Friday, February 12, 2010

I Don't Take These Things Lightly

Next Tuesday will be a double-whammy weight-loss-biggest-loser post. I have a picture of myself weighing in on Tuesday, but I'll just have to post it alongside next week's picture. We're all okay with an extra week, right? If we gained, we'll lose. If we lost, we'll lose more. See how great it is??

My Carbon Footprint

Well, according to extreme-environmentalists, it probably stinks. I haven't taken any of those online tests (that I can remember), but I do know a couple of things:

1. I do not think I am environmentally or socially irresponsible. Some people disagree with me, and that's fine. I disagree with them on all kinds of things, too. It's only fair.
2. Before I list the things I do, I want you to be aware, dear reader, that I do these things because I want to. And I have been doing them for years and years. I don't do them because the government wants me to. I have never seen Al Gore's movie. I don't care what the Lear-jet-flying man thinks. I do this because my Church (gasp!!) has taught me to be a steward of the Earth. I do these things because I love the Earth and I love God. Plus, I have some intelligence.
3. Having a big family is constantly looked down upon by environmentalists as socially and environmentally irresponsible. I'll talk about why it's actually the reverse in a bit. But first!

What I do (this list isn't perfect, but it's honest):
  • Recycle. A lot.
  • Buy used goods; donate used goods. Garage sales, Deseret Industries, KSL (the Craigslist of Utah), etc.
  • Energy-saving light bulbs
  • h/e washer/dryer
  • Brandon drives a Prius, but come summer, he'll be biking to/from work.
  • Our kids walk to/from school, except the Kindergartner --we have a neighborhood carpool after school for them.
  • I turn off the lights (and get after the kids/husband if they don't).
  • I try to buy locally, especially produce.
  • I don't buy Styrofoam and hate to buy plastic unless it's recyclable in my city.
  • We only get the Sunday paper. And then recycle it.

Like I said, it's not perfect. I mean, I still shop at WalMart (it's closer than Target by about 6 miles) and I still drive to church when it's cold (yeah, that's really bad). I also don't have a garden, yet (curse my black thumb!), but anyone who reads this blog knows that gardening is a huge dream of mine. So, yeah. It's not perfect. But I'm trying. And like I said, I'm not doing it for anybody else. I do it because I want to.

Now, as far as having a large family:

I know there are several women the world over (mostly in the UK) who have decided to sterilize themselves in order to protect the Earth. To me, that's just ignorant. I won't even address that. However, I have come under attack in the past for being socially and environmentally irresponsible for having "so many" children. Here is my counter to that:

  • Chances are, all of my children will go to college, get jobs, and be responsible citizens in their communities. Every. Single. One. It won't matter if we end up with 10 kids --they will all have the chance. This is due to A. their parent's stable marriage and B. their parent's education level. Now, if I was a single mother on welfare and I kept having children? Yeah, that's irresponsible. But my children will become hard-working, educated, Earth-saving adults. Because they have hard-working, educated, Earth-saving parents.
  • Larger families can be more Earth-friendly than smaller families. They can! I mean, one energy-saving light bulb can light a room for 1 person or for 14 people. Doesn't matter. Hand-me-downs and used merchandise is a must because of the size! My kids don't pine for new things; the used ones are good enough. Larger families tend to have more food storage, gardens, used goods, and carpools. Meals are stretched further in order to save money.
  • The idea of over-population is ignorant when we're talking race. It takes two children to replace two adults. Even then, they will only replace the adults, not replenish. If people end up having less children (1 to 2 per couple), we're talking race extinction. It doesn't matter which race or culture it is, it will eventually die out. We all talk about how awful it is when entire civilizations have died out or are about to die out (Native Americans, that one Chinese race Genghis Khan obliterated, the Incas, the Aboriginals in Australia, tribes in New Guinea, tribes in Africa, etc.), but holy cow! Who knew we could do it to ourselves by just not having enough children in the name of ecology??!

I know my post the other day ruffled some feathers and it was irresponsible of me to word them in such a way. But I guess my point was that I'm tired of being told I'm destroying the Earth when --in fact --I am not. The inversion in Utah has been around since the 1800's --it's not my fault, and I'm tired of being told it is. The ice-caps have been melting since who-knows-when (and reported in the 1920's), and I'm tired of being told it's my fault. Political environmentalism and extremism is a disease that causes fear and prejudice. Should we do our best to take care of the Earth? Yes. Should we do it because we care about the Earth? Yes. But when we're bullied into it by a few who think they know all the answers, it isn't fair. When we're told we're not doing good enough because we have a lot of children, it isn't fair. I have a college degree. I have a brain. I have charity-driven, Earth-day-lovin' children whom I teach. I don't take these things lightly.
The irony is that I never have.

*Last point: I don't take these things lightly "regardless" of my Mormon religion --I do it BECAUSE of my Mormon religion. Now, don't that beat all!


Michelle said...

I love you Cheryl. I truly do. We are also recyclers/walkers/reusers, but share your opinion that our six children will only improve the earth, not destroy it.

p.s. I'm sending a link of this post to my hubby. He'll love it!

Dianne said...

Very, very well said!

Courtney N said...

So there is this website called something like "Erasing your Carbon footprint" and if you give them 20 bucks they'll plant a tree in your name. There is another website that if you give them a dollar they'll go and chop a tree down in your name. I thought it was funny because the second website realizes that just because you plant a tree doesn't mean you are saving the world and erasing your carbon foot print.

You should plant a tree. Ignorant people may respect you for it. : )

Alison Wonderland said...

I recycle because the city gave me another can but they get mad if I just throw any old thing in there. (But mostly I just like having the second can.)

I do however like planting trees.

Kara said...


Let me start by saying YOU ROCK!!! I totally agree that if you teach children they will follow, it doesn't matter how many of them there are. We both have degrees and are productive people and our kids will grow up, go to college, and be productive. We make a lasting impression on our kids. If they grow up recycling and taking care of the earth they will continue to do so. My kids are constantly reminding me to recycle stuff...

We are walkers, recyclers, energy savers, gardeners...

Ignorant people suck. People should never judge, and especially if they are not educated. There are a lot of things that people can do to preserve what the earth gives us but to be critical of others because of size of family is definately not one of them.

Every child can make a difference to the world and it doesn't matter who they belong to.


Julie said...

I have never en ountered the big family judgement thing...even outside of Utah in our years of schooling. We were always supported, etc in our desire to have a biggish family.
We make efforts to conserve,although Stanton drives a Jeep so that pretty much negates all our other efforts. I enjoy recycling, my kids walk to school, we carpool to activities, and I actually try not to drive on red air days. I know the inversions have been around for eons, but I still believe my driving habits make a difference in the quality of air within that inversion. I personally believe we play a role in our planet's weather patterns. I'm not naiive enough to believe we play the only role, but I do believe we play a role. With that in mind, I make efforts to care for my little portion of the planet. Also, I really, truly love this earth and want to be kind to it. I hope my kids will learn that from me.

Cardalls said...

Amen and Amen! I too try to be a good steward to my part of the earth and I teach my kids to not litter, recycle, turn off lights etc....

I too believe my children will be great contributors to society. In fact I heard a talk once about someone who was being critical of a mother for having a large family. The mother responded with something along the lines of them growing up to be good citizens etc. The critic said, "Well how do you know they will be?" She stared him down and said, "I'm betting my life on it because I'm dedicating my life to them." I massacred the story, but it is a good one!

nweames said...

I really appreciate your comments. Children are a blessing no matter how many. And in your case, especially, they are blessed when they come and the world will only be better because they are in it.