Okay, I know sometimes I, and my eco-conscious comrades, only show the positive pretty side of living green. And it's true there are a ton of positives! Saving the earth and keeping our kids healthier in the long run and all that. The truth, however, is that sometimes it can be difficult. Really difficult.
I mean part of the reason people have junked up the earth so much with toxic chemicals and pollutants is for purposes of convenience, right? We have plastic stuff because it's easier to cart around and more durable than glass and wood, and lighter and easier to manufacture than steel (and more flexible than any of those materials). Many industrial pollutants came into being because it's easier and faster to churn out goods via machinery than by hand. We have toxic preservatives in food and cosmetics because it's easier to buy things that have a long shelf life than try to keep good organic fresh stuff, well, fresh. Driving and flying sure are a lot more convenient and less time-consuming than walking, bike-riding and taking horse-drawn carriages everywhere, isn't it?
So yes, there are downsides to living green. Cleaning with homemade products and eating homemade organic food require taking the time to make all that stuff, and organic food is, indeed, more expensive (and harder to find). Freecycling and thrift shopping can mean it takes a lot longer to find what you're looking for than running to Target or Wal-Mart. Cloth diapers, as much as I love them, can be a real pain in the butt, literally... while it's true that disposables can be the cause of many diaper rashes, cloth diapers also can, if you're struggling (as I have) to find the right detergent and wash routine for your specific washing machine and water type. While it's easy enough to switch brands of disposables, cloth diapering problems can be a bit trickier.
And so I will confess that sometimes my husband and I buy take-out food and even (gasp!) McDonald's, particularly when on road trips. Planning road trips with the baby can be hard enough without remembering to pack lunch for us too! Sometimes we use disposable diapers with antibiotic ointments and steroid creams to combat the worst diaper rashes, and believe me I have sometimes felt the pressure from well-meaning friends and relatives to switch to disposables altogether (and have sometimes considered doing so). And once in a great while we will still head into Target to grab a pack of batteries or other needed item (and in spite of all their packaging and transportation issues, we are still Amazon junkies). We are certainly not homesteaders or zero-wasters yet by any means (maybe someday)!
The truth is that you do what you feel you must do when life gets a little overwhelming. I'm never really proud of these choices but I try not to beat myself up for them either. Because in the end, we keep coming back to our crunchier ways, and in fact as the months go by we commit to even more eco-friendly, though sometimes harder, choices. That is the (sometimes unfortunate) power of conviction: believing that there is true value in what you are doing for the world around you, for the future of your children and the generations to come. Yes, it might be less convenient, and harder in some ways on the pocketbook (or even occasionally on baby's tuchus), and sometimes it's easier to see the downsides than the often long-delayed or seemingly minuscule benefits, but ultimately it's all worth it. Knowing we're lowering our contribution to the onslaught of chemical carcinogens and hormone disruptors on our son, our land and our water supply, even just a tiny bit, keeps me going when the going gets rough.
After all, we all need something to stand for, don't we?