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    A Vision Through Rose-Colored Glasses

    'Til now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature. 

    ~Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future, 1963

    It's easy to get into the mindset that things will only get worse with our earth. We're bombarded with bad news: population is growing an alarming rate, diseases are resistant to antibiotics, there's not enough food, too much waste, forests are being cut down, species are becoming extinct, water is polluted, the polar ice caps are melting. Surely, with more time, and more people, things only can get worse… The earth has a finite amount of resources; something has to give… It's in the news, the movies, social media: do something. Or else.

    I'm guilty of it myself, here on this blog, in my head, in my words. I look at my Goodreads bookshelf - some of my favorite literature is dystopian. I've felt before - why even try? The fate of our earth can't be good; not with the amount of damage we've done, the slow pace we've taken to action, the tremendous pace of population increase.  I remember before having children, truly contemplating NOT, because why would we want to bring children into an if-not-now-then-soon wasted earth? I know of childfree couples whose choice has been, at least in part, dictated by the gray murkiness of this seeming eventuality.


    But, what if we stopped looking at our future through grease-colored glasses? What if our vision of our future earth was not of destruction, disaster, disease, but rather of innovation, harmony, renewal? Isn't there reason to believe with time we can make of our world a place more like The Celestine Prophecy and less like The Road?

    If we can change our outlook from disaster to promise, we can encourage our children to see a future of possibility. I believe an earth respected, will return our consideration. I'm teaching my children a love of the earth, of all she provides us, and of what we can give her - care, compassion, kindness - both for the earth itself, and all her inhabitants: human, plant, animal. I trust what I believe, they'll carry on. And that their carrying on will reverberate, unmuted by the greyness of "doomsday".  I'd like to think that if our vision as a human race is one that can be crafted, shaped, and directed towards our oneness, our mutual need for earthly redemption, then we have hope for our future.

    What better can we leave to our children, if not an earth full of hope? 

    Posted: Apr 24 2012, 22:25 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Earth Hour and Beyond

     We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. 

    ~Native American Proverb

    Earth Hour is tonight - 8:30pm - 9:30, in whatever time zone you are living. 

    What is Earth Hour? It's one hour in one day out of 365, where, around the world, as many people as possible will turn off their lights as a symbolic commitment to make changes in their lives which positively effect our environment in the year to come. 

    Globally, our population is increasing, our electricity and fossil fuel consumption is increasing, and so too is our amount of trash and waste and pollution. This one hour is a time to focus on what you can do as an individual to make a positive change, then take that change beyond the hour .

    Two images showing lights at night in Europe - in 1992, and then again in 2010.

    Maybe you can… stop buying bottled water? Take shorter showers? Plant an organic garden? Pack your lunch in resuable containers instead of plastic? Decide to walk somewhere instead of drive? Go vegetarian? Lower your heat in the Winter and use less air conditioning in the Summer? Unplug appliances & electronics when not in use? It's up to you.

    How will you go beyond the hour?

    Posted: Mar 31 2012, 10:55 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Is it Enough?

    I just watched a doomsday scenario documentary with Adam called Collapse. It compared our current society, and the path we’re on, with other mega cultures that had collapsed in our not-too-distant world history - like the Mayans & the Romans. The documentary touched on nearly every problem the world has currently; from our energy crisis to our financial collapse to our widespread overuse of chemical pesticides & fertilizers and genetically modified seeds to our global water shortage to our involvement in war and escalating violence to our general discounting and disregarding of global warming. The film certainly didn’t paint a pretty picture (nor was it particularly riveting, but, this isn’t a movie review, so I’ll leave it at un-pretty picture). The film left me uneasy, worried, and yet... just a little smug. After all, we recycle our bottles and junk mail. We eat organic foods. We teach our kids to care for the animals and plants of the earth. We practice peaceful parenting. We’re doing okay, I thought. Sure, living a bit further inland and away from the big city centers might be safer. Living on our own land, with a self-sustaining farm could be prudent (not to mention lovely). Driving an electric car, that we could plug into our off-the-grid house, powered by our own solar panels – it’s a nice dream.

