Tuesday, April 22, 2008

our dirty, dirty earth day

It is Earth Day today. And our family celebrated the day by getting dirty.

My darling husband took the initiative to construct the beginnings of a very modest raised-bed, square-foot garden. What we are unable to grow out back, we will be heading to the farmer's markets for (this, like tag-saling, is one of my most-favorite Saturday morning trips to make).

If eating dirt counts as both recycling and reusing, then Elias is the ultimate environmentalist. He ate his fair share of dirt both at home and at the park this afternoon.

I first remember hearing about Earth Day during my freshman year of college at the University of New Hampshire. My first experience observing this day consisted mostly of sitting in a grassy field with my friends, listening to various advocates speak about the dangers facing the environment, recycling and how we each should to our part to "save the earth".

There was a huge disconnect back then between all that Earth Day was meant to motivate people towards and what I felt my part in taking "care of the earth" was. Until college, I don't even think I recycled or for that matter, thought about being a good steward of God's good earth.

So, fast forward more than a decade and here I am- a wife, a mother of three children, a homeschooler, a lover of nature/the ocean/human body, a beginner at bird watching, a nutritionist and birth doula, a woman drawn to sewing, nurturing and preparing my family's meals from fresh and healthful foods, and an amazing (after ten years!) recycler.
This woman is surely a different person than the girl sitting in the field feeling clueless.

Whether or not you are someone who strongly believes in or conversely, one who debates, the issues of global warming and environmentalism and "going green", one thing is certain... we are to be good stewards of what we have been given.

Whether it be our bodies, our children or our small patch of backyard land (surrounded by dozens of other small patches of land), we are to do our best to care for and work at maintaining (if not improving) the quality of what we have been entrusted with.

My March/April issue of The New Harvest Homestead newsletter focused on what "going green" looks like for the homesteading family. Author, Lisa Vitello, says
"homestead women have always been green"
Being eco-friendly is not the novel idea that many people think it is

My Nana was born in 1920 and had to leave school in eighth grade to work in a dress shop in order to help supplement her family's income.

Evidence of her survival during the Great Depression is evident to this day.Nana doesn't call it "recycling". She simply instinctively reuses and saves mostly everything...
an old ricotta cheese container makes a perfect crayon bin for the children's visits. That velcro strip that holds her head of romaine together in the market makes a darling little tieback for her curtains. And although she is currently reusing that yellow styrofoam tray that her chicken thighs were packaged in for a new purpose that I'd rather not mention on the blog (let's just say that she is probably immune to E.Coli at this point in her life) she is still finding a way to reuse and cutdown on her trash output!!!!
This is a foreign concept to our throw-away generation. I am the first to admit that I do not have that same sense that Nana has to do whatever it takes to salvage, save, trim the budget and make new again, but I am learning.

Having children has spurred me on towards a desire to be a better caretaker of my possessions and resources. I just think of the world that their children will be growing up in and feel a tug at my conscience to do what it takes to live a more frugal, waste-less and able-to-do-without life.

I recently entered a blog poll about the most practical way that my family was "going green". I write a quick blurb about our water consumption. This is what I submitted...

All three children share a bath or at least the bathwater (just like in Little House on the Prairie).

We adults take QUICK showers to save on water- I like to pretend that I am showering in an outdoor beach house-type shower with cold running water (what in incentive to hurry things along!).
An advocate, I am not. An extremist, out of the question. For me, it's a matter of ethics and faith and my responsibility to the Creator of the universe. Afterall, we will have to give an account someday of every aspect of our life lived her on earth.

Another quote from my latest New Harvest Homestead newsletter that has hit a moral chord in me was hearing a new definition of good stewardship-

"good stewardship is returning something in better condition than when it was given to you"
To me, this is inspiration for finding creative ways to reuse items, for being motivated to not take the "easy road" of just tossing the empty jar of mayonnaise into the garbage (who in their right mind actually has a desire to rinse the insides of this jar?) or to carve time out of my day to sew and make gifts, cards or household items by hand (how expensive are store-bought cards??).

I am a work-in-progress, but my desire to tread more lightly on the earth is growing stronger day by day.

What are you doing to be a good steward of all that God has entrusted you with?


Daniele said...

wonderful, wonderful post! I'm not on the extreme end either, but we make changes little by little. Our consumption of things in general we are more aware of trying to decrease. Lately, I'm more in tune with our children's toys--encouraging more play in nature, the reuse of household items for play and basically trying not promote more consumption and overload on what toys they "need" for play. good changes going on here. thanks for this post!

Amanda L. said...

perfectly stated.

I do a pretty good job at recycling, eating local food (in the summer).

It's the reduce part I'm not good at. I like to shop.
Gotta reduce my intake, so my output is less.

Donna aka Nesting Momma said...

just checkin' in..I love this post...I became more "green" after having children and becoming aware of what they will be left with and realizing our responsibility to be good stewards as well. I am not an activist but taking the journey and hopefully encouraging others on my BlessedNest post
Hope all is well with you!
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