I enjoyed reading this post on Starry Sky Ranch, where Kim recounts what happens when you take your big family (and your pregnant self) to an Earth Day celebration.
The last Earth Day celebration our family attended was in the mid ’90s. I had several young homeschoolers and was expecting another baby…Before attending this event I was not familiar with the term “zero population”. I wandered past the Sierra Club table and saw literature with that phrase displayed. I stopped and read, bewildered. Did it really suggest that the solution to our environmental problems was the elimination of babies? Indeed.
The man behind the table was pacing and silently counting heads. He looked at my children like they were sucking his air. As the message his organization was presenting sank in I said, “My goodness! We must be your worst nightmare then, huh?” He didn’t say no. In fact what he did say, looking at my belly, was, “It’s not to late to stop!” I try not to think of what he was implying.
His solution to our environmental problems reminds me of those who are ‘eliminating’ birth defects by eliminating handicapped babies in utero. That doesn’t solve a problem. We can do better than that…I am guessing our clan of 11 is easily more planet friendly than most families of four. We eat out maybe once a year. We make most of our food or buy it as ingredients rather than as packaged products. I drive an ancient van – twice a week. I buy all our clothing second hand and have furnished our home with about 75% thrifted treasures and refurbished hand me downs. We are raising animals suited to foraging in undesirable conditions. We tread lightly on the Earth. Tiptoes even. 😉
I admittedly have little tolerance for Hollywood figures jetting around the world dispensing environmental directives while they sip designer coffee in styrofoam cups, replacing their wardrobes every season, building oversized heated and cooled homes. My feeling is that environmentalism, like charity, begins at home. It begins small. It begins with self-denial and thriftiness. It begins with phrases like:
“Use it up, ” “Wear it out, ” “Make it do, ” “Do without.”
My best advice for saving the planet? Stay home. : ) You will use less, spend less, and want less.
The Maureen Wittman article she links to is good as well.
This resonates with my experience as well. The big families I know consume about the same amount of resources (maybe less) as most of the small families I know (and I sheepishly have to include my wasteful self in the latter group — but I’m working on that!) They seem to have less of a need to seek entertainment and fulfillment externally, and don’t have the time or the money to run all over town for activities and shopping. They’re not constantly shuttling kids around in the luxury minivan to soccer practice and the movies and the mall and to go out to eat at restaurants. They tend to leave the beat up old van parked in the driveway and stay home to play Scrabble and eat homemade pizza.
Becoming less wasteful is actually one of my big projects for this year. I grew up as a middle-class only child, surrounded by one- or two-child middle-class families, and my unthrifty way of running a household in terms of grocery shopping, reusing products, etc. just doesn’t work after about the fourth kid.
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