Why do you do what you do? What flipped your switch and helped you realize that you could make a difference in the choices you make for your children and for your family? Or, was it a gradual dawning realization that you didn’t have to do what everyone else around you was doing?
So many of the subjects dear to us at Eco Baby Steps are about personal choices—often about personal changes. How do we open ourselves up to change then reach that moment of action in a new direction?
I’ve been thinking, as Earth Day is coming and everyone has a pitch, how do each of us make sure that we are doing what we think we are doing? How do we make sure that we look at our environmental choices or our parenting choices or any choice in our lives while in a state of wakefulness, looking at implications, meanings, and contexts without getting so wound up that we shut right back down again?
Stay awake! Check your own consciousness.
If you don’t want to fall for just any tip or buy anything because it is labelled “green” or “natural,” you need to know why you are making the choices you are.
For me, for example, renewable resources are very important. When I looked at cloth diapers for my children, it wasn’t just a matter of being satisfied with reusability. I wanted to use materials that were natural, with at least a chance of disintegrating in the compost and returning to the Earth. The value that drove me was natural materials. Waste or low water use or cost might drive the cloth diaper choices of others.
Ask Yourself a Few Questions
Take a deep breath, open your eyes wide, and ask yourself a few questions as you hear the Earth Day pitches.
- Do I want to do this?
- What priority does it have in my life?
- OK, when? Should I do it immediately, phase it in, or should it go on a wish list?
Here are a few examples of choices we might make as we engage ourselves. The menstrual pad conversation is hypothetical, since I made the switch a long time ago, but the fair trade chocolate conversation happened only a couple of months ago.
Amy wrote last week that it is easy to use cloth menstrual pads.
- Do I want to use cloth pads, too? I think so. It doesn’t sound too bad.
- Why? I feel bad throwing out disposable products when I am so committed to reusable products in other areas of my life.
- Really? Yes, I’m going to do it.
- What priority does it have in my life? The cost is low, so I am going to make this a high priority.
- When? I am going to switch completely this month. I can try it and see if this is a choice I want to make long term.
I wrote in February about shocking labor conditions for children with non-fair trade chocolate.
- Do I want to switch to only fair trade chocolate? Absolutely.
- Why? I just can’t take a chance that I take pleasure in a product that caused so much pain to another in its production.
- Really? Yes. I just don’t look at a bag of M&Ms the same now.
- What priority does it have in my life? Highest, though I don’t want to spend too much money. I can go without chocolate if necessary. I won’t buy non-fair trade chocolate at all.
- When? Immediately.
We did make this switch completely and immediately. Calming my biggest chocolate-related worry, I found fair trade milk chocolate (Sunspire), and tonight, as I write, my children and I are going to make chocolate chip cookies with fair trade semi-sweet chocolate chips that come in bulk in our local conscious grocery. (What do we call those now? Used to be a “health food store,” but it is just our grocery store.)
Where Is The Truth In Environmental Claims
Engage yourself in a short conversation before you follow marketing pitches this week to “green your life” or “lower your impact” or “don’t listen to those other guys because we’re telling you the truth.”
The truth in your choices is in your values. It doesn’t work to just say that everyone should make the same choices. Yes, there are observable, material impacts to our actions that should be taken into account. Yes, laziness can often drive our values. If we can overcome our tendencies to avoid change (“Oh, I just don’t know if I could use reusable toilet wipes.”) or difference (“If I wear my baby in a sling, people might look at me.”), we ought to land somewhere in the area of choices that will actually lower our impact. I might add insulation to my walls and attic while you take the train. I might buy a reusable water bottle while you turn your compost. These aren’t comparable choices. We each have to make our own choices, and we won’t know which are the right choices unless we wake up and ask ourselves.
May your resolve be strong and your consciousness engaged this week so you don’t fall for every call.