But I’ll push myself up through the dirt
And shake my petals free
I’m resolved to being born
And so resigned to bravery
-Dar Williams, “Spring String” (from The Green World)
Some like to have a fresh start on New Year’s Eve, but my fresh start comes in April. April pulls me out of the dark winter with tiny buds of promise. It brings actual earthy smells in the air, rain, dirt, plants, longer days, color, and time spent away from the drudgery of technology. It also brings memories of my time with Anderson as a newborn, which is one of the happiest times of my life. It pulls me out of survival mode and allows me to look forward to simple things, like camping on Memorial Day and playing on the beach and ocean path runs.
With Earth Day on the mind, it is also a perfect time for a “check in” with how we are doing from an environmental standpoint. We do a pretty good job, but we can do better. I thought I’d share a few small, painless things we’ve done lately to improve in the hopes to spur you on as well.
1. One of my spring resolutions (I love spring resolutions!) was to be better about my water intake to improve my skin and my energy levels without caffeine. My office doesn’t have a great water source and since my one small 20 oz. water bottle wasn’t really enough to get me through the day (Mayo Clinic recommends about 74 oz. per day for women/101 oz. for men), I found myself going to the vending machine for more water in the afternoon. Buying water = plastic bottles, a huge no-no. I’ve nipped my almost habit in the bud by finding a 48 oz. Nalgene bottle to fill up with Brita water in the morning to take with me. That leaves a mere 26 oz. which I can easily do in the morning and at night. One Brita and one 48 oz. water bottle will save so much plastic (approximately 3 bottles per day for me alone – just think about that for a moment) and money.
2. Have you heard of Thred Up? It is genius. They send you a bag (postage paid), and you put in your nicer clothes that you don’t wear anymore and then just drop the bag off to ship. I filled a really big bag with little effort and continually asked myself why I was hanging on to things like size 4 pants I wore in my 20s and dresses that were not even a little bit my style. I feel good about it because one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and I may even make a few dollars from it. Whatever they don’t sell, they donate. On the flip side, I also purchased cute summer shorts for Anderson for $6 and $8 each, sparing the supply and demand contributing to pollution, overuse of water, chemicals like formaldehyde, and loads of pesticides (and money of course). What a great, non-traditional way to recycle AND clean out your junk!
3. Every single day, we’d leave the house with at least two lamps on. I think it became a habit because winter was so hard and coming home to a dark house just makes you feel even colder. I now make sure both of those lights are turned off before I leave. It may seem like a small thing, but it has a trickle effect and makes me more aware of other things, like not leaving the hall light on at night and unplugging my blender when I’m not using it, because I know that little red light on all the time means it is sucking in some electricity. We get these reports that compare us against our neighbors and I’ve noticed a marked improvement. The effort involved to make such a substantial change is so minimal.
One other really great positive environmental impact (not something in anyone’s control, but a perfect time of year for this to happen) is that I finally see the end of the tunnel with diapers. For so much of Anderson’s life, we used cloth diapers. When he got too big to wear them, we switched to Seventh Generation disposables and I really despise the concept of such waste. Just when I thought, “This kid is never going to be potty trained,” it abruptly started to happen, just as everyone said it would. Boys are (or can be) a bit challenging with the potty training, and boy do we know it. We’ve hit some major milestones this last week: going on the big potty away from our house, going at pre-school, and even going to the park in undies, diaper free! He is so proud of himself, and we’re sparing the landfill.
April has also provided some awesome nature trips, such as the Museum of Science, our favorite running spot on the ocean, and the beautiful outdoor deCordova Museum.