Three Earth Day Thoughts

Since today is Earth Day, I need to go against my reputation as an anti-environmentalist tree-killer, and make some suggestions for how you can slightly improve your corner of the planet. 

These suggestions are painless and will not have any harmful effects, such as raising the price of tortillas in Mexico, or encouraging people to cut down the rain forests in order to grow corn for ethanol.  However, since they don’t involve asking other people to suffer, practicing these suggestions might not give you that hot self-righteous feeling that crusaders everywhere seek.

1.  Re-thinking Halloween Pumpkins

Americans use enough pumpkins at Halloween to feed the entire countries of South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe for a year.  (And Nikita testifies that they all like their pumpkins.)  In fact, if they ate all the pumpkins that we wasted, their skin would turn orange.  Just think about the amount of land, fertilizer, and fuel wasted on Halloween.  

If you are planning your garden now you can do something.  Instead of planting useless Jack-o-Lanterns, plant yummy pie pumpkins or winter squash.  “Make up” the squash instead of carving it, and then you will be able to eat it later. If you buy your halloween pumpkins, remember this in six months, and buy something edible instead.

Incidentally, winter squash can be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration, which means that they are environmentally friendly vegetables.

2.  Get and Stay Married

There are obvious efficiencies when two people live together.  For one thing, the thermostat can be set lower when you are both under the same blanket.  Divorce, in addition to wasting countless resources on lawyers, is horrendous for the environment.  I don’t know why environmentalists haven’t noticed this.

When the parents are separated, there is the additional resource drain of keeping two households.  The households both have to be the part-time homes for the kids, so they are both larger than necessary, and there are two households to heat.  Additionally, there are the costs of shared custody, which usually involves wasting gas as the kids are shuttled around.

3.  Have one Parent stay home with the kids

I know this is heresy in our age of women’s liberation, but if one of the parents stays home with the kids, it is advantageous for the environment. 

A stay-at home mom is much more likely to cook from scratch and avoid processed food.  Therefore less garbage will be generated.  For example, every loaf of bread you make at home does not have a paper or plastic wrapper.  There will be fewer meals out, and most likely there will be less driving.  Homeschooling is even more efficient, because it gets the stinky school bus out of the picture.



4 thoughts on “Three Earth Day Thoughts

  1. #3 also means more time/energy for gardening, which is environmentally good in variously respects (as well as economical.) Even if, like in our situation, the SAH parent is not the gardener, the non SAH parent has more time for it since other things are taken care of by the SAH. The beauty of gardening is that even if you’re not great at it or highly successful in a given year, it’s almost impossible to operate it at a net loss unless you really go overboard with setup costs. Seeds and plants are so cheap that even if you only get a few veggies out of it, you’ve beat the supermarket.

  2. Much of the key is learning how to prepare foods in advance. I work the standard 8-5, go for an hour run, and still manage to come home to cook or prepare a whole foods meal from scratch. I bake whole grain bread on the weekend and use it during the week. I also enjoy making large quantities of soup, then freezing them in containers for future use. Now I will also add gardening to my list of evening and weekend activities. I may also pitch in at my friend’s farm.

    I learned a lot from my parents who both worked, managed to raise me, raise a large garden, work on home projects, can and freeze much of the yearly garden harvest, and prepare a home-cooked meal nightly. It was a nice combination of the entire family getting involved. It’s not always the case that one parent must stay at home, it’s that the whole family needs to pitch in and learn time management. I attribute my major successes with time management in college directly back to my parents and my upbringing.

    There are a lot of great stay at home moms who are environmentally conscious, plant gardens, and use the time during the day (otherwise spent at a job outside the home) effectively. There are also a lot of stay at home moms who drive unnecessarily large SUVs, hang out at the mall as a hobby, and do very little for the environment. The latter typically give all SAH moms a bad name. Unfortunate, really.

  3. Right, but let’s not confuse cause and effect. BTG didn’t say that staying at home makes you automatically more environmentally friendly.

    He said one way to be more environmentally friendly is to have a stay at home parent who can pursue friendlier methods. If you want to drive an SUV and hang out at the mall, you’re not seeking ways to be more environmentally friendly in the first place.

    Your points about how you manage all that while working are good ones, but the fact is, the way you do it is harder than having one person at home, and it also comes at the cost of not doing something else. No one really can do it “all,” after all. 🙂

  4. Very good points! I love that pumpkin one…and I’m at home today…going to bake some pumpkin fritters! yummy… you can serve me with pumpkin only when you invite me for! As a student I worked in a hospital’s nursery for a year the afternoons..and those little ones were given their supper around 5-ish…and when it was pumpkin/rice/beaf mince on the menu…..we used to mix the three for them…and how they loved that! I had one little girl who only wanted pumpkin… 😉

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