FILED IN: Parenting

Green Up Your Act on Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day. I’m aware of that fact primarily because my daughter came home from school last week and asked me if we were "green".

"Sort of," I replied.

It sounds like a wishy-washy answer, but it’s true. Like turquoise or chartreuse, some people might call us green. But we’re certainly not emerald or kelly.

My green acts are motivated by more than the desire to be green; they’re about making my life easier, right here and now, in addition to mindful stewardship of resources. In fact, I consider my green acts to be mindful stewardship of my own resources — the green ones called dollar bills.

For example, we own a used hybrid SUV. When my son came along, we wanted a car with three rows that could accommodate car seats and booster seats as needed. We also wanted a car that wouldn’t guzzle too much expensive gas and would hold its value. Our car makes us look green, but we didn’t choose it for that reason.

Likewise, I bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and I’m devoted to the ones I’ve got because they roll up into tiny pouches and fit perfectly inside my purse. Plus, more groceries can be packed into each one, which means that it’s easier for me to carry all of the groceries into the house at once. And if I do have more groceries than can be packed into my reusable bags, then I reuse the plastic ones as bathroom trash can liners, which saves me from buying those from the grocery (and carrying them home in my reusable bag).

I’ve been replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs as they burn out. Under a lampshade, I can’t even tell the difference. The CFLs will cost me less in electricity and I won’t have to change them for years, which is especially nice where it comes to outdoor lights that always seem to burn out when there’s a foot of snow on the ground or a newly built wasp’s nest overhead.

We planted a garden last year, and as soon as this last several inches of snow melts, we’ll plant another one this year. Plus the local farmer’s market is a perfect distance away for biking or even a long jog, and the produce is fresher and better-tasting than what’s been trucked in from California or Mexico.

Even if none of those ideas fit into your lifestyle and priorities, I’ve got one more that every parent can embrace: Stop buying loud, annoying, battery-eating toys. Never again hearing Elmo sing the Chicken Dance song ought to be reason enough to go green where it comes to battery-operated entertainment.

Just tell the kids that by getting rid of Elmo, you’re helping to save the Earth.