When I moved from Texas to Boston in 1996 to be with my husband, I went from a world where recycling was a far off and farfetched idea, to being a requirement. When I put the trash out, I separated the recyclables. It wasn’t hard. It didn’t take much effort.
Then my husband and I bought a home with an acre of land. Now I needed to deal with the recycling and yard waste. Yipes! My trash service wasn’t going to take the endless bags of leaves and grass my yard was producing. So I began a composting area in a corner of my yard. Problem solved! Now I enjoy rich earth for use in my garden when I need it. That worked out well!
Then I started tossing my veggie & fruit scraps into the big yard compost pile and oh, that was a mistake. The skunks & raccoons would frequently fight over it and we, with our wide open windows would be the losers in that fight. Phew! I wanted to do something better than just toss it all into the garbage, but then I had a baby. Life became a challenge of trying to get sleep, trying to keep up. I stopped worrying about composting. I stopped thinking about much except raising my baby.
Back then my mother in law, always ahead of the game, warned us about the dangers of plastics, of heating & storing food in plastic containers. We pooh-poohed her at the time. Little did we know.
Fast forward a few years and another baby later. When the fog of being a sleep deprived mom lifted, I started to look around and see the world around me with a new clarity. It didn’t happen all at once.
What did I see? A sea of disposable diapers. Disposable wipes. Disposable everything.
So in 2007 I decided to make the change. I got a compost bin and began composting my kitchen scraps in earnest. I began collecting batteries from friends, family, and my children’s daycare to recycle. I switched over to rechargeable batteries. I thought ‘That’s good for now; no one can say I’m not trying.”
Then I began to really dig in on the internet. I discovered green websites. I found green mom blogs. I read. And read. And read.
Good grief, there was so much to take in here! Turned out my mother in law was right about plastics. My home, with two small children, was a world of endless plastic. Like millions of other homes. Chemicals everywhere, in my cleaning products, my furniture & carpets. In the paints I used all over my house. All of the foods we were eating.
I was starting to get overwhelmed. I can’t do it all. I can’t change it all. It’s just too much.
It’s at these moments when we have a tendency to throw up our hands in defeat and give up.“ If I can’t do it all, I won’t do any of it”!
That would be an easy way out, wouldn’t it? Then I remembered that nobody is expecting me to do it all at once. That’s just pressure I put on myself. As my father in law loves to say before tackling a huge task, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I can do this, one bite at a time.
So I’ve made the changes I can make. Bringing reusable bags with me everywhere. Slowly getting rid of plastics. Switching over to organic foods where I can. Changing our soaps & toothpastes. Cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and Borax. I’m nowhere near as green as I would like to be, but, you know…one bite at a time.
You can do this too. It doesn’t have to be all at once, it doesn’t have to break the bank. My motto is “small changes add up”, because they really do. Not only will you be making a difference in your daily life, your children will absorb and adjust to these changes more easily if done gradually over time. Big changes over a short period of time can overwhelm and backfire, leaving you discouraged. Slow & steady is the better way to go at your green goals.
Remember, we aren’t racing against each other to see “who’s the “greenest”. Start with you and your family, work your way outward, find the green path that fits, and walk it. One step, one “bite”, at a time.