Friday, March 14, 2008

Tree Huggers

Well, my wife and I turned out to be tree huggers. I never thought of myself as a hippie or anything along those lines. I don’t own any clothing made from hemp, I don’t douse myself with patchouli oil and burn incense, and my day is quite complete without the slightest trace of the Sweet Cheeb. And yet, I find my family engaged in all sorts of environmentally friendly and health conscious activities that are often associated with that crowd (no offence dudes) and I’m out to bring a little respectability and perspective to it now.

Here’s a somewhat complete list of all the tree hugging we do. We:
  • Recycle nearly all paper, plastic and metal
  • Bake our own bread
  • Use cloth diapers (and it’s not that bad)
  • Buy vegetables that are nearly all organically grown
  • Can and freeze veggies and make jam all summer
  • Buy organic meat, half an animal at a time
  • Buy organic eggs from local farmers
  • Have all energy star appliances
  • Have nearly all compact fluorescent lighting
  • My wife knits a significant portion of our children’s outerwear.
  • Only drink Fair Trade coffee (and its fine stuff too)
  • Watch hardly any TV at all
  • Immerse our children in the public library weekly
  • Exchange massive amounts of children’s supplies with other families

And that’s just the stuff I could think of without pausing.

Let me say that in no way are we on our high horses here. We do most of this stuff because it’s cheaper. Not let me list some of the additional benefits:

  • We contribute less to the mountain of refuse in the landfill.
  • Most of the food we eat is free from pesticides, herbicides, hormones, additives, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup (take a look at those labels kids, it’s in everything)
  • Our kids don’t get diaper rash as much and again, the landfill thing
  • Our energy usage habits contribute less to CO2 and smog
  • The people that grow our coffee get paid enough money to actually live on
  • We’re beyond the reach of media hype, we read the news we care about and move on
  • And a lot of our friends are involved in the same activities, we foster community

We didn’t arrive where we are over night. If I were looking at this list five years ago I would have been overwhelmed. We just changed our lives a little at a time, again mostly because we’re cheap, and wound up operating in a fashion that actually seems to make a difference.

I know I feel better about the food we buy and I definitely enjoy eating it. I like that it supports local farmers instead of wasting tons of fuel to truck it in from across the country. I love the way my kids look in clothes my wife made for them. I love having a conversation with my wife at night instead of sitting next to a zombie in front of the tube. I love swapping recipes and baby clothes with our friends. That last one reminds me of something: beer. One of our friends that hugs trees with us makes his own beer and that’s an activity I can really get behind.

Change your life a little. Bake a loaf of bread, knit a sock, get one of those springy light bulbs and screw it in above your table, turn the TV off for an hour. Not only do I bet you’ll like it, but that you’ll keep looking for more ways to change.

(Double dog dare ya!)

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