How far will you go green? - Our Daily Green

Monday, February 14, 2011

How far will you go green?

One ongoing question at Our Daily Green is how far we will go to be green. Let's make it honest and simple. Our Daily Green is a typical suburban household, a SITCOM (Single Income, Two Children, Outrageous Mortgage). Our green choices are absolutely a result of my personal upbringing, but also a way to compensate for a single not dual income. I lived on an organic veggie farm and with a father who put throwing out aluminum cans up there next to sloth and greed as sins. The junior daily greenies are not nearly as enamored with the green choices we make in our home, but I try to remember the time I was there myself.

Just the other day, my youngest announced how horribly embarrassing it is for her to not just carry a lunchbox, but also cloth napkins. Couldn't we just use paper? I said, Honey, I don't HAVE any paper napkins. There was a moment when principle was trumped. I was that age once. I am grateful that the biggest worry my children have is that they don't have a paper napkin in their lunches. But neither will I drum up extra levels of discomfort at a time fraught with hormones, academics, and other sorts of stress we adults forget we ever had and possibly dismiss too readily. I can remember my then preteen sibling screaming to our mom about a burn, "Don't you just have a bandage? I don't want your herbs and spices!", as she tried to put the gel from an aloe plant on his wound. But in that echo, I heard and heeded the voice of my own child. I put some paper napkins on my shopping list. 

I truly believe that the key to green living is not extremist. Sure there is an idealist in me who wants to live "off the grid" with my own solar panels, raising chickens, and making my own clothing.  It's idyllic in my mind. I also know the reality is not idyllic, but rather scary. It's a lot of pressure. I've decided that for the purpose of Our Daily Green, we better serve our cause to encourage a lot of people to make tiny moves than to push a few people to make extreme moves. We apply that same philosophy to our life. Do we want to push our children past their comfort level or do we want to share subtle ways to change?

When I think about my sibling begging to skip the herbs and spices in favor of a bandage, I am reminded of human nature. I am reminded that our process is wholly reliant on comfort. Period. I think about the "more harm than good" approach and how green isn't even on the radar for the sibling who only wanted a bandage. We are a world of conformity. We are a place where similarity is welcomed, but difference is mocked. 

I debate my willingness to change as I buy recycled toilet paper, but only for "my" bathroom, not the kids' or spouse's because concern for their bottoms is not offset by concern for the planet. I mean really do we environmentalists want to be a gaggle of folks who are crotchety martyrs with sore behinds or do we want to make that millimeter closer to green barely perceptible?  I fold her paper napkin and smile, as I put it next to her washable sandwich box, snack container, and reusable juice box. I smile at the soda maker I received to reduce the bottles and cans (review to be soon!), and I appreciate the compost pile we have.  

Without making excuses, we can make green happen in a way that is still better than yesterday, and still better yet tomorrow. One less paper napkin at a time. 

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