Thursday, 15 October 2009

uphill struggle: kids and climate change

No, this is not an odd title. When it came to thinking about what my contribution to this year's Blog Action Day on Climate Change could be, I wavered between about 5 different ideas. Until it dawned on me that the biggest senseless contribution to climate change and the global challenges it brings is having kids in the developed world. And as usual, it's the grown ups who are to blame.

It's not because they themselves will contribute to CO2 emissions. Although that may be a good point too, just that I'd rather not suggest not having kids to save the planet. Let's for now stick to the premise that having kids is ok and after all, we are meant to procreate aren't we? No, what really enfuriates me, the child of parents who grew up during the war and the dire post war years, who knew hunger and the humility of begging for a slice of bread, a family where waste was unknown because the value of all things was known, is the amount of senseless waste and consumerism we live in now.

Take toys as an example. Our house is brimming with them. We still have less than many other houses. There is not a room without toys, most of them unplayed with, some even untouched. And don't get me started on soft toys. I've never counted them, all I know is that Cubling has only ever played with about half a doyen of them and wouldn't be unhappy if all she owned was Spencer bear (whom we almost lost on the trip to Germany but that's another story). Being A Mummy blogged about the nuisance of soft toys before. And she is right of course, they are mostly cute, some so odd I'd class them as disgusting to scary, but above all, they are unused dust gatherers, an utter waste of scarce resources, as are most of the toys owned by our 2 1/2 year old.

The problem is that people enjoy giving presents to children. I don't blame them, there's nothing like that face of delight when a present is announced, handed over, unravelled, discovered, explored. Unlike giving presents to us, the grown ups who have it all, and are hard to please, nothing is easier than pleasing a toddler. It makes us feel good. And contributes to our destruction of the earth.

And so our house has become, for want of an apter term, a skip of toys and soft toys. We can't throw them out for fear of upsetting a respected friend or relative. And yet they keep accumulating.

To make up for it a little bit, I'm resolved to buying second hand only wherever and whenever I can. Not to save money (although that's a lovely side product) but to combat that senseless consumerism, which wastes unknown quantities of water, oil, and other resources which are really not in unlimited supply, in the process creating CO2 and in the end contributing to landfill and further contamination of the place we live in. I've bought toys from charity shops, clothes from ebay, accepted ridiculous amounts of handed down clothes from when Cubling was born and it's not an easy choice. I always had to combat feeling like I didn't give my daughter the best I could get, that I may be seen as tight or even daft.

The only person who honestly doesn't care that her beloved rocking horse came from a charity shop or all her clothes are from her one-year-older friend is Cubling herself. Which helps. Yes, I do love shopping too, and I miss not having an excuse to spoil her rotten. Until I see her spend full days outdoors, exploring the world without a toy at hand, with her telling me how happy she is. It is then that I realise that the real loss is not the new and shiny toys she doesn't get, but the fact that nature kindergardens haven't made it to Glasgow yet.

3 comments:

Andrea (ace1028) said...

As someone who totally LOVES consignment sales, I'm with you on that. 100%. I love the deals I find and am so happy when I come across something that is perfect for my little one.

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smashedpea said...

Same here - mainly second hand, either from older cousins, friends's kids or second hand stores, and Sophie proudly telling everyone that she's wearing a's shirt and b's pants :)

We've also gotten her into donating her stuff away to a local woman's shelter, what with socail responsibility/justice and all. Before even thinking about the environment.

I know the day will come when she'll be difficult over used stuff, but for now it's all she knows (maybe not exactly all, but enough so that it's normal for her).

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