Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Going Green With My Kids (Who Stuff Green Up Their Noses)

I a tree hugging dork. And so are my kids.

Me and the kids earned our share of green karma points today. Together we got down and dirty crunchy granola at the reeking neighborhood recycling center.

“Dude, this place STINKS!” Mouth remarked when I pulled our weighted down with clinking bottles and cans minivan up to the unloading area.

"Smells like someone tooted," his little brother giggled.

“Yeah. Whadya' expect? Trash stinks,” I said. “And humans make a lot of trash.”

“Especially us,” Mouth observed, crushing his empty, sucked to implosion juice box, then chucking it into the trash bag on the minivan floor.

He’s not kidding. Just one basic meat, starch and veg dinner for our family of five practically produces enough waste (food packaging, etc.) to fill up an entire kitchen trash bag. (And also produces a blizzard of crumbs worthy of a snow plow)

You’ve never seen a kindergarten kid happier than when noisily sorting clinking bottles and cans at a joint overrun with forklifts and gruff, tough “worker guys.” (Except maybe when he's mindlessly picking his nose.)

We sang Beck’s Bottles and Cans (Is that even the name of that song?) like a bunch of punch drunk tools while we sorted our rinsed (and some not rinsed) junk.

“Just Clap Your Hands” … so went our song, and we did. We spread the dorky high-fives and hand claps on thick, thick as the old milk that curdled in a gallon jug I couldn't bring myself to uncap. The kids, newly malodorously streaked with shwag New Year's champagne and flat Diet Coke, applauded their eco-conscious selves along with their proud mama, who frantically scanned the premises for running water, a sink and some germ squashing soap. No such luck.

At least for now, my kids are still young enough to celebrate their budding accomplishments by sharing hugs with me in public. They'll be plenty mortified by my mushy displays soon enough and I'll have to scale back on the PDA.

Recycling with kids packs huge I-did-it-myself value for them. Even my two youngest got in on the simple sorting action, just long enough for their big brother to correct their clumsy sorting mistakes.

After a half-hour of work/fun, each kid split the redemption cash, their hard won earnings. Each walked away with one whopping dollar bill. I used the remaining cash to fittingly rent Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth from the local Blockbuster Video, stop number two on our green day, fuel combustion engine fueled outing.

Thanks, Mister Vice President (who I voted for, hanging chads or not). Now my five-year-old is afraid that Santa will drown when the North Pole melts "because you know it will, mom." Great. Nice going, enviro-mommy. (Actually, I loved this film both in the theaters and at home. Eventually I'd like to own it, and hope Gore makes a sequel that maps out every day steps each of us can take to reduce global warming, instead of drilling it into our heads that we're screwed, despite our sunscreen.)

The kids used their dollars to annoy me the entire trip to the DVD store. How many times do I have to explain to my little menaces that money is filthy (in more ways than one) and not to be sucked on like a lollipop?! There's not a vat of Purell big enough in this hyper sanitized world to clean that kind of dirty. You never know where freaks rub their dolla', dolla' billz, y'all.

"Can't we just wash our dollars when we get home?" Mouth asked. I think he was actually serious. I've done it a million times by accident. Nothing beats finding a lost and long forgotten Andrew Jackson lurking in your back pocket.

"Yeah. When it's clean, then we can eat it! Right, mommy?" Cheeks inquired hopefully.

By then I was already elbow deep in wondering who made up the saying, "Put your money where your mouth is" to afford Cheeks an answer. My kids not only reduced the old adage to its literal meaning but added a new, gnarly twist to it -- Put your money where your NOSTRIL is. Why do they have to drive every little bendable thing into their facial orifices?! WHY?!

Moving on .. Did I mention that I practically own stock in the environmentally unfriendly Huggies diaper brand? To this day I’ve had a child in diapers nonstop since 2001. Lucky me, whose nearly lost all sense of smell in the process.

Even while fully understanding the irreversible toxic damage that disposable diapers left to rot in landfills wreak on our atmosphere, I am still too apathetic and unmotivated to switch to cloth diapers. (But I'll recycle if there's a little chump change in it for me and the kids to swing by Blockbuster.)

Too hooked on Velcro wrapped, moisture lock convenience dressed up in shiny, happy Sesame Street monsters to be troubled with the "inconvenient truth" of my wasteful diapering choices/apathy.

Too poor to buy a hybrid.
Too in a hurry to rinse out and reuse Ziploc bags.
Too out of shape to run all my errands by running to them.
Too paycheck-to-paycheck to go paperless with online bill pay.

Too much of a neo-hippie fraud to actually haul my recycles to the recycling center more often than six times a year. (Twice I've sheepishly dumped my overflowing, stackable recycling bins into the garbage cans out back, just so I wouldn't out myself as the half-hearted recycler that I am in front of dinner guests.) At least today's small success was a start.

My California city continues to live in the dark ages and for whatever reason doesn’t automatically sort and recycle its constituents’ refuse. However, they do provide heavily graffiti'd recycling “stations” that require residents like me to take it upon themselves to clean, sort and haul their own recyclables of their own volition, and perhaps their commitment to a cleaner environment for their children.

Too old to teach new tricks? For my kids sake and for the warming world they will inherit, I hope not.

Ps. It's too bad money doesn't grow on the trees we hug.


At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7th generation has diapers that are chlorine free, which means nicer to the enviro. You can get them at your local organic food store, or at 1800diapers. they are a beige color, so people will think that you've been rinsing and ringing out all your huggies (eww sick!)but they work great!! I definatley recommend!!

At 12:48 PM, Blogger ewe are here said...

We use disposable diapers as well. And the reality is, depending upon where you live, they can be considered the more environmentally-correct choice. Because the re-usables require lots and lots of hot water, and you tend to use a lot of chemicals (bleach, etc) to wash them which gets dumped back into the system as well. If you live in an area with drought conditions (like California), frankly, disposables may be the better pick. Same for the SE of England - water shortage.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Tiffany said...

Great story. I have used cloth diapers on two of my three kids and it is actually very easy and a little addicting. Perhaps you could try gDiapers?

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