Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green? Or Green With Envy?

Recently I was talking to myself and asked, "Self, are you just a greenie wannabeenie, or are you really making a concentrated effort to do your part in caring for the Earth?"

I mean, with all the talk out there about green living and organic eating, and antibiotics and steroids, and free range, and local farming, etc., etc., etc., one could get "green envy". However, upon taking an honest assessment of their actual living habits, one might realize that "green with envy" is the only actual thing green about their lifestyle.

So, I asked myself, "Do I have actual habits in place to do my part in helping the environment? With all my talk about healthy eating and clean foods and such, have I really made any lasting changes?"

Time for a self-review.

Last year, right around this time, I wrote this post as one of my Thrifty Thursday articles. I have since abandoned Thrifty Thursdays because, well, I forgot to write them. Thus, they are no more.

It was interesting to re-read my post about Cutting Out Waste to see if one year later I was still on my own band wagon.

Paper towels?
I still do not purchase paper towels. We use microfiber cloths for cleaning, and fabric napkins for eating. Yes, that means more washing, but I have an energy star appliance which uses half the water of a top loader machine and thus, I wash. I have less paper waste. Any paper we do use goes in a bin out back and hauled down the street to the recycling bin when filled to the brim.

I also purchase recycled toilet paper. Toilet paper does not need to be cushy. The cushy stuff isn't good for the pipes anyway. And lets face it. You are wiping your a&* - why be fancy?

Plastic baggies?
Nope. Still don't use them. I know there are folks who clean and dry their baggies. I don't trust myself to do that. Instead, I have trained my family to bring home their rubbermaid containers. Haven't lost one this year.

We recycle other plastics once a month. Yes, we've gone from recycling pickups twice a week to once a month. Our back porch is full.

Household cleaners?
One year later we are still making our own from green products. We moved here 9 months ago, at which time a friend gave me a great assortment of green cleaners that she had made herself. We are still using one of the concoctions she made. It takes a capful of green cleaner and water. The place smells great. The counters are clean enough to eat off of, which I find myself doing often. Must. Sit. Down.

I do use something different on wood, and will admit to using Lysol during our H1N1 scare and the recent pink eye palooza.

We do not use room fresheners. Soy candles are lit frequently.

What about food, Miss Know It All?
That's the thing, I don't know it all, so back off.
  • I purchase fair trade or organic coffee. I especially like Green Mountain and Newman's Organic's (100% of profits go to charity, plus Paul Newman was hot).
  • You will not find me buying individual bottles of water. Folks, this is sooo expensive. If you don't like the tap water, (and in Beaver, you shouldn't be drinking it without a filter), get a filter. Or, splurge like we have for 5 gallon reuseable jugs. I've gotten a little bit of flack for the cost of our water per month, but if you are buying individual bottles, I can assure you, you are paying more than I am. I use the water from my cooler for making coffee, cooking, the dog, everything. The brita filter just didn't cut it. Sure, we could go fill up our jugs at the grocery store or the beer warehouse (yep - the beer warehouse), but I'd rather budget for delivery. It means that much to me.
  • I do not purchase items with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, or dyes. (not even in bread - seriously, check your bread for HFC) If I want sugar, I eat sugar. What this means for us, is less money spent on snacks for the kids. I bake more. What this means for the kids is that their friends can't stand that we don't have fun snacks that come in individual small expensive packages. Zane loves peanut butter crackers, so we do get those. Both my kids love fruit leathers - brought those to Zane's pre-school and the kids almost cried. One mother, however, did call to ask where we got them. It's healthvangelism. I also get pretzels and corn chips and stuff, but fruit roll-ups? Are you kidding me? If I wanted my kids to eat food dye, I'd squirt it directly into a bowl and give them a spoon.
  • I follow the dirty dozen rule when it comes to organics. I can't afford to go organic all the way, so I follow this list of must-have's and must have not's. I can not purchase a non-organic apple. My hands just won't let me. And strawberries. Don't even think about it. Which means? We don't buy strawberries, because I can not afford the organic type. I keep a basket of apples and pears and clementines out all day. The kids know that at any time they may grab a snack from that basket.
  • I purchase milk without growth hormones. And actually, if I really think about, not so much milk these days. George and I drink Almond Milk. The kids prefer to get their calcium and D via orange juice, V-8 fusion, and green vegetables.
  • I purchase meat without growth hormones or anti-biotics. Which means? There are weeks we don't eat meat (we do have the occasional roast). I do go to McDonald's or Wendy's with the kids once a month. Only now, after watching Food, Inc, I am seriously reconsidering that. Why go there when they love miso soup and California rolls? They don't get a plastic toy, but they don't really need another plastic toy. My kids would be just as stoked if I told them we were getting miso for lunch. And it is for sure healthier for them.

I raised the McDonald's point at dinner tonight, asking the kids what cow's eat.


One would think. I then shared with them what I have learned.

They are now down with California rolls becoming their new "happy meal."

So am I a kill-joy? No. I do purchase the occasional box of cookies (d&^m those girl scouts), and surprise yummy for the kids - which makes the treat more fun. Recently we had Reuben's and I got good 'ole deli meat - nothing fancy. But I don't purchase Popsicles, those fruit snacks with red dye, candy, soft drinks, processed cereals and meat with junk in it as a habit.

Zane and I developed a great smoothie recipe that we then turn into popsicles. I splurge for pudding (with the real sugar), they drink water, and if they want a snack, I bake something, or they grab fruit. It's really not that hard. Yes, there is some complaining. But, they will live.

If you came to my house, the kitchen would seem bare. I shop for meals once a week. I don't stock pile a ton (accept for chicken broth, beans, and such) because I don't buy enough processed stuff that will keep for a long period of time. I do need another freezer. That would rock.

I'm not trying to sound haughty.

What's for dinner tonight?

You won't like it.

Kale chips (seriously, they are so good that Harper and I fight over them), baked tofu (George rocks it and Zane can't get enough), and wonton soup from our Chinese place.

Dessert? Smoothies made with banana, almond milk, honey, some oj, and a few other things thrown in. Nutella is also a staple around here.

I'm not all out crazy green, but I'm doing what I can do for my family. Many of the choices I make are inconvenient (making cleaners, no paper towels, or baggies) and a bit sacrificial (I love meat, and the kids glare at me at times), but we all need to decide what we can do, and do it. If you feel the fight is worth it.

I happen to think it is.


thecurryseven said...

Mmmmmmm...gotta love those kale chips. We'd have them more often if I didn't have to use three heads of kale to make enough.


Katie said...

This is my formal request for Kale chips and homemade household cleaners. Please and thank you.