Children are NOT Eco-friendly

I don’t consider environmental concerns to be one of my ‘soapboxes’, but it is something I think is important and tend to watch out for. I recycle, conserve water, buy CFL bulbs and more, both in an effort to conserve my own dollars and the environment. One thing I’ve realized recently that I’ve had to accept is that my children are not very eco-friendly.
I don’t mean in the sense that they take up space, breath air, eat things, defecate and are much like a parasite feeding off this planet (aren’t we all). No, I’m perfectly okay with that, it’s the other things that bug me.

Things like flushing the toilet three times after going (or not going) on the potty. Using half the roll of toilet paper to wipe with each time, or discovering kleenex and tp can wipe your nose and then using multiple pieces at every sniffle. They drop perfectly good food on the floor, slightly soil the occasional disposable diaper forcing me to use more, and their just plain messy (not that I’m not).

When you sit back and look at it, it is kind of funny. I was surprised by the frustration I felt when they flushed the toilet multiple times. I have full control over my toilet flushing decisions, and no control over most other people’s, so it’s never caused much emotion one way or the other. But, when my own children, to whom I’m trying to instill values (both big and small) flushes multiple times, it hit a nerve I didn’t know was there.

The reality is there are some things you just have to let go, and this is definitely one of them. If a few roles of toilet paper and gallons of water are what it takes for my kiddos to potty train, that’s going to have to be okay with me. I’m gonna be okay with wasting tons of paper and crayons, paint and glue, and more as my children learn and explore, grow in their creativity.

I’ll still conserve water and toilet paper, but I won’t let that get in the way of being gracious with my children.

Rough Draft: Who’s That Big Yellow Bird?

I’m working on an article for Geez Magazine, and you loyal readers get a sneak peek. It’s pretty rough. I just wrote it up last night (and stole a couple paragraphs from a previous blog post), but wanted to get some feedback on it. So, without further ado:

Who’s That Big Yellow Bird?

Sesame Place by

Each week I walk my two toddlers down the hall at the Children’s hospital, past the large statue of an over stuffed yellow bird and up an elevator to our appointment. Sometime’s they’ll point out the “big birdie”, other times they won’t, it’s no more attractive or unique then the moose in the painting ten feet away or the cars in the window of the skyway.

What I haven’t told them, and what they don’t know, is that that large stuffed yellow bird is one of the many adorable characters from a television show that I myself have fond memories of; of Big Bird and the whole rest of the gang. And though I’m sure someone will soon point it out to them (they’ve already learned who Elmo is), I’m in no rush to have Bert, Oscar, or any others media character become my children’s childhood pal.

What’s wrong with Sesame Street? Well, it’s certainly not Power Rangers or Barbie, and I’ve even heard the programming is pretty good (I wouldn’t know, I haven’t seen the show in at least ten years), but it’s not the characters themselves of the content of the show that bothers me, it’s all the other places those characters manage to show up.

Grover is selling my kids diapers, Oscars peddling fruit snacks and juice boxes, Big Bird’s pimping t-shirts and shoes and Snuffleupagus, don’t get me started with Snuffleupagus. Licensing characters is a multi-billion dollar industry and Sesame Street is the least bad of the bunch, but even they sold out when Elmo (introduced in 1987) became a smash hit in 1996 as a “tickle me” plush toy. And though it’s still a non-profit with support from the government and “viewers like you”, 68 percent of it’s revenue is from licensing. (Thomas 112-113)

An estimated $15 billion dollars is spent each year marketing to children under the age of 18 in the United States. Given that there are only 74 million kids in that age group, that means corporations are spending roughly $200 per child in advertising. You’d better believe they aren’t blowing $200 on your child without knowing they are going to make far more then that back. And if your one of those invincible, unfettered-type who haven’t let advertising affect your purchasing, then that means they are making double their money off the kid down the street.

