Let me make something perfectly clear: I am not a tree hugger.
Ok so I did hug this ONE tree. Fine. But there was a perfectly good reason for it. It was a really beautiful day in downtown Dallas and my sweet Grandmother and I wanted to give this tree a great big hug, so we did. I mean seriously, look at that thing…it’s a monster. Gorgeous. Just to be clear here, actually wrapping your arms around a tree does not make one a radical “tree hugger”. I don’t go around keying Hummers and burning down new home developments like those crazed ding dongs. I’ve just always felt I had a duty to do my part, small as it may be, to not junk up my little patch of Earth.
Oh and happy Day!
My big brother and I were raised to “think green” even before being “green” was anything other than a queasy physical state. Best example: Mom made us bring our lunch bags home from school each day (do kids even use those anymore?)…and it really drove the nuns at St. Pius crazy. After lunch in the school cafeteria, the nuns would go around to make sure we all threw our trash away properly but noooooooo, Carla had to neatly fold up her little brown bag and bring it back home. Drove the nuns insane. But that’s how Mom wanted it. And to this day I still cannot see Mom as an environmentalist. She’s not, I don’t think… I don’t really know what possessed her. But anyway, the seeds were planted years ago.
Using canvas bags at the grocery store is second nature for me these days. And because of the loss of my income, I’m at the grocery store more than ever…picking out things that I actually cook now (and occasionally torch by mistake).
We used to buy packages of everything. If we wanted mashed potatoes, we picked up those plastic tubs of potatoes you stick in the microwave. (SO wrong on SO many levels, but that’s another story) If we wanted lemon or lime juice, we snagged those cute little plastic bottles of juice. Our orange juice came in gigantic plastic jugs. Soap Shower gel bottles clogged up our shower. We bought bagged lettuce and so on and so forth. We both worked crazy hours and figured this was the only way to go.
Talk about change. Since my layoff…we do things quite differently when it comes to our groceries, mainly out of a need to save money. Then I started noticing the environmental impact of those changes. For instance, if I’m going to whip up mashed potatoes, I now actually MASH potatoes. What a concept! That means no more plastic tub. We try to buy fewer of those shower gel products. A couple of bars of soap do just fine. That means no more plastic bottles. We now buy cans of frozen orange juice. Again, no more gigantic plastic bottles. And sure, most of those plastics CAN be recycled, but I think about it like this: it took petroleum to make (some of) the plastics in the first place and it will take energy to recycle that jug or bottle into whatever it’s going to turn into. So we just skip it now, when possible.
Even though we are trying to save money, we do still buy quite a few organic products mainly for the boys, since they’re so little now. But you don’t have to buy EVERYthing organic…and that’s where you can cut corners.
As for beef and poultry, I actually buy raw beef and poultry now and (attempt to) cook it myself. Again, what a concept, right!? We used to buy meats that were prepared and packaged in their plastic tubs…the ones that you toss into the microwave. We’d also buy chicken that was pre-marinated. Now, mama’s doing all the marinating. I’m a marinating fool and I love it. I won’t lie, it was a HUGE adjustment for me to start cooking beef and chicken on my own. For the record, I honestly do not know one other girl my age who knows as little about cooking as me. No one. (I’m rollin’ out the bus…here we go) Up until just a few months ago, I, RecessionMama Carla, had a totally irrational fear of raw chicken. Just couldn’t bring myself to touch it. Not unless I was fully protected against our evil friends, Sal, Moe and Nella….
…but since buying a Hazmat suit was totally not in the trimmed down budget, I had to put on my big girl britches, ask Mom to step aside (yes, she was helping me cook chicken for a few weeks..I’ll admit it. Thanks Ma!) and just grope that chicken while trying to keep from fainting. But it got easier. Now I’m an old pro at it. I was tested recently however, when…covered in chicken juice…I discovered hundreds of millions of ants had invaded my pantry. The old me would have passed out, come to, then called 911, but RecessionMama stood firm, rinsed off, grabbed some ammo and opened a can on those pantry ants.
Who knew that cutting corners would actually lead to 1) good things for our planet and 2) repeated examples of britch hitchin’.
(Maybe I am a tree hugger after all…..)