Monday, June 16, 2008

Eco-mama – Oxymoron?

(apologies for the soap box rant, lots in the chute and hopefully I'll have time to write it all down but gotta get some things out of the way to clear the path)

In a personal essay I read recently, the author was discussing how environmental parenting often feels to her like a contradiction in terms. I don't actually remember her examples, but I have plenty of my own so that the idea stuck with me:
- We're tired, so we order take out. The giant maw of Styrofoam shells mock me, the numbers on the bottom bordered by a swirl of arrows a joke since no program or municipality I know recycles them.
- Isaac is almost asleep, so I drive just a bit longer. The thought of not reading that blasted construction truck book again AND risking no nap at all in the end when he tells me “My body weawy wants to wate up” outweighing the waste of our nation's favorite limited resource.

On vacation, as we just were (Well, as vacation-y as we get anymore. Consider a visit to the in-laws and a work conference for Mike.) things can get even dicier. At first, I felt good doing my part to save the Great Hospitality Waste since Isaac was always napping – or his mother was trying for one anyway – during the times housekeeping normally wants to pull their trolley up to your room and give you a new everything. The Do Not Disturb sign, as it turns out is nature's strongest advocate.

There are those perfunctory attempts at ecological awareness now in most hotels – that card you leave or don't on your bed depending on whether you want them to wash your sheets every freaking day or just when you check out. Still. These nods to water conservation don't go nearly far enough.

They sneaked in once, those housekeepers, while Isaac and I were returning our rented bike and trailer – and what the hell?? Where is my soap? They took away the perfectly good soap I'd unwrapped less than 24 hours before and replaced it with another, wrapped soap. I understand that they are supposed to supply you with a new little wrapped soap, update your tiny shampoo and whatever else they are mandated to waste, but where the hell did the other soap go? Are we that seduced by “luxury” that we want to open a new fucking bar of soap every day we're on vacation? War time rationers we are not.

There was a restaurant near where we stayed called the Landfall Restaurant. We didn't go for perhaps obvious reasons. WAY too close to Landfill for me. There's one they didn't research all that well. Just say it out loud, people. It's a crucial stage in my creative process and one, I think, everyone should employ. (Have you ever heard that NPR show called “Open Source” - Not. Good.) Despite the fact that we avoided the Landfall, the breakfast buffet at our hotel proved nearly as harrowing an environmental catastrophe. Plastic utensils. Styrofoam cups next to the water pitcher (Yeah, those mugs full of water would be a bitch to wash!) etc. etc.

But my ultimate plea is this: please, don't kill the environment in the name of my child. Honest, he can drink from a real, live, breakable cup – even (gasp!) without a straw. As much as we appreciate the acknowledgment of the possibility little people may enter through your doors, I'm begging you not to do it through purchasing mass quantities of plastic panda cups with sippy lids or disposable tumblers covered in cheery jungle scenes, the likes of which may be long gone by the time they finish manufacturing the bloody receptacles.

A new one this time was the addition of Pooh characters smiling out at us though they suffered the ends of plastic forks, knives, and spoons jammed up their yellow, orange and pink rears. They are just cute enough and strong enough to save and we decided to salvage another ecological travesty and take them home. When we realize Pooh has just been swept away with Isaac's mostly uneaten lunch (honey yogurt and apple granola were unbelievably not on the menu), we ask the server if she can retrieve it for us. “I can get you a new set,” she offers. “No, no, really, it's fine,” we protest. So off she heads to the kitchen, returning in seconds with a new set. “Just brought a clean one,” she explains, “We have SO many.” Then by all means...

1 comment:

bobbie said...

Yes. the stupidity seems to go un-noticed much of the time. They really think they're doing you a favor.
And those almost-words are pretty distressing sometimes.

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