Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rome wasn't built in a day, and apparently my green household won't be either.

My husband and I come from two extraordinarily different backgrounds as far as maintaining a green home goes. I grew up in Austin, Texas and if you have ever heard of Austin, you probably know that it at least used to be (I'm not so sure how it is now) a hugely environmentally-minded city.

Call it the "Austin mindset" if you want, but we always recycled. My mom composted the best she could in our tiny little rental duplex. Almost nothing got wasted.... if it came into our house, we used it all up. Very, very little waste. Mom kept a decorated bucket thing in the kitchen full of wash cloths to use instead of paper towels.

I stopped using cloth wipes and fell into other non environmentally friendly habits when I left for college. Now that I'm all grown up, married, have a house, and are on the baby talk, I wanted to go back and slowly change all the bad habits I picked up. Husband was NOT on board. This is because my husband's family wasn't environmentally minded at all. He had never used a cloth wipe in his life. Paper towels all the way. He only started recycling when he moved to Manhattan in 2006 because if you don't recycle in NYC, you could get fined heavily. He would buy stuff and let it go to waste, then throw it out. He still doesn't understand the concepts of purchasing in-season food that's local, and he's totally fine with chemicals in our household (don't get me started about the pest control argument).

When we decided to convert over to a greener way of living, I thought "oh, it'll take like.. a week to get all the things changed around here and we'll be good to go" because my husband is sort of a shock person.... if you "ease" him into stuff, it doesn't get done. If you throw him into something, he'll do it without a problem so I went ahead.

The compromise was that we kept the paper towels until they were gone, then convert all the way over to cloth. This sounded great to me, because we couldn't just waste them but I was going to try super hard not to use them and really only use them in the most dire situations.

Today, however, was a trying day. My younger brother-in-law's (referred to as lil' bro) 17th birthday was Monday of this past week and I wanted to give him a fantastic birthday party. I arranged a paintball game for him and ten of his friends. Then there was drama because somebody was being a brat about not wanting to play, half the people couldn't come at the last minute, blah blah blah. I came home after arranging that to find that my dog had destroyed our trash can and decided to spread trash throughout, a mere two hours after getting my house clean. Husband is out of town on a bachelor party weekend (I know, I watched The Hangover too) with some friends and so that just left me to deal with dog's mischief, the paintball drama, the husband's parents drama (parents moved into our house. Again, don't get me started), and cleaning.

So when I opened the pantry to get all the stuff out to make queso (cheese dip for you non-Texans) and the jar of spaghetti sauce he bought (I much prefer to make my own) fell out of the pantry and onto my foot, broke, and sauce went everywhere (ok, it didn't go everywhere... my body made an adequate shield to protect the side of the cabinet and counter top from getting hit) I reached for my cloth towels. I'll upload pictures later, but for now lets just say they look like they cleaned up a crime scene.

I gave up after the second rinsing, and proceeded to use about 3 trees paper towels to mop up my floor. It was so much easier than cloth, and since the jar of sauce was designed to feed the same group of guys that just got done playing paintball (15 total guys at my house because the group that couldn't play wanted to come to the party and they brought friends... and more drama ensued but that's not the point) it was a huge jar. I feel terrible. I felt an immediate sense of guilt after I had thrown out the last wad of paper towels.

As it turns out, I still have a long way to go.

1 comment:

a2editor said...

I think we all have a ways to go, because our lifestyles have gotten so far from being sustainable. But I wouldn't worry about one big mess. At some point you won't be buying paper towels anymore and you'll have older kitchen towels turned to rags you can use to deal with these big messes. No worries, green mama. You can do it. :)

Laura K. Cowan