Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wanted: More Green Moms

From the bean of Green Bean.

It was the balloon that caught me eye.

We were walking to look at Christmas lights but a single balloon on an unlit house bobbed in the wind and pulled my thoughts with it. I glanced at the house. I knew it well. It was just around the corner from my own home. I'd often passed it in the days when my son's school was close enough to walk to.

At this time of year, the house usually boasted a single strand of LED lights - and that only to conform to the over-the-top holiday displays of the neighborhood. The front yard was lawnless and had been as long as I could remember. The porch light was rarely lit. Solar panels were slathered across the roof and environmental messages across the Priuses' (yes, plural) bumpers.

I'd met the couple that lived there once - at a City Council meeting to support residential pick up of organics. They were cute, vegan, and childless. Everything a dream green couple should be.

But the balloon swaying against the cold dark sky negated that last trait. "It's a Boy!" it proclaimed proudly.

There is always much discussion about population control in environmental circles. About the impact of bringing another American - complete with his or her gargantuan footprint - into the world. About how true environmentalists don't procreate.

I have to admit that, despite having my own, I have often wondered how green it is to have children. I've seen first hand the impact. The diapers. The sippy cups. The clothes. The plastic toys. The gasoline sucked up en route to various after school activities. Sure, you can shrink that footprint but you cannot cut it completely. Giving birth to any Westerner is rough on the planet.

But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it.

Because the world needs more green moms (and dads). The world needs an army of parents demanding organic and locally grown food, handmade toys that kids will play with, clothes made from reclaimed fabric and non-toxic body care products. The world needs people will darn tiny socks, volunteer in classrooms and lead recycling drives. People who will advocate for sustainable school lunches, lead a generation toward greener goodie bags and create a culture predicated on conscience not consumption.

We all benefit from the hyperdrive that a parent has. The desperate desire to combat climate change, the tireless typing of letters to senators, and the hope-filled march toward a more sustainable existence. Most of which is triggered by a mere glance at your child.

That doesn't mean that every tree-hugging one of us should have a baby. Far from it. But it does mean that having one does not make you less of an environmentalist. It just makes you more of a mom.

And the world needs more green moms.


Electronic Goose said...

I've often thought the environmentalists are the ones who should have children--so the next generation is raised with compassion for nature and its beings.

No Impact Man posted on this last week, I believe ...

graceonline said...

Oh, this does my little greenie heart good. So glad to have found you.

Mama said...

Thanks for the post. I am always telling people that the world needs my kids. Not to be pompous or anything, but compassionate and caring children need be be brought up. Our society is in desperate need of free thinkers who aren't afraid to challenge the status quo and think outside of the box for solutions. Good citizens who care for others and want to work for freedom, liberty, justice and creation.

Joyce said...

It's interesting that the Bible refers to a person's children as arrows in a quiver, which are shot out into the world. Whether you are religious or not, it's a good analogy for they way we try to shape the future through our children by instilling our values in them. Obviously, they may not internalize those values, or may rethink or rebel against them, but it seems that being a conscientious parent always involves that thought-that this is how we contribute to the betterment of our culture. Good post!

Abbie said...

GB- Is there something you're not telling us??? (Just kidding... but that's the response I'd get from my mom if I posted this!)

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

When I look at my children, I see hope for the future. My thought has always been, "If all the intelligent people choose not to reproduce, what good would that do?"

KI mom said...

Ever seen the movie Idiocracy? If the environmentalists don't procreate, the world will someday be watering crops with "Brawndo... because it has electrolytes". Replace yourself, but 17 kids is just selfish.

Green Bean said...

Goose: Hm, missed the No Impact Man post. Thanks for the heads up.

Graceonline: Welcome! Glad you found us too.

Mama: You are so right. We do need a different kind of citizen and the only way to get them is to raise them.

Joyce: What a beautiful analogy. Whether children internalize our values or not, it cannot hurt to teach them what we believe to be right.

Abbie: Gesh, girl! I've already got two. You? Ahem? I'll join your mother's ranks and keep an eye out for a similar post on your blog. ;-)

Crunchy Christian Mom: Good point, indeed.

KI Mom: Yes, 17 kids does seem a bit excessive. And you are probably right. If environmentalists didn't reproduce, that's exactly where we'd end up. Shudder.

Rejin/Urban Botany said...

Thanks for this.
I am always surprised about the strong negative feelings expressed when this topic is brought up. It usually makes me think of "Idiocracy" as well.

The Tell-Tale Heart said...

In my own reproductive life, I was very inspired by Bill McKibben's Only One. (That and my partner, the Green Raven, who was already committed to limiting us to one.) While I am glad we decided to have a child and have trouble imagining my life without our son, I continue to think that there are meaningful ways for adults without children to influence the next generation. nsible for the raising of future generation

Abbie said...

Haha, well don't hold your breath. Perhaps we'll talk in summer...

Amy said...

the best is to adopt.

Melinda said...

I've had this debate with myself more than once. I think maybe you could amend that statement, though...

Because I really like what you all have said about the Green Moms Carnival: "Moms" include "Earth Moms and Dads" - ie, all people who care for and care about children and the future we are creating for them. I made a conscious choice - instead of having one or two children, I decided to give my time to improving the world for all of its children.

I think we need both types of people, and that each choice should be made carefully and then thoughtfully respected in our society.

Green Bean said...

Rejin: Yes, it is an emotional topic.

Tell Tale Heart: I applaud you both for making the decision to have only one. And I completely agree that people without children can and should have a huge impact on our next generation. I guess my post was focused more on the fact that parents tend to be in a different position that non-parents. Parents are the ones who attend the kiddie birthday parties, sit in the karate classes, and so on. They are just physically in different places and so we need people in all places and positions to be green.

Abbie: :P

Amy: Certainly, adopting is a great thing to do. Especially of older children.

Melinda: Exactly - we need both types of people. I love that the Green Moms Carnival includes Earth mothers and fathers too. Anyone who works or thinks about the next generation in what they do has a special place on this planet.


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