Politicians and corporations have placed the burden of environmental responsibility on the consumer but how easy is it to go green when youre barely getting by?
How easy is it to go green, to make deliberate, eco-friendly choices when youre barely getting by? Can you be green and poor, as I am?
This is the question I have been pondering as politicians and corporations have placed the burden of environmental responsibility on the consumer: stop using plastic straws, carry reusable shopping bags, recycle everything.
I live in an environmentally conscious place: a rural town with thriving local food businesses, a farmers market and many organic farms. But its also a small town in central Appalachia, in the poorest county in my state: Ohio. Many people here go hungry. They cant afford food, let alone organic food. A gas station is the closest source of groceries for some people without cars. You cant walk everywhere if you live in the country.
For a week, I kept a diary with some of the choices I made toward being green.
I make my sons lunch for camp. I got rid of most plastic in the kitchen several years ago I dont buy disposable plastic bags, plastic wrap or plastic storage containers but reusable cloth bags dont hold much, and most dont keep food from going stale, even for a few hours. Theres mold spotted on one of the cloth bags I take out of the drawer, even though I wash, bleach and dry them. Any disposable plastic bags I have because my mom sends snacks in them for her grandson, for example I wash and carefully dry.
I bought my parents beeswax wrap, which I love: reusable, washable food wrap that molds around leftover food, using the heat of your hands, and recently my mom purchased paper and aluminum drinking straws. But its been a bit of a struggle to persuade the older members of family to make green choices: its new to them, and it seems like extra work, because it often is.
My son, a rising third-grader, told me that his school can recycle cans only if the cans are totally empty. But theres no place or opportunity to dump the liquid in the cafeteria, and he doesnt have enough time in his 15- to 20-minute lunch period to drink a full can of seltzer or juice without chugging it and getting a stomachache. This was a source of anxiety for him, so I stopped packing cans.
I feel that most parents are trying to do their best, despite our often-difficult circumstances in this region, but its hard to balance childrens needs, finances and eco-consciousness.
Its hot this summer, usually intense and early, even for swampy Appalachia. Camp is just a 10-minute drive away, but we couldnt walk it in this heat and with an eight-year-old who is already not thrilled about going to camp so his single mother can work. The rain cools things off enough to open the windows.
Todays expenses: beeswax wrap, $18.99 for three wraps