What is Granola?
I believe it was about 5 years ago when one of my friends mentioned the state of being a “granola mom” when recalling her birthing experiences with her two children. At the time I thought it was a pretty corny way of describing being “earthy”, “natural” and the tendency to lean toward products labeled “organic”.
As usual, in life we sometimes end up swallowing our own sarcasm as we walk right into the realm of possibilities we earlier thought ourselves immune. I currently refer to myself as a “granola mom” but with a stipulation that I aim for the 80/20 rule (80% of the time I try to do the best for my family in terms of food and home purchases–that’s not to say I actually make that goal consistently).
In recent years as “living green” and propaganda films like former Vice-President Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” have become common jargon and an underlying mantra for Americans and other citizens of planet Earth. Yet, I have noted flaws in the system of environmentally friendly living that set up many folks for failure when they try do better for themselves and their families.
Let’s begin with one of the most ominous terms; the connotation is so heavy and complicated when we dwell on the word: environment.
As compelling as “The Inconvenient Truth” may have been to some of us and other programs by local groups or cable networks like Discovery and History Channel, these messages have rarely been able to mobilize the majority of those who view them. My guess is that although books and media presentations can espouse protecting the environment, saving the environment and such as strong messages, they lack the simple instructions that the everyday person truly needs. How can I, a mother, a father, a single person help to save the environment? Forget owning a Toyota Prius, it has to be more involved than just one major purchase.
Here’s one idea, how about our personal waste habits? I’m not just talking about having your multicolored recycling bins–although that is a start for many who still just throw everything into the same trash bag at home. Picture this if you can’t get motivated: take a shovel and dig a hole in your backyard (if you have one, if not, imagine a large open trash bin outside your door). After digging the hole, proceed to dump your daily trash into that hole and watch it pile up over the course of the week. In addition to the stench and attraction of bugs, et cetera, you may be getting the idea of how this will go without actually doing it.
That’s what we are all doing every week: we are dumping all of our trash into a big pile in our soil, the soil that feeds us, feeds all the animals around us, some of which we eat, some of which fertilize the other living things called plants that you eat if you are a vegetarian or a vegan.
So my offering is that perhaps all of us (including my flawed self) should actually do something we have sincere control over. Let’s minimize our trash. It costs us next to nothing to do so. It just means we have to be more (gasp!) accountable to ourselves and make the extra effort. Maybe we buy less products that aren’t already packaged in recyclable materials. For those more ambitious, you can email or send snail mail to those companies who don’t use recycled or recyclable packaging. Get your children involved in how they discard trash, they are much more adaptable than us rigid adults–perhaps they could show us the better example!
Another simple instruction that I can envision most people being capable of evolving as a part of their daily habits is directed to those who live near bodies of water used for recreation: beaches, rivers, streams, springs, ponds, lakes and the like.
I love taking my son T.A. to the beach, I’ve always been drawn to the intersection of land and water life crashing into each other on the shores. As I’ve grown older I’ve become highly sensitive to the amount of trash found on the sand at public and private beaches: even the millionaire Palm Beach island is not immune to this tainted condition.
After several years of personal “tsk-tsking” and so-called goals to attend the next annual beach cleaning event (which I NEVER get around to), I finally found initiative after my son tangled himself in beach trash as an infant last year. I grabbed one of my plastic grocery bags usually reserved for the surprise #2 item diaper and used it as both a glove and trash receptacle to pick up the trash around us. A sense of peace descended on me as the sand finally was free of trash around and the bag was chock full of discards.
As I left the beach that fateful day, I looked back as we walked up the stairs to the street level and saw that a young woman was seating herself where we had been and was sitting in what seemed to be the start of a yoga meditation. My heart warmed that we had helped someone else enjoy the beach for their personal purposes without the stress of enduring unnecessary trash.
Ever since I always pick up trash with my son during our beach visits, I know it may not make a huge difference in the big scheme of things. However, imagine the possibilities if everyone who stepped foot onto a beach around the world either picked up trash or avoided littering? The sad reality is that even my beloved Greece’s postcard-worthy beaches are becoming shore landfills with sometimes up to an inch thick of junk on the rocky and sandy shores.
Again, it doesn’t take throwing hundreds and thousands of dollars into drives to clean the beaches and advertising beach cleanup days that even the independently wealthy scarcely attend. It simply takes you and I not allowing ourselves to trash or to ignore the trash by our water hole of choice.
To be continued…in Can We Afford to Be “Granola”? (Part 2)