Are All of My Natural Efforts Worth It? | Seventh Generation
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Are All of My Natural Efforts Worth It?

Author: RealMomofNJ

It's cliché to use Kermit's line, "It's not easy being green," when talking about making eco-conscious decisions, yet it's so appropriate. Being green is a ton of work. But my work doesn't end there. It's just part of my seemingly high-maintenance, whole-living lifestyle, which also includes healthful practices and nutrition for my family, and emotional well-being.


I am constantly considering the environment when I make purchases or choices. I strive to minimize my family's exposure to chemicals and maximize their exposure to wholesome food. I'm always balancing my ideas for new things I can do with my doubts about whether I'm doing enough, and even if I'm doing the right things in the first place. Is this garbage or can I recycle it? Does this product contain petroleum? What harmful chemicals are on the tomatoes my baby is eating? Sometimes I get overwhelmed and find myself sighing and thinking, "This is all taking too much effort. Things would be so much easier if I didn't live this way." 


I bet you've thought it, too. Wouldn't life be so much easier if you let yourself throw everything in the garbage, or just head to that fast food drive-thru instead of menu plan, food shop, and cook fresh food from scratch? Wouldn't it be nice to grab whatever cleansers and detergents your local store stocked-- without giving a second thought to the quality or nature of the ingredients --instead of driving the extra miles to the store that carries the eco-friendly stuff? I have friends who aren't concerned about the environment and address their familial health in lower-maintenance ways than I do, and they seem to have so much extra time on their hands. I make all of these efforts to be eco- and health-conscious to respect the environment and make my family and my lives better, but am I unnecessarily making things harder?


There are days when I want to throw up my hands and let go of all of my time-consuming, whole-living practices. I ask myself what difference they even make. I'm only one person in only one family. My mind and schedule would be unburdened if I didn't worry about saving the planet and preserving my family's health every minute of every day. And think of all the things I could do with my new-found free time!


Which begs the question, "what would I do with all that free time?" How I could better spend my time than I'm spending it now?


I can never come up with an answer to that because there is no better way. I live this way because I truly believe it is right. While yes, it would be easier sometimes to skip recycling, and it might be convenient to eat processed food and buy generic chemical cleaners, it's not me. It's not in line with my beliefs about the best way to live. My beliefs require these extra efforts that I make, and although I occasionally struggle with them, I don't want to stop making them. My emotional well-being would not improve if I abandoned my beliefs, it would suffer. Realizing this, acknowledging this, renews my motivation and reinvigorates my spirit. Yes, I am only one person in only one family, but I am teaching two children how to care for the environment and themselves. Eventually we'll be three people making these efforts. The three of us will show other people, and then there will be more people making these efforts. The combined effort makes a big impact, and I can't lose sight of that. Even when I'm down on myself about whether I'm spending my time and energy wisely.


Whole living is so much more than personal convenience. It's about short-term sacrifice for me in return for a long-term gain for my planet and family. And that is something that is absolutely worth the effort.


What's the biggest challenge of living "green" for you?


