Mother Earth News Blogs > Green Homes

Green Homes

Building for the future, today – combining the best of historical wisdom and modern technology.

Of Mice and Women, Part 2

By Simran Sethi

Tags: mouse, mice, extermination, rodