Material Girl

The other day my almost 4 year old said to me, ” Mommy, I hope I get lots of presents for my birthday!” I was taken aback, although when I reflect  on my own childhood, and think of millions of other children in developed countries, that is probably the consensus.

My husband and I have been pretty good at limiting the amount of “stuff” our kids have accumulated. I can remember while I was on maternity leave with my oldest we went to a few play dates in our neighbourhood. I was amazed at the families whose houses had been overrun by toys for a 6 month old baby. How many toys does a kid need? Sure they are interactive and can be educational. Yet when you live in a small house and every room has been consumed, where do you draw the line? Watching my kids at some of these houses, they tend to get overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin playing as there are too many choices.

At Christmas time I had planned on giving our niece and nephews pajamas and books. My mother-in-law suggested we get them each a toy as well, as she thought they wouldn’t be interested in our gift if there was no toy in it. Recently I read an article in the Calgary Herald stating there was a recent study done at fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s, on the food choices of children. If the toy was only offered in a healthy alternative meal, then the healthy option was chosen over the less healthy option.

I am really starting to feel frustrated over our reliance on consumerism.

I can’t say that I’m a saint and live completely sustainable and go without. Yet I have started to become more and more aware. My husband and I have been watching some different documentaries on Netflix lately. One he watched was about how our parents generation was the one that created the mass consumer market.

Take a look back in time to when our grandparents were kids. Most of them grew up on farms, and growing up during the depression, you learned to live without. I can recall stories from my grandparents of living without. My one grandma had to share a single doll with her 2 older sisters, while my other grandmother would take a week to eat a single piece of licorice. Also, most of our grandparents would have had vegetable gardens on their farms to help feed their families. My one set of grandparents even had a vegetable garden while they were still living in their house. We grew up on homegrown carrots, potatoes, peas, onions, beets, etc. Today, the majority of us are dependent on mass agriculture to provide our food. This mass agriculture is causing it’s own problems with GMO’s, mono-crops, and the over abundance use of pesticides and other chemicals. Not to mention the feed lots and the state of how the animals are treated before coming to our tables.

How many of our parents planted gardens when we were growing up? How many have taught us that living with a little is okay, instead of living with a lot?

I sometimes feel torn between 2 worlds. One part of me loves to look at fashion and interior decorating magazines. I even joined a multilevel marketing company to sell jewelry (of which I am amassing way too much). Since joining a jewelry company I have started to realize it is not my forte. It’s not mandatory, yet I feel some what peer pressured into looking good and wearing the latest fashions. (My closet is still minimal compared to what some people’s closets are.) One of the incentive trips was a glam getaway to New York city. A girl I know who was one of the lucky incentive earners said she was going to need to leave her credit card at home, as she knew some of the girls were planning a major shopping spree.

My other world consists of my nutrition friends who are teaching us about raw foods, collecting spring water, conscious parenting, co-sleeping with our children, etc.

This spring I decided I wanted to plant a garden. I had started my seedlings a bit late in the season, and we ended up not getting my garden in our yard made, so I settled to do a potted garden. I wasn’t super diligent and forgot to water the plants. a couple of times. Needless to say they didn’t survive. I’m not going to quit. I’m in the midst of trying to sprout lemon grass (I got hooked on it while in Costa Rica), as well, we have been quite successful in growing our own herbs. I have also pulled out the gravel our previous home owner had laid in the flower beds, and have started returning the flower beds back to their former glory.

Living in a small town has also allowed us to reduce the amount we use our car. We try to walk as much as we can, and I have decided to resurrect my 20 year old bicycle. It still needs a lube job, yet I have decided to give it a chance of being my mode of transportation once again. Why run out and get a new bike when a little TLC will fix up the old one.

What are you doing to live more sustainable?

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