Nick and I try to live an eco-friendly life. We're not perfect, but we sacrifice in our student budget to consume in an eco-friendly way, and we are always trying to make improvements. Everything we use to clean our house, dishes, and clothing is earth-friendly. We buy recycled paper products. Luke's diapers and wipes are eco-friendly (affordable because of Amazon Mom). We recycle. I air-dry the lion's share of our laundry. We eat meat sparingly, and only buy vegetarian-fed meat. We've got re-useable shopping bags. As we've shopped for furniture for our new apartment, we've sought out sustainable and eco-friendly products (Thank you, Wal-Mart), and Luke's moses basket, crib, and mattress were all eco-friendly. I don't list these things to pat myself on the back, but just to say, these are things we've managed to do in our student life.
But when I think about this little guy...
and so many others like him, I feel wracked with guilt. My mind starts racing about what I can do better. Could I use my car less? When can I learn how to sew so I can make napkins, produce bags, snack bags? Could we possibly afford organic produce? How can I remember to not just turn things off, but unplug them? Where can I find bio-degradable trash bags? Could we switch to eco-friendly toiletries? Can we use less water, less electricity? I know there's more. I know I could do more, because everyone in America could do more. It's worth the hassle, and it's worth the money.
There are the big, charismatic poster species for environmentalism and conservation--polar bears, tigers, elephants. I feel for them. When I see footage of starving polar bears fighting their way through slushy, unstable ice, I feel like I can't breathe. But in some ways, it's the little r-strategists that grip my conscience. Maybe having my own child makes me think like this, but when I read the Washington Post article, all I could think of was pied flycatcher parents, searching and searching for food for their little ones, and finding nothing.