Going Green

There’s something about having a child that makes you want to do the best for them and make their lives and the world a better place. Most anyone with children will say “well, duh” to that statement, but really I wasn’t prepared by how strongly it would hit me.
It first happened in pregnancy when I realized that the schools where we live were decidedly substandard. I personally feel schools across the country are substandard, but I’m not going to step onto that soapbox today. I realized that where we live, the only way our child would get a decent (decent, mind you, not quality) education would be if we could afford private school, which is just about impossible for us to afford. Where we are the private schools are about at the level of good public schools in other states (not all other states, but there are some options.) That’s sad. Until I got pregnant I was happy to live where we are and never leave. There are a lot of assets to where we live, but I don’t see the place as particularly family friendly. Even our neighborhood became suspect to me. All areas have crime, but suddenly a neighborhood I was perfectly fine to live in for however long we did felt less safe. Things I was secure with as an adult I was no longer secure with when it came to my child.

Since I’m really in no position to change where we live at present (though Hip Papa assures me he is looking into where we can move with his career path) I began to think about what I could do to improve my child’s quality of life. I’m not going to homeschool, I know I’m just not that mom. So until we get a miraculous job offer in a better place (and one I’m willing to live in, I refuse to go East and back to snow) what can I do?

I’ve always been more nature-crunchy than not. When I was single and living on my own, I ate organic and local. My primary grocery was the Co-Op and the farmer’s market. I walked to the grocery several times a week rather than stocking up on food. I shopped and ate at local businesses. I walked to work everyday. Heck, I walked everywhere. The only time I actually used a car was to get cat litter and cat food (these were just a little too heavy to throw into my backpack.) I’d realized that since getting married I hadn’t been as committed to these values as I’d been in the past. We’d moved to a neighborhood that was decidedly less walkable and shops just weren’t very close (despite our trying to find a place in a more walkable, etc we just could find something in our price range that was a good size for us.) Eating organic and local was not very cost effective when I realized that my husband didn’t understand the concept of portion size and frequently left us without leftovers. Buying natural cleaning products was difficult due to finances as well. (A little history: only 6 months after we bought our house my husband’s company folded and he was laid off. He found a job within 6 months, but that time with him unemployed took us over 3 years to recover, so for some time we’ve been really focused on finances.)  With the new addition to our family I wanted to get back to those values I had years ago.

I knew that eating organic and local was a better choice, for our health, for the health of the planet, but upon doing further research I decided it wasn’t enough just to eat organic or local. Learning about how much of our food supply was genetically modified was astounding to me. I honestly didn’t know how pervasive GMOs were. Through agribusiness in the US, we’ve reduced the heterogeneity of our food supply drastically. Nearly all the corn and corn products in the US come from one supplier, Monsanto, and are of one variety of genetically modified corn. I won’t get into the specifics of the evils of Monsanto here, but suffice it to say I came away from my research with the determination that the way we were living wasn’t right and wasn’t sustainable on a local or a global level.

What this epiphany really did was make me recommit to a lifestyle that I already wanted to live. What changes were we prepared to make as a family to have this lifestyle? Several changes, and they aren’t going to be easy. These are the changes we are going to try to implement:

  • Plant and maintain an edible landscape in our back yard using heirloom and non-GMO seeds
  • Eat local, organic and seasonal produce by rejoining our local CSA
  • Use as many non-GMO items as we can in terms of other non-produce food items
  • Bake our own bread or purchase non-GMO organic alternatives
  • Keep chickens for free-range non-GMO fed eggs
  • Purchase and eat only grass-fed organic, non-GMO fed beef, chicken and wild-caught fish  (and this will lead to consuming less meat overall due to higher cost)
  • Purchase and consume only organic, non-rGBH milk and dairy
  • Begin making & using  our own natural, non-toxic cleaning products
  • Begin making & using (or purchasing) our own natural, non-toxic personal care items like soap, shampoo and body lotion

We aren’t expecting to change all of these things overnight, nor do we expect to be able to do this 100% of the time. As Kermit said, “It ain’t easy bein’ green.” This is a big commitment to change. We don’t want to go gung-ho and get overwhelmed and not be able to sustain the behaviors. This will be a process. Both Hip Papa and I are excited to start on this journey. I’m really excited to start making cleaning products and personal care products (I’d made my own moisturizer and such in the past) and I’m looking forward to having a yard full of edible goodness. I’m also looking forward to a time when I can share that garden with my son and teach him how to grow his own food.

I plan to share this journey here, our successes and our inevitable failures, as well as any resources I stumble across along the way.

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