Tuesday, August 26, 2008

When did Green become the new Black?

For the duration of my childhood, my mother tortured me with her efforts to save the planet, and eat organic. Before the word "sustainable" was in everyday use, and before canvas grocery bags had catchy phrases on them like "I am not a plastic bag" she used reusable diapers, she grew her own vegetables, made us ride our bikes all over the place, took us on her plant walks (read: botany. ugh.), and worst of all for my teenage psyche, she carried those dreaded canvas grocery bags with big faded EARTH DAY written on them. Well really there was an assortment; EARTH DAY with a cartoonish earth, a Save the Manatee's logo, a plain old Recycling triangle, and one with a gloriously colorful butterfly pictorial.

Every time we went grocery shopping I was her helper, I got a cookie and chocolate milk, I loved it! Until the dreaded checkout line. Besides her very specific way of loading the groceries on the belt (colds stick together!) which I have since tried not to obsess about during my own shopping trips, I always thought she did her very best job to embarrass me in front of the esteemed Publix* checkout person. First came the coupons, oh lord, then out came the canvas bags, my life was officially over.

She also managed to save money, energy and water while forcing us to eat healthy and not become fat slaves to the microwave somehow, actually we didn't have one until I was a junior in high school. Although we definitely tried our best to deflect her efforts; we once successfully hid a bag of barley in the back of the freezer for months, and also used to stick brussels sprouts under the table ledge until she got up from the table. I also hands down refused to eat things grown in the garden with fertilizer. We never drank bottled water, she demanded a washing machine or dishwasher be filled to capacity before we looked at the start button, she could tell if you had your hand on the AC controls from a mile away and our house never had sod which meant no watering ever ... did you know scientifically minded tree-huggers hate sod,? Yes one day I can tell you in riveting detail how maddening the cycle of man and lawn infuriates the likes of my mom, don't even get her started on concrete driveways WATER RUNOFF! Devilish!

I guess I am reflecting on this now, because sustainable materials, reusable bags, organic diets are all the rage. It's no longer a few eccentric nature loving people like my mom, it's a movement. I am happy about this, it's about time, and I have grown to appreciate all those lessons I never knew I was learning, but I'm wondering if it's going to last. Will there be a backlash? And how many of these "I am not a plastic bag" carrying people really understand the message, or care even? Maybe it's just a passing trend to them.

I hardly ever allow myself to think about the big picture, because it's to overwhelming, and because I fail personally on a daily basis to do everything I can. But I am grateful that my personal carbon footprint is half as big as most people my age, thanks to my mother.

love and renewable energy sources
~Z

3 comments:

Z said...

WOW - a great post and a great look back on your childhood from your perspective now! I must say, my mom embarrassed me with many of these things, and had a few little quirks of her own (save yogurt containers, wash them out, use them as tupperware! Nothing quite like getting leftovers for lunch in an old yogurt tub...) but now, I understand. Then? Not so much...

Z said...

HAHHA my mom STILL does that to! thought we were the only ones...

Joely Poley said...

I can so relate with you... now. My parents were not quite the opposite but liked what they liked. Unfortunately it is a fad and not a lifestyle change. It drives me nuts when I'm walking London and I watch these idiots spray their yards with chemicals every week, mow the yard and throw the clippings in a bag to go to the dump. It's like let me work twice as hard to make more yard work for myself and contaminate all of our drinking water at the same time. Job well done... idiots. We have reusable salsa containers that we use for lunches that are probably years old by now. Better yet, my parents make fun of how conscious we are and how they and my brother balance us out with their non-green-ness. Its an effort in futility.