I just watched “The Story of Stuff” with my oldest son today. The film tries to illuminate the cost of everything we consume to our planet. The earth is literally being buried beneath a mountain of American garbage. I’m grateful for works like this and brave people like its filmmaker Annie Leonard. I value the message. But I also like the way it reframes my life in my kid’s eyes. The truth is, for years we’ve been living a green lifestyle – but mostly because we’ve been broke.
When I was a kid and my family had to buy clothes at thrift stores and garage sales, mom would blush and explain about the car payment. Or when we ate beans for dinner and spaghetti with no meat, mom would explain about the house payment. I just tell my kids we’re being green. It lends an air of shabby gentility to our lives.
We try to buy almost everything second hand. Honestly, I love thrift store shopping. I can buy a pair of jeans for $3.00 and a shirt for $2.00. In addition, all the money goes to support local food shelves and services for families and children in crisis. And also I’m cheap and the last car repair bill made me cry. It was over a thousand. But I don’t have to tell my kids this. I tell them we’re being environmentally conscious.
The environmental movement has allowed me to feed my children wholesome food from our garden with my head held high. We hang our clothes out to dry on a clothesline. The kids get their toys from the thrift store. I can’t even remember the last time we set foot in the mall. When the kids turn the lights off, I smile and tell them “mother earth is so glad we’re helping take care of her.” Sometimes they roll their eyes. Most of the time though they remember not to leave things running.
Back in the 70’s, my mom had to call this being poor. Thankfully we get to be “green” instead. After all, blessed are the broke, for they shall inherit the earth. And since someday it will be ours, we’d like it to still be livable.