I have to admit that my house is not terribly eco-friendly. We used to buy the curly lightbulbs- the ones that everyone was supposed to buy in an effort to be “green”. I stopped three years ago when I learned that the lightbulbs had mercury in them. Mercury. After two of them broke in my house and I threw the pieces away, I learned that I was supposed to treat them as “hazardous” materials- dispose of them in an “appropriate” manner- a manner that is rather difficult to do when there are broken shards all over your living room. I’ve done research that finds that mercury is skyrocketing in our environment- the air, the soil and most frighteningly of all- the oceans. Mercury poisoning looks an awful lot like autism. Many people worry about the trace mercury found in immunizations- when the rate of mercury is skyrocketing in our environment around us. I’m not the only one to suggest a link between environmental mercury and the rates of autism; Generation Rescue published an article in 2004 that found a correlation between environmental mercury and autism rates. So- no. We don’t have curly lightbulbs in our house because I am not about to add to the mercury that is around me.
And we might not be buying an electric car. We all know the challenges of the internal combustion engine. Prius, other electric cars, computers and even my cell phone use lithium batteries- they hold a charge for a very long time and are very efficient. One Prius holds about 30 pounds of rare earth metals alone. Lithium is a rare earth metal and is only mined primarily in Bolivia and China- countries that are not exactly eco-friendly, human-rights oriented, nor friendly to the interests of the US. It looks like we’re going to be trading in our dependence on limited oil reserves for rarer earth minerals.
There are days where I feel my whole world is operating from a “Zero Sum” standpoint- that the gains you make in one area are constrained by limitations in others. Just as Ray or Elizabeth learn one set of skills, a whole new set opens up. Just as Elizabeth masters the proper games to play with her friends and exchanges crafty projects while losing baby dolls, the other fourth grade girls start the gossiping and “teasing” activities. Yet another new set of skills that she’s behind on. Ray’s self-esteem is constantly under fire as he sees other kids growing around him- gaining in that third grade growth spurt, and he stays small- still able to wear a size 4. We buy him size 7 shirts so that he can drown in them- but he feels better wearing a size that is closer to his friends. There’s just no getting around the pants- he’s in a size 6 on a good day, if they’re short enough. The battle is never won; the battle just changes face.
There are days when I see the broken light shards, the exchange of one limited resource for another, the battle for self-esteem- and I just feel like there’s no winning.