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12/01/2012

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Anonymous

As a longtime proponent of non-interventionist natural birthing and breastfeeding (against many odds in my case), I can heartily agree with your sentiments. It can be difficult to dodge the minefields...to discuss your experiences non-judgmentally, hoping it will resonate with others. Even if I am to say I want to educate people on my experiences, people can infer that I am saying they are not educated if they don't choose or aren't able to do what I did. Yet many people have told me they would have never persevered to have the natural birth or the breastfeeding experience they so desired without my input. Hopefully, good humor, humility, and knowledge of audience help smooth out the rough edges.

Debi

Thank you so much for this post. Each year I set a goal to make one more eco-friendly lifestyle change than the year before. The result is that I've come a long way - and now my kids see being environmentally responsible as a way of life.

Urban Woodswalker

Dear Joy,
You have an incredible ability to write about this topic. this is the best essay I have ever read on the topic.

I wrote another long response...but I don't think it went through here. So I am writing again. I hop[e one of these responses go through to your blog.

The older I get the more i realize I can only change myself. I am not a good community organizer, and my passions can tend to get me into trouble. So, I have found I just do what I can...and if an opportunity to gently suggest new eco behavior exists...I try. but the guilting and ranting turns so many folks off...its the worst thing to do with non green people.

Awareness is key. shopping is an addictive sport in this country...the internet and constantly upgraded new technologies make it ever easier to shop and consume. Most folks don't think about their eco footprint. They live in the moment...they want that ___ which is "on sale" this week, and they don't think twice about ditching their old outdated ____ .

As full time consumers, they never go outside...unless it its to drive around in over scheduled lives...children are carted to a myriad of after school activities, then its home and homework dinner, and bed. Kids don't explore outside...its unsanitary, dangerous, and "boring" My step sister is a 3rd grade teacher...they take away all games and cell phones during school. Kids continually whine that their 20 minutes of recess time is boring, and they want their electronic games!

When I worked 4 years at a nature center...the inner city kids that came were frightened...even the 6th graders...of everything...from geese flying overhead, to the stuffed opossum on the shelf (which they always asked what was it...a rat? a raccoon?). When one thinks that an inner city kid might not ever know something beyond a weed growing through sidewalk cracks.... or a posh suburban kid never even playing on his heavily polluted "chem lawn" we can see how humans turn in no green adults.

I spent 15 minutes last night taking all my neighbors recyclables out of the trash bin and putting into the recycle bin. I cannot educate them...its just easier to do it myself. I feel good about it, and I feel "green" in doing this small bit. ranting to them would do NO good. Guilt makes people not try harder...it usually makes then go in the opposite direction.

I used to rant about recycling to everyone. How could they NOT recycle???? but you know what? Its a much deeper problem. Its about all that we CONSUME. Telling Americans to consume less, and its like admitting you are a satanist, or a member of the KKK ! These times....Americans have never had such cheap goods. "Its good for the economy" we are told. "Spend, Buy MORE....You will be happy, popular, beautiful,sexy "...and on it goes. Everywhere we turn, there are cheaply priced goods. Humans live in the moment...due to advertising, and TV. We don't have "green" commercials. We don't have commercials telling us, for every time we upgrade to a new electronic device, or buy another toy, we are ultimately screwing up the environment. Its too great a concept for us all to admit, or think about.

My way of going green is to consume less, recycle more...including others cast offs, educate via my art made out of trash in galleries and art shows. So I am green IMO. I don't need anyone to debate that...despite all my non-green daily life's ways.


Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Such a good point about having good humor and humility in these discussions--thank you for sharing this.

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Thank you very much for taking the time to leave this thoughtful reply--twice!

So many good points in here, I'm not even sure where to start, so I'll just jump in:

I'm going to do a blog post in the spring about the "chem lawns" because it will be more timely then, when people are starting up their service contracts again, pouring poisonous chemicals on the lawn, which in turn wind up in our water systems. There isn't a lot of thought given to the fact that we all live in a closed system and all of this hazardous stuff needs to go SOMEWHERE. It doesn't just magically disappear.

I agree with you that much of the time, it is easier to just do the green work yourself. I used to get annoyed when I was walking the dog and saw litter blowing around the neighborhood. Then I realized that I should just carry an extra bag with me to collect any litter along the way. It's less annoying to have it gone than to wait for somebody else to clean up their own yard. Somehow, people don't see the litter (?) or are too busy to be bothered with it. Or perhaps are not busy at all, but just don't care.

Amen to all of the parts about consumerism and commercialism. We live in a strange time and place, when having "more more more!" is the ultimate goal, which is never ultimately fulfilling, and so it's a vicious circle.

Very interesting regarding the "art as education" standpoint. I was an art history major who specialized in 20th century art (my thesis was on Hans Haacke), so "art as message" has always intrigued me.