Photo: sairenso


FedInd picture
We cannot go back to unlearning. True, very true. Sometimes I feel that ignorance was a bliss. But now that those who have become aware-cannot go back-to feeding poison to family-or to destroying environment. I can blame it on my kids-since there birth-I reallized that they are extensions of my life and are going to live for longer than I will, and in no dream can I see myself not putting every bit to making that successful. It is a very exhausting proposition, but I do it, with full time job, very little children, no family around (being from a very distant part of the world)to help, in addition to living in a state that does not beleive in preserving the environment, so all neighbors and 'friends' look at us as we are crazy....I see it as-who knows what times will bring-I am trying to equip my children to grow there own food, take care of their body, mind and environment, know about different cultures and history,learn to leave minimally and as close to nature as intended by the evolution. It takes time, effort, energy. But as the author says-if I am not spending time on that then what else is worthwile? I can see, for a lot of people, it will be a lot of different things they can spend their time on. But it is just the different outlooks and brought up. Vanity was never my strongest suits. TO me it is as worthless to be vain-in any shape or fashion. Also, I save time by trying to stay away as much as possible from the e-media (not completely-I do have cell-phone, and a face book account (just not for updating status-just to share articles). And as I said-this is just my perspective, and others have their's-equally respectable.
Mitchell123456 picture
Not being tempted to eat cheese on pizza! Also, having to avoid the roasted chicken checkout isle, since I haven't lost my taste for meat unlike my wife who is revolted by it and my 14 year old who has never eaten meat.
MyshaMalone picture
Trying to find ways to either recycle or upcycle brain just shuts down on the creative process.
Phyl1 picture
Never give up on living as natural as possible. Bamp all chemicals & pesticides. Help promote natural healthy clean toxic-free living.
BettinaJ picture
I found that although initially living this lifestyle was an adjustment - it actually is EASIER to see life through the lens of sustainability. Think about grocery shopping - rather than having to think about myriad choices in the 'regular' isle my choices are narrowed immediately by only choosing what I can find in the organic/natural isle or supermarket...when shopping for kids gifts - I now only go to the fabulous environmentally friendly shop around the corner that only sources responsibly sourced and healthy toys....when looking for things for my household - I like perusing second hand shops or Craigslist...when buying appliances I start first with Energy Star rated, etc....all of these things immediately narrow my choices and make choosing so much easier. But the easiest choice of all is the mantra of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (in that order) simply NOT getting "things" or reducing what our family uses - it's made life SO much simpler and easier!!!
nirawayne picture
Well said, keeping the environment green and clean is the foremost and important thing for every citizens of the country. I'm also very serious about the matter, I even buy any new product in green color only. I recently bought green color manduca baby carriers for my little toddler.
ayutuxtepegue picture
Yes, it is worth it what you doing. I personally, have made many changes in my life style. Most of them I carried from my country El Salvador. Growing up and being simple was my family model and honestly, we were so poor that we could not afford it so much. I still apply simplicity that help the environment. When family cares about environment, they also are teaching the younger generations to think differently for our future, which they are the ones who will carry on. Keep doing what you doing, you are not alone, there is whole new generations that think and care about our future mother "EARTH"
pmbb321 picture
This is from a mother of two who went through the same "agony" some 15 years ago. My advice: Do not drive yourself crazy with being a purist. Lifestyle changes take time and your emotional well-being is equally important. Simplify your life as much as possible. Use the same products so you don't have to check labels all the time. Make very simple meals. Reheat leftovers. Do less and enjoy more. - In the old days women cooked their meals from scratch all the time (no other choice) but their children could roam around without much supervision and there usually were other relatives around to help with child care. You don't have to do it all. You don't have to be perfect. Pizza delivery on a busy day is fine. And let family and friends know that instead of material gifts you'd appreciate a prepared meal or time with your children. P.S. In my experience, some people who were purists later became exactly the opposite. They gave up on their efforts to live green because it was simply too exhausting.
oldblinddog picture
Thank you for all you do, exhausting though it may seem. I try to do the same in terms of what I buy and where I buy it, cooking instead of fast food or processed food, and recycling EVERYTHING I CAN! I've been doing the recycling for so long now, 25 years at least, I couldn't live any other way. Eliminating processed foods and shopping local, organic, etc, has been a more recent development for me over the past few years. For me, it all comes down to not being able to live without doing what I think is best for the planet and for humanity. I know there is room for improvement; I'm not living off-grid or riding my bike to work, but I am compelled to live an environmentally green and health-conscious lifestyle. And by the way, I'm not nearly as exhausted as I was when my son was still living at home--he's grown now with children of his own--and now he's exhausted all the time! So, your exhaustion may be as much from raising children and all the other things you do while raising them, as from trying to live green!
