Thoughts on raising a (lime) green family:
Let me start by saying I despise the phrase “going green” or any of its variations. I think it is silly. Silly to say and silly to think we are doing the world a favor that no one ever thought to do before. People lived quite green for thousands of years, this is not a new concept. I think the concept of loving our earth that God handcrafted just for us and taking care of our families in a healthy and practical manner is being reinvented. And that, I think, is beautiful.
Simple and beautiful.
I like to look at it as a challenge…and I think as a family we are doing pretty good so far. After giving it some thought I realize that a lot of what we do is done without really thinking about it. Some choices we’ve made are lifestyle choices, but I don’t feel like we’ve had to make ridiculous sacrifices. I hope to continue on this path and plan to teach Noah how special it is to take care of what is given to us so that even his children will be able to reap the beauty of our naturalness. Believe me, we could do much more to reduce our footprint, and I plan to try new things, but for now, this is how it shakes down:
1. Recycling. Paper. Plastic. Glass. Cardboard. Aluminum. It’s just a matter of dispersing your trash a little more intentionally & creatively. And I am sure the folks at the Recycling Center appreciate the washing-out and sorting. (Have you ever been to a Recycling Center? Bless their hearts…Guh-ross.) And did you know that aluminum is found in only ONE place in the world? Yep. All of the coke cans and foil and such are made from alumina found only in Australia, and there is not an unlimited supply. Crazy.
2. Hand-me-downs. Like them. Love them. Can’t live without them. I am glad my sisters and cousins and even family friends we’ve never met have good taste in clothes because Noah sure does look cute. I would say 75% of Noah’s outfits are clothes-once-loved passed onto us and I am so very thankful…one because we don’t need to buy as much to keep our baby clothed (which means money saved), and two because it helps keep the demand for NEW clothes down…which means less materials used/wasted, less gas emissions from transportation, less clear cutting of land to build “big box” stores, etc. Yes, I realize that we are only one family, but there are other “only one” families out there. It all adds up. I mean, as fast as kids grow and how often an outfit gets worn, most of the time you can hardly tell it isn’t new. I love the fact that other little people that I love have broken the hand-mes in for Bubs, makes them even more special.
3. We are a ONE car family. And have been for a while now. I realize that this is not ideal for most families, however, our situation of living where we work has allowed us to eliminate the need and use of a second vehicle. We’ve been doing this for almost two years now, so it can be done. And really, there is rarely a time when both of us need to be in different places away from home at the same time. The only time when it gets tricky is if one of us is out of town without the other, which isn’t often. Even then, Chris has the use of camp vehicles for travel if need be.
4. Gardening. Though I do not claim to have a green thumb just yet, we have started our garden this year! We have mostly done container plants (peppers – sweet, banana, bell, tomatoes – grape, cherry, Mr. Stripey, herbs – rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, dill, sage, cilantro, basil, flowers – impatiens, dianthus, marigolds, petunias, hyacinths, begonias) and a few things in the ground like onions, tomatoes, and flowers of the same variety as in the pots, and wildflowers. It already looks beautiful and I am so excited to see how they grow and how it will taste! My mom and dad were HUGE in helping us get this project going, even after being sick half the week! I can’t thank them enough…and mama has been calling to check to make sure my thumb isn’t turning black. So far so good!
I made homemade pizza when they were here with us with amazingly fresh and yummy toppings- pesto, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, mozzarella – all on homemade dough (special thanks to my buddy, P-Dub). Toppings sound familiar?
As we were enjoying our dinner out on the porch amidst our container garden, I made the comment that the next time my parents come up we can make the exact same pizza using the ingredients from our garden – great idea!…to which Chris smilingly remarks, “You have a flour plant out there?”. I have a name for people like him.
5. Cloth diapers. Can I get an amen? This segment may get a little preachy, just a forewarning. Oh, cloth diapering, how I love thee. Let me count thy ways:
- It’s better for your wallet…cheaper, way the heck cheaper. On average, if your child is potty trained on his/her second birthday (meaning out of diapers entirely, which is on the earlier end of potty training), you can save $1400-$2000, depending on how dedicated you are and what system you choose. Yep. It’s a bigger investment right at the start, but so very worth it. We us Chinese or Indian pre-folds with a Snappi and either a Thirsties, Bummis, or Buzzie Bees cover. Simple as pie. We do cloth butt wipes and homemade butt wipe solution, too…it’s easier to throw them in the wash with the diaps than to separate them out.You know what I don’t hear every time I wash a diaper and use it the next day? Cha-ching. And for people who say it costs money to wash them and that all adds up? It’s $1.25/load that I wash two or three times a week. I can handle $3.75/week for diaper duty.
- It’s better for the environment. Let me get out my soap box real quick. Ahem: In ideal conditions (good air circulation, light exposure) it takes 500 years for ONE disposable diaper to break down completely in the landfill…and I am not sure our landfills are bubbling over with ideal-ity. Yuck. On average one baby can generate between one and two tons of garbage of just single-use diapers, making a US total average enough diapers to fill the Super Dome in New Orleans three times a mile high EACH year. By using cloth diapers, you’ll help to save some of the 3.4 billion gallons of oil consumed and the 40 million trees felled each year just to make throwaway diapers.
- It’s better for baby. There’s nothing like the feel of a soft, clean cloth diaper against your baby’s skin! Cloth diapered babies have their hineys freshened more often than disposable babies (that doesn’t sound right) – and that’s healthy. With cloth diapers there tends to be more air circulation, and less build-up of temperature, which means less of a chance of diaper rash. Noah is six months old and has yet to develop any sort of booty boo-boos. They smell better, too. He wears a disposable at night for the sole purpose of absorbency over the twelve hours he’s sleeping, and I can smell a difference for sure. When he’s wet in the morning I can smell the pee and the chemicals from the diaper. Cloth diapers are dioxin free – highly toxic dioxin is used in the paper bleaching process of disposables. Sometimes we can’t get him out of his disposable fast enough.
- And they are super cute:
Alright, I’ve talked until I am green in the face.
Thanks for sticking it out to the end. I realize most of you probably are more interested in the photos than my thoughts, but my hope is that someone is inspired and will make a change in their life. I know the joy that it brings to me and my family, I wish only the same for others who are attempting to nurture our precious earth. I can only imagine the joy it must give God to see his most intricate creation take care of his greatest.