The hardest thing for me to understand in the realm of “eco-friendliness” is that not all eco-friendly persons are interested in the type of eating and living I discuss on this blog. I generally think of cloth-diapering folk as eco-warriors. And I think of eco-warriors as veg, gluten-free types committed to organic farming. But this is also not the case. I know many cloth diaperers who aren’t interested in recycling; I also know many recycling/composting/hemp-wearing individuals who don’t cloth diaper.
I used to have a problem with this, admittedly. My crunchy, patchouli-scented, vegan friend doesn’t cloth diaper (FRAUD!). My new cloth-diapering buddy enjoys diamonds and fine wines (IMPOSTER!). My eco-friendly pals frequent fast food joints (HYPOCRITES!) And my grandmother used cloth napkins, recycled, and had a garden but bought the trendiest clothing (HIPSTER!). To these people I would secretly scoff, secure in my servitude to the planet (um, bitchmuch?).
I’m an all-or-none kind of person, and a perfectionist, so if I say I’m committing to something, I’m going ALL OUT. (Case in point: A relative recently invited us to appear on her Halloween float for a local parade contest. “What’s your theme?” I asked.
“Oh, we’re just going to have fun. I’ll put a big pumpkin on it and we can dress in whatever,” she said.
I leveled my eyes and said, “Cuz, if I’m in this, I’m in it to win it! Let’s start brainstorming ideas!”
I’m pretty sure there was an audible “WHOOSH!” as the air of excitement and fun got sucked out of the room…)
So, I often have to take a step back and reassess my expectations. As for eco-friendly living, I had to realize that even one change is a step in the right direction and being judgmental about it doesn’t help anyone—being accessible and informative, does. (Enter Healthful Mama blog, stage left!)
Where does one start?
First, you want to define what’s important to you and WHY you want to make a change. Are you interested in making a healthier home? Are you interested in saving money? (Many eco-friendly practices are about frugality.) Are you hoping to set an example for your children? Moreover, what are you WILLING to change? You might love trees but might not be willing to give up your beloved paper towels, for example. You can read my post on committing to change, here.
Then, look at your lifestyle. What is feasible for you? Be honest with yourself and your family’s situation. Most changes to a greener lifestyle are easy, and you won’t know that until you try them, but don’t take on too much at once. If you get overwhelmed, you may give up on your green movement entirely!
Finally, I’ll reiterate what I said earlier: even one change makes a difference. EVEN ONE CHANGE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. I mentioned that I’m an all-or-none person, so I understand the thought of “Well, I’m not doing any other green practices, why do just one thing?” But think about it like this: when you have a friend/coworker/family member who could really use an expensive item or a large chunk of cash, what happens? Everyone pitches in a few bucks and, —insert glittery magic music—, the item or the check appears. There is no way any of my friends would have individually bought me that expensive breast pump for my baby shower, but together, they gifted me with a (very) necessary device! So just imagine if everyone stopped buying plastic containers for leftovers, or if everyone eliminated plastic water bottles, or if everyone swore off of paper towels? What an impact! A major cloth diaper manufacturer, Cotton Babies, started a Change Three campaign, encouraging parents to change just THREE cloth diapers a day. They estimate that if all diapering families did this, it could save BILLIONS of disposables from hitting landfills. Granted, a part of that campaign is an effort to grow their business, but I think the idea is spot-on.