Thursday, April 17, 2008

Green Around The Gills

Although I think Al Gore is full of something not-quite-green and I shiver at the thought of his loosely "researched facts” garnering him a Nobel Peace Prize, I do think that he has a minute point about considering our surroundings. I also think that we have a responsibility to clean up our acts - literally.

So with slight trepidation, I’m letting you know about Seattle Mom’s Earth Day Countdown.

Why slight trepidation? Because I don’t want to be considered a fanatic that places the earth above people. I think people deserve the utmost respect, yes, even above the black-footed ferret, the forests or even range-bred chickens. This earth is our home… for now. With it come some tough decisions about how we’re going to treat our surroundings.

I don’t follow most of the line of thought that “Everyone should go green!” or “Global warming is on the rise!” or “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” But I do believe that we each could be held to a higher standard in how we live and what we do with the gifts that God gives to us. Teaching ourselves and our children to be respectful and appreciative of all our blessings is a very good thing, whether it's through using things until they disintegrate, recycling or taking care of our patch of Earth by physically picking up after themselves (and other people who could care less).

For our part, we do some small, but effective, things to help. We recycle our paper products, as much as we can. If we had a recycling station that did glass, I’d probably do those too. I reuse the some of the plastic bags that I gather from the stores while the extras we take our plastic Walmart/Target bags to the recycle boxes. Sometimes I even remember to ask for paper bags at the grocery store.

Oh and speaking of going out, I try to combine most of my trips into a few trips, avoiding multiple trips to various places. One thing that helps is to make lists so that I know where I'm going and what I need when I get there. With the way gas prices are now, it's to our advantage to use our fuel wisely.

When cleaning, I only run the dishwasher or clothes washer when I have a full load, saving water and energy. I've learned the value of cleaning with the cleaners of yesteryear - vinegar, bleach, baking soda, Comet. Not only are they cheaper, they're better for the drains, not to mention the sewers.

We use things to the nth degree. By that, I mean that I don’t buy new clothes because it’s a new year. I use them all for as long as I can, or if I happen to tire of something, I donate it so that someone else can get good use of it. (We have a donation center at our church where people come for help. Excellent resource for someone in need!) Mr. Right has suggested that I give myself permission to let some things go that have been in our closet for 10 or more years. It’s hard when you have this frugal way of mind.

My jeans with a hole in the knees become summer shorts. My tennis shoes that are well-used become yard shoes. But it’s not just clothing that gets the long wear: we drive our cars until they no longer work and then we replace them with used vehicles; our tv is over 10 years old and counting; I refill our Dial foaming soap dispensers with baby soap and water to keep from purchasing new bottles, I make my own laundry detergent… just to name a few samples of finding ways to make things last longer. The kids learn that having the newest of everything isn’t what matters; it’s appreciating God’s blessings – no matter the age of it – and finding contentment with what you have. Plus it’s a great lesson on stretching your money far so that you’ll have extra to give to someone else, whether it’s for a child in another country or a homeless person around the corner.

As for our health, there are times that I would like to buy organic. But for the most part, I consider the cost comparison, and I can’t justify it in our budget. The only way I think I could do organic is if I grow my own. But knowing how I have the talent to kill anything “plantish”, I might want to steer clear of that path… And frankly I don’t have the time. Making my own flour sounds like fun, but I feel overwhelmed as it is just getting to work on time and coming home to my other full-time job.

So… we eat mostly at home from recipes made from scratch. Rarely do we get into the processed foods frame of mind. It’s good for the environment in that we’re using reusable plates and flatware, we’re not adding as much to the dump (because let’s face it, when we go out it’s usually to McD’s, Tacky Smell or some other fast food joint), and we’re getting in some good quality family time. Add to the fact that our homemade meals just taste darn good and that we’re getting in some good meats, vegetables, grains and dairy that keeps us healthy, then that’s a bonus too. (Less hospital visits is always a good thing for us! The last time any of us were at the hospital for illness was so long ago, I can’t recall the visit.)

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that we can all do our part, no matter who small that part is. We can encourage each other to find some way to help ourselves and our surroundings. After all, unless Jesus comes back soon, our kids are going to have to live on this same planet and deal with these same issues.

Got suggestions for me? Have a shout out you’d like to share? Leave a comment or do your own post, and I’ll see how you are making your world a little better. Oh, and thank you for doing your part, whatever it is.


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