Friday, March 20, 2009

This Mom's Take on Going Green

I am a thirty-something mom who thinks I am pretty cool and whose kids aren’t old enough yet to disagree with me. However, trendy is not a word I would use to describe myself. Let’s face it, the mini skirts and high heels that an 18 year old can pull off would look down right ridiculous as I chase after my 13 month old who just learned to walk, not to mention dangerous for me (I could twist an ankle or something). I don’t have time to worry about the latest hairdo or make my eyes look “smoky” if that is even in anymore. Hell, I don't even put on make up some days, and I'm talking work days. So while most of us moms past the age of 30 might not consider ourselves trendy, we might want to think again.

One of the biggest trends to hit in the last couple of years by far is to "go green." Okay you say, but this trend isn’t self indulgent and just for show – but isn’t it? Old habits die hard, and if you are used to keeping up with the Joneses then I know you have tried this particular aforementioned “trend.”

I am guilty of watching Oprah one day as she discussed the waste that one person can leave behind. She talked about alternatives to paper napkins, paper towels, leaving your computer on and cell phones plugged in. She even challenged a few families to a week without waste. They both came out of it better for the experience; a happier and closer family; and vowed to keep it going long after the week was over. My first thought was “I can do that!”

And so my own experiment began. I went right out and bought cloth napkins, more kitchen towels and the reusable bags they sell at the grocery stores. We changed light bulbs and turned off our computers and stopped using paper plates. I felt great knowing that I was doing something good for the environment and after all, Oprah made me feel like it was the cool thing to do. So, am I still doing it? Hell no!

While the family grumbled a little bit about the changes, it was really me who ended up feeling the brunt of the experiment. Cloth napkins and towels meant more laundry and more often – can’t be stuck with a spill and no clean towels. It meant doing more dishes as I wasn’t aloud to buy paper plates or cups anymore. I was never very good about turning off the television because I love sitting down at night and watching TV. Not to mention that I don’t have the death wish associated with making the kids give up their video games. And let’s face it, it keeps them entertained. And when my newborn son came along, I did toy with the idea of cloth diapers, but there was no way that idea was going to fly in my house. So I tried the next best thing and I bought “natural” diapers at Wholefoods. And this too lasted exactly one package of diapers in which time we experienced some pretty serious leaks and the pain in the ass of having to go to a special store to get them. And those great reusable bags for the grocery store? I had used them exactly once. They were still sitting in my pantry where I put them after my first shopping trip because I either bought groceries online (and as much as I protest, they bring all my groceries in plastic bags – and since they deliver I will continue to look the other way) or I completely forgot about them until I was at the check out.

Now I am still a big proponent of recycling and I try to recycle everything I can get my hands on. But again, they come to my house to pick it up and it doesn’t cost me anything. So, to sum up this experiment – as with most trends, it cost more time and money for me to “go green” than I have either of. And I started wondering if the energy and water I was using to wash everything might be outweighing or at least equaling the paper waste. Not to mention all the extra gas and emissions from me driving all over the place to find stores that carried the special “green” products. So while it might be the cool thing to do (and I know, good for the planet and all that), I am just too tired, busy and poor to be politically or environmentally correct on this one.


  1. Wow! So, I have to say I really enjoyed reading your latest blog. I also agree with you in terms of the amount of water and electricity that we all still use which is another bigger problem yet to be solved. I think if you at least use your town recycle bins (I have to assume your town does have them)and recycle that way, and possible invest in a food composter behind the house, you will be amazed (if not already like we are) at how much you can save from going to the landfill. We all have the best of intentions, so I applaude your efforts. It isnt easy with two kids and a household to run, but at the same time you do have to start somewhere. Thanks, Bec!

  2. I agree with the paper plates, paper towels comments, those would be so hard to give up....but seriously consider "unplugging" items when not actively in use (if you don't already). We always had a super high electirc bill even when we were both working, then with me staying home during the day with our little one, it went up some, but not as much as we thought. So I started unplugging electronic appliances when not in use - and it dropped our electric bill 40$ the first month and then an additonal 20$ the next month. At first dh was not a big flop yourself down in front of the TV, hit the remote and nothing happens, you have to get up and plug in the TV first! But when he saw the savings, he is now on board! We unplug anything we have easy access to be able to re-plug in when we need to use it. TV's, lamps, toaster oven, washer and seriously works....and only takes a little getting used to!
    PS - we have a small house (2bedroom, 1 bath) so if you have a larger house imagine all the savings there!