Thursday, January 14, 2010

Good Golly, Green Girl

Since I'm sitting here eating a bowl of (green) guacamole, I decided it was the perfect time to answer Amber's question from this post last week about me being green.

Amber wrote:

I knew you when you were an Arkansan. But I don't remember you being super into recycling and eating organic when you lived here. Has that been a change for your family since you moved? Or were you into that here and I just didn't know?

Okay, first a little background. Some of you might know Amber from her blog, Raising Rascals, but we're actually real life friends and went to church together when we lived in Arkansas.

When I was pregnant with Abbey, Amber was pregnant with her second son. She was due a week or two after me and had the nerve to have that baby BEFORE me. I haven't seen Amber since she was in Denver a couple of summers ago, but she returned to Arkansas after that trip and started a blog so now I feel like I get to keep up with her all the time. She's a great blogger and makes me laugh out loud quite often!

The reason she doesn't remember me being green when I lived there is because I wasn't. It's really only been in the last three or four years that I've moved from awareness to action.

[And can I just interrupt myself here and tell you that I believe there is a big difference between awareness and action. That whole Facebook/bra color "game" last week created awareness (more of breasts than breast cancer in my opinion) but I'd have loved to have seen it generate some action. If everyone who posted their bra color had donated $5 to breast cancer research THEN the game might have served a purpose. Same with the devastation in Haiti. We're all aware of the need, but why not let that awareness move us to action to do something about it. There is a HELP HAITI button over on my sidebar ----------------------------------> or you can click here.]
Okay, sorry, moving on.

I feel pretty strongly about being a good steward of our planet's resources. Being green for me means that we recycle everything we possibly can and I look for ways to reduce waste and re-use things before they get tossed in the trash or we buy something we don't necessarily need. I carry my own reusable grocery bags when I shop (keep them in your car so you always have them with you and write "Get Bags Out of Trunk" on your shopping list so you don't forget!) Before you toss the used spaghetti sauce jar, ask yourself if there is something you could store in it (I use lots those for craft supplies--beads, popsicle sticks, etc).

Recycling doesn't have to be hard. I have two or three cardboard boxes in my garage that I toss my recyclables in. I go out and sort everything once every couple of weeks (plastic, glass, aluminum, paper/cardboard/magazines) and load it up to drop at the recycling drop-off. I choose not to pay for curbside recycling but some companies that offer that service will give you the bins to sort it and others require no sorting at all which is super nice. You can check your yellow pages for a recycling center close to you.

Another part of being green involves using natural substances instead of harsh chemicals to clean things. This is an area I'm really trying to improve. I came across a blog several months ago that had some great green cleaning recipes. I tried the laundry detergent and didn't love it, but I absolutely LOVE the basic soft scrubber and the general all-purpose cleaner. You'll have to check out that recipe link, but if you use this almond flavored soap to make these cleaners then it will smell like you're baking cookies when you're really cleaning the bathroom.

As for eating healthy and organic. No, I haven't always been this way either.

About 25 minutes into our moving day trek from Arkansas to Colorado, our youngest child started throwing up. She continued for the two days it took us to drive here and she continued for half of the next day. It was awful.

She continued to have episodes like that when she'd get some sort of stomach virus which she seemed more prone to than my other two kiddos. After numerous trips to the ER and being hospitalized twice for dehydration when she was three and four years old, no doctor could tell me why she was getting so sick (vomiting every 15 minutes for 48 hours straight) and was unable to stop without the help of IV fluids. I took matters into my own hands and began to take a hard look at what she was eating. I couldn't figure out why it was happening, but I decided that nutrition was going to be my first line of defense.

Abbey had tubes put in her ears when she was 14 months old and until that point had numerous ear infections (like one every month) which our pediatrician treated with antibiotics. I speculated that her gut had been depleted of every ounce of healthy bacteria from antibiotic overload. I changed doctors at one point because I disagreed with the constant antibiotic treatment but I think the damage had already been done.

I got her on a good probiotic, a good multivitamin and supplements, and cut out all high fructose corn syrup and lots of other junk from her diet. That's probably when we started eating more and more organic foods because those seemed to be the ones that don't add the junk and fillers.

And you know what? It worked!!! She hasn't been super sick like that since we started all this. Hallelujah!

I started a new way of eating/living for Abbey but it spilled over into what the rest of us ate too. I really believe that nutrition and illness are related. I've told you before that sugar greatly compromises your immune system. Next time you get a cold or virus, think back over your diet the past few weeks and see if you can find a connection. With my own family, it's usually very evident.

But please don't think we're totally healthy all the time. We're not. I try very hard, but I get lazy sometimes and other times I just don't care. I know the right way to eat, but it's not always easy to get your kids to cooperate. I'm having a terrible time right now getting Abbey to eat good things. She loves junk. Craves junk. Wants junk. And throws a holy fit when I tell her no. It's been very hard getting back on track since Christmas with that kid. She's tough, but I can be tougher and she's finding that out the hard way these days.

So the very long answer to Amber's question is no, I haven't always been this way. And I've never been one for brevity either.


adrienne said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Two of my 3 kids had ear infections and tubes as well. One of those kids also loves junk. He doesn't get sick often, but he does get migraines and bad headaches a lot. I know migraines run in the family on my husband's side, but I also know that certain foods can trigger it. I recently put us all on the Juice Plus. I cook almost every single meal and we (except for the aforementioned stubborn child) eat well, but it is tough. Any suggestions for getting my picky eater to eat better? He is getting better at trying new things, but if he doesn't like it once, it's almost impossible to get him to try it again.

This was way long. Sorry. I think I'll go poof my hair now...

Emily said...

We were good about recycling when we lived in CA, but there you could just dump it all into one curbside dumpster.

