I must have been in third grade when I came home from school and shared, with alarm, what I’d learned in music class that day. I shared that my teacher had said each time we open the refrigerator, another hole opens up in the ozone layer. This was my first time hearing about this protective realm in the sky, so other than remembering its name, I knew nothing about it. But if making holes in it was bad, we’d better change, right??
I’m pretty sure my third grade self didn’t understand what my music teacher had actually stated. So I’m somewhat confident that I relayed the concern with misinformation. But I do know that my dad was so upset that he started ranting about calling up the school to complain about it. This was, of course, mortifying, but even my foggy memory of this episode tells me that no one actual got around to complaining.
Looking back on this with a laugh, I see that this was my first exposure to the conflict over global climate change. Some people see our hand in it and want to alter our practices. Even those who are aware of it may not share accurate or useful information about how to respond to it. And of course, I saw that it’s something controversial: not everyone recognizes its reality, and some will argue it’s not something we should worry about.
I have to admit that I am one of the woefully uneducated, and probably misinformed on some of what I do know. However, I do know enough to see the undeniable evidence that our planet is changing, and ecosystems are struggling in new and unprecedented ways. I have seen headlines proclaiming warnings about the current trajectory of human consumption and waste leading us to worldwide crisis within 100 years. So I want to bury my head in the sand and deny it.
But I’m a mom. I have 3 children. This world is their future. I can’t just turn my face away or say it’s too hard to change. And I don’t want it to turn into a cesspool for everyone else, either.
Yet I feel like I can do so little. I was raised in a comfortable WASP family, with cereal at every breakfast and EZ Cheez for the occasional road trip treat. Now I’m a stay at home mom, with a rarely-used art education degree. My husband is in a grad program (only 4 more years of school, woohoo!) and while he does receive a stipend, we have to be very careful in our spending choices. I’m just now starting to see the bubble of privilege surrounding my life. My consumer choices have usually been the most convenient and cheapest ones available, regardless of their sources or contents. I’m just an average person – what on earth can I do to change anything?
I’ve decided to start there: making small changes that any average person can make, committing to them by making small sacrifices to choose superior food and products, and by seeking ways to live a greener, more locally-focused life. I’m very lucky that the area I live in has bike-friendly roads and a community with an abundance of eco-smart resources. So seeking these changes may be easier for me than others because of sheer availability, but I hope that sharing what I learn here will encourage discussion of others’s attempts to live a greener life.
A caveat: I want to share what I’m learning but NOT in order to shame anyone for their choices. Each person comes from a different situation. I hope to enlighten people to make small changes where they can, but what works for one person may not for another. Likewise, please have understanding for me as I bumble along, and feel free to share friendly guidance!
First order of business: find myself a bike, and figure out what to start working on first. Even if my impact is negligible, it can’t hurt to try, right?
Anyone else out there wanting to make greener choices in their lives?
What do you feel like you already do to minimize your ecological footprint?
My favorite one: thrift store shopping. Probably 75% of my clothes were originally bought by someone else, thankyouverymuch. Oh, and we recycle! (But I love thrift store shopping. The thrill of the hunt, ya know?)
Which area should I focus on first: Assess my food choices (organic, local, etc.)? Explore transportation choices and options? Reduce our use of plastics and other disposable packaging? Or take a closer look at the products and chemicals that my family and I use on a daily basis?