Birth of an Eco Mom | Seventh Generation
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Birth of an Eco Mom

8 comments
Author: accidentallyonpurpose

New Green MomOn a crisp, clear spring morning not long ago, I was finally able to wrap my arms around the fact that at 40-plus I was going to have a third child. The reality kicked in somewhere between the time I dragged my labor-wracked body out of a still-running car and into the hospital and when I finally made it to the delivery room.

Raging inside my head, there was this ongoing debate. One voice was screaming, "Oh, God. This is not happening. I can't."

And somebody answered, "It is happening. And yes, we can." I say "somebody," because to this day I'm not sure if I was really having a conversation with The Almighty or whether I'd simply overdosed on pre-election television coverage. At any rate, "Yes, We Can" kept ringing in my ear. Then, with surprising speed, Cole burst into the world. He is a living, breathing testament to the miracles that sometimes unfold -- accidentally on purpose.

Surprisingly, our new baby wasn't my only new birth. Over the next few months, I gained this newfound sense of resolve and awareness. It was different from the rush of maternal hormones that come with holding a new baby. I began to think "if little old me (emphasis on the "old" part) could deliver a healthy baby in 12 minutes flat, what other startling feats could I pull off?" Corny? Maybe. I mean I was once that cynic who looked at green living and other movements with pessimism. Then, something happened. I don't know if it was the unlikely new, brown face in the White House or the improbable new, brown face in ours. But I started changing. Rather suddenly, I decided I didn't want to waste another minute -- in fact, I didn't want to waste ANYTHING.

Before I knew it, again accidentally on purpose, my Eco Mom instincts were born.
Why now? Honestly, I'm not entirely certain. Sure, sure...everyone loves a brand new baby -- the way they smell; the way their soft flesh folds and creases. The first two babies -- six and eight years ago, respectively -- undoubtedly elicited the same sentiments.

But I was young(er) then and took much for granted. This time, waking in the middle of the night was kinda cool and peaceful. This little guy magically put me in a simple, more spiritual place.

With my first pregnancy, we were given or purchased nearly every baby-superstore product imaginable. We had educational baby videos, a set of toys for the stroller, a separate set for the high chair and -- of course -- crib toys. Even as an infant, the kid's toiletry basket was fuller than mine with scented baby wash, shampoo, lotions, and the like.

Not this time. A day-long forage through our attic and basement uncovered all kinds of baby stuff that had somehow escaped my annual Goodwill deposits. I was proud to put these vintage items to good use. Compared to the newest models, Cole's ride -- a bulky-ish carriage, circa 1998 -- looked like something from the Stone Age. Pushing him in it filled me with a secret sense of superiority, to be honest. "You foolish resource wasters," I thought -- there's no gloating quite like that of new converts, after all.

While I have moments when I get all smug and full of myself, I realize that by any measure, I am still light green. I have to be diligent about my entire family's eco awareness. That means playing water cop with my budding tween who seems to think she needs twice daily showers. Patrolling the house like a night watchman, even during the day, scoping for evidence of my eight-year-old who flicks a light switch as easily as she breathes. The hubby is actually easy in this case, because all you have to do is whisper the "S" in savings and he's all over it: Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs; opt for Energy Star(R) appliances; cut down on gas use.

Sometimes, I have to admit, I'm the one who most gets in the way of my eco self. As a working mom of three I looooove convenience. But guess what? I'm coming along. I've pared my closet way down -- to the point where it actually looks sparse, but the truth is I hold on only to the clothes I wear. And if I get something new, I force myself to give something away. The biggest shift is also the one that gets me the most attention; I walk like crazy. To city dwellers, that's a no brainer. But in the 'burbs, driving is an epidemic. When people see me at the coffee shop or post office with multiple bags attached to the stroller, they almost always look on in astonishment. "You actually walked?" I can hear them think.

I haven't made drastic reductions in my family's carbon footprint -- yet. But with lil' baby steps, we'll get there.

photo: rashida s. mar b.

