Big families, the new green

I recently had the experience of driving to a supermarket that is out of my usual loop in order to have a greater selection of healthier food choices. This food store is a well known hang out for what I call the “greenies,” people who care passionately about the earth and the animals and not so much for the people. You know the type; they won’t eat beef with hormones but will load their bodies with birth control pills so as not to contribute to their carbon footprint.

So I drive to this market, in my 12- passenger van, and out hop my seven carbon footprints. There was a woman loading her politically correct little car, I have no idea what it was, but it looked like a roller skate on steroids, with her reusable grocery bags and she glanced over at me and did a double take. Are you familiar with that picture, The Scream? That’s what she looked like. She craned her neck to watch as my little band of human beings walked into the store, carrying our reusable grocery bags, and I am pretty sure she was hoping they would deny me admittance. Surely the politically correct organic grocery store would not want my large and wasteful family entering its hallowed aisles.

They did let us in and our shopping trip was largely uneventful. The look on that woman’s face stayed with me, though. It’s not the first time I have encountered the “green theory” that by having a large family I am wasting the earth’s resources. I once had a lady on the soccer field ask me in all earnestness if I was not at all concerned with the plight of the earth and how could I keep contributing to the population problem. She was chagrined when I burst into laughter. She was even more annoyed when I pointed out that my being nice enough to have a large family increased her chances of receiving social security benefits in her old age since my children would all be out in the work force during her golden years.

Honestly, I just cannot take this silliness seriously.

The fact is besides being an excellent financial investment in the future of our country my large family is leaving less of an impact on the earth simply by necessity. Since we are a larger family, living by the “reduce, reuse, recycle” standard helps us maintain a lifestyle that includes food and shelter. My children wear hand-me downs, I don’t buy fancy plastic water bottles or make unnecessary car trips. My car gets low mileage but rarely transports less than nine people, making it almost bus-like in its efficiency.

I bathe all of the little ones at once thereby using less water and we use the same amount of electricity as most people since six kids can read in a room with one light bulb as easily as one or two. The same goes for my gas stove which does not care how many chickens reside within it, it just hums along providing heat for whatever I put in there.

As for consumerism, well, we are abysmal failures at that. I buy handmade dolls and lots and lots of wooden blocks, trains and dollhouse furniture. I envision my grandchildren visiting and playing with these things and I work hard to buy what is made here in the United States, preferring to keep my money here in my country and benefiting people who work hard at the business of creating beautiful things. Thrift stores are also a good resource and I like to use our “toy money” to buy things that inspire imaginative play and creativity, art supplies and good books rather than gadgety, flashy things. We do have some of that but much less than other families I see.

God commanded that we “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”(Genesis 1:28) How beautiful, a direct command to reflect the love of God in our families by being open to life and to in turn be good stewards of all of creation. Being an environmentalist is as Catholic a thing to do as defying the contraceptive mentality and bestowing upon the earth children of God who will care for and love His creations as He does. Catholicism and environmentalism; partners for life.