By Kate Agliata:
A few months I met up with a new friend over a cup of coffee. While getting to know one another better we soon realized many commonalities, namely a passion for educating others about the benefits of green living. She was excited to learn about my writing A Mother’s Shade of Green, and commented on the vast amount of green parenting related topics I could cover. I too, was just as excited about the endless possibilities. Yet, it wasn’t long before I also realized a bit of a dilemma—while trying to educate people about green living, I would need to be careful not to cross the fine line between sounding too preachy, and offering a good dose of encouragement. What I needed to figure out was how to convince you, and at the same time, also encourage you to convince your friends, that living a greener lifestyle really does make a difference.
The amount of information about living a more Eco-friendly way of life swirling all around us is frankly, overwhelming. It’s not surprising that many people still just tune out, or have yet to even climb on board with greener approaches. My friend was right, in this day and age, especially among our generation of young parents, there is so much about our environment, health and purchases worth examining, learning, and sharing. But who do we trust, and how do we decide which ideas or methods should fall into our family’s growing list of priorities? I can’t even tell you how many people I have conversed with over the last few months who’ve said to me, “I really want to live greener, but I just don’t know where to start.” My usual response is to offer any pertinent suggestions I’m able, hoping that I too, am not overwhelming my inquisitor. Yet, I am always afraid of walking that fine line I mentioned. After all, I am not a green living “expert” per say, but rather a person and a parent, who probably isn’t that different from you—I’d do anything to keep my children safe and out of harms way. That is the most simple explanation as to why I care so deeply about the environment in which my children live.
I grew up in a family where being mindful about our actions was among top priorities, and where respect for our planet was taught by example, not by lecture. But as I grew older and developed my own passions, I could see how easy it was to get too caught up in defending my beliefs. Over time I’ve tried to soften my approach, and I’ve learned a thing or two about improving my conversation. For me, this “green living” way of life isn’t about politics or trying to change the world, but rather more about common sense, and about working toward keeping my family safe and healthy.
Of course, my approach occasionally comes as a bit of dismay to my poor husband. I am that girl who is constantly researching and saying, “yes, let’s try that! Let’s incorporate that green method into our life as well!” As a result he now has to suffer with less than ideal circumstances such as weeds taking over our lawn, (I say: the chemicals may harm our dogs or worse end up on our children’s bare feet!) and random boxes in our garage filled with empty glass jars and bottles (I can’t help that our local recycling program doesn’t accept glass, and I refuse to toss them in the trash). Once while having new friends over for dinner I got so carried away during a conversation about natural skincare products that I actually brought out my Tom’s of Maine deodorant to show our guests. My husband reminded me for weeks about the odd looks I got that night. Needless to say, they didn’t reciprocate our dinner invitation.
While my husband may be slightly embarrassed, and my children’s teachers annoyed by my continual nagging to set up recycling centers in their classrooms, I continue to fight for my beliefs. Along the way however, I’ve learned that not everyone is going to share my passion for the exact same green living beliefs, and that is okay. My advice to you, is to pick and choose what aspects of it work for you and your family, whether it’s recycling, toting your own cloth bags, or banning plastic water bottles—or even all of it! No one else can decide which green approaches are right for you. My experience has taught me that preaching to others, or even just throwing hard cold facts around won’t do any good in convincing them to engage in greener methods. Instead, I’ve learned to focus on having fun with my own green living, and to share my input about it’s many benefits when asked, or when the circumstances call for doing so. Most importantly, I’ve learned to provide encouragement through example.
Kate, a freelance writer and mother of two, most often finds creative inspiration in writing, but occasionally at the bottom of an empty wine glass. She has hijacked her family’s former lifestyle and is in the midst of creating a simpler and greener approach to life. To follow her family’s challenges and successes in this endeavor, visit her blog, at Kate’s Musings. She and her family have lived in Birmingham since 2009.