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Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Very Merry Un-Earth Day

I have been thinking about an Earth Day post since Thursday morning. I wanted to talk about how important it is to conserve natural resources; to reduce (reuse, and recycle) the colossal amount of plastic crap we consume every day. However, the more I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it, the more frustrated I became. Here's why:

One day isn't enough. One week won't do it. A year doesn't scratch the surface of the real problem. Stores offering Earth Day sales on "green" products (some considerably less green than others) are a perfect example of this short-term eco-friendly attitude. We are repeatedly told that we can reduce our environmental impact if only we purchase this or that thing. Our landfills are filled to the brim with things. You don't solve the problem by throwing out your gas guzzling SUV and buying a SmartCar. You solve it by dragging your bicycle out of the garage, or walking, or using public transit, and saving the car for when you really need it. You don't solve the problem by buying hemp or organic cotton clothing at eco-friendly boutiques. You solve it by wearing what you have until it just can't go any further, and then continuing to use the material in whatever way you can (t-shirts make great dish rags, by the way). We have to buy responsibly, but only after we responsibly use what we already have.

I think what bothers me the most is how little I follow my own rules. Don't get me wrong, I do try. We are diligent recyclers. Our car is pretty good on gas, and I try to find ways to use it less, and more efficiently. I'm really making an effort to conserve energy and water. Yet in the back of my mind there is always a nagging voice (not a real voice. I don't hear voices... yet) letting me know that I could be doing so much better. I've been trying to compost our kitchen waste but the recycled bucket I've been using (my parents buy cat litter in sturdy lidded plastic tubs) is a pain - the lid doesn't come off very easily and it stinks enough that I don't want to waste time playing with it. My first thought is "I should buy one of those little green plastic compost tubs with the carbon filter at the top!" WRONG. I need to put in a little effort, use what I have, and stop being such a wuss. If we want to slow down and maybe even reverse the damage we are doing to this beautiful planet we are so lucky to have as a home, we all need to put in a little effort, use what we have, and stop being such wusses. Every day needs to be Earth Day.

Here's a nice, Un-Earth Day flower to calm things down after all that ranting.

I have taken one eco-friendly step that I am pretty proud of. I completely switched to cloth diapers and baby wipes. In some areas of the world one could (try to) argue that washing cloth is nearly as harmful as throwing out disposables. Here, water is plentiful and is used to generate electricity as well. Disposable diapers, especially with a newborn, quadrupled our garbage output and cost a fortune. Cloth diapers are so easy to use, and, as a bonus, they come in cute colours! Washing them is no more disgusting than taking care of a stinking bag of disposables. Most importantly for us, they don't cause allergic reactions and diaper rash the way both Huggies and Pampers did. R seems to have a very delicate bum.
We use Bummis organic cotton prefolds and covers. I can't recommend them highly enough. And hey, if you have enough fabric lying around (you can even use flannel sheets or old t-shirts if you like) you can easily make cloth diapers for your little one. Particularly if you plan on having another child, cloth diapers are so much cheaper. Every time I change a diaper I'm not thinking "eww gross, poop." Nope, I'm patting myself on the back for choosing the best possible option for me, for my daughter and for the planet.

My goal is to change my behaviour so that I feel that smug sense of (justified) satisfaction a great deal more often. Who's with me?



    This is fantastic for composting, especially if you live in an apartment that doesn't compost.
    Also, the buckets they provide are huge, and although the lids are difficult to snap on and off, if you just leave it covered and not locked, and lift up the lid when needed, it doesn't smell that bad...go figure eh?

  2. Totally laughed at your motivation of feeling smug! Too funny. We're trying to start composting, too. My dad was a wonderful gardner and we had a compost heap in our backyard as a kid. But our property was very large. It takes some figuring out to work all these wonderful ideas into our lives. thanks for linking.

  3. Thanks for commenting Kirsten and Sabra!

    Kirsten, do you leave your bucket inside or outside? I'm thinking about putting mine outside, thus avoiding the smell most of the time.

    Thanks for coming by Sabra, I just loved your blog! Your projects are really clever and look great :)

  4. We just leave the bucket under the kitchen sink and it only really smells bad when we open it up to put something in it...then we rest that lid back on there nice and fast! If it gets full, we push the lid all the way down and leave it outside. No animals can get in once the lid is locked so there's nothing to worry about there.