An interesting conversation came up with my eldest the other day whilst we were driving. He wanted to know what my favourite car was that we'd had.
I'm always conscious with conversations like this that make me question my motives and behaviour and I'm grateful for his asking because it does make me reflect on our choices.
Being a family of six (that includes our au pair) and then two dogs, we are unable to get away with a 'small' car. A small car would mean we would need to take two everywhere, one decent sized car means we all fit, we can put a roof box on the top and thus, hopefully reducing our emissions. However, a large car, means less miles to the gallon, more resistance and then I find myself being fussy too. Our 'perfect' car was the Ford explorer that we had in the US. It dealt with snow, dogs, children, clutter, shopping (that stayed upright in the boot) and my most favourite 'gadget' was the dual opening for the boot, which meant that after shopping or out with the dogs, we can 'lift the lid' and the lower section remains shut ensuring the dogs' safety and keeping my shopping from flying all over the driveway (which happens now!) I am so easily pleased in odd little ways ;-)
However, the Ford explorer is a 4 x 4 and did about 1/2 mile to the gallon *sigh*.
So, next year our car is up for a renewal on its lease, bear in mind that I travel sometimes up to 400 miles a week that simply cannot be done on public transport, carry a plethora of my kids and other people's children, barnyard paraphenalia and animals. I'd like something green but that I can count on to get me around country roads with all this in tow. Any ideas?
Staying on this green theme we have also had our current energy tariff come to the end of its fixed deal, so we are on the hunt for a new energy supplier. Bear in mind we do have the solar panels and we use wood burners as much as we can. Our heating is oil and we don't have piped gas, we are on the lookout for someone here too.
I do try to reduce our footprint as much as I possibly can, we don't own a tumble dryer, instead my kitchen becomes a chinese laundry at weekends and the wood burner, whilst heating the kitchen, also drys the clothes, we use cloth bags for as much shopping as possible - I also use a local veg box service to deliver locally farmed (relatively) seasonal fruit and veg. We use washable cleaning cloths for the kitchen and cleaning the bathrooms. The children's lunchboxes, which have always been a real bone of contention with me due to the wicked amounts of packaging that we are convinced we need: Is there really a need to buy a box of crackers or muffins that are all individually wrapped as they are sold as 'lunchbox'. We use stainless steel canteens, bento box style lunchboxes and reusable wrappers for sandwiches.
I actually enjoy challenging myself to think about how to reuse things or recycle, however, as the children get older and my hand knits take way too long for me to knit up or they won't wear what I sew for them, it is proving more challenging.
There was a time when they'd happily play with wooden blocks and beautifully carved sustainable wooden toys, they'd wear what I made them and sit in their cloth nappies making me feel very smug and happy with my ability to reduce. Then they started to grow, not only in size but in mind and opinion too! Barbie began to knock her disgustingly manicured plastic hand on my door and leave her bunion inducing five inch 1cm stilletos all over my floors. They wanted comics that came with plastic tat, then there was the DS...no, the DSi...no, the DS3d (I've not given in to that one!). The eldest needs a laptop for his school work, the middle one needs a new IPod, because despite me trying to get one second hand and reuse...it died! The girl, oh, the girl, she needs plastic fantastic in every possible direction: hair clips, dolls, then there is the desire to put glitter on her face and nail polish on her nails.
I'm not going to deny everything, they have to live in the 21st century and know what is going on around them and we live in the age of technology where my 9 year old is more computer savvy than me and he does my power point presentations for me! BUT, there is still a desire to not keep buying new and give into commercial pressures.
I do feel sad for today's youngsters. They may be clear and happy in their own minds, but they are continually told by advertising that they are not. They saved up their money to buy a DSi, but within a week or two, they don't 'really want that', what they 'really want' is the 3D version! What message is this sending to our kids? It's not just about the materialistic, it's about telling our children that they don't know their own minds. It's not just telling our children that they won't be happy until they have the next of something, it's telling our children that they must rely on someone else to tell them when they are happy.
I feel it more now as my eldest is at secondary school. He's not content to muck about in the trees in our garden or play with his lego as much these days - although he will still spend several hours a week. He is being carried along on the tide of gadgets and sometimes really struggles to reason with his dad and my feelings towards some of it. He fails to see the problem in an iPhone for example when he has a great camera, a video camera, a touch screen phone and an iPod. All on one iPhone means all lost in one go too....
I'm sure I was probably just as bad as a teenager, but I'm not sure I got quite so excited over Pong on our old Atari, but I bet I made as much of a fuss and my mother had palpitations when the walkmans came out rather than good old vinyl!! They'd 'ruin' our ears and turn us into delinquents!!
Ah well, I guess if he becomes too much of a delinquent I can always find a way to recycle him!!