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May 18, 2007

Kids are not green

Recently, someone at work solicited me to participate in a project called "Sustainable Clintonville" modeled on Sustainable Worthington. You know, the whole green revolution thing: buy locally, bike a lot, walk a lot, decrease your carbon footprint, etc. Who doesn't think this is a good idea (except for people who buy Hummers)?

My wife and I moved to Columbus 7 years ago with no expectations of having a child - not like we didn't try (long story). One day, biology was good to us and voilá, we had our girl. Don't misunderstand, we're darn lucky to have her; she's a gift, a funny, happy go lucky gift. She is also as resource intensive as a Hummer H1 (the big one). No, not the diaper thing (although that's no small waste pile for disposables or no small water usage for non-disposables), it's the way a kid's built.

1. A post secondary education can easily run 120K (in today's dollars); so, it's likely both parents will work and with that comes daycare - two cars, two commutes, two baby seats - consume, consume, consume (we live close enough to our jobs to walk but because of daycare, we drive). I should also mention getting daycare at OSU, closer to where we live, is approximately a 48 month waiting list.

2. Shop only at local farmer's markets. This is a fantasy for us at this stage of her development (not exactly, we go occasionally, it's just an extra stop). She's currently 4. Leisurely shopping to find the best produce isn't exactly what kids like. Kids like running in random patterns burning off steam. And, they can run about 6 straight hours on a peanut butter sandwich. Consequence? I shop at Giant Eagle because I can buy food and socks in one stop.

[Maybe a share in a CSA would be an alternative to consider?]

3. Walk/bike everywhere. Frankie, I'm ecstatic to say, can ride up to 2 miles at a go on her bike (with training wheels). Unfortunately, she gets off her bike every two revolutions of the crank to pick the most beautiful flower in the world, the
Dandelion. And, she has only recently started to walk in straight lines. Kids don't possess the utilitarian goals adults do of walking someplace to get there. They live to smell the roses. We all did it. Can't blame them or deny them this part of their lives.

4. Planning meetings for sustainable action plans. Just typing the words make me glaze over. The agenda-driven meeting can only be tolerated by adults after years of institutionalization. A neighbor, friend and member of our local Simply Living community said their meetings aren't particularly kid friendly.

5. Installing a geothermal heating/cooling system in a pre-existing medium size home (ca. 4-ton capacity) costs approximately $25,000. Problem? See #1. Long term savings but, shit, 25K on top of your mortgage. Maybe for a child-free couple.

6. Kids and, more importantly, parents, NEED playgroups. Chances are, you drive to them. Then soccer, etc. Drive, drive, drive ...

Seems you can be lynched for excessive driving or shopping at Wal-Mart, but no one flinches when a child is born. Kids are a gift, an incredibly challenging gift, but are also resource intensive and make it especially challenging to green up.

(ps I should also note, obviously, every kid's different. E.g., some kids you can toss in a stroller and do everything on foot all day long. Our daughter's stroller was given away when she was very young, she wanted no part of a stroller, ever.)

From Simply Living's Calendar
Sustainable Clintonville Initiative. Inspired by the growing interest, number of activities and influence that the Sustainable Worthington group is experiencing, other Central Ohio communities and neighborhoods are starting a similar ad hoc citizens group for their locale.

To explore this opportunity,
contact 263-0942 or
Thu May 17, 6:30-8:00 pm
Whetstone Library, 3909 N. High St.


Anonymous said...


Just wait until Frankie starts thinking green. You'll think those planning meetings are a haven. Absolutely nothing will be sacred.
You and Trish will find yourselves being soundly admonished for your lifestyle.

tinotchka said...

Dave, don't be so hard on yourself. The system is broken, and you're swimming against the tide or the undertow or whatever. We all are.

If you are so moved, participate in Sustainable Clintonville. Maybe you can't commit to being part of the core organizing committee. Maybe you can't attend monthly meetings. But whatever you can do will be appreciated and valuable. Heck, just mentioning it on Dave's Beer, with its extensive readership, is priceless promotion! ;-)

Your leadership among your peers is invaluable. Saving ourselves is going to be a person-by-person effort.

And Peggy is right. When Sam was 5, he asked me to turn off the faucet while I was brushing my teeth "to save the whales." Kids get it on a gut level, and she'll be on board far more quickly than you think!

Dave said...

Yeah, we do what we can. I now have several thousand sq. ft. of grass that I still mow with a hand pushed mower, we recycle EVERYTHING, and we don't drive all that much. I guess we're doing as much as we can. Someday we hope to do more.

Don't get me wrong, I think the push is good, it's just tricky sometimes.

an9ie said...

Hi Dave! I've just found this blog via Citizen of the month and I like your wry style.

By all means, take a break when you need it or feel like it, but your humour would definitely be missed. We all have days when we feel sucked dry, and blogging just seems to be another chore, but when you're in the zone, it's a great creative outlet and you do meet some very nice people. No?

Dave said...

Hey an9ie, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, it's a fun outlet. I'll just post when I want and stop obsessing over sitestats. Now Citizen of the Month, that's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I'm a writer for The Other Paper, in Columbus. I really like your blog and I think you make a lot of good points.
I'm working on an article about sustainable Clintonville and Worthington.
Could we talk? I am on deadline for early next week so any time you have for a chat is much appreciated! I even work on week ends.
Please e-mail me at:
I really look forward to hearing from you.
Sara Smith
The Other Paper