It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Image: Simon Howden /

I am constantly trying to be more green–aka, environmentally conscious. Since I preach to my kids that it is our duty to take care of the Earth and all its citizens (animal and human), it also helps to give them real-life lessons in being green.

Our first change was several years ago when we gave up bottled water. We were going through cases and cases of the stuff every week. We needed a fork lift at Costco to carry it to the van. Then came all the information about BPAs and bottled water essentially being over-priced tap water. So I got a refrigerator with a filter and we drink water from there.

Last fall one of the twins’ friends asked for a bottle of water. Jermaine brought him over to me and said, “tell X why we don’t do bottled water.” I gave him my mini speech, saw the shock and dismay, reassured him that the refrigerator was filtered (See, the green light means the filter is good!), and hope he isn’t too scarred by the experience.

We don’t use paper plates. I use environmentally-safe cleaning products. To take that even further, I am considering cleaning my house with only baking soda and vinegar. We buy very few processed foods. I’m not sure if that’s environmentally sound or nutritionally. Although I still buy cream of something soups to cook with.

But my latest attempt to make us even greener was a dismal failure. Last week Jim broke the lawnmower and it couldn’t be fixed. Off we went to Menard’s. (Yes, Joel, I know we should have gone to Home Depot! lol) Where I managed to convince Jim that a push mower (that is the old fashioned mower with no engine!) was the right choice for our family. I even pointed out how they had a model with a bag to catch the grass clippings. Jim’s easy and agreed.

We got home and I left Jim in the garage putting the push mower together. An hour later, I realized he hadn’t come inside yet. I went off to investigate and found him in the front yard, shaking his head and muttering under his breath. I didn’t actually hear the words, but my lip reading skills saw lots of profanity.

Calmly, he pointed out that the push mower was a piece of crap. It stops and stalls. The clipper catcher has to be dumped every four feet or the mower jams. He explained that even our non-English speaking neighbor assured him it was crap by trying it out, laughing and rolling his eyes. Of course, I don’t believe him and give it a try myself.

That lasted about five minutes because I cannot be in the sun. There was nothing entertaining enough about the push mower to entice me to risk illness from being in the sun. But Aaron thought it looked swell and jumped at the chance to mow the back yard.

Except it keeps stopping and stalling. He has to empty the clipper catcher every four feet. Which is difficult, because he’s stopping every three feet and wailing, “Can I stop now? I don’t want to mow!” Jim, who has now moved on to planting the plants I insisted we buy (a lilac bush, a grape plant and some begonias) yells, “Mow the damn yard!”

I was still convinced we could make this work. “We” being Jim and the boys, because I cannot be in the sun. I proudly tell Kelly about our purchase. And she mocked me. Yes, my best friend mocked me. She asked me what the heck I was doing to Jim, making him mow the lawn with a push mower. Even funnier was Kelly’s daughter who thought that “push mower” meant not self-propelled. She didn’t realize it meant engine-less!

Plus, the push mower did a really lousy job of actually mowing–stopping, stalling, and emptying aside. The grass was not even. Jim is a little neurotic about lawn appearance, so this was not acceptable.

Jim nearly wept with joy when I told him we should return the push mower and get something with an engine. We discuss getting an electric one. But on Saturday when it came time to exchange it, he’s so darn excited that we go in, pick a mower and flee. Maybe he was afraid I’d decide we needed to stay green…

But, no matter how much Kelly mocks me for my latest greenification, I am not getting rid of the washcloths I am using to replace all the napkins. No more paper! Into the laundry they go, they get washed and dried, and returned to the kitchen.

Now to get rid of the paper towels…maybe some solar panels…no cars…

4 thoughts on “It Ain’t Easy Being Green

  1. When you first talked about the push mower, I wondered how long it would last. I have heard they tend to be tough. Now, paper towells, I was to the point the only thing I would use paper towells for was cleaning glass. I found some 100% cotton towells in Wal-Mart, they looked like the towells Grandma Trout used to dry dishes. Very light wieght and thin. This is what I use to clean glass with now. I do a load of whites every week anyway, just drop them along with everything else.

  2. The push mower was a pipe dream! It really was funny to think it would work. Hey, I tried. But I guess technology outweighs green sometimes! I know what towels you are talking about–the ones I have are embroidered by my Aunt Darlene and I won’t use them because I don’t want to mess them up! By the way, I am really impressed you sort your clothes before washing. We don’t!

  3. I’ve used an electric mulching mower for many years. No clippings to dispose of, they just go back to the soil. My neighbour has a push mower she uses occasionally, but I’ve noticed her motor mower gets more use.

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