In the midst of global warming, a gas crisis, and water rationing, I realize how much I don’t know about what is the most environmentally-friendly way to do things. Couple that with some skepticism of the lore of the latest and greatest way to do things, and I am paralyzed. Every latest and greatest has a pitfall, and that’s what I wait to hear about–a story that upholds what I believe so I can cling to that.

For instance, when I was pregnant with my first child there was a lot of hubbub about using cloth diapers instead of disposable because the landfills were in danger of being stuffed with Huggies. Huh? What on earth do you do with dirty cloth diapers when you are at the mall or Disneyland? I knew that I was not going to use cloth diapers but was fearful that I would be a bad mom for not being more eco-friendly. I prayed for someone develop a biodegradable polymer that soaks up moisture away from baby’s skin by the time I delivered.

Then I read an article that saved me. It said that the chemicals used to clean cloth diapers were worse for the environment than disposables posed a threat of filling the landfills. Yay! There was a good reason for choosing Luvs!

Today with water rationing and the push to recycle EVERYTHING, I really do not know what is better: using paper plates or washing dishes; using paper napkins or cloth napkins that need to be washed; have the kids use plastic Solo cups and recycle them or wash cups. I am frozen in fear of making the wrong decision. Okay, not frozen, just curious.

I bought some bathroom shower cleaner by 7th Generation that labeled itself environmentally-friendly. I like that idea. Especially for use in the shower where I don’t want to run the risk of standing in bleach and burning my feet. Unfortunately, it was about half as effective as the regular Clorox spray I use. I read the label and found that the environmentally-friendly ingredient was hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach. I am totally perplexed on this one. Hydrogen peroxide reacts with water and reacts with light (that’s why the straight stuff is packaged in a brown bottle). Chlorine, however, is used as an agent in our water source to clean it. How can the hydrogen peroxide be better than chlorine bleach? I am thinking they are both as bad on my feet if I stand in them, but one actually would keep my tile clean.

I was surprised to read on a “green” website that they supported buying in bulk because it was fewer packages. On the otherhand, let’s not overlook the re-packaging of the bulk items. Little Ziplocs for lunches, big Ziplocs for storage, and a full recycling bin of cardboard.

Now waste has many different categories. There’s standard recycling of cans, plastic and glass; then there is e-waste, or electronic waste, which is plastic-encased electronics and cathode ray tube devices (computer monitors, TVs, etc.); universal waste, which is light bulbs and batteries; and household hazardous waste consisting of aerosol cans and paint cans. You are not supposed to carelessly dispose of any of it. That means you can’t just put it in the trash. Everything needs unique care and packaging to contain it and returned to special places to take care of it. When did trash become so labor intensive?

Overall though, the most befuddling question I have is why, with all the push to reduce, reuse and recycle, do we still print phone books?

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