ALL IN THE FAMILY: The story of a reluctant environmentalist

This blog, written by Andrea Winslow, Arlington Mothers Out Front, was hosted at!




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The story of a reluctant environmentalist

I’d rather have a hamburger than a veggie burger. I’d rather wash my clothes in hot water than cold water. I’d rather drive to the Post Office than walk.

So you say, why do all this? It’s because I am watching my millennial children fight for their lives; and I do mean fight for their lives. They know the planet is in trouble and their very existence is in danger.

For our family, it started years ago when my daughter, Angela, founded the recycling program at Arlington High School. Then she traveled to faraway lands to learn more about sustainable agriculture. She knew that I was all about the flowers in my garden, but gently encouraged me to plant some veggies. Although I was hesitant to give up a flower bed, I must say it was fun to see those cucumber vines growing over the fence.

Then there was the compost bin! My husband dutifully packed it with food scraps and turned it with a pitch fork, all the time asking, “Is this going to turn into something we can actually use?” I shrugged and said, “We can only hope!” As a member of Mothers Out Front I joined a rally to protest the Weymouth Compressor Station on a rainy day when I really wanted to curl up with a good book. But, as mother and daughter, we made signs together, marched and chanted and the energy took hold.

My son, Andy, loves all things technical related to renewable energy and energy efficiency. After I confessed my love of our gas range for cooking, he patiently described  to me the wonders of induction stove tops- faster, more energy efficient. Ok, so when it’s time for a new stove will I opt for induction? With cautious optimism I probably will!

Currently, Andy is the coach of the new Arlington HeatSmart Program. This is a state/town collaboration that offers energy- efficient heating and cooling systems at a reduced cost. Already he has signed us up for an energy audit through Mass Save. Give him a minute and he will enthusiastically share the intricacies of heat pumps. My husband and I are tired of the Boston summers that seem to be getting steadily hotter. The idea of cooling our home with a quiet, energy- efficient air conditioning system would be a dream come true.

For the last few years I have been a member of Mothers Out Front. Although many environmental organizations have excellent information and things to say, MOF has a message that speaks to the heart and soul of the climate movement. It is the love and fear for our children and grandchildren that fuel our activism (even reluctant activism). Our message is : let’s get Beyond Gas - no more pipelines, fix the gas leaks and move to a renewable energy future. After working with the town to publicize Arlington Local Green, the community choice aggregation program, MOF has adopted a goal of getting 1,000 households to Green Up/Opt Up. This means you can choose to increase you use of local, green electricity to 50% or 100%. And you can do it in a way that even an environmental “couch potato” can handle! Simply go online to, , or call 866-220-5696.

People have suggested that my children get their activism from me. Actually the opposite is true. I have been awakened by my children and the other mothers who have the wisdom to be afraid for their kids. But if, like me, you get tired of the struggle and resist the latest action, talk, march, etc. please know that you are not alone. However, we can’t forget that we must fight for the lives of our young children and march arm inarm with our older children. They are depending on us. Let’s not disappoint them!


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