Posted on May 13, 2011 by
Last night, I threw out a glass spaghetti sauce jar. The day before that, I bought two new Pack & Play sheets (buy one, get one – plus I had a 20% off coupon) without checking Craigslist first. Last week when I went grocery shopping, I didn’t buy any organic food AND I bought generic Dawn instead of my usual Seventh Generation. Oh, and I’m currently using Tide instead of a natural brand of laundry detergent. Are you shocked yet? Gasping for air and shouting to yourself, “And you call yourself a Greenist?” Well, I do call myself a Greenist…and yes, I’m experiencing a lot of green guilt right now – that feeling of I know I can do better. I know I can do more. But allow me to explain . . . It came down to money. My family recently moved to another state and I am currently staying at home with my two children. With our new single salary household, I find myself having to sacrifice some green luxuries. Organic veggies, for example, are typically $1.00-$5.00 more than conventional vegetables. Do I prefer organic food? Yes! I know it is better for my body and for the environment. But I need to watch my spending; I can get more fruits and vegetables if I choose the less expensive alternative. Do I want to pollute with generic dish soap? No way! But how do I explain to my kids that I can’t buy them apple juice because I chose to spend the $3.00 on natural dish soap instead? Not to mention, I hardly ever find coupons for green products in the Sunday paper (search for them on manufacturer’s webpages instead).
My husband and I were discussing this situation the other night and in my complaints of having to let go of some of my favorite green products (like a $20 baby wash), I accused him of not supporting the green movement. He replied with, “I do support the green movement! But I have to support my family first.” His statement got me thinking about my priorities, the first of which are my children. I want to do all I can to build them a better world – they are the entire reason I became more green in the first place. My husband must have sensed my conflict because he rushed in and pointed out all of the little things we do to help the environment. “We can’t recycle right now. There is no curbside recycling in our new neighborhood and there is a fee to use the recycling center. But you are reusing things more, like the glass sauce and salad dressing containers.” He pointed out a few other things:
1) If I think I can make it or bake it, I don’t buy it. I’ve been baking homemade breads, pitas, bagels, sweets, and tortillas. I’ve been whipping together salad dressings and granola and even made a little homemade peanut butter the other day! So much cheaper, greener (no packaging waste), and tastier! Additionally, now that I’m baking more I’ve been able to eliminate spending on scented soy candles – the house ALWAYS smells like something good! Now, if only I could figure out how to bake Cheerios . . .
2) We are still using cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I wash them with 1/4 cup of Tide. I’ve found that natural detergents just don’t clean diapers as well as Tide does. Read any diaper board . . . the parents who use natural detergents seem to be continually stripping their diapers and complaining that they still smell after washing – what a waste of water, energy, detergent, time and money.
3) I stopped buying lotions and creams. Everyone gets to use (or choose not to use) the Coconut Oil now!
4) The boys share a bath. Not to mention, now that I’m a stay at home Mom, I don’t have the time to take a long shower (if I’m lucky enough to get one at all!).
5) Now that I’m no longer commuting to work for 1 hour/day, I only need to fill up my gas tank every other week, instead of every week.
6) All of our dish rags vanished during our move! Instead of buying new ones, I’m knitting rags from leftover cotton yarn from a previous knitting project.
7) We still rock the reusable shopping bags, napkins, and homemade cleaning products. As well as a lot of other tiny things that might just be making a difference (like using Mason Jars for drinking glasses . . . and for storing homemade jam!).
Even though I can’t afford to buy a new hybrid or spend $5-6/gallon on organic milk right now (oh, but it tastes so good!), I can still be a Greenist. It’s not my fault that the condo development we are renting in will not allow me to hang a clothesline or compost. I need to shake the green guilt and be proud of what I can do. I can support the green movement and my family – both of them will just have to sacrifice a little bit for now.