8
Comments

jasmine05 picture
jasmine05
10/21/09
Any small and however seemingly insiginificant step we all take, definitely adds up to one massive global stride! Be careful of sweeping statements made by mmiliman above "Seventh Generation products are always "safe"! <A HREF="http://www.seventhgeneration.com/sodium-benzoate-baby-wipes" TARGET="_blank">www.seventhgeneration.com/sodium-benzoate-baby-wipes</A> If cutting down on waste is important to you, consider the good old fashioned terry diapers instead of disposable ones that create a huge landfill problem and contribute to marine pollution as they are made from plastic.
CPTDisgruntled picture
CPTDisgruntled
10/10/09
I am delighted to read about your increasing involvement in reducing your "footprint," and your love for your family shines in this article, but I feel obliged to point out that the single biggest consumption change that humans can make is to limit population growth. You are being diligent in your family's consumption, but each child requires new resources, and will presumably eventually move out to his/her own home, with textiles, appliances, and floor coverings, and daily requirements for food, transportation, clothing and entertainment.
LUVBUG picture
LUVBUG
10/09/09
LUVBUG CONGRATS ON YOUR NEW PATH TO A GREENER YOU AND FAMILY. IT'S VERY HARD TO STICK TO YOUR GUNS ESPECIALLY WITH SKEPTICAL FAMILY AND FRIENDS. MY PARENTS THINK ORGANIC IS A WASTE! IT DRIVES ME INSANE!!! I GO ROUND AND ROUND WITH THEM ON MANY GREEN ISSUES, BUT THEY JUST DON'T GET IT. TOO BAD. SO, THAT JUST MAKES ME WANT TO PUSH FURTHER TO DO MORE ON MY PART. REMEMBER, EVERYTHING IS ONE BIG CIRCLE! KEEP IT UP GIRL!
tbiller picture
tbiller
10/09/09
i'm always excited to hear how people are inspired to "go green." I too was motiviated by my children. I realized that I had to be the change, so they will have a future. I've turned my passion for "green" into a business that guides people to greener and healthier living. There are so many wonderful eco-friendly products on the market today...but as you wrote about - reducing and reusing are the first lessons to learn. Recycling is the last thing on the list, but it's usually the first thing people start with. Continue to Inspire others to be smarter consumers and use and waste less. Your son is adorable!
mmiliman picture
mmiliman
10/07/09
All of the measures you are taking are important, but you must add the most words and actions to your vocabulary and buying habits: "nontoxic" and "fragrance free." If you can throw away clothing, you can throw away (or better yet, return for a refund) ALL products in your home that are toxic to you and your children. Nothing but fragrance-free or truly "naturally" scented products (essential oils from lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, plants and flowers)should be in your products. Seventh Generaton products are always "safe," unlike traditional store products. This is the challenge every person and parent faces today: to combat the overwhelming exposures to petrochemicals. Think "gasoline" when you see the word "fragrance." Nontoxic means no fragrance or other chemicals, no solvents, volatile organic compounds, or other toxic agents in your cleaning, laundry, or personal care products. Help your baby, and all the babies being born today, avoid the asthma, ADD, learning dsabilities, cancers, leukemia, and other exponentially growing health problems. It starts in your home first.
kellyb@nc.rr.com picture
kellyb@nc.rr.com
10/07/09
I may have a sister out there afterall! You put into words, so very eloquently, what I am constantly thinking, but feel like none of my friends, family and neighbors "get." You gave me chills and made me chuckle- I have that superior feeling when I remember to bring my reusable bags in the store and when I use our "vintage" stroller. I call it Eco-smug- but in a nice way.
heatkilpatrick picture
heatkilpatrick
10/07/09
I love that you said that pushing around in an old stroller makes you feel superior. If only 'they' knew what you know.
HMN Mama picture
HMN Mama
10/07/09
No matter what shade of green you are, or where you are on your holistic living journey congratulations to you for trying to reduce your family's carbon footprint. There are many of us who have come to this awareness through parenthood and you can connect with others through the <A HREF="http://www.holisticmoms.org" TARGET="_blank">Holistic Moms Network</A>. - Nancy