Friday, May 24, 2013

Picking Your (Green) Battles

Laundering a Rainbow
You'd have to live in a cave (or be a Republican) to maintain an unawareness of how our modern lifestyle is adversely affecting the environment. We burn - literally - valuable fuel by pumping it into cars so we can avoid walking a mile. We throw goodness-knows-how-much rubbish into landfills. We pollute our drinking water. We kill wildlife in order to build more buildings. We use copious amounts of chemicals. We throw antibiotics in the trash and create superbugs.  We use products that rely on radiation on a daily basis.  The list goes on and on.

When you start to think about all the ways we abuse our planet, it can become pretty overwhelming. You can start thinking of all the ways you could do your part, but then more issues creep in, and before you know it, you are trying to battle global warming singlehandedly, and you begin to feel like just one tiny oil-covered seagull in a vast ocean of poisoned, mutated fish. Or something.

So I comfort myself by picking my battles. I know I can only do so much, and I know I could never do everything I should to protect our earth, so I choose those issues that I know I can do something about, and I dedicate myself to those small things. I'm like that kid who threw the starfish into the sea one by one.  Or something.

For instance, I've started taking my unused prescriptions and medications to the pharmacy for proper disposal. (I'm willing to bet they 'properly dispose' of them by tossing them in the skip out back.) I teach the kids not to litter. I tear apart my plastic six-pack soda rings, so they don't end up around a swamp duck's neck. I don't pack my kids' lunches in disposable sandwich baggies.  I limit the amount of chemicals and anti-bacterials I use in the house, opting for natural cleaners and body products where possible. Fifi (and the Inverclyde Council) coerce me to recycle.

And I use cloth nappies.

IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE, I am not perfect with my cloth nappy use. I am on my third child, and I've learned (and re-learned) a few things. When Fifi was a baby, I was very, very dedicated. Cloth all the way, near enough, with only a few exceptions, until she was over a year old. Then came Lolly, and the cloth lasted all of three months. I was exhausted and stressed with two under two, and I fell off the wagon.  So when Jaguar started cooking in my womb, I re-dedicated my life to the use of cloth nappies (and bought some new boy-themed ones to re-enthuse msyelf!) and have done a pretty good job of keeping up with it, with some exceptions. For instance, I do put him in disposables for bedtime, because I have yet to find a good all-nighter that works well enough, and sometimes I reach for the disposable out of laziness. But a majority of the time, Jaguar too wears cloth like his sister Fifi did.

Fifi in a Tots Bots Bamboozle
My reasons going cloth are many. I decided to use cloth nappies on Fifi, because I'd read they were better for babies' skin and better for the environment. I realised this was a tangible and real way in which I could do my part in Saving The Earth, saving a ridiculous amount of unrecyclable landfill waste, while treating my baby better too. Then I discovered that not only are cloth nappies better for babies and for the environment, they were mega cute to boot!

Jaguar in an eBay Bargain
I mean, just how cute is a baby's bum all wrapped up in a big bulky colourful nappy?! And how much nicer must it feel to them to have their special baby bits wrapped up in soft cotton fluffiness over papery disposable scratchiness? And how much fun is it to find adorable new nappies to add to your collection? I just love them.

I admit, cloth nappies do have their down-sides. You must change them more often. You have to actually deal with poop. You must wear trousers the next size bigger to accommodate the oversized bum. And of course, you have to factor in a bit of extra laundry. It's not for everybody, but that's precisely my point here.

We all have to pick our battles. If you have the energy and resources to tackle every single environmental issue yourself, then go for it! But if you, like me, simply find yourself lost in the hopelessness of it all and must decide which small contributions you can make, then choose what works for you. Cloth nappies work for me. Composting and growing your own vegetables might work for you. Making one's own clothes out of repurposed plastic shopping bags might work for someone else. The point is finding that small wee way we can do each do our own wee part to help keep our planet happy.

In the meantime, look how cute my ten-month-old boy looks with his adorable cotton bottom!

(Also, that green nappy in the above two photos? It's a Birth-to-Potty nappy, so that's him in it a few days old, and him in it still ten months later!)

P.S. Tell me, what are YOUR green battles?

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