sometimes it's a small load, but I don't like diapers to sit too long).
We use cloth towels in the kitchen instead of paper towels. Though I still use paper for greasy stuff like oil or if the dog has an accident. I nearly bit dh's head off a few weeks ago when dd spilled some milk and he grabbed a whole bunch of paper towels : But the paper ran out a week ago and we haven't put a new one in so I'm proud of us.
Last night I told dh I want cloth napkins and he said I should make some. Huh, for some reason I was caught up in thinking I had to BUY some (this green thinking is hard!). So I'm looking at my fabric and thinking which would make good napkins. I don't have any fancy linen or anything but I think plain old plaid flannel would be nice (and hide stains).
AF is not back yet but I'm going to start using cloth pads when it returns
I use vinegar and baking soda to clean most things in the house. Sometimes with some essential oil to make a nice smell. And Dr Bronner's (I like the Sal Suds). Often I just use water to clean since I don't think it's necessary (or good!) to live in a sterile environment.
I keep meaning to get cloth bags for grocery shopping. I do need some of the regular bags though. I use the paper for paper recycling (to hold the sunday paper and junk mail). I also use the plastic to clean up after the dog. But I don't need as many as we have from shopping! I think it would work well if I used cloth for a few weeks shopping, then one week of paper and one week of plastic when I was running low and then back to cloth. I just need to get my butt in gear and DO it.
None of this cancels out the wasteful stuff we do of course. But it's better than not doing anything. And like Envirobecca's article, I hope to add little things over the years. Dh already complains about how he didn't realize he was marrying such a granola, lol!
For your composter: you're trying to achieve a balance between green and brown. Greens are food scraps and fresh grass clippings etc. browns are thing like sawdust or dry leaves or grass. Don't put anything meaty, oily or pet waste in your composter. Stirring it up every so often helps it along. You can get something called a digester, looks like a traffic cone with a lid that you bury in the ground that you can use to digest meat, bones and pet waste.
We mellow when it's yellow, an I use a keeper; no garbage OR laundry, what a liberation. We're planning to use cloth diapers with our children since disposables take forever to decompose. EC doesn't seem feasable in Canada, land of the snowsuit, lol. We don't use bleach or conventional cleaners, baking soda and vinegar does just about everything more efficiently than the skin-eating cleaners from the store.
We try to walk or ride our bikes when possible. We'd never buy a new car (even if we could afford it!) since most of the pollution associated with cars is in manufacturing it. We drive the smallest car possible for our needs to save on fuel.
Also KILL YOUR LAWNMOWER!!!! I'm serious : they are not regulated for polluting in any way, neither are leaf blowers and weedwackers, and present the biggest dangers to the person using them. On CBC radio a couple years back they quoted a study that found that mowing your lawn polluted as much as driving from toronto to vancouver, no foolin'. There's lots of low groundcovers you can grow... although your lawn will look a little wild for the first few years just think of what you could do with all the time you didn't spend mowing the lawn. (you can find me at the beach or the mountainbike trails)
Yes I do own a dishwasher, and a car and not everything I buy is recycled, but generally I try to buy things that are either used or will last for a long time. It doesn't take a lot to do your part to save the planet; if everyone used a reusable coffee cup for their take out once a week just think of all the trees we could save. Of course all these changes didn't happen at once, supposedly you have to do something 30 times before it becomes habit.
Love your mother!! but don't get too obsessed, after all technology is a wonderful thing.