It’s Enviro-Mama Thursday, and today I am stepping into the confessional. Sometimes I fear that when I’m writing here I’m projecting something that isn’t real. I fear that I’m projecting a level of environmental perfection that just doesn’t exist. While I do really try to live a green lifestyle, I would hate to come across as judgmental or preachy as I write here about green topics. The truth is that I am really in no position to judge anyone.
I’m actually not the perfect green mom. I do the best I can, but I live in a suburban neighbourhood in a developed country. Like most other people in my situation, I’m using far more resources than the earth can afford. My lifestyle is far from carbon-neutral. So come into my confessional, as I come clean on the ways that I fall short.
The Enviro-Mama Confessional
1. Sometimes, when there’s something really, really icky rotting in a container in the back of my fridge, I just throw the whole thing in the garbage. Yes, I could hold my nose and try to dump it into the compost, while trying not to gag. And I could try to scrape the 15 layers of green mold off the sides of the container and wash it for re-use. Or, failing that, I could at least recycle the container, since many are recyclable. But on some occasions it’s just too gross and I don’t.
2. I store food in plastic. I know that there are lots of chemicals in plastic, that could be leaching into the food. But there’s no way I’m going to be able to fit 40 pounds of blueberries into my deep freeze if I use plastic jars. And while I have some glass containers, when I send them to school with my kids (1) they can break and (2) their backpacks are really heavy. And I haven’t found stainless steel containers that I like. Plus, replacing my existing plastic containers would be pricy.
3. I eat meat. While I do try to eat less meat, I still have it at least five or six times a week. And when I’m not eating meat, I’m often eating eggs or dairy, so I’m just replacing one animal product with another. Meat production is a major contributor to climate change, so I feel guilty about this. But for a variety of reasons I’m not ready to go vegetarian.
4. I average at least one car trip a day, maybe more. Since my husband and I each have our own cars, it’s just so much easier to drive than it is to wrangle two kids on to public transit. As the rains start to fall on Vancouver, and the kids get into their activities for the school year, I’m spending even more time in my car than I did over the summer.
5. I adore take-out sushi. It’s one of the few fast food meals my whole family can – and will – eat. Plus, I feel that compared to most other fast food options, it’s fairly healthy. When I’m not up to cooking, and I’m also not up to sitting in a restaurant with two kids, it’s the perfect answer. But it comes in styrofoam containers, which go straight to the landfill.
6. I have never made my own home cleaning products. I do use things like vinegar and baking soda in cleaning, and I try to buy greener brands for almost everything. But you won’t catch me mixing up homemade laundry detergent or floor cleaner. I’m sure it’s fun and easy, but I just can’t muster the energy to make it happen.
These are far from all of my environmental sins, but they should be more than enough to give you a picture of my failings. Honestly, though, in the end I don’t think it’s fruitful to beat ourselves up for the things we don’t do. If we allow ourselves to become overly focused on the idea that we can never do enough, it’s a short leap to believing that our actions don’t matter. I think we’ll get a lot farther by focusing on the little things we can do. Those little things add up.
In the spirit of sharing, and without beating yourself up, I invite you to step into my confessional. Share your green sins. I promise, no one will judge you!