4.22.2009

Tree Hugs to Mama Earth

I grew up in a house with a father who proudly supported the world's largest waterfowl conservation organization. We recycled aluminum cans and newspapers long before it was the "in" thing to do. My mother loved scoring second-hand deals at yard sales and her all-time favorite, Goodwill. Naturally, one would think that the apple did not fall far from the tree and that these thrifty, conservative ways would have passed along to me.

Embarrassingly, I must admit, not so. I've always been a waster. Not a litterbug, but just one who has no regard for the repercussions of having too much and throwing away too much. I've always loved to shop, and I'd often do so without any thought about what I already had at home. Then, when I'd accumulate too much, I'd just get rid. My dad would tell me that money did not grow on trees. It's not that I disagreed; I just did not care.

I wore clothes a couple times and then, when I got sick of them, I just donated them or threw them in a pile to be sold at a yard sale. I'd throw away plastic milk cartons and water bottles without even thinking of recycling them. At work, I would sometimes absentmindedly -- and often purposefully as well -- unnecessarily print duplicates of documents. I'd chuck the unneeded in the trash can without giving thought to the recycle bin.

Now that I've painted a picture of myself as this Mother Earth-hating bitch... It's not that I had it out for her. I was just being selfish. And if there's one thing that having a baby did to me, it's realizing that it's no longer just about me, me, me -- and one day, Greta will be the one picking up the pieces of my irresponsibility.

Here's how we're reducing, reusing and recycling:

I reduce by using less. Buying less, shopping less, spending less. I'm slowly minimizing. And, I suppose you could consider my every-other-day showering habits a form of reducing as well?

I reuse by borrowing books from the library, friends or swapping them online. For parties and other gatherings, I use our everyday white Crate and Barrel dishes instead of purchasing paper plates that are used once. I only run the washer when there is a full load. I take my own reusable grocery sacks to the supermarket.

I've developed a burning passion for resale shops and sales, like Once Upon a Child and Kangaroo Kids. Much to my chagrin, just like my bargain-hunter mother, I love getting a great deal! And, as the Kangaroo Kids Web site points out, producing less cotton for new clothing means less pesticides and fertilizers. Buying used clothing also means less energy is needed to produce and ship new clothing from overseas (since hardly anything is made in the United States these days, unfortunately). Buying resale cuts down waste, energy and pollution! And Greta can wear a once-worn Ralph Lauren dress for $6.50!

Two months ago, we started cloth diapering. You don't have to look far on the Internet to read about the environmental impact of cloth diapers v. disposable diapers, but here's a place to start.

For the past year, we've recycled our aluminum and newspaper and magazines. A month ago, we began to recycle plastics, paper, tin, glass and all other recyclable discards. The mass amount we collected in just one week was shameful.

Wow.

I recently read that it's the small changes that add up to make a big difference. Here's to hoping that my little changes are doing some thing. I'm not saying that I'm an official patchouli-wearing tree-hugger, but I'm proud to say that there is no longer a need for my sister to dig through my trash to weed out the Tide detergent bottle and take it home to Florida to recycle.

1 comments:

mrs.nahigian said...

Yeah! I love it! Me too on the recycling. You are WAYYY better, but I just a few months ago started doing water bottles, cans and a few others. I never really thought about the paper plates thing! I guess your right! ((But man is it sooo much easier than doing the dishes! lol))

Good for you... Thanks for the ideas!