When I was a freshman in high school, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first observation of Earth Day. I was pretty into the whole jeans and flannels grunge thing, and being a little crunchy fit right into my vibe. I immediately set about reading the books Fifty Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth, Fifty Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, and The Recycler's Handbook and started to put some things into action. I lectured my family on the importance of recycling. I stopped using aerosol hair sprays (and my bangs were big...and they suffered a bit without that AquaNet), and I wrote letters to companies, urging them to become more environmentally friendly in their practices. I was quite the little activist.
In my junior year (I believe) of high school, I was a leader of the Great Spork Revolt. Our cafeteria, which had been using real silverware for as long as we could remember, made a sudden switch to a prepackaged plastic combo of a spork, a napkin, and a straw. There were no extra components not found in these packages, so anyone who needed any of these three items got all of them. This didn't sit well with me (I am thinking now that I may have been a senior, actually; but I digress). Therefore, I wrote a letter to the school board and the superintendent, passed it around in all of my classes, and sent it off, awaiting their response. I had blind faith that my plea would be heard...and it was. We went back to the old way of things, and the earth was better off for it. Still quite the little activist.
Then I went off to college. And although I continued to recycle and such, I didn't put as much thought into the impact my daily activities were having on Mother Earth. And then I graduated from college and joined the real world, already in progress. And I continued to recycle and such, but I still didn't put a lot of thought into my environmental friendliness. Once in a while, I threw out a peanut butter jar because I didn't want to clean it out. I took long showers and threw away lots of trash and used harsh chemical cleansers to clean my home. The little activist from days past was gone. And it didn't really bother me.
Now, we here a lot about going Green. And this means something different to everyone. There are those who cloth diaper and those who have a rain barrel and those who use a clothesline to dry their clothes. There are those who have switched over to all compact fluorescent light bulbs and unplug their appliances when they are not in use. There are those who compost and those who have become a one-vehicle family and those who have started walking or biking to work. There are those who recycle everything, taking those items not included in their curbside pick-up to the recycling center. There are those who buy all local and all organic and all natural.
I am not one of those.
However, I have learned a lot from some of those people. My time on the Earth-Friendly Family message board on The Bump has taught me a lot about all these things. And when the time comes for me to diaper a baby, I think I might choose to go the cloth route. For now, however, I am taking little steps to reduce the impact I am having...even if it's just a little bit.
First of all, we have gone the compact fluorescent route. And although the light they give off is a little different, we have adjusted...and we are very happy with them. We have stopped buying paper plates and paper napkins. We use our real plates, and I just bought two more sets of cloth napkins, which should make using them more regularly an easier thing. I have replaced my usual face care products with some that are environmentally friendly (and a little more face friendly too). Once my household cleaners are gone, I plan to switch over to the vinegar-and-water way of things...perhaps with some Dr. Bronner's soap thrown in. I have stopped using Clorox wipes, choosing instead to use a reusable cloth and some surface cleaner when I need to clean the counter. And I have even experimented (with good results) with going shampoo- and conditioner-free, using instead baking soda and apple cider vinegar for my hair care needs. I also have been carpooling when I have been able, but that is mostly for money reasons...but now that gas prices are down, we plan to stick with it! And next year, my list of goals includes a compost bin and a clothesline. My mom has always had a clothesline in her yard, and I love how her clothes and sheets smell after drying in the fresh air.
So I would like to think that I am going a little Green...not as Green as some, not a grass green or lime green or forest green. But a little bit of mint or seafoam? I think I am there!