Beckwith1701 picture
It can be time-consuming to live consciously. Sometimes the path to my laundry room feels like running in a hamster-wheel when I'm washing diapers every few days. But on the other hand, whole living and being green are also about simplifying, which can often save time and energy and money. It's a lot less work to toss a few small handkerchiefs in the wash with the rest of our clothes than it is to lug yet another 6-pack of tissue boxes home from the store. It makes me feel better to think that the things I do that save balance out many of the things I do that take more effort.
Alexandra Pecci picture
Alexandra Pecci
I ask myself this all the time. When I'm sick or frazzled or wiped out, the last thing I want to do is scrape peanut butter out of an empty container so it can be recycled, or clean up a massive spill with the rags we use instead of paper towels. Why, oh why do I have to care about this? Why can't I simplify my life like most people? And the answer is...because I just can't! Like another commenter said, we can't unlearn what we know. But I have learned to cut myself some slack in some areas, and get rid of the guilt (like women need anything else to feel guilty about!) For example: I have a secret stash of disposable plates, napkins, and paper towels for dire emergencies (like two weeks ago, when everyone in my family was sick!)
mamaela picture
I've found your post and the other comments here very helpful. Like you, sometimes I just feel exhausted and although I don't think I would not necessarily have more time if we didn't live this eco-friendly lifestyle, I do think that I would be a lot more "relaxed" and blissfully ignorant. The thing is, we can't unlearn or un-know things. The more we learn and study and research, the more vigilant we must become because once we know about certain toxic ingredients, how can we possibly ignore them, especially when it comes to our kids? Ours is definitely the more difficult, time-consuming, materially expensive and less-traveled path, but I don't have it in me to do any less when it comes to our kids and our family.
Loveriot picture
Yes, it's worth it! But no one is perfect so don't feel bad if you don't want to cook and go out to eat, or do something less than perfect some days. It's bound to happen to all of us at one time or another.
EcoGirl50 picture
Like most of you it is the TIME & MONEY it takes to live this life style. I have asked myself many times is it worth it - and I have to say YES! I have tried to feed my family the best that I can - even having my own garden, buying baby food that was certified organic, looking over labels to make sure certain ingredients weren't it, being upset that that I couldn't always buy free-range grass fed meat, or chicken. But, I know I limited them from alot of the bad stuff, kept toxic cleaners out of the house and tried to teach them, like you, what is best for their bodies, the environment and who in the government is looking out for them. I have to say YES it is worth it! My asthma has subsided, my family hardly gets sick and some of my neighbors are actually changing their diets - noting that organic produce really does taste better! Thank you!! Your efforts are not going unnoticed and it feels so good to know others feel the same way!
C M Powers picture
C M Powers
Thank you for your posting. I would just like to add my support to the three comments which have preceeded mine here. It is exhausting at times. Utterly exhausting;virtualy a full-time endeavor to read all labels and to be mindful of companies pretending to be green and healthy, and not brimming with GMOs -- when in fact they are far from it, or their parent company is. And it is time consuming to keep reading, constantly reading, so that one is aware of those agencies geuinely trying to make a difference through petitions, phone calls, and letter-writing campaigns; and through legal channels which require funding by donations at a grassroots level. Yet, to do otherwise would not bring any comfort. We cannot go backward from knowlege to ignorance. And there is a great deal of ignorance to combat, and powerful corporate interest at work trying desperately to keep Americans in the dark about their food, their cleaning products, and their medicines. So keep fighting the good fight, even though is personally costs more in every aspect of our daily life and that of our families. And know that you are not alone in your frustration as well as your conviction. Together, we will and are making a difference, one person, one family at a time.
tamaraks picture
You are actually touching and impacting more than just your three lives just by posting. All of us reading your message are impacted as well. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the good efforts.
Guezzie picture
Getting other people to not feed my child yucky processed food is my biggest challenge. I am emphatically committed to it, but they are either ignorant or do not care. It's not their choice when they're feeding my child!!! Washing and preparing cloth diapers also gets old, but I still prefer it over the grossness and expense of disposables. Oh, and it makes me cringe to throw away something recyclable. I could relate to your extra effort for recycling because we sometimes even take trash home with us to put it in our recycling bin!
jprior24run picture
THANK YOU FOR THIS! It is SOO worth it! Keep up the time consuming ECO Lifestyle! I once in a while have your same doubts but like you KNOW and FEEL deep down it is the RIGHT thing to do! What would I do with my extra time I could save walking out to the recycle bin umpteen times a day and driving to Mother's Market and every other 'natural food store' to find the best prices and 'organic products' YOUr efforts are appreciated by me and many others! again....THANK YOU! =)