As Earth Day approaches I have been reflecting on how my commitment to the environment evolved and how I came to where I am now.
I think I was born an environmentalist. I think my parents influenced it in a very indirect way. They did some green things but not to be green and I always wanted to take it a step further.
My Great Grandma might have had the biggest influence on me but she was not an environmentalist either, she was widowed single Mom in the Depression who had to provide. She told me about the victory gardens she planted during the war so they could have food to eat and not take away from what could be sent to the troops overseas. She did not buy tons of new things, she made fresh whole foods (many of her recipes are still the best foods I have ever eaten) and she even cleaned with environmentally safe products (home made cleaner).
My parents saved old t-shirts and towels to use as rags and while we did have paper towels in our house we did not use them as often as people do today. We always dusted, washed the cars and our bikes with the rags. We saved our margarine containers to use for our paints or arts and craft products.
My neighbors even influenced me, my next-door neighbors Mom growing up was so cool (she was a kindergarten teacher) and she used to give us the stuff that was left over in the house to use for arts and crafts. They got new shades for a room and she gave us the old one for us to paint and decorate to make a banner. She even let all of us neighborhood kids take over her kitchen to make apple pie from the apples that had fallen on the ground at the local rose garden down the street (how lucky was I to live near a rose garden). Today when us neighborhood kids get together as adults we talk about those apple pies, they did not turn out that good but it was a great memory of being outside together.
As a child I remember the day the town dropped off our first recycling containers, they were black plastic with the town emblem on them and there was a place to write your address on them since everyone would have the same one. I remember sorting our glass by color, this was before comingling. We were definitely one of the first towns to have recycling. I still occasionally see some people in town with those same recycling bins out on the curb!
When I was in either second or third grade I won a poster-making contest about recycling. I wish I had picture of my poster but it was basically two drawings one of a dark yucky world with garbage everywhere and one of a green meadow and pretty flowers on the top it said “if you don’t recycle” and “if you do recycle.”
In my teenage years, I used my babysitting money to be a philanthropist for the environment and gave money to environmental organizations. In my college years when I was studying to be a teacher I did several projects on incorporating environmental education into mainstream lesson plans including math, science, reading..etc. I recently found a copy of a huge semester long project I did on this topic and I wish there was a school I could send my kids to that would do anything close to what I proposed. In graduate school, when I studied public policy and non-profit management I always dreamed of working in an environmental organization.
In my personal life, I recycled as aggressively as I could given the limitations of my municipality. I eat organic as much as I can, in fact I started drinking organic milk as exclusively as I could since my environmental economics class in spring 1997 when I first learned about rBGH.
I started this blog about living a more ecofriendly life before I had children. Not only has it educated me but it has helped introduce me to other amazing people who have the same commitment as me.
When my children were born I really kicked it up, I b-feed which is one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done other than pregnancy. Make organic baby food and send it to school in glass containers with a stainless steel sippy cup.
I hope I raise my kids to realize the importance of protecting the environment and live an environmentally conscious life.
I hope they see my commitment for what it really is, a commitment to them and their kids.
Hope everyone has a great Earth Day and makes one change in their life for the planet.
Updated: For fun last night I tweeted Ed Begley Jr and he responded… Who inspires you?