The Best Thing Moms Can Do for the Planet

After the EG Conference, I was so eager to get home and share some of the presentations with my kids.  My 10 yr old is REALLY into animals and also really into submarines. She’s the kid who finds her bliss at the aquarium and at the zoo.

When she was 3, we were having a conversation in the car about how the season was changing; winter was over and spring was coming. I heard her sobbing in the backseat and asked if she was OK.  Her face was red and blotchy and covered in tears and she said “winter is over and I didn’t see a single penguin.”  It was heartbreaking and adorable.

Her older sisters and I did a terrible job of stifling our laughter and putting on a somber face when we realized how very serious she was. I had no idea that she’d spent her winter with her eyes peeled on the lookout for penguins, as if they’re the sort of creature that “comes out” in the winter.

On her 4th birthday she had an epic tantrum meltdown because none of us got her a submarine for her birthday, as if submarines are just something they carry at Camping World. is Camping World a thing? It sounds like a thing.  And to her credit, at the top of every single wish list she had the word “submarine” very clearly written.

She’s an awesome kid, and usually pretty mellow on the emotional scale, but she has big feels about animals (I think she’s over the submarine thing) and it’s one of a million things I love about her.

One of the conference talks was by Sylvia Earl.  I only knew her as a children’s book author but apparently she’s also pretty damned amazing in the grown-up world too. In fact, TIME magazine named her the First Hero For The Planet in 1998.  She’s spent a great deal of her life under water, living in Submarines and diving all throughout the world’s oceans.  She is my daughter’s newest hero.

My 13 yr old has always been interested in sustainability.  If I’m being optimistic, my ex husband’s commitment to organics in his cannabis farming probably had a great impact on her in this way.  At the time, we were living amidst apple orchards in Eastern Washington and saw first hand how often and how toxic the pesticides and herbicides were.

Several times a week, a tractor pulling big plastic tanks would come through, the drivers were always covered in protective gear, often shooing the kids inside while a green cloud of funk sprayed out of either side of the tank. For days afterward, we were plagued with headaches and sore throats. The kids loved playing near a pond, catching tadpoles and feeding ducks and one day the surface was covered in dead frogs.

Field trips to natural areas like watershed research centers, fisheries and protected wildlife areas have taught my kids about the human threats that impact animal populations and inspire them to protect these creatures. When we were active in Girl Scouting the kids learned a lot about how lucky we are to have access to clean drinking water.

The world is a fragile, yet somewhat resilient place and not quite as big as we sometimes think it is.  Previous generations have been taught to consume (for the good of the economy) and I’m pretty sure that one of the wisest things I can teach my own kids is that preservation and sustainability is a better approach.  Their passion for technology and the environment can make the world a better place.

The years we spent living in poverty can teach them that solutions need to be accessible to everyone, not just the privileged.  Right now, families living in poverty in urban areas can’t always afford to “shop local” or to be mindful of the impact of their buying decisions. Wal-Mart survives for a reason. But with so many people struggling financially, solutions that work need to also be affordable and accessible for everyone.

Traveling full time was my original plan for helping my kids learn about human rights and other cultures, but the reality is that I will probably never get to go anywhere ever. (Yes, I’m pouting and bitter). Whatever. Home is pretty wonderful and I don’t have the energy to go anywhere anyway.

But we can still learn about the experiences of people in other parts of the world. Next week we’ll be visiting The Compassion Experience, a traveling exhibit that allows visitors to “experience other cultures, the realities of global poverty, and how you can change the life of a child living half a world away.”  Since it’s a church sponsored event, their idea of changing the lives of kids in third world countries will probably involve donating money to their ministry.  MASSIVE EDIT- I do not recommend that at all. I’d like to rant and rave about what a horrible experience that was, how they’re part of the problem and not the solutions in this world but I’m too angry right now. I had doubts but I was open minded.  All my doubts were confirmed and then some, it’s worse than I imagined. 

Luckily, there are programs like Heifer International  and other dogma-free ways that we can donate if we ever happen to have a spare dollar.  In the meantime, we can also start learning and talking more about free trade and slavery throughout the world and explore social justice issues and make more conscious decisions that way.  I hope that as they grow up they’re able to build lives for themselves that include a traveling budget.

I think that’s it for today. I’d love to get more resources for teaching my kids how to be better global citizens, feel free to share what you’ve got. Have a beautiful day <3


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