At Home with the Eco-Police

by Abby on April 20, 2012

FOUR WHOLE DAYS. That’s how long I was cooped up in the house with 2 sick kids this week. Being stuck at home with small children for days on end with no adult contact is a special brand of hell that should be reserved for people who spit out gum on sidewalks and hog handicapped parking spots with their Hummers.

One day started with an asthma attack at 5am followed by a diaper blowout of epic proportions at 5:20am. I cut my losses and threw those PJs away. Any day when you’ve run out of wipes and things to do before 8am? Is gonna be a grueling day.

Baking, board games, and craft projects are my usual time-killers, but even those weren’t cutting it by the time 4pm rolled around. So I said, “Hey, kids, how about we hop in the car and go for a drive?”

“To where?” asked my 5yo, barely stirring from the couch.

“Nowhere, just a drive. We could maybe go out to a farm, see some horses…” And if by some miracle the state of Maryland has legalized drive-thru liquor stores and we happen across one…

“Mommy, you can’t just drive around for no reason,” said Miles. “It’s bad for the earth.” The “duh” was implied.

Who knew I had the eco-police right here in Cars pajamas under my own roof?

Seriously, though, I’m glad they’re hitting the Earth Day curriculum hard in kindergarten. Maybe he won’t grow up to be the kind of guy who leaves the hot water running full blast the ENTIRE TIME he’s shaving, like some people I know.

In my family growing up, we were either eco-conscious or cheap, I can’t decide which. Maybe a little of both, since I spent my early years living in faculty housing on a college campus in the ‘70s.

We had one car, and my dad could walk across the street to work. My mom sewed quilts and clothes and carried reusable canvas tote bags before they were cool. She also rinsed out and reused Ziploc bags and still carries a clean cotton dishtowel on her person at all times. Whereas some people go through a box of wipes a week…

When I was a teenager, my dad enforced 10-minute showers with a kitchen timer. Again, not sure if he was motivated by Mother Earth or the water bill. But does it really matter? As a parent myself now, and as a person forced to pay $4/gallon at the gas pump, I can appreciate any attempts to cut down and cut back.

Love Your Mother...EarthSo I don’t get rankled when my kid lectures me, “Mom, don’t leave the car running when you go pick up Riley. You don’t want to be an Earth-Warmer.” He’s right, you know. Idling for 10 seconds or longer burns more gas than restarting the engine, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Happy Earth Day!

READ O’ THE DAY: Most of us are drowning in too much stuff. An excerpt of Anna Quindlen’s new book in the April 22 Parade magazine asks, when is enough enough, and how do you get rid of the rest?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello April 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

Sorry for your tough few days, that can be such a pain. Amazing how much kids know these days about everything, let alone Earth Day. I know we were cheap growing up and I still do things like saving plastic bags and never throwing away anything that even has a remote chance of being worn or used again. Thank goodness for Goodwill or I would never ever get rid of clothes.


Pamela April 20, 2012 at 9:04 am

I like the way you inter-relate your life with the genereal need and appreciation for Earth Day. I actually remember the first one – Earth Day. I lived in NJ, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and my co-students and I thought it was wonderful how we got to sit out of school (at the football stadium) on a sunny day and cheer the Earth. Good beginnings, but it lost sight along the way. Hopefully this next generation really ‘gets’ it.


Jan April 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

“Being stuck at home with small children for days on end with no adult contact is a special brand of hell that should be reserved for people who spit out gum on sidewalks and hog handicapped parking spots with their Hummers.” . . . or those who leave their buggies in the middle of the parking lot at the grocery store/Target/Walmart! Lol! Can you guess my pet peeve?

It’s a funny feeling (humorous and otherwise) when our kids call us out on stuff like this. It’s good to know they are paying attention, but why do they have to pay such close attention to us?! I think there should be a special exception for those “get out of the house to break up cabin fever” car rides.

And I love Anna Quindlen! Can’t her new book hurry up and come out already?!


Nadine Feldman April 20, 2012 at 11:06 am

I love this post!

I agree with Jan, there are times when a drive is okay. I live a very green lifestyle, but I also think that balance is important.

Seems to me that a lot of the green initiatives are just returning me to the way many of us were raised. My parents were born during the Great Depression, so they grew up poor and learned not to waste things. I’m shocked at people who will use resources just because they can, instead of being good stewards of the planet. To me, global warming or not, it makes sense to pick up your toys. 🙂


Frume Sarah April 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Oooo Earth-warmer…never heard that expression before. I like it.

I went to a Jewish overnight camp in the late 70s that was run by hippie-Zionists. In addition to only being allowed to speak Hebrew in the dining hall (I lost a LOT of weight that summer), our showers were limited to FIVE minutes. And they were really strict about that too. The only exception was if you had the misfortune of being in the mirpa’ah (infirmary) in which case you got ten minutes. All these years later, I still take really short showers.


Natalia February 22, 2016 at 12:10 am

I found this site using Google. This was a decent artilce. I hope to see you take the primary point of this artilce and create a second artilce, and maybe embed a video, too?


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