Kermit the Frog Unpigged!Kermit’s serenade from the first season of Sesame Street in 1970 finds itself as the title of Jill Hudson Neal’s article in today’s Washington Post. The family and I have been getting frustrated with our recognition that on a student budget “It ain’t easy being green.” (Cue the music…)

Anyhow. April is upon us, which means 30 days of guilt-inducing environmental propaganda being tacked onto the 40+ days of Lent that mercifully end next week. The family and I have been trying to come up with budget-possible ways to do our part. But, as Neal says, “And choose the organic eggs instead of whatever’s on sale? Please, that $4 will buy me a grande soy latte.” I’m not into $4 coffee, but the same four bucks gets me 48 eggs instead of 12 where we usually get our groceries.

The thing is that my house wants to go into it wholesale. Get all the food via the Community Supported Agriculture distros. What we can’t get there, hit the co-op store. (Sadly, I’m not aware of even a Trader Joe’s out here; any Syracuse-area readers, if you know of one, let me know, OK?) Or hit the local farm stands when they’re open. Heck, if you got the yard space, get a cow and some goats. And I’m just talking food here; our kids are out of them, but we used cloth diapers, we use cloth napkins at dinner, avoid disposable eatery, and wash a ton of our clothes by hand. In our homeschooling circles, chemical cleaners are out; natural-based organic cleaners are in.

It’s all great stuff. And, for a grad student with a family, prohibitively expensive. Alas. It’s very frustrating; Jill, we share your pain and frustration. It’s so easy and tempting to take the “The-last-days-are-coming-and-it’s-all-going-to-blow-anyway-no-matter-what-we-do” philosophy of my youth and which I still hear (unfortunately) in more conservative Christian circles. But even in those circles, the environmental health drive is there, even among those who subscribe to the aforementioned “end times” perspective on it. Instead of focusing on “saving the earth” and on community ethics, the focus is on individual health and morality. I used to think that this was a very selfish and not especially biblical way to look at it. I still to do, to some extent. But now that I literally can’t afford to shop anywhere other than Aldi’s or Sav-A-Lot and we make regular use of the food pantry in order to eat anything remotely healthy, I can appreciate the individualistic sentiment a little more.

Rather than throw the environmentalism, individualism, and communitarian babies out with the bathwater, what we’ve kind of decided to do is “Think Little,” as my favorite poet puts it. In order to support and encourage the larger whole, we need to start with ourselves. A fusion of the spiritual ethics of starting with our own selves in our OWN spiritual state before talking about the spiritual state of others (Jim Dobson, are you listening??) with environmental concern and the state of our own physical health.

This is common ground. Regardless of where we fall in the whole global warming and environmentalist issues, I would like to think that our own health would prompt us to make better, more healthy and more economically sane choices of what we eat, what we drive (and how often) and how we clean in our own lives and families. And then, when the time is right, we can perhaps do more, both for ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

Sing on, Kermit.

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