Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Going Granola

I have been meaning to post for some time on some of our "crunchier" habits--what better day to finally do so than Earth Day?

I am far from a raging environmentalist, but I like green things as much as anyone. I also kind of like living on this earth, raising a healthy kid, and knowing she can enjoy that healthy life on a beautiful and healthy planet (maybe even live on what's currently the coast without having to build an underwater city). Oh, and I like to save money. FunnyWriterMommy and I joke that our life mottos are: (1) Above all else, I'm lazy; and (2) Second only to lazy, I'm cheap.

So I don't think it's because we're those dirty West Coast hippies now that I have occasionally found myself placing organic vegetables into my reusable fabric grocery bag while babywearing my cloth-diaper-clad toddler. Sometimes it's to avoid filling the landfills with packaging I didn't even want in the first place. Sometimes it's to keep the budget alive--organic baby food is occasionally cheaper on sale than regular anyway. But mostly, I think, it's the mommy thing.

Something happens to us when kids come into our lives. We worry about things we never would have cared about before, like whether our plastic bottles and saran wrap are poisoning us and how to avoid food hormones so our daughters don't start puberty before they start kindergarten. We see parking lots where there used to be fields and wonder where will be left for her kids to play.

Actually the biggest thing bothering me about how we're treating the environment right now is plastic. Plastic, plastic, everywhere! Not just for things we need but for so many unnecessary things like excessive packaging that we immediately throw away and so many things we make or treat as disposable. Our consumption is so recklessly out of control. And do you know what most plastic is made from? Petroleum! You know, the non-renewable resource which also happens to be our main source of energy (and global conflict)? We are using finite, increasingly expensive resource to make things we will throw away, and then we use more petroleum to transport these things across the country and around the world so we can pay to own them for a short period of time before we transport them to a big pile in the ground or ocean where they can sit for thousands of years. Oh yeah, I'm sure that system will work indefinitely.

And so in a few small ways we try to reduce our use and maybe do something a little bit healthier for our girl in the process:
  • home-mashed rather than pre-jarred baby foods--saves packaging, food transportation costs, and money on my grocery bill. It's easy enough and way cheaper for me to cook a whole bag of frozen green beans or a bunch of sweet potatoes, throw them in the blender, and pour it into ice cube trays. One cube equals 2 tablespoons; 6 mix-n-match cubes a day and she's had her veggie servings. I will say it's harder to achieve good results with meat. And no matter who makes it, there is just nothing appetizing about pureed meat!
  • avoid, hand wash, and don't microwave plastics--probably the BPA in plastics thing will never be definitively proven dangerous, but in case those Canadians are proven right, we try to minimize the risk and extend the life of our plastics anyway. I did buy one stainless steel Thermos sippy cup, since my plastic ones were leaky anyway, and it's nice. If we were starting from scratch maybe I'd avoid the plastics, I don't know. (What say ye?)
  • fabric grocery bags--I keep a few tote bags in the car to grab when I go in the store. No danger of the bottom busting out, and our local store has started giving $.05 off per reusable bag used.
  • organic milk--Anna's whole milk is the only thing I make an effort to buy organic, simply because of all the hormones. This is what our doctor said she does for her kid about the same age.
  • the biggie and best for us . . . CLOTH DIAPERS!--It was disposables giving us fits last week. I love love love using cloth diapers, and I could go on and on about why and how. And in a follow-up post, I will!

How about you? Do make an extra effort to do certain things for your kids' health or to reduce your environmental impact? Anything "crunchy" that works for you?


Us said...

We're slowly, ever so slowly, going green. For my kid, I started to buy fresh fruit. Always. Nothing canned here! I still do frozen veggies but wish I had the time to prep fresh (me and cutting knives aren't so good).

We recently switched almost all our lightbulbs to the compact fluorescent kind, the ones that will last 5-10 years. That made me feel pretty powerful.

Oh, and I shop at Trader Joe's a lot!

Katie V said...

Brian and I are trying to go green and really, the bonus of homegrown things being cheaper, I don't mind!
My goal for the summer is to grow our own tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce since those are the veggies we/I eat most often.

We only eat meat half the nights of the week (raising cattle takes up a lot more resources than growing a plant).

My mom used to make a lot of my little sister's baby food out of the food that my family was eating like homemade chicken noodle soup.

Jenny said...

We buy locally raised and hormone free beef and hormone/antibiotic free chicken. We do the compact flourecent light bulbs as well. I keep meaning to pick up a couple reusable tote bags for groceries, but haven't yet. Fresh fruit/veggies. Also, I've become VERY weird about stuff Josh comes in contact with, like sunscreen. Yeah, he needs sun protection, but does he need that on his skin? Still debating. And what do you do about bug spray? I'm not spraying OFF on my guy! Sure, I'll coat myself in pesticides, but not him.

I think you're right, I never really thought about it much until I was a Mama. What kind of cloth dipes do you use? I seriously considered it, but after a few nasties after we were first home, I realized I'm not cut out for them. I'd like to though!

I babywear and don't circ - those are both seen as crunchy. Now that it's nice, we try to spend more time outside than inside. Is that crunchy?

I use chemical-free cleaning agents. (Do I really want Josh licking the residue of whatever I just sprayed?) I practice attachment parenting, except for the co sleeping. No one would sleep if we did!

Anxious to hear about the cloth dipes...off to surf TBW!

wmw said...

Thanks, commenters!
I have been lazy on the fresh fruit of late. Must do better. Then I end up eating it too.

I do want to grow at least some tomatoes this year. Really, for real this time. I'll be happy when the farmer has his roadside stand come summer too.

Jenny, I don't blame you if he came home with the nasties--giardia and cloth dipes would NOT mix well!

Off to bed to dream of Trader Joe's...

Cat Hoemke said...

Well, this is really for the ladies. I've not actually tried the diva cup yet, but I've heard that it works really well. A friend of mine swears by it. If we're willing to avoid putting diapers in the landfill, we should probably be doing something about tampons and pads as well.

Jodi said...

A little embarrassing, but I use the boy's bath water to flush the toilette.
We cloth diaper as well.
The garden will *hopefully* be put in this year...
and perhaps the number one thing we do to help the earth: teaching our kids at a young age to care and be responsible. It's a simple multiplication of environmentalists. :)