“It’s not that easy being green,” sang poor old Kermit the Frog but perhaps, I thought to myself, he didn’t have doorstep recycling, good public transport links and a love
bordering on obsession of cloth bags.
While not an eco warrior by any means, I often wrote about the environment and lived by my words by doing my bit to be green. And really, apart from no longer flying to America see my nephew, it didn’t feel particularly hard. Looking back now, I was very pleased with myself – perhaps even, dare I say it, a little superior.
Then I had a baby.
According to the BBC calculator, Freya became the 7,138,305,288th person on the planet when she was born in 2013. And while I love that noisy little tinker with all my heart, adding to the strain on already over-stretched resources did come with a certain sense of guilt.
While not having children is, for some, the ultimate commitment to living a greener lifestyle, my heart ran roughshod over my head. Somehow though, and isn’t this often the way with things we want the most? I convinced myself that I could still make things work in a green sense.
As well as birthing a potential world leader to solve all our problems (no pressure), I could also, as far as possible, limit her impact on the environment while under my care. From breastfeeding to reusable nappies and from never using the car to not buying plastic toys. I had it all worked out. I was going to be the EARTH MOTHER of Earth Mothers.
So, 16 months on, ask me how it’s gone. Go on. I can tell you in one word.
It would be easy to blame the emergency c-section, the reflux, the intolerances, the exhaustion, the utter terror of new motherhood or the many other things that didn’t go to plan but people deal with these issues every day and still manage.
Essentially what happened was that being green just wasn’t that easy anymore (I hear you, Kermit, I hear you) and I faltered.
I couldn’t breastfeed, the resuable nappies went out the window with the billionth poop in a day, I had a kitchen-roll practically strapped to me at all times, we almost lived in the car and our living room often resembled a plastic toy production line.
I’ve spent a good few months moaning to anyone who will listen about how rubbish I have been but I can’t go back and do it again so I need to start over. While many people use January to begin overhauling their bodies, I started that in October, so instead I’m using it to start overhauling our life. As I said, we aren’t eco warriors so we’ll be coming at this as your average family of three. It’s not about stopping things but, as we say here in Norfolk, we are going to “do different”(although I actually don’t know anyone from Norfolk who has ever said that). There will be no banning television or only eating pulses at every meal but there will be changes and I will be trying to prove that “it is easy being green”.
There are five main reasons we (and by this I mean my husband is going along with me for a quiet life) are doing it:
- It will save money in the long run.
- I genuinely feel it’s important to try to limit our impact on the planet – and while people will and do say it’s pointless I firmly believe, to borrow a phrase, every little helps..
- It’s important to set an example for Freya.
- We can have fun doing it.
- It’s the right thing to do.
And while it is probably going not going to be as easy as when I was single (or even part of a couple), we are taking initial (tiny) steps, starting with the quick wins. First on my list? Ending my passionate love affair with kitchen-roll, which is essentially putting money and bits of trees (albeit wet and covered in spills and food) in the bin.
This is a long-term project so I will be posting regularly about some of the things we’ve been doing, what we have found that worked (and didn’t work) and also where I have sought inspiration.
In the last verse of Kermit’s song, he sings:
“When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder? Why
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be.”
I think that’s what I want to be, too.
Do you think it’s important to limit our impact on the planet or a load of old rubbish? Do you have any tips (am I supposed to call them life hacks now?) for living a more sustainable lifestyle with a child? I’ll credit you on the blog if I use them.
And, just in case you read this far, for your viewing pleasure….
13 thoughts on ““And I think that’s what I want to be”.”
I’d love to be greener… we used reuasable nappies on our first son, tried on our second (he was haaaaaard work) and didn’t even bother on our third! We recycle like mad – I even picked off all the sticky tape from the Christmas & 2 birthgday’s worth of wrapping paper, so we can put it in the green bin (I might scream if someone tells me I can recycle it anyway!)
We had a wormery, but the worms left! (probably my fault) And I’d have solar panels/wood burning water heater, if they weren’t so expensive ~ every house should have them installed by the government, instead of spending the money on building nuclear stations. We probably use the car too much – but we tend to in winter as walking is less appealing.
I’ve come to the conclusion that we are adaptable creatures, if we didn’t have these modern conveniences we’d do things differently – just like we do if we have a power cut or the car’s in the garage… Talking of which – my hubby buys kitchen roll – I use a cloth… not easy being green, but I’d like to be a few shades greener too x
Blimey, picking all the sticky tape off is hardcore! (I might try wrapping my presents with string this year to make it easier for people to recycle and also a little useful present :)) I agree with you, I think we can adapt, it’s just making that first effort. Thank you for commenting, I’ll keep you posted 🙂
After wadding through the all the Christmas wrapping, I was reminded of a scene from the film Sense & Sensibility – where Eleanor’s wrapping presents for the servants – not a reel of tape in sight, just lovely ribbon… I think I might start an anti-sticky tape revolution – I’m not sure it’ll take off though; one tricky present, and I’ll probably cave 😉
Love love love this post Tara! Well done you for taking the imitative to overhaul your life and make it greener. My three top tips (for what they’re worth!) are
– never buy clothes brand new, take every hand me down going and shop in charity shops
– always use up your fresh food so it doesn’t go to waste
– don’t drive (although that’s easy for me to say as I have never driven)
Very best of luck lovely. I’ll be keenly following your journey 🙂
Three excellent tips – and I already love charity shops so I’m part way there. Thank you very much for such a positive comment.
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Great post and agree that it is so important to try and be green and limit how much of this planet’s resources we use. Good luck with your quest to be greener. I use cloth nappies on both my girls during the day (although admittedly still use disposables at night), try and meal plan to reduce my food waste and try to recycle as much as I can.
Thanks for commenting, Louise, great tips. I think meal planning is one I need to do for sure. I think there is food in our freezer that has been there since 2006!
Lovely post and close to my heart as you know 🙂
My biggest failing is driving more. I used to cycle everywhere but now, although we walk (well, scoot) to school the car does get used more than I’d like.
Holidaying in the uk is a brilliant green choice- mine love tents and caravans! I’m also obsessed with my compost heap and feed it daily with tea bags (many) and fruit and veg peel. And letting any outside space be a bit wild is great for wildlife… That’s when it’s easy being green. X
Thanks Kate. You are one of the reasons I am changing my ways – and I can’t wait to share your wonderful new book. All good tips too – we are again staycationing this year and I have just booked a caravan (hopefully I will be used to it wobbling about this time) 🙂
Yes, not sure ours wobbled… That must have been rather disconcerting. Still, provides a good workout for core muscles!
I have a 25 mile, fairly rural (fellow East Anglian!) commute so fail on the car front. although that may be balanced by my husband cycling everywhere. Apart from general recycling/ avoiding packaging/ buying less damaging cleaning products, I think my main contribution is that for the last 2.5 years I haven’t bought any new clothing or household goods -everything has come from charity or second hand shops. I love this way of shopping and see no reason to change it. However, my children are 14 and 20 and are only partly convinced.
I absolutely agree with “every little helps”, but think it’s also about showing your children that you accept responsibility for your actions and look for ways to make a difference. It’s a poweful message and an important lesson I think.
Wow, 2.5 years without buying new clothes or household stuff is brilliant! I am trying very hard not to but clothes (for me and Freya) new but struggle sometimes. Any tips?
Yes, you’re exactly right about the responsibility message. They seem to be learning about it in school now too, which I think is excellent.