Sunday, April 24, 2011

Going Green

Earth Day was a few days ago. As a mom, I think about stewardship of the earth and what kind of planet I'm leaving behind for my kids. I'm also thinking about what habits I'm teaching them and what example I'm setting for how to take care of our planet.

One of the biggest challenges I've had to deal with is my guilt. Since I have a chronic illness, there are a number of earth-saving tips that just won't work for me. For example, riding a bike instead of driving is completely impractical for me to do. But instead of throwing up my hands because I can't do everything, I'm focusing on what I can do. Besides, I don't know anyone who's life allows them to be completely green. While composting and biking are reasonable options for some, I just am not in the position to make those work in my world...and most parents I know feel the same way. But that doesn't mean we're completely off the hook, and there are some simple things that I can do that will make a difference.

Our Earth ( has a list of ways to be green, and some of these are easy to do regardless of how busy you are or whether you deal with physical challenges. Some of the easy recycling ideas - that stick out to me are:
- Reduce - I can save water by turning off the faucet while brushing my teeth. I can turn off lights when I leave a room to save electricity. I can opt out of catalogs and junk mail.
- Recycle - Does your community have a recycling program? If so, then recycle what you can instead of just pitching it in the trashcan. In addition to curbside recycling, my company encourages bringing in batteries and used printer cartridges.
- Buy Local - Support your local farmers and other local businesses by buying local when you can. The food's fresher and tastes better than something that's been trucked from who-knows-where. Check into Community Supported Agriculture programs and Farmer's Markets in your area. I'm lucky enough to have a CSA program at work, and I have farmers delivering to my office weekly to make it even easier for me to buy local. The CSA even connects me with an Angus beef farmer and seafood distributor, and the food is so much more delicious than what I can get from the store.

Another easy way for me to conserve is by using reusable grocery bags. The reusable bags hold more than those flimsy grocery store bags, and I don't have to worry about my bags breaking. There are so many different patterns and styles you can get. I have some that collapse down to easily fit in my purse for those impromptu shopping trips. I've also got a couple collapsed that I keep in my car, and I have more that I keep near the door so that I can be prepared anytime I go to the store. Some stores offer bonuses for bringing reusable bags, ranging from store rewards to a discounted bill to a donation to a local charity.

One of the best tips for responsible living is to cut the clutter. It's helpful for dealing with my multiple sclerosis (and my sanity in general!) to cut down on the excess stuff in your house. And one of the biggest challenges my kids add to the equation is all of their stuff. It seems like kids stuff breeds - one paper suddenly becomes twenty. That's one of the challenges I'm still trying to figure out how to handle - keeping children's clutter in check while letting kids be kids.

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