I owe it to her.
I don’t want my daughter to look at me and be disappointed that I was complacent in my generation’s failure to act to prevent climate change. I don’t want her to ask me why my husband and I prioritized convenience or appearances when I had the resources to instead prioritize sustainability and responsibility. So, we have made changes where we could. We are far from perfect, but we are getting better at going green every day.
- We didn’t buy anything until our baby was born, we decided to only buy things when the need arose. No regrets on this one, we would have ended up with a bunch of useless stuff.
- When our baby was born, we told friends and relatives “no gifts” - I’ve been called dramatic about this one, and have even offended, but I’m okay with that. It’s not about them - I simply don’t want to be responsible for plastic garbage that will one day float in the ocean. Of course, we learned that people will try to give you things anyway, but we held firm and donated the unnecessary items.
- We downsized to a tiny apartment and do our best to be efficient and intentional with the space and items we own and use. We once had a 2,200 sq foot house and now we’re in 350 sq feet. I would never go back to having a huge space.
- We no longer drive. When we moved to New York, my husband and I both sold our cars. We now take public transit, walk, and bike everywhere. It feels good, and it’s way easier to go out with a baby if I don’t have to deal with a car seat.
- We learned that we could avoid buying plastic toys and opt for wood or sustainable bamboo toys. If we do buy the plastic toys, we intend on keeping them for a long time and will hand them down or donate them when we are finished with them.
- We avoid plastic containers and reuse Bon Maman jam jars as drinking glasses and tupperware. Baby doesn’t mind.
- We don’t have a washer and dryer in our Manhattan apartment so my husband and I have washed reusable diapers by hand in our sink. This one is hard because it’s so time and effort intensive, but at least two diapers per day not ending up in a landfill is worth it. Yes, we still end up using some disposable diapers, but are able to opt for the cotton chemical-free ones, so we do.
- We try to buy baby clothes from sustainable sources and avoid ‘fast fashion’ establishments. This has been great, because those clothes are the ones we have been able to pass down to friends having children. The other clothes have fallen apart at the stitches, faded, or gotten too ratty to even donate, and that’s a shame.
That’s not everything, but it’s a start. The thing is, the more of this stuff I do, the more absurd it feels to do anything else. It’s absurd for me to look back on once thinking that a 40+ minute commute each way in a gas guzzler was acceptable. It’s unreal to recall what I thought was the “minimum” square footage I thought my life required, even pre-baby! It’s shameful to remember the thoughtlessness with which I purchased things, never considering where they would go once I was finished with them.
I am positive that my daughter’s generation will one day look down on ours the same way we look at the baby boomers for the choices they made. So, I’m doing what I can now so that one day, when we are forced to face the consequences of our environmental impacts*, I can look at her, and say “I did the best I could.”
*Of course I understand that individual contributors are not the biggest contributors to pollution, but that does not mean that I get a pass. I have the resources to do better, so I have no excuse.