my impact on the earth, my mother’s influence on me

I am feeling “earth-concious” today.  I found this quiz that you can take to find out what your impact on the earth is.  Basically, you find out how many acres of resources it takes to sustain your lifestyle.  Worldwide, there are 4.5 acres of resources for every person on the planet.  In the United States, the average person uses 24 acres of resources.  Digest that fact alone before you move on.  Wow.  My quiz results say that I use 22 acres of resources.  So great, I’m using 2 fewer acres than the average American.  (Sense the sarcasm.)  But as it says, “If everyone lived like you, we would need 4.9 planets.”  Yikes. 

There is one obvious thing that you would think would cause me to be so…consuming.  I live 20 miles from my job, and I drive there every day in my car.  That fact has been bothering me a little for a couple of weeks.  Not the driving, I don’t mind that.  Just the impact.  I, alone, could use so much less gas, and create so much less pollution by living 5 miles away instead.  Hmm.  I could take public transportation, but I’ve looked into that, and believe me–in this city, it would take hours!

Believe it or not, though, only 1.7 of my acres are used in mobility.  The other categories are food, shelter, and goods/services.  I’m going to have to go back and take the test again to see how I got such high scores in those categories. 

This is as good a time as any to talk about what I alluded to the other day…I am my mother’s daughter after all.  She was the one who encouraged reduce/reuse/recycle at our home.  I don’t remember NOT recycling, even though it meant packing it in the trunk and taking it to town on the way to the grocery store.  Reduce/reuse/recycle has been so well burned into my brain that I can’t NOT think about it!  You can’t JUST recycle…First, you find out if you can make a choice that will bring less waste into your home to begin with.  (ex-buying one large container of applesauce instead of the little individual packs)  Then, with the waste you have, you find out if there’s any way to reuse it.  (ex-washing out the applesauce jar and using it to store something else)  Finally, after you’ve used it all you can, you recycle it.  (obviously-recycle the applesauce jar)  In any case, between the recycling and the homemade food and many other things that I feel strongly about, I think it’s obvious that the two of us are actually related… 

It’s funny, because I have a rebelious streak a mile long.  Most people might not even see it, but I know for a fact my mother knows it’s there!  At this stage in my life, it’s only a war with myself.  I rebel against the rules I make for myself.  But not too many years ago, it was full-blown, all-out teenage behavior towards my poor mother.  I can only hope that I was the most difficult of the four of us, and prepared her well for the next three.  Only she knows.  In any case, the end result of all this rebelling was that for a long time, I wanted to be as different from her as possible.  I wanted to be more ME and less HER.  Just to clarify, it wasn’t because of her, it was because of me.  I could have had any mother in the world, no matter how different or similar to my mom, and my stupid self would have still needed to be different from HER, whoever she was!  Actually, at the tender age of 25, I’m just barely coming out of it.  It comes and goes, and from day to day you never know whether I will be as accepting of our similarities as I am right now, or if I will be battling to be different just for the sake of being different.

It turns out, after all this “maturing” or whatever, that some of the things that best define me, I got from HER.  🙂  My mother was baking whole wheat bread long before anyone was preaching about the benefits of whole grains.  She protected us from the influence of sugar just as most kids were discovering kool-aid and candy.  She stayed home with her children in a generation that taught women to put career above family.  She breast-fed her babies when lots of babies were getting formula from the day of birth.  She slept with her babies just when “co-sleeping” was becoming such a huge, controversial issue.  And she did all these things without making us one bit aware that our family was so out of the norm.  I can’t even begin to thank her for the impact those things have had on my life.  She did things according to what she believed was best for her family.  And possibly the best part–she taught us to be non-judgemental.  Everyone makes the choices they believe are best.  She chose to stay home with us, for example, but I was never taught that it was “better” than having two working parents.  It was just what my parents chose for our family.  There are lots of things that I would do the same as her, and many things that I would choose differently.  And many of those I’m sure I’ll change my mind a hundred times before I have my own family!  But the point is, she taught me to make my choices based on what I believe is right, and what is right for me, rather than what seems to be what most people do.  It’s a tough thing for me, since I am easily pulled into wanting what is “normal,” or what everyone else does.  But whenever I do succeed at making a choice Mom’s way, it’s always right.


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