Baby Steps and Eco-friendly Footprints

Still in need of a New Year’s resolution? Try making a commitment to your children’s planet — but start small. When it comes to living green, a small step is always a step in the right direction.

Happy New Year Valley mamas! Can you believe it’s 2010? It sounds so futuristic. Last year really seemed to zip by, and I find myself marveling at how much really can happen in a year. It certainly seems like time is flying by at warp speed — even more so since Coraline has arrived. When you measure a life in weeks and months, it certainly seems to pass by quickly. And with the rapid changes she goes through — sometimes day-to-day — it feels like we’re on a fast track to first dates, learner’s permits, and empty nest syndrome. It’s at once scary and exciting to think of my daughter’s future: Exciting to think of all the things she has yet to say, to do, to see, and scary more or less because of the same. What kind of world will she grow up in? Between the climate crisis, nuclear proliferation, and various groups crying Armageddon, there’s a lot to cause a mother worry. And while parenthood has been by far the honor and joy of my lifetime, it has also instilled in me a persistent, pervasive anxiety that this world may not be all my daughter deserves.

So what’s a mama to do? Sadly, I cannot rid the world of nuclear weapons, usher peace into the Middle East, stop the ice caps from melting, replenish the Earth’s natural resources, or confirm this world will still be hosting my great-great-great grandchildren. But I certainly buy into the idea that if each individual on the planet did everything they themselves could to make a difference, it would. Gandhi was onto something when he said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

There’s a great bumper sticker I’ve seen that says: We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. So if you’re still in need of a New Year’s resolution, try making a commitment to your children’s planet. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go buy a Prius, shut off your electricity, and live off the grid — try starting with something small, and eventually all those little things will add up to one big, fat, eco-conscious lifestyle. When it comes to living green, a small step is always a step in the right direction.

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Not sure where to start? Here are a few simple things you can do to get you and your family’s eco-conscious lifestyle underway in the New Year…

Support local agriculture Often times, the produce you get from your local farm stand will be cheaper and fresher than what you’ll find in the grocery store. Community-supported agriculture is an easy way to buy seasonal and local and a number of Valley farms offer share-based memberships. During the winter months when local produce is limited, try to buy organic produce grown as close to home as possible, which means less resources were used to transport it.

Reduce paper waste at home If old t-shirts and washcloths make good baby wipes, they certainly make acceptable paper towels. Buy a couple sets of cloth napkins to use instead of paper ones. For baby, if you’re not ready to commit completely to cloth diapers, try gDiapers or the bumGenius Flip which both use plastic-free flushable inserts.

Reuse Reuse Reuse When you go out to eat, bring Tupperware or Pyrex in your bag and ask the restaurant to pack your leftovers in them. Bring your own travel coffee mug into the coffee shop for your morning latté (a lot of places will give you a small discount for using your own cup). Keep a stash of cloth grocery bags in your car and use them for not only groceries but any purchases where you’d use a plastic bag. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle. Use reusable sandwich bags to pack the kids’ (or your) lunches.

Pay it forward A $5 can “supports 250 kilowatt hours of wind power generation — just right for an average U.S. individual’s month of electricity use — and helps save up to 334 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution (similar to not driving 341 miles in an average car),” according to Renewable Choice Energy. Make a monthly donation via their Web site to offset your family’s carbon or wind power emissions.

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Tell me Valleyites, what things do you and your family do to help the environment and live a green life?

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