I was inspired by your post though and called a local recycling place. You can drop off recycling every third Saturday of the month from 8 to 10 am. Sheesh.

Elizabeth said...

There's so much to consider when it comes to being "green" and taking care of the earth God's given us. Thanks for the awesome links and the really practical suggestions. My favorite is putting the shopping bag reminder on your grocery list. I almost always leave my bags in the car, then I'm too lazy to go back out and get them. I'm definitely going to use that tip!

Also, thanks for the link to Compassion. I trust them and know they'll use donations to truly do good.

Elizabeth said...

One more thing, any tips on what to do with a kid who craves junk food, loves junk food, etc.? I have one of those!

Amber said...

You inspire me, Mer.

Honestly, I probably won't start going all green and organic. Because I just don't know that my mindset is there yet. But your deligence about it makes me smile.

And us being pregnant and comparing stories on the phone are some of my most favorite memories of you. :)

Kendra said...

I am so with you on the no antibiotics for ear infections/ no corn syrup wagon. I check every label for corn syrup and avoid it (unless I'm actually buying corn syrup!) I buy whole wheat and high fiber and organic fruits/veggies that I eat the peels. And don't get me started about antibiotics for ear infections! PLEASE! They aren't needed in 90% of the cases. We recycle what we can and use my own shopping bags, too. But I am NOT one of the "green" movement people! NO CF bulbs for me!

2cats said...

It seems that my son was on antibiotics every other month. However, whenever he was on them I also had him taking acidophilus. It kept him healthy on the inside. He grew out of the ear infections without the need of tubes. Yea!
We don't have recycling in my area of the back of beyond. We used to have recycling sheds but some people misused them and the county took them away. I guess they figure in the long run it was cheaper.
How many bags do you have that you carry with you? Does this include a big shopping day? I mean I usually only go to the store once a month for a fill up and then I have many,many bags.

OhioFamOf4 said...

Our water/refuse bill is all in one and includes curbside recycling. We get two bins, one for fibers and one for glass/aluminum/plastic. I love it. I'm way more diligent about certain things than my husband, but I'm training him to be better.

I'm also on the food path. My son had lots of antibiotics for ear infections as an infant and I'm almost certain it has something to do with his Asperger's Syndrome. I'm having some luck switching what we eat, but I fear the day they start making friends at school and going to their houses and come home asking for pop-tarts and other things they've never seen before.

Last year on vacation I caught my son licking ketchup off a plate while we were at dinner. I flipped the bottle over to read the ingredients and had no idea there was corn syrup in ketchup. I've since switched to a brand that has no cory syrup, and my son doesn't even eat ketchup now. I think he was completely addicted to, and craving corn syrup. Now he could care less. I'm glad I"m not the only one seeing the food connection.

Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys said...

I never knew Abby's story before now. I loved the resources your linked to. I am in TOTAL aggreement with the no sugar thing~especially when you get sick or are starting to get sick. We're not 100% healthy all the time either but I truly believe what we put in our mouth directly affects how our body functions.

Side note~have you seen that commercial promoting HFCS as not a bad thing? Outragious and I instantly thought of you when I saw it. Couldn't believe my eyes!

Gretchen said...

So, Mer...what color is your bra?

Lurved all of this, but the "awareness" vs. "action" really resonates. Thank you for the first tweet about the text donations. Even $10 helps, and as you say, if everyone even gave a small token so much would be better.

Mollie said...

I totally LOVE the comment about the bra thing!! Very rude I thought- and I LOVE that you have the Haiti button!! SO SAD!!

I am with you all the way on the eating healthy... although we need to recycle more. Do love that any tv show the kids watch now a days is about helping to recycle & reuse!!

Great Ideas.. great post!!

*carrie* said...

Appreciate this post, Mer. I've never liked waste, but reading Serve God, Save the Planet a couple years ago kicked me into a higher gear of environmental stewardship.

As for nutrition, we have a long ways to go. The best thing we've done in this area is to have a garden. The worst is thinking I/we need something sweet to round out our meals. And by something sweet, I mean a piece of candy or a cookie that definitely has HFCS, etc. I've been thinking about the sugar "connection" because you keep mentioning it. The sleeping better part is/should be particularly motivating for me. . .

Anonymous said...

It wasn't that I didn't want to be greener, I just didn't give much thought to it because it wasn't around me until we lived in Massachusetts. I'm probably not as green as I was there, but I'm definitely greener than I was.

I do really well on the nutrition front and then I slack off too much. I try to exercise moderation and don't completely ban many things. I just try to make the bulk of what we eat healthy stuff. And keep the junk to a minimum. But it's hard work sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Since I live with a husband with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, a son with ADHD/Dyslexia and a daughter with asthma I really should be more aware of what we eat. I've been told time and time again that diet will alleviate alot of the symptoms we deal with.
My husbad and I are on a 'total wellness' product in an effort to lose weight and I must admit to feeling much better when we stay on the plan.
So far the only diet changes I've made for the entire family include eating mostly whole-grain products and trying to include lots more fruits and vegetables instead of cookies and candies.
Research is always on my list. Any ideas y'all have are welcome.

Jacquie said...

I can honestly say that since I started consistently working out and eating healthy... I HAVE NOT BEEN SICK. That's 5 years! Until yesterday. Reading that paragraph that said to look back over the last few weeks to see what you've been eating hit me between the eyes. Since Thanksgiving, I think I've eaten some form of candy EVERY single day until this week, when I got back to my "normal" way of healthy eating.

Makes me wonder if I wouldn't have had this stomach/fever/hit by a truck bug if I had not eaten that way for a month! (Thank goodness the scale only showed a couple of pounds.)

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Enjoyed reading ...and certainly am giving more thought to what I eat....