It's Earth Day - Are You Greening Up? How Much? And Can We Take It Too Far?


As part of the SV Moms Book Club, I was recently sent a review copy of the National Geographic Green Guide Families, a reference book for eco-conscious parents and families edited by Catherine Zandonella, Science Editor for Green Guide magazine. 

Alas, I am a day (or three) late in posting my review but I wanted to take a few minutes to share what I thought as I thumbed through this book.

First, I didn't read it cover to cover so this isn't a proper review.  I will tell you honestly that this book is truly a reference guide rather than a narrative and is a very useful and well-laid out resource book for information gathering.  Each chapter covers a topic geared toward eco-conscious families (ie: Living Well -- keeping your children healthy or Baby Steps --  your baby's first year) and offers snippets of information in easy to read chunks.  At the end of each chapter is a page or so of action steps you can put into place and at the end of the book itself is an extensive bibliography as well as several pages of additional resources, both print and online.

I don't necessarily define myself or my family as green although we do certain activities that fall under that umbrella.  We recycle.  We grow some veggies in our garden (that is, assuming the rain ever returns this year).  We use flourescent light bulbs.  We try to reduce and reuse things as much as possible.  I've even tried some of the latest green cleaning products on the market and have found them to be decent replacements; vinegar still ranks as one of my fave go-to cleaning products around the house.  And my compost pile from last fall is cooking up mighty fine.

But the one thing I noticed as I thumbed through this book (and other books geared toward toxic-free living) , one thing that bothered me this time as it has in the past (you knew this was coming, right?) was a nagging, underlying, driving sense of - how shall I say this? - fear.

There are chemicals out there in your backyard that are very bad.

There are medicines and vaccines out there that are/could be very bad.

There are things in the very air your child breathes that are very bad.

I'm not denying that all these things are true; indeed, the world is full of things that are bad for us, things that we willfully use, consume, and add to our lives one way or another. We've personally experienced them in ways that I wish we hadn't: inhaled leaf mold that led to a near-fatal asthma attack in Huck; the wart medicine disk that Tom swallowed, and the poison center hotline call and subsequent race to the emergency room that followed; Becky's cholesteatoma, her two surgeries, the root cause of which will never be known.

While I think it's good for all involved - me, my kiddos, our community, our Earth - to be greener, I don't want to live like Chicken Little, fearful that oh yes, the sky is falling and it's aiming right at my head. 

And I don't want to live my life weighing every decision, from the big to the tiny, wondering if I'm dooming myself, my family, my children. 

That there are things I can do to be greener and teach my children to be greener, I wholeheartedly agree.  The Green Guide Familes is a good resource for those questions as they arise.

But in the end, life does come with an expiration date, no matter how carefully we live. 

Does that give us the right to live thoughtlessly, endangering others, polluting, wasting, and pillaging our resources?

No.

It does mean - to me, at least - that I should live thoughtfully as best I can, leaving fear by the roadside as best I can. 

It means - to me - that when the illusion of controling every situation is gone, faith remains.

And if you saw that conclusion coming, then two gold stars for you. 

You know me so well.  ;-)