    (photo source: icicp.org)

    Feeling slightly less anxious, I trundled up to bed, nose in my iPhone, only to discover that there was major rioting on the streets of London. LONDON for goodness’ sake. Not Baghdad or Mogadishu. London. In Jolly old England. The fact that Morrissey’s old refrain, “Panic on the streets of London. I wonder to myself: Could ever life ever be sane again?” was playing out in real life - just across the ocean - was maybe more unsettling even than the documentary I’d just watched predicting the nearly inevitable collapse of the entire world within the near future. If London was out of control, what was next? Are we headed for collapse, like our distant ancestors? I didn’t sleep soundly last night.


    (photo source: thetelegraph.co.uk)


    This morning, while driving to work (in my gas-powered minivan), I listened to NPR report on the stock market’s continued decline, further UK rioting, and their unfortunately-not-awkward segue increasing problem of flash mob violence in Philadelphia – just a few short miles from my home. I spent the day on my computer, undoubtedly powered, at least in part, by non-renewable resources, and I wondered to myself: is recycling our plastic bottles really enough? Is teaching my children to love the earth, and strive for peace enough? I can’t close my eyes enough to block out everything – not when London is burning in my Tweetstream.


    What can we do? What do you do?

    How Far Do You Go to Recycle?

    Back in February, I wrote about things we do around our house to be more eco-friendly. One of those things is recycling glass, metal, paper, and plastic on a daily basis. Separating recyclable materials from your trash and recycling them is a fairly simple task when your township picks up the recycle. But what if it doesn't? While researching for that post, I discovered that we could in fact recycle MORE than what we had previously been saving when it came to plastic (our township only recycles #1 & #2 plastic), if I just brought it a few towns over from us. So, from that point forward, instead of throwing away all our yogurt containers, fruit & veggie clamshells, and old sippy cups, I started cleaning & setting them aside, with the rest of our recycle.
    Collingswood, New Jersey collects mixed plastics - #3 through #7 and is about 15 miles away. While not that far, mileage-wise, it’s not particularly conveniently located to us, and unfortunately, not on the way to anything we typically visit, so we thought the best plan of action was to save up our commingled plastic recycle for as long as we could stand it, then bring it over as one big lot.
    The bags were piling up, it was a dreary day, so… what better day to pack up the car & go for a drive? We loaded up the six garbage bags we’d saved up of number 3 – 7 plastic over the last seven months into the back of my minivan. It started to rain on our drive down there. Once we arrived, we discovered the recycle drop off was right by a bicycle recycle station – so cool! You can drop off your bike or bike parts & take what you need.

    Of course, being pouring rain & windy by the time we arrived, there was no one around, and so the kids only got to observe the bike parts and recycle bins through our minivan windows. I managed to fill up FIVE CANS worth of recycle – did I mention it was raining? – and snapped a few photographs before hopping back in the car. Unfortunately due to the weather, we didn’t linger (though the town looks like it has an interesting walk-able downtown area, as well as a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays), and got back on the road home (the rainy, traffic-y, carseat screamy, ride home).

    All told, we spent nearly an hour on the road (approx 25 minutes each way) to recycle 5 cans of plastic. While I certainly felt good inside – both while saving up the recycle all year, teaching the kids about recycling, keeping plastic out of the landfills, and loading up those empty cans with our stashed recycle – I’m not sure, with the time spent on the road (much of it in traffic – so a lot of engine idling), how worthwhile it was in the long run. What I mean is, was my carbon footprint (certainly reduced by recycling 5 cans of plastic), then increased by driving 30 miles to recycle it?
    At this point, I think we’ll keep doing what we’re doing because I can’t imagine going back to throwing all that plastic in the landfill! I sure wish there was a more environmentally-friendly way to get all the plastic from my house to the recycling station though. Next time, we’ll try to combine the trip with another outing – perhaps the Saturday Farmer’s Market!
    So… do you recycle? How far would you/do you go to do it?
    Posted: Oct 02 2010, 23:15 by kelly | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |
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    Confessions of a Crunchy Mama

    I’m a crunchy mom. Really, I am. Wanna hear my credentials? Well, there’s the prenatal stuff: I did prenatal yoga, had a doula, and a midwife. There’s the parenting stuff: I breastfed (even tandem nursed), coslept (didn’t even set up the crib with our second baby), and babywore. Our kids attend Montessori school, we practice gentle discipline, and we selectively vaccinate. There’s the green stuff: we recycle, use natural cleaning products, we're vegetarian, and nearly all the food in our house is organic. Have you ever heard the song, “Hippies Lament” by Wally Pleasant? There I am (ha, ha)!