Thank you again for sharing your viewpoints here.

Amanda

With the new year coming, I love the idea of focusing on one "greener" thing for the next year. I think I will pick 2 - reducing our food waste and spending more time exploring nature with the kids. I tend to stock up on food that is on sale, buying too much of it which the spoils. I am really gong to better focus on what we have before I shop and not stock up the fridge and pantry too much. (this will also help with what seem to be our continued power outages...).

As for the kids, we spend a lot of time outside but that time typically involves a bat and/or ball and not taking in the world around us. I so agree that creating nature lovers from an early age will be something they take through the rest of their lives. Make it something that we "just do" rather tha we "have to do.".

Thanks for the inspiration!

Joy @ JoyfullyGreen.com

Please, don't beat yourself up about spending a lot of time outside with a bat & ball--I think it's terrific that you are outside with your kids, interacting with them. They're getting fresh air and exercise, so you're already ahead of the game.

You're absolutely right, though, about taking stock of what you have before you buy. That was a lesson I learned as well with the last hurricane--so much wasted freezer food! We actually got a smaller fridge with our kitchen renovation, so now we have less room for stuff to get lost in there.

I'm also going to apply the "taking stock" rule to health & beauty products in our house, because I just cleaned out a bathroom closet and found doubles and triples of so many things, hiding in the back. Aside from shopping with the kids (never a good idea!), this is probably the single biggest waste of money at our house--not realizing what we already have. So that's a good goal for the new year--I'm with you!

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Green Books for Children

  • Igor Siwanowicz: Animals Up Close

    Igor Siwanowicz: Animals Up Close
    See review under Green Books, 11/12/2012

  • Helen Frost: Step Gently Out

    Helen Frost: Step Gently Out
    For commentary, see "Savoring the Last of Summer" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Leo Lionni: Frederick [English Edition]

    Leo Lionni: Frederick [English Edition]
    For commentary, see "Savoring the Last of Summer" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Terry Allan Hicks: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Tell Me Why, Tell Me How)

    Terry Allan Hicks: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Tell Me Why, Tell Me How)
    For commentary, see "Appreciating Autumn" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Betsy Maestro: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)

    Betsy Maestro: Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)
    For commentary, see "Appreciating Autumn" post in Nature & Wildlife.

  • Alison Inches: I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Little Green Books)

    Alison Inches: I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (Little Green Books)
    "One little monster learns to reduce, reuse, and recycle." That's all good, of course, but my own children laugh out loud every time they read how Max the Little Monster (before his attitude adjustment) clogs up the toilet with too much toilet paper, yelling "Hungry Toilet!" Kids...they just love the potty humor. Made from 100% recycled paper.

  • Julia Rawlinson: Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

    Julia Rawlinson: Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
    This book is incredibly sweet. A sensitive, little fox named Fletcher cannot understand what is happening to his beloved tree at the onset of autumn, and he tries everything in his power to keep the leaves on the tree. When he wakes up one winter morning to find his tree covered in dazzlingly beautiful snow crystals, it chokes me up every time. Although it's not about saving the earth, the book is a lovely tribute to nature and its seasons.

  • Diane Muldrow: We Planted a Tree

    Diane Muldrow: We Planted a Tree
    I love how this relatively new book (published in 2010) is charmingly illustrated in the same style as those Little Golden Books from the 1960's. In simple prose, the book explains what happens when you plant a tree and watch it grow, while enjoying the benefits of fruit, shade, budding flowers, and cleaner air.

  • Dr. Seuss: The Lorax (Classic Seuss)

    Dr. Seuss: The Lorax (Classic Seuss)
    This book is a classic for a reason. As I was reading it for the first time to my children, I could see the shock and sadness on their faces when the very first Truffula Tree was chopped down. Unlike the progression of The Curious Garden (see below), things just keep getting worse--all in the name of "progress." It ends with a powerful message: "UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Great for generating conversations with young children about caring for and protecting natural resources. Printed on recycled paper.

  • Peter Brown: The Curious Garden

    Peter Brown: The Curious Garden
    First, I have to admit it: As a mom, I'm *slightly* bothered that a little boy is walking around a creepy city all by himself, and "stumbles upon a dark stairwell" which he decides to head up. However, this book is simply magical, so I'll chalk it up to "willing suspension of disbelief" and let it go. With each page, as Liam grows from a novice gardener into a Green Thumb Extraordinaire, the dreary city in which everybody stays inside becomes a green utopia that everybody enjoys. Liam helps the whole city to bloom, and changes the mindsets of its citizens, simply by taking the first steps and sticking to his mission--without any preaching whatsoever. My favorite parts are the multiple spreads with no words at all, which depict how the gray, dirty city is growing greener and cleaner with the passage of time, thanks to our hero. Printed on recycled paper.

Green Books for Adults