Why Going Green Is Good for My Family’s Spirit
When my husband brought it up as a possibility, I had plenty of arguments. Good ones: we’re not good at home improvement projects; we’re too busy; we have little kids; it’s too much time; it’s too much money; I hate transitions; I can’t handle it . . . . In the end, though, I realized that this idea of building our own place, as green as we can, is what we’ve been moving toward all along.
I grew up in Mississippi. My idea of a normal childhood includes petting the cows in the landlord’s pasture, riding bikes down dirt roads, and wandering through woods and fields that seemed to go on for miles. And of all the things I want for my children — good education, life skills, great future, health, happiness — the one I want most for them is space to roam.
I never thought about why this was a priority for me, in parenting, except that it seemed good and normal for them to have it. Then I realized that, for me, living in 11 different homes in my 33 years of life, being outside has been my continuity. The house might shape-shift, the interior rearrange itself, the neighbors change, but there were always trees, fields, and places to explore. There was continuity in what I found outside — the security that comes from familiarity as well as the freedom that comes from space.
I’ve never identified myself primarily as an environmentalist or even a particularly eco-conscious person. I don’t tend to think in political terms, and I get offended in equal measure when people toss litter out a car window, clear-cut a forest, or cause and then fail to clean up a devastating oil spill. It’s as if they have trashed my home, because they have, and I am equally offended by all of it.
Perhaps that’s why when my husband started talking about land, and building a green, sustainable home on it, something finally clicked. The fears I have of tackling a big, long-term project are smaller than the desire I have for my children to grow up loving the earth, our home, like I do. I don’t want to teach them to recycle because they should. I want them to take care of the earth because they care for the earth — for each tree they’ve climbed and each place they’ve explored. Caring for part of the earth means caring for all of it.
That’s why going green is right for us. It’s a lot to think about on a budget with a busy life and four small kids. We’re going to arrange for water flow, put in geothermal systems and solar power, use recycled or repurposed materials, and plan for year-round gardening. Are we crazy?
Maybe. Most likely.
But it might take a little crazy to get things back on track. It might take a little more of us all being weird, being out there, being unlike the average, for standards to shift. If we want to change how other people live on the earth, maybe the first step — at least for our family — is to change how we live on it.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Levine Design
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