The Environment or Your Life?
It's the dead of winter - drippy January days darkened by much needed rain storms. The dirt in the yard has turned to soup. Inside for days, the kids take turns dive bombing off the couch or climbing bookcases. Meals consist of broccoli and citrus. It's winter all around but more importantly, it's school shopping season.
I have a future kindergartner on my hands and find myself in the midst of determining where to send him next year. First, there is the public v. private debate and then the "how far away are we willing to travel" debate. As we live in an outstanding school district and are not willing to travel that far (for reasons including but not limited to environmental impact), we've had our field narrowed down for us to two choices. Our home school and an alternative school in the district. Our home school is one block away, attended by neighborhood children, and well thought of. My son would likely do fine there, though not necessarily thrive. The alternative school would require a drive, albeit a short one, but provides an environment geared toward my son's particular learning style. There, he would likely flourish.
What is an ecologically minded parent to do? Do we go to a decent school in walking distance or a wonderful school in driving distance? Should I even weigh the environment in determining which school would be best for my child? Or do I even weigh my child's particular needs when I could easily lessen our impact? If I were truly green, I'd homeschool but, honestly, I don't think I have it in me. So that leaves me with a decision to make - a determination of what my tipping point is. What weighs more for me in this particular instance?
Tipping point decisions are those in which your personal life and your environmental interests clash. They are all around us and tend to be the big ones.
Do we accept that perfect job even though it will require a commute? If so, we can try to ameliorate our impact by taking public transportation or buying a Prius. Is that enough? Should we just have taken a job closer to home but less beneficial to our career or happiness?
Do we buy the house in former open space because it is all we can afford or what we always dreamed of and then try to offset our impact by becoming involved in the homeowner's association and teaching environmentally friendly practices for home management? Is that enough? For the environment? For our conscience? Or maybe it is more than enough? Or do we stay in our cramped city quarters with little land for planting?
Do we visit far-away family for the holidays because, heck, they are family and it is the holidays? Or do we satisfy ourselves with friends close to home and a phone call to those separated by air miles? If we do visit, do we fly, take the train, drive, buy carbon offsets?
What are we really willing to give up to save the planet? What is our personal tipping point?
For me and for this decision, I'd have to put my child first. There will be other decisions where family takes the back seat to the environment but this isn't one of them.