    The thing is, I have a confession to make. It’s something that separates me from crunchy mamas everywhere. Are you ready? I didn’t cloth diaper my kids. Nope. In fact, with my first child, we used straight up Pampers Premium (I’m ducking as green and crunchy things are being thrown at the screen). I suppose I have excuses: I grew up helping my mom cloth diaper my sisters and remembered the folding, the pinning (the poking my fingers), the stinky diaper pails. Cloth diapering seemed old-fashioned, and quite literally a pain. Plus, I run a business with my husband – so never was a full-time stay-at-home mom (I’ve done a combo of WorkAtHome/BringBabytoWork/WorkWithaNanny). When I did a little research into cloth, it seemed like such a large up-front investment. And frankly, I’m horrible at laundry. It just didn’t seem like cloth diapering would work for me.

    But, really? These are just excuses, not justifications.

    Because the thing is, all excuses aside, I should have cloth diapered. I should’ve done my research. I should have realized that the growing pains associated with starting cloth, were likely to have been short-lived. I believe now that had we stuck it out and found a set of diapers that worked (we did try – very briefly – cloth diapering with a few Fuzzi Bunz on loan from a friend, and a bunch of gDiapers, which I later returned), we would have ended up saving some money in the long run (we used mostly Pampers premium & 7th Generation with our first child and solely 7th Generation disposables with our second child – in other words: expensive) particularly with reselling the used ones, we would potentially have avoided the seemingly endless succession of diaper rashes our daughter had (did you know that Pampers Premium diapers contain the additives: Petrolatum, Stearyl Alcohol, and Aloe Barbadensis Extract?), and maybe most importantly, though certainly most assuredly, by cloth diapering, we would have kept pounds and pounds of stinky non-biodegradable waste material out of landfills and out of the ground water. Waste materials, mind you, that will be there for hundreds of years. Soiled diapers that will still be decomposing long after we and our conveniently-diapered children are no longer earthside.

    To put it plainly, the clean air council indicates (I’ve decided to cut & paste the exact text because the numbers are so startling that they need repeating): An average child will use between 8,000 -10,000 disposable diapers ($2,000 worth) before being potty trained. Each year, parents and babysitters dispose of about 18 billion of these items. In the United States alone these single-use items consume nearly 100,000 tons of plastic and 800,000 tons of tree pulp. We will pay an average of $350 million annually to deal with their disposal and, to top it off, these diapers will still be in the landfill 300 years from now. Americans throw away 570 diapers per second. That's 49 million diapers per day. [source: http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html]

    Back to my words: 49 million diapers a day. That’s disgusting. And it’s not fair to our children, nor to our children’s children’s children.

    Why am I telling you this? To assuage my guilt? Maybe that’s a little of it. But mostly, I think I’m confessing to let moms - crunchy or not - who might be leaning towards disposable diapering, know that while the potential “convenience” of disposable diapers is tempting, it just doesn’t compare to the inconvenience to our environment. The amount of trash you’ll leave behind (that I left behind) for those years of convenience just. isn’t. worth it. Everything I’ve read and understood and seen firsthand from friends who made the environmentally-friendly choice, is that choosing to cloth diaper your babies is nearly as convenient as disposables (especially with the advent of AIO cloth diapers), less expensive than disposables, leaves far less of a carbon footprint (especially if you line dry), is eons “greener” than disposable diapering, and, means you don’t have to end up writing a crunchy confession post like me.

    So do/did you cloth diaper? Or do/did you use disposables like me? Confess... it just feels better. :)

    Posted: Apr 20 2010, 19:45 by kelly | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |
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