Sunday, April 18, 2010

Raising an Enviro-Radical...or just Little Margo

I have been discussing environmental issues with Little Margo since...forever. Yes that's correct, she knows about environmental issues in her own world. For instance, "Mom, quick, pick up that paper on the ground, it hurts the earth!" So, I oblige and then she picks up the next one. "Mom, is the Earth our mother?" "Well sort of Margo, she does provide us all the things we need to live, sort of like I provide your food and love for you." Ok, that comment sort of flies over her head because now she is imagining the earth feeding her with a get it. Sharing environmental ideas with a 6 year old does have its challenges.

But in reality, little Margo really does get it. She gets that the air is not always clean and can cause her friends to need inhalers to breathe. She knows about allergies, and she knows about saving electricity because that helps the earth. "Mom, turn off the lights, you are wasting electricity," was her common word throughout last summer. Oh yes, she knows that some people put bad things in the water to make it undrinkable. I am trying to provide her understanding that not all families here in the US have safe water to drink. Did you know that? It is not just in some other country where the drinking water is contaminated with all sorts of chemicals from coal mining or some other industrial happens here. "Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va." (Ref New York Times, Toxic Waters a series about the worsening pollution in American waters and regulators' response)

An Enviro-Radical, that is what our little family is becoming, or at least trying to become. It starts with understanding the problem and then finding simple ways to participate in the solutions. I was recently provided a book by the Silicon Valley Mom's Blog book club called, Green Guide Families, The complete Reference for Eco-friendly parents, written by Catherine Zandonella. I quickly looked up the chapter about cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers to see if my choice of cloth was environmentally sound. Unfortunately, my choice to use a diaper service pretty much eliminated any of the environmental benefits for this choice. However, my daughter did not suffer from the diaper rashes she so readily had when using the disposable diapers. I just did not have it in me, to wash the diapers myself. So we were not "E-Radicals" in this choice.

On to food choices, I did purchase organic baby food in glass jars. Not because it was the healthiest choice, but it so happened to be a better financial deal...However, I have made up for this for buying organic fruits and vegetables where needed. For instance I know I should buy organic carrots, but not necessarily organic eggplants when it comes to pesticide exposure. Buying organic can be expensive so I pick and choose about what I buy. There is a great list as an ECO-TIP: Top Foods to Buy Organic published in the Green Guide Families, check out page 97. I also have been discussing with my husband about decreasing our power footprint. So this means I purchase local whenever possible. Sometimes it is a bit more expensive; however the benefit is the taste! (Ok, ok, I will admit it the health too!) Regarding organic milk and hormone fed to cows to keep them pumping, this has been a topsy turvy choice. Why, organic milk is so much more expensive! We live on a budget, so what to do? I have read articles with for and against the thoughts of milk and hormones and affecting the early development of our young girls. But right now there is nothing hard in facts regarding cause and effect of organic milk vs. regular milk. I know someone is going to write a comment and that is fine. Although I find the data conflicting I play safe and purchase the organic milk. According to the Green Guide Families, these hormones do pose a threat to the cows, to add reason to my choice. Actually the comment that best got me hooked on organic milk was made by a dairy farmer in Petaluma. He mentioned that most farmers do not use rBST anymore, because the cows don't handle it well, but they do use other hormones. Darn, now I need to buy milk that just says no hormones! So yes 90% of the time I buy organic milk, and feel better.

I think the best place to go in honor of the upcoming Earth Day is the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the Hot Pink Flamingos Exhibit. It was amazing, and became a very impactful place for the two 6 year olds I brought along. It opens up looking at our own Monterey Bay and the problem of crustations, and coral becoming brittle. Eventually it is understood the pH of the bay water is becoming less alkaline and more acidic, causing the brittleness of shells, bones and coral. Acidity, that famous concept now associated with all kinds of disease in our own bodies. And how does the bay get affected by humanity? Margo and her friend Alexandra could tell you, Air Pollution! By the end of the exhibit, Alexandra is writing a pledge in her kindergarten spelling to skate more instead of riding in the car. Margo writes about how pollution hurts the earth and she will use less electricity or something to that effect. Me, well I did pledge to ride my bike to do the shopping, and yes I am slowly working to that effect, by riding the bike at the gym. Soon I will ride my bike to the gym for my workouts, and then on to grocery shopping.

With Earth Day coming up this week, I plan on doing something with Margo to make another change in our family in our quest to minimize our family pollution to the earth. Margo will be happy, as will I, so will 'Mother Earth' and yes, I will continue to raise an Enviro-Radical!

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