Green vs. Sustainability

Many of us like to think that we are “being green” and living in a sustainable manner. However, just because something is considered “green,” doesn’t mean that it is sustainable. There is a bit of a difference between green and sustainability.

Understanding that difference can help you recognize that some of your choices may not be completely sustainable, and help you work toward living in a way that is a little more sustainable.

What is Green?

A “green” product is often one that is labeled that for marketing purposes. These are products that may help you reduce your impact on the environment, but they may not actually be sustainable. A good example is the use of paper products from recycled materials. These are green, in that they come from already-used sources, and they might reduce your impact on the environment, but they aren’t actually very sustainable since most paper products are still meant to be disposable.

There are a number of green options out there that help you reduce your daily impact on the environment, from the type of car you drive to the products you use in your home.

How Do You Live Sustainably?

Even though you might make a green choice, you might not be living sustainably. Sustainability is about ensuring that your lifestyle is capable of supporting itself without depleting resources. Sustainable products come from completely renewable sources, or from resources that are harvested in a way that doesn’t permanently damage the surrounding ecosystem.

Living sustainably means looking at the total impact that something has on the environment. Where do the materials come from? How is the product transported to the store where you buy it? Can the resources be replenished later? What sort of resources are you using up in order to keep the product functioning?

One of the interesting paradoxes in green vs. sustainable is the plug-in electric car or hybrid car. Such a car is green from the standpoint that it doesn’t directly pollute the air as much. The electric motor means emissions are cut. However, you have to reconsider the actual sustainability. The car might be partially made from eco-friendly materials, with eco-friendly processes, but how was it shipped to the dealership? And, when you plug in the car, is the electricity used to power it coming from a coal-fired electric plant?

In many cases, a green option may not be completely sustainable. Instead, you might find that there are still resources being depleted, and not replaced, even though the impact might be less than what would be seen with a “non-green” option. Many people use freecycling or shop at thrift stores in order to help increase their sustainability, and avoid using up more resources.

The Reality of Sustainable Living

Most of us find it difficult to live completely sustainable lives. Even though I try to reduce my overall impact on the environment, I am aware that my lifestyle isn’t totally sustainable. I use products that make uses of non-renewable resources, and sometimes my choices have an impact, even though I try to offset them, and I do take some steps to live in a more sustainable manner.

What do you think? Is it possible to live a sustainable lifestyle?

Using a Midwife – One Year Later – The Experience

The following is discussion about our experience using a midwife.  I have had a year to reflect on having a home birth with the aid of a midwife.  The financial reasons to use a midwife at home were great but pale in comparison to the experiences I had, and did not have to have, by having a home birth.

With the home birth I think I had a better overall experience using a midwife than if I had given birth in a hospital. Granted I have never had a hospital birth but I have seen many, many birth videos and have heard many, many accounts of hospital births from friends and family.

The first thing to remember for home births is 5-1-1 timing rule. If your contractions have been occurring every five minutes, lasting one minute for an hour it is time to call the midwife.

This isn’t some mad dash to the car and frantic drive to the hospital. You call the midwife, describe what is happening and she will drop by, no matter the time of day or night. If, after an exam, she determines that it is best for her to stay put, she unpacks and stays for the duration of your labour.

For every minute of the labour your midwife is there to …

  • check that you are ok,
  • ensure the baby is ok,
  • answer any questions you or your partner has,
  • help you into a bath,
  • hold a bucket as you throw up,
  • coach you through your breathing when pushing,
  • check you after you have delivered the baby (note a secondary midwife will come before you start pushing to care for the baby) ,

I could add more  but I think it is obvious that your midwife is there for you the whole way through the delivery. Aside from essential activities such as checking yours and the babies heartbeat regularly or examining you after delivery she can be there in whatever capacity you need her to be. For me, I was sort of in my own zone and preferred to be left to labour alone in that zone unless I asked specifically for something. And the midwives respected that.

Something that people often forget and I myself only really realized late into my pregnancy is that birth is not only something that a soon to be mother goes through, the baby is about to go through quite an experience too. This was a strong reason as to why I wanted to be at home where we could control more of our environment.

Primarily I wanted to be able to control the atmosphere. We dimmed the lights (or rather we only had one lamp turned on as it was the middle of the night) and everyone was pretty quiet through labour (my grunting aside). When lil’ SPF came out we had a small lamp on but the room was not bright at all. You have to remember that these little babies are coming from absolute darkness and warmth to cold, harsh light. So being at home we could make that transition from womb to earth a little easier. We learned in our tour of the hospital in town as well as in our prenatal class that you can have the lights dimmed in your hospital room while labouring but that the doctor will flick them on when he comes to check you and especially for the delivery.

In my experience labour and giving birth was a beautiful experience but it was also uncomfortable, challenging and painful. Once I knew I was really in labour I thought, ok I better get mentally prepared for this because there are no breaks and the more you progress the more intense it gets. To be honest sometimes you just want to say, ok, stop, let me regroup, relax, maybe watch a tv show, etc. But you can’t do that. So to help make the experience as beautiful as it can be, being at home enables that. I could sit on my couch, lie in my bathtub, pet my dog (who watched through nearly the entire labour). I felt safe and as comfortable as I could be because I was in my comfort zone, my home.

What I hope readers can learn from this post is that home-births assisted by a midwife are safe and aren’t scary. What I really hope for is that more women realize that they have this option that the second they become pregnant they don’t immediately have go to an OB. If you are healthy, the baby is healthy and the pregnancy is low risk, you can have a baby at home with a midwife and I can quite certain that it will be a better experience than that of a hospital.

Furthermore, women need to trust themselves more. I can’t remember if I read this somewhere or if someone mentioned it in conversation but the words wrung true: “You are going to have the labour that your body can handle so trust your body to do what it can do. It really will amaze you. ” When I think back on lil’ SPF’s birth I still can’t believe that I gave birth to him and it was me that pushed him out. Labour and delivery were such an unknown and I was very anxious about it. But as soon as I went into labour I just thought go with your body, put the brain on pause and let the body do its thing and I just went with the flow.

Finally, if you want to hear more accounts of why to choose a midwife check out some videos here: http://www.youtube.com/user/OntarioMidwives

What you like to see in a midwife experience? What was your experience using a midwife?