This isn’t the same as marketing to adults. Most children under the age of ten don’t understand persuasion. They don’t understand that the smiling kids on the commercial are paid actors following an elaborate script with the soul purpose of making them want a product. They don’t understand that when they’re told by their favorite character that this junk food is fun or tasty or cool that it’s a deceptive scheme, not an honest opinion. We know when we see a celebrity or athlete promote a product that it’s an advertisement (that doesn’t mean it’s any less effective), but children don’t. Imagine you discovered that everything your trusted mentor (maybe a pastor) had ever said to you was in an attempt to get you to purchase certain items. You’d be shocked and appalled wouldn’t you?

You remember some of your favorite Saturday morning cartoons? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? He-Man? Strawberry Shortcake? Gummi Bears? They might have been cartoons to you, but to the marketing execs they were called “Program Length Commercials.” That’s right, you spent your Saturday mornings watching informercials for kids so that you’d go out and nag your parents for every product Donatello was on.

I don’t want my children (or myself) to be victims of the same deception. So when we pass the big yellow bird at the Children’s hospital all week, we might say “hello”, but he’s not going to get any special treatment.

Current Projects Keeping Me Busy

As I mentioned last week, I’ve got a lot of random things I’m working on at the moment and thus have been brain dead for new blog material. That said, the other projects are things I would love to have some input on. Here’s a few things I’m working on, of which I could use some feedback, so if your interested, it would be appreciated.

  • A short article for Geez Magazine about our experiment in using female pronouns for God (on which there is still a great ongoing conversation, thanks to Phil).  I want to write about what I got out of the experiment, include what I learned from others responses.
  • An article for Consp!re magazine about Food Not Bombs on Sunday mornings. It’ll be a shorter version of Sundays With The Anarchist, which I first posted at JesusManifesto.
  • InsideNorthside marketing. InsideNorthside is a project I think could have some real value in our local community, sometimes I’m not so sure. But I want to give it a shot and that means putting a little thought into how to explain the project to others simply and concisely. I could really use some input on that (thanks to Trevor for already giving me some valuable guidance).

Those are the main things for now. I’m gonna work on both the articles online, so if you want to take a peek I would really love some feedback. Leave a comment and I’ll send you the article. Peace.

Too Many Spinning Plates

I just don’t have a lot of new thoughts to share on here. Could be my mind is spinning with other ideas or projects, but mostly my writing has reached a semi-lull. For better or worse, I’ve got a bit of a writers block.

That said, I’d really love some feedback on Monday’s post, How Much Is Enough? I know a lot of people read it, and I’m just curious of where people stand, what thoughts folks have.

Take a minute and leave a comment on Monday’s post, if you don’t mind.

How Much Is Enough?


If I ever had the opportunity to preach a sermon, I think this just might be the question I would pose. It really feels to me like money and all the issues surrounding it is the greatest hinderence to our americanized Christianity truly being a radical faith that it was intended to be. There are a ton of Bible verses I could point to, but I’ll just use one chunk of a letter from the apostle Paul to Timothy.

7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction…

17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (I Timothy 6)

There are plenty of other verses that would lend support to this, but I can’t escape the simple straightforwardness of this message and that it seems directly applicable to us in the United States. We should be content with “food and clothing” and we should be “rich in good deeds” and “generous and willing to share.” So obvious, and yet, what does that mean for us?

Does food and clothing include shelter? If so what kind? Should we purchase a home? What about a vehicle? Is there a point that we can say “this is enough” and simply stop accumulating wealth and possessions beyond that point? Is there? Is it something we can only decide individually or can a local community church make a collective decision? What about larger bodies?

This is clearly not something I’ve come to a solid answer or decision on, but rather something I’m constantly struggling with and have been continually disappointed that it doesn’t really seem to be brought up in church.

You’ll hear the occasional sermon on financial stewardship, and the pastor might be so daring as to call church goers to give a 10% tithe. And it’s rare, but you might even find a pastor who will point out the scriptures warnings of the dangers of riches and wealth. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon where a pastor will take a stab at defining what “rich” is. No one ever puts a number to it. And we can talk all day about tithing 10%,  but has anyone ever tried to define how much is acceptable or necessary to live on, to spend on ourselves?

These are my questions. I don’t have answers, but I think it’s a conversation worth having. Where do you stand?