Theory: I strongly dislike commercial television and really don't want my kids watching it all. Reality: My kids don't watch much television, especially when the weather is nice, and when they do, it's PBS or Netflix 95% of the time. But that other 5% of the time, my nine year old daughter is begging to watch American Idol or Dances With the Stars or some other mundane piece of pop culture, and I let her.
This is one of the many decisions I struggle with as a parent and as a consumer. This weekend, Kelly and I were discussing whether or not to make the switch to Fair Trade coffee. Now, to plenty of people, this seems like a no-brainer. It's the right thing to do, make the switch! And to plenty of others, it seems ridiculous. It costs so much more, stick with Folgers! Kelly and I were of differing opinions, as I believe Folgers is only cheap because of the exploitation of workers on third-world plantations, and Kelly, while aware of that, thinks that our family here at home has to be our priority, and that this time of career transition is not the time to be political with our grocery shopping. After a fairly lengthy discussion on the matter, we came to a compromise. We'll buy Fair Trade coffee, but will make an effort to drink less of it. It's probably appropriate to mention that we really, really, really, really like coffee.
Yesterday I was shopping for my kids' summer clothes at a second-hand store. I'm ideologically opposed to buying my children t-shirts with Disney characters and the like, which essentially turn them into walking advertisements, adding to the trend of commercializing childhood. I did, however, buy a Buzz Lightyear shirt for $1.50, knowing how much Jack's eyes would light up when he saw it. (And they did light up!)
I'm trying to live the way I believe is best for my kids, the environment, and their future, but believe me, I sell out daily! Do I believe I should be hang drying as much laundry as possible? (And it's a lot of laundry with a family of five, especially with my boys who have a magnetic relationship with dirt.) Of course I do, not only because it's better for the environment, but because it's better for our electric bill. But today it's really freaking hot outside, so I only hung one load out and the second is in the dryer. This time last year, I didn't have a clothesline and rarely hung anything out, so I assuage my guilt by convincing myself that this is an improvement, which it is.
What do Fair Trade coffee, laundry and Buzz Lightyear have to do with the price of tea in China or with Red Lobster? Well, a dear acquaintance of mine has been known to give me a hard time for occasionally eating at Red Lobster. (And by occasionally, I mean once or twice a year.) Do I believe my money would be better spent supporting a local restaurant? Yes. Do I believe the food at a local restaurant would probably be of better quality and nutritional value than at Red Lobster? Yes and yes. Unfortunately, when considering Red Lobster as a dining option, there's usually only one question on my mind: Do I want Cheddar Biscuits?