I consider myself to be pretty “green.” I’d dare say I’m “greener” than the next person, which isn’t too hard when you consider how non-green some people are (tsk, tsk) these days. But, I have so much work to do. And I get overwhelmed to think about it, because it’s hard to keep up and stay ahead of the guilt.
Back in March I listed the changes I’d made in pursuit of a greener lifestyle, but then I read National Geographic’s Green Guide Families and I felt practically paralyzed. How can you lead a somewhat normal life while still abiding by all the green rules? There are just so many things to think about. How do you keep it all straight? (And not go completely broke?)
We moved into a house that is over 50 years old. I have no idea what’s in the walls. I am sure there is a layer of lead paint in here somewhere, asbestos, and plenty of scary stuff in the dark corners of the basement. The thought of uncovering all that may be hiding in this old house of ours puts me (and our bank account) over the edge. Ignorance does have its perks. Instead, I’m lying awake considering what might be lurking in our house.
I even start to question some of the progress I have made. For instance, I’ve bought all new energy efficient light bulbs, but some of my energy sucking light bulbs are still working. Do I just replace them before it’s really necessary? Isn’t that in itself wasteful? Throwing away light bulbs to sit in a landfill?
I also bought all new “green” cleaning products. So, should I just throw the old stuff away? That doesn’t seem right. When I treated myself to a cleaning service last month, the lady was very disappointed in the cleaning product options I gave her. She found the old stuff and then called me into the kitchen to show me how much better they worked. I tried to explain that they were toxic, but her limited English and my shock that she found the products made for tough conversation. And, I have to admit, there was a rough winter month when I convinced myself that switching to safer cleaning products was resulting in a much sicker family as we passed around colds and respiratory infections for weeks.
I know that I’m making better decisions, but I wrestle with the wasteful nature of “out with the old.”
I need to give myself a break and I’m willing to bet most moms are in the same green boat. It's OK that I’ll never give up deodorant or lotion. I tried the recycled paper towels and most likely won’t go back. I can’t only buy locally grown produce exclusively. I may never learn to rely solely on vinegar and baking soda for my cleaning needs. But, that is all OK.
Instead I’m patting myself on the back for the little changes that we Hannemaniacs have made in our quest to be green. Today we christened our new composter with the scraps from last night’s dinner and plenty of stuff from the yard. I already know that we’ll considerably cut down the amount of trash at our curb each week. Baby steps are a big deal. And the awesome index in this book will help me along the way.
This post was inspired by Green Guide Families, The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents by Catherine Zandonella, which I received complimentary as a part of Chicago Moms Blog (Silicon Valley Moms Group) Book Club.