Green Mama: Kelly’s Top 10 Reason to Live a Greener Lifestyle

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer

Let’s Hear It For The Bear

(ccl) Alan Vernon

Photo credit: Alan Vernon

Apparently no one told the neighborhood bear that the McIlquham’s were making an attempt to live greener and had enough forces working against them in their attempts to do so, so we most definitely did not need his/her help in thwarting our efforts.

Really, every time we feel like we are making great strides forward, something gets in the way. The spring sports season rules our dietary intake (as I’ve said before there’s nothing organic about the food at the Little League snack bar). My husband or I forget to pick up the organic fruit and vegetable basket for the week and have only canned, processed fruits and veggies to feed our kids for the week. The weather gets so hot and humid that the bedroom feels 50 degrees warmer than a sauna and we break down and put the air conditioning unit in the window. And now the BEAR.

As I might have mentioned in previous posts, we purchased a composter and began using it a couple months ago. We had been wanting to get one for a long time and when my husband came home one day and presented me with this beautiful, green, plastic canister I couldn’t have been happier than if he had done all the laundry, folded it and put it away. I purchased a pretty green countertop canister online to house our daily scraps and the kids were temporarily fighting for the chance to be the one to bring out the scraps and turn the composter. All was well and green at the McIlquham house. But the scraps were not composting as quickly as we had hoped and soon we had two problems. The smell began to deter our children from the chore of emptying the bucket while at the same time attracting our curious neighbor — Mr. or Mrs. Bear.

Each morning we would find the composter pulled of its stand and pushed half-way down the blueberry path. I guess the bear realized the encroaching forest would make it difficult to roll the canister all the way home so he/she developed another tactic: the bear decided to try and remove the compost cover and get at the goods inside, while hanging out in our backyard at all hours of the night.

His first few attempts merely left a few claw marks in the plastic and the composter left to be retrieved from the blueberry path, but it didn’t take long for him to figure out how to get the cover off. That incredibly clever bear was able to rip the screws right out of the plastic and the cover right along with it. After a few choice words, Mark had had it and for a week or two there the unused, coverless composter sat, our scraps making their way back into the trash can. Hey, it was a good effort on our part, but apparently composting in the backwoods of Hinsdale wasn’t meant to be. Or was it? Mark and I began making lists. These lists included all the reasons to continue our green journey. They also included all the ways that we had changed in a few short months. It was unanimous that one of the most noticeable changes was evident in the amount of trash we were collecting (significantly less than the waste months before), and that was a direct result of our recycling and (you guessed it) our composting.

Renewed with our lists my husband (with some help from my dad) found a way to fix the cover, we moved the composter to a sunnier location so it would compost more quickly, smell less thus deterring the bear from the area and not the kids, and we began collecting our scraps again. We are back in composting mode. Yahoo! We even used some of the composted soil to repot a few plants recently.

But I know this is not the end of the “forces that be” and I know somewhere along the line in the not-too-distant future we will contemplate just giving up on this whole green thing and be tempted to go back to living our old, wasteful way of life. So in anticipation of that day I have created a new list of why we should continue on this journey, for myself and my family … maybe it will help you when various forces of nature try to thwart your environmental efforts.

Kelly’s top 10 reasons to live a greener, more environmentally friendly, health conscious lifestyle: 

10. It gives the resident bear something to do in the evenings. Hey those nights can get long (and boring apparently).

9. Growing your own garden gives your husband one more thing to do on the honey-do list. If he has difficulty sitting still as my husband does that could be a good thing. If not, maybe it’s one more thing to put on your honey-do list (As if there wasn’t enough already?) and scrap this reason if that is the case.

8. It gives us mothers one more thing to feel guilty about because we haven’t done it well enough or perfect enough or at all. And hey, what’s life as a mother without that eternal parental guilt hanging over your shoulder.

7. By living greener many of us have definitive proof that we have NOT become our mothers. Sorry mom.

6. For the first time in a long time you feel less removed from such environmental tragedies as the BP oil spill and you can live a Little easier knowing that at least you are trying to do your part to care for the environment. Now if you can only raise an educated, environmentally conscious, genius of a child who could invent something that would prevent something like this from ever happening again …

5. Eating organic food gives your children another reason to complain about the food your cooking. “I like the non-organic broccoli better.” Seriously?

4. It gives you an excuse to get a newer, more practical, more gas-efficient vehicle. OK my new Vera-Cruz is not a hybrid and probably not the BEST option in environmentally friendly cars, but it HAS to be better for the environment than my giant eight-year-old SUV was. Right?

3. Your family now has an excuse to have a slumber party in the basement where it is cooler and you all get to sleep in sleeping bags on the floor instead of in your nice, big, comfy bed upstairs with the energy-sucking air conditioner. Let’s hear it for energy-conservation and family togetherness. (Did I hear an Ugh there?)

2. It gives you one more reason to get outside and get moving (on a bike, on your feet, anywhere but in the car) which is never a bad thing. At least that’s what I keep telling my severely out of shape self.

And … drum roll please …

1. It just feels good inside and out to know you are making a difference, and taking care of the environment is just the right thing to do!


Kelly Bevan McIlquham

Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, two black labs, a cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate in the Berkshires where she especially enjoys writing family- and education-related articles and her monthly “Parent to Parent” column. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her work published by Wee Ones online family magazine. Her new blog “Green Mama” chronicles her journey as a “green” parent in every sense of the word — from her parenting naiveté to living greener. When not writing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games.

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