Posted in environmental issues, extraschooling

Spring into Action

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If I have learned anything in motherhood, it is that you better be ready to put your money where your mouth is. I can hardly expect my child to believe something is important unless I do.

Or can I?

Lesson #2: I am learning at least as much from my child as he is from me. The third lesson would likely be my child is a better person than I am. Thankfully, with him to guide me, there is hope though.

No joke, my son was born with an intolerance for trash. We would go walking before he was even verbal and he would point out every single piece of litter, frowning and saying, “Tuh! Tuh!” (Trash in Baby.) I was torn when he got mobile and would walk around cleaning up the playground. Half of me was so proud; the other half was alarmed (“Ew! Germs! Yuck! Safety alert!”). I had to dance through these occasions, as I wanted to preserve his distaste for human failings while not wanting him to grab the discarded tissues on the ground.

He’s five now, and nothing has changed. He is a hearty volunteer when we do clean up projects. He actually put down a brand-new, remote-control truck recently to go pick up a piece of discarded trash and dispose of it. He will make a speech with little provocation about ocean pollution. He was thrilled when we got a grabber and collected trash along our road. He is so excited about all the sustainable items we have switched to (see the section on Take it Outside for more on this).

Today we were driving into town (we live in a rural area; “town” still has less than a 10k population) and were pleased to see a crew had been through to clean the rather obscene amount of litter that has gathered recently. Yet, I was struck by the fact there seemed to be a lot of bags. I mean, I had felt it had hit epic proportions, but… wow. On the way back, I started counting. The crew had only covered a section of highway roughly 2-3 miles; about 2/3 of which was divided highway, so I couldn’t see the bags on the far side. I counted 59. FIFTY-NINE! Let’s say for 2/3 (40 of the bags) I missed about 1/3. That gives us about 13 more. So 72 bags across a, let’s say, 3 mile stretch of road, at 60 mph. That’s 24 bags per mile, which says we were passing one nearly every 2 seconds. I’m sorry, but that’s insane. How does an area – especially one not densely populated – generate that kind of litter? How is this the world into which I am sending my son?

At home, I couldn’t let it go. I posted about it. I fumed about it. Then I got wise – and I asked my son about it: “What can we do, Bubby?” He looked at me over his dinner plate and replied, “We can do more.”

Yes, we can.

We decided that, with a new season in the air, we can do a little spring cleaning. Every week we will venture out at least once to make a dent in the trash. Whether this means bringing a bag while we hike, surveying the park while we play, hunting up our road for a mile or two, or whatever else, we don’t yet know. But there will be a pack of gloves and a handful of bags in the car, at the ready. So we can do more.

I was reading A Warmer World to him the other night and kept being struck by the fact that dates they mentioned would fall within his lifetime. I will admit, I was the lazy person who hated when I was forced to do the extra task of rinsing something and putting it in the recycling bin. I wanted to do right by the environment, sure, but it was more by way of warm wishes than by any actual effort. Those days are gone. We can’t act like litter is not our problem because we didn’t toss it out our car window; we can’t assume nothing can ever improve and not try; we can’t hope our children do better than us and clean up the mess. Whether we like it or not, we’re in this together. What one does to pollute, the other is also stuck with the result. We may not have all caused the mess – at least parts of it – but the responsibility lies on the shoulders of everyone – especially since we model what values the next generation should uphold.

We’ve accepted our challenge. What will yours be?

Please join us for Spring Into Action 2020. Clean up your community. Start some sustainable habits. Walk when you can. Reduce consumption. Open a window rather than adjusting the thermostat. Just say no to single-use items. Learn about the issues. Working on those 1000 hours outside? Awesome – get out there and help. And please: comment, reach out, join us on Facebook – stay connected. Because we are.


Who am I? Foremost, the lucky momma of an amazing boy. To be perfectly honest, I am less his teacher than he is my inspiration - I have learned at least as much from him in the last seven years as he has from me. I am an old-timer at heart; I'd rather live on a farm, garden, crochet, and raise my kid out in the sun than anything else. I'm a bit of a technological dinosaur, more geared toward life where you can get your hands dirty and have some fun exploring, learning, and growing. I'm a homeschooled, homeschooling single parent with a passion for my son, nature, and the simple life. I am not here to pretend I know it all or lay out the research or provide a step-by-step game plan. I hope to encourage and inspire families to join in the journey of learning together - and have the fun that life is supposed to be made of along the way. Happy exploring!

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