Red, White and Blue-Green: An Eco-Friendly Fourth of July

This Independence Day, in spite of the fact that I teach American History, I’m looking forward rather than back.  Maybe it’s motherhood, or rising gas prices, or melting glaciers, but it seems as though boundless independence might not be working for our country at this point.

We’re free to use as much fuel, energy, food, and water as we’d like.  We’re free to toss recyclables into the trash and drive Hummer limousines. The pursuit of happiness has pushed us into a level of consumerism that would have baffled our nation’s founders.  (I can’t help but mention here that they were imperfect as well—some of them using slavery to support their own luxurious lifestyles.)

Meanwhile, our unsustainable lifestyle is having a daily impact on the planet.  You have to check out this website, Breathing Earth, to see just how much more carbon we’re emitting than the rest of the world.  It’s humbling and a bit shocking.

So what do we do now? If you’re reading this website, there’s a good chance that you’re making eco-conscious choices instead of shrugging your shoulders in apathetic dismay.  The next biggest change we can make is to share our down-to-earth ideas with our local communities.  People are very threatened by the idea of composting, or using cloth diapers, or planting their own garden until they know someone who has done it themselves.  Share your cloth diaper experiences with other moms, start a green group in your area, and include your family in your eco-victories, even if they don’t share your enthusiasm. 

Grassroots movements have changed the world countless times.  On this Fourth of July, it’s good to remember that a small group of dedicated people started a nation based on freedom. Looking forward, we can help one another take small steps toward sustainability to make our shared future just a bit brighter.    


  1. Wow, big topic Joy. I went through a period in high school where I dreamed of communism. I think I have decided that any form of government, no matter how appealing it sounds, will not work if it has to be enforced through fascism or dictatorship. Our freedom is essential to our morality and without freedom we will lose our moral compass. Education and incentives are the only way we can achieve our better world. And isn’t that just exactly what you might read about motivating middle school students? It is so interesting how observing the microcosm of middle school society has shaped my world socio-economic view.

    So yes, that is my long winded way of saying I agree with you whole-heartedly.

    “Be the change you want to see in the world” Ghandi
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
    “We cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love.” – MOther Theresa

  2. Wonderful quotes Eileen! I agree that we can’t forcefully mandate change because it’s not sustainable for the environment or for society in the long term. Most people really want to be more eco-conscious but feel too overwhelmed to get started. That’s where we come in! We hope that our humility and humor can help people feel comfortable as they learn how to take a few more steps greenward with a baby in tow. Thanks for joining us!

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