The Little Bird and I were having her favorite (chili) for dinner because she had a bad day at school, and bad days need better endings.
I felt like I started it off badly with early-morning ranting about how the world’s going to hell and no one cares, brought on by the radio news that popped on as I turned on the car to take her early to school for jazz band. She interrupted my rant, turning to her pal in the backseat and saying, “My mom’s a treehugger.”
At dinner, I brought it up again. “This morning you said I was a treehugger.”
“I tell all my friends that you’re a treehugger.”
“I mean it in a good way, Mom.”
I was quick to reassure her that I wouldn’t take it any other way than as a tremendous compliment, only…
I’m not sure I live up to the moniker. Oh sure, I do plenty of easy things. But I feel like there’s a million things I let slide. And truth be told, one of the reasons I so often end up ranting about the world going to hell and no one caring is because I lump myself in with the uncaring.
Which isn’t quite true. I do care. It’s just so hard, as an individual, to believe you can make any difference. Because… well… can you?
But then I read this by Jonathan Franzen in the New York Times. And then the Little Bird called me a treehugger.
In some ways she’s right. We don’t drink water from plastic bottles. I compost, most of the time. I keep adding native plantings to the yard, and I grow some amount of food every year. I use no pesticides, herbicides or non-organic fertilizers. I am a pollinator-lover and a bird-watcher. I holler if the lights are left on.
It doesn’t feel like enough.
It’s not enough.
So, acknowledging that new habits take time. Acknowledging that the little bit I can do will have virtually no real effect on the state of our ecosystem much beyond the borders of my own yard. For the sake of eliminating some degree of the shame I feel for participating in this vastly destructive human experiment, I’m going to try to take on the cognitive dissonance I feel when I hear myself called a treehugger.
I want to deserve the name.
It’s a completely selfish choice, in its way. I’m choosing plastic because news about plastic seems to be the sharpest stick poking my shame and apathy.
So the intention is set. Reduction, as much as possible, is first. Then, of course, reuse. And finally, recycling as a last-ditch attempt to keep plastic somewhere other than the ocean or a landfill, where it takes hundreds of years to decompose.
Join me? Join me!
Starting… right… now!
Have ideas on ways to reduce and reuse plastic? Share them in the comments! And I’ll pop back in after a couple of weeks to talk about what we’re doing here.
Good luck out there!