A few years ago, we made the decision that we were going to be more conscious about “greening” our home. We started replacing our cleaning supplies with natural alternatives, traded in our paper napkins for cloth, shopped second-hand when possible and vowed to drive the most fuel-efficient vehicles we could.
Then we had kids.
Our perfect vision of efficiently running a perfectly green home as two working parents with two kids under the age of four in the middle of a recession has been… well, a bit of a challenge. I’ll admit it; our food scraps are, at times, tossed into the trash rather than into our compost pile, and while we started our parenting careers with every intention of cloth diapering, scrubbing the soiled diapers of a toddler with multiple food allergies was quite enough for us, and we opted for disposable diapers instead.
When time is of the essence, it is really hard to make–and stick with– huge lifestyle changes. It pains me that it is our Earth that pays the price for our hectic lifestyles; from the way we tend our lawns to the way we eat, our lives almost require that we cut corners and take short-cuts. So how do conscientious Unitarian Universalists reconcile the difference between all the things we know we ought to do and the few things that we know are possible to do?
This is a constant struggle for me and, I suspect, many of you. It almost seems unfair that here we are, a family who would love to devote all our time and resources to sustaining our earth and yet, it seems impossible to do that and sustain ourselves as well.
We have often joked about “quitting” society, packing up and moving to an imaginary place where we would live off the land and completely off the grid; where our lives would not revolve around making money to pay the bills to keep the lights on. Of course, it would mean that our lives would completely revolve around other things; like, you know, the weather and the growing season…
But even if this imaginary world were absolutely perfect, “quitting” would fix the problem for no one else but us. We would be able to rest on our laurels knowing that we did something, but it doesn’t change our culture so that there is more room in everyone’s life to care for our planet. Because, let’s face it, if we don’t all start making changes to care for our earth, our earth is going to stop taking care of us.
So I think that the necessary question to ask ourselves about “going green” is not only “what can I do to honor the Earth?” but also, “How can we work to weave these changes into the fabric of our society?”
It is sustainability on a whole new level. Yes;we work to sustain our planet in everything we do and work to better ourselves. But a handful of individuals making these changes because they have the means to do so is not enough; we also must work to make these choices more accessible to everyone, everywhere. Being green can no longer be a privilege.
So where do we start?
(For more on this topic, check out this awesome blog post by Jo Paoletti)