As a working mother who cares about the environment, I’m constantly going crazy trying to balance out using/purchasing Products That Save Time/Money vs. Products That Save the Planet.
Products That Save Time/Money give me more of these two precious commodities to spend on and with my child, increasing the quality of our lives. Products That Save the Planet reinforce my values, make me feel better about my personal integrity, possibly reduce the number of poisons to which our family is exposed, and hopefully do a little something to make the world liveable for a little while longer.
Clearly, not always an easy choice. The second might be preferable in the abstract – but the first provides immediate, concrete results. It’s a crazy-making, almost constant dilemma.
Here are some of the products at the crux of my inner debate:
Plastic bags for dog poop: I can order biodegradable poop-scoopers online. I know this, and it makes me cringe, because the time, money, and sheer effort of ordering and organizing this endeavor seems a lot for … dog poop.
Plastic bags for shopping: I have now three or four reusable bags for groceries. I keep forgetting to bring them with me shopping. I end up getting my goods in plastic bags… yes, you guessed it: So I have something to pick up the dog poop.
Water bottles: The recent info that the plastic water bottle I use to ensure that I drink my 64 ounces of water a day is leaking cancer-causing crap completely undid me. I had been so proud of myself for procuring and using the darn thing, only to find this (see the issue discussed). I am planning on purchasing some steel water bottles to replace it. I have not gotten around to doing so.
Diapers: We actually used a cloth diaper service for a year and a half, stopping when we started full-time daycare, which doesn’t accept cloth. Still, I feel guilty sometimes about this choice.
Plastic baggies: I know there are reusable sandwich wraps out there. I just haven’t gotten them yet. Ziploc is so darn easy.
Makeup/Personal products: When I can, I purchase makeup and shampoo and the like at Whole Foods or Rebecca’s, getting the Burts Bees or Whole Foods generic brand. I also like The Body Shop, which doesn’t test on animals and donates to good causes. But I do also give in to buying the cheap crap at CVS, because I like lots of lipsticks and nail polishes, and the shampoo is cheaper there. I have also been using generic baby shampoo. This is kind of cool, because I hate Johnson and Johnson. But who knows what the heck is in it? Nothing sustainable, I’m sure.
Clothing: I shop a lot at Goodwill and Salvation Army – and this is how I justify buying a lot of clothes – I’m buying used goods. I can’t afford locally made, organic, fair-trade clothing, spending over $100 on a shirt. I just can’t.
Local vs. National vs. Online Shopping: I don’t shop at Walmart, but I do shop at Target and Kmart. I shop at Kroger (though maybe not for long) and Toys R Us. I also shop online a lot. Local toy stores, shoe stores, clothing stores, and food stores, are just so damn expensive.
Diamonds: Thank god I don’t have any, so no blood on my hands there. Poverty can be green, sometimes!
Packaged, commercial foods: In the cupboard, I have individual bags of goldfish, raisins, breakfast bars, crackers. In the fridge I have organically grown pears, apples, and grapes. We eat vegetarian, and most of our protein comes from packaged goods. So, I’d love it if everything were fresh and local, but I also have little time to cook and prepare lunches, and not the budget to do a CSA (expensive!) or buy all organic/local…
Recycling: We do recycle, everything we can.
Composting: My one attempt at this created a mound of stinking dirt through which the dog dug to find carrots. I will try again someday.
Growing our own food: I am proud to say I have a still-living basil and rosemary plant. It’s a slow process.
Cleaning products: I have, believe it or not, used a lot of natural products for cleaning in the house. These do not always work and are not always at the stores I frequent, however.
I recommend getting the daily green tip from Ideal Bite to keep you full of ideas and inspiration for becoming a little more aware of what you use and buy.
Okay, so our carbon footprint is still pretty big. Somedays I feel inspired to reduce and reuse even more. Other days I think, screw it! I don’t have the mental space to worry about all of this!
What about you?