By Julie M Green
I’ve never really thought of myself as green, per se. In high school I belonged to a local group called the ‘Green Team’ but only because a couple of my friends were in it, and at the time REM was all the rage.
My parents aren’t exactly eco warriors, although they ‘composted’ and ‘blue boxed’ long before either became a household term. During the brief interlude that is the Canadian Summer, they keep a decent veg patch — nothing posh, just some green and yellow beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers to rival any superstore produce, both in terms of aesthetics and taste. All of this is passé, of course. It was nothing they did consciously, or even conscientiously. It was just the way they lived. There was no sacrifice or smug labour involved.
But things on the green front have moved on considerably. And I fear, for my son’s sake, that I am getting left behind. Put simply: the Little Green Household is not doing enough. It occurred to me the other day as my toddler was helping ‘recycle’ a fistful of flyers. We — and here I also mean the collective me-and-you we — could really be doing more, couldn’t we? The question is, what?
The zen of zucchini…
When we lived overseas, Mr Green and I subscribed to an organic veggie box scheme from a near-ish farm. This was great back when I had time to devise new and innovative things to do with the seemingly endless supply of zucchinis that filled box after box, week after week. (Zucchinis, you say… Please, this is a Family Blog.) The meals we ate then were varied, creative. Needless to say, I felt virtuous as hell. Then I gave birth to my son, and all that artful prep and planning fell to shit. I had a new baby! Once my stash of homemade frozen entrees had bitten the dust, I was at an utter loss as to what to do with all that beetroot and swiss chard. At that time in my life, I had taken on more than I could, ahem, chew. And so the box scheme had to go once it ultimately became a costly and wasteful, anything-but-green enterprise.
How I became a Pampers slave
My next green foray was cloth diapers. After a tremendous amount of online research, I found a brand which had garnered rave reviews for affordability and ‘performance’. None of my mommy friends at the time seemed especially bothered about disposable vs cloth, so I was in unchartered waters.
Unfortunately my son has always been something of a racehorse in the pee department, even during the day. In the end I was changing his diaper almost hourly, and he was frequently soaking through his sleepers. Surely all the extra loads of laundry were counterpoint to the greenness of the diapers?
Still, I persisted for a time, even ‘doubling up’ on the inserts. Poor Little Green One. Imagine going around with not one but two maternity pads in your undies, and you get the gist.
Anyway, I eventually capitulated and became a Pampers slave. I don’t feel good about it to this day. And I know that as a direct result there is probably a special place reserved for me in hell: a landfill site with mountains of steaming diapers I must wander around for all of eternity…
Back to square one
I may be green by name but not, it seems, by nature. I always buy toys and clothes nearly new, from garage sales, Value Village, and godsends like Once Upon A Child (“Kids’ stuff with previous experience”). But that is mostly because, according to Mr Green, I’m tight. Personally, I prefer the term ‘frugal’.
Now that we are proud homeowners, I would like to try my hand at a veggie patch in homage to my maverick parents. But when it comes to plants, my sole talent is for killing them in the quickest, most merciless fashion. I am what you might call a horticultural death doctor.
So consider this post an intervention: I may sound like a lost cause, but I am not too proud to beg for your tips and tricks, green moms.
What small and practical steps do you take to make the earth a more hospitable place for our kids?
When she isn’t ‘recycling’ flyers, Julie can be found blogging at Little Green One: a warts-and-all account of pregnancy and first-time motherhood that will have you laughing, crying, and running to the nearest drugstore for some Durex. She lives in Toronto with her long-suffering husband, Philip and newly suffering son, Jackson.