A friend of mine jokes that Brad and I must sit around all the time and think about how to save the world. That definitely is not the case, but lately a large amount of my brain capacity (such as it is, given I am a sleep-deprived mother of 3) has been occupied with living a greener lifestyle. Certainly compared to a large portion of society, we are fairly green. We have been doing a lot of the easy steps for a long-time: composting, recycling, buying in bulk, reusing a lot of what we can, using compact fluorescent bulbs, etc.
Certainly, there’s plenty of room for improvement. I have been taking a couple baby steps lately by trying to remember my travel mug whenever I go out for coffee, using cloth produce bags and canvas bags at the store and reducing the amount of plastic in our house. Sometimes, though, I am easily overwhelmed. I spent days researching what sippy cup to buy for Sarah. Nalgene? Sigg? Klean Kanteen? So many factors to consider! Even though it was the least expensive of the three options, I ruled out Nalgene because of the possibility of leaching toxins. Sigg doesn’t leach chemicals, but A LOT of energy goes into making aluminum. On the pro side, it is recyclable at the end of its life. I ended up going with the Klean Kanteen. Stainless steel: no leaching, little to no production waste to impact the environment. Not an inexpensive choice, but I am hoping it is a sound one.
Part of what overwhelms me is weighing competing values. For instance, I would love to get a Klean Kanteen for each of the rest of us. It would be nice to not worry about leaching toxins in our water bottles (especially when we regularly forget one or more of them in the car on a hot day). On the other hand, I would be spending close to $80 to get four bottles. I would also have to decide what to do with the 4 Nalgene bottles we already own. All those brain cells in use for a water bottle!
You should see me at the grocery store. Even before I get to the store I have had to make several decisions that weigh competing values. For the most part, we shop at a one of the local co-ops, thus favoring the values of small business versus chain stores. It also means that we a) drive farther, b) pay more and c) have a smaller selection. Once I’m at the store, then I start asking more questions: Is it local? Is it organic? What is the per unit cost? Sometimes you can get local, organic and less expensive all in the same product. Most of the time you have to be willing to sacrifice on one value or the other.
I went to the co-op with the kids the other day. As we walked through the produce section, Joshua started asking to get apples. A quick glance at the signs and I just couldn’t do it.
“Sorry, honey. What about some watermelon?”
“I want apples!”
“None of them are local, they are all from Chile. Just a month or so and we’ll be able to get local apples.”
Sometimes, it’s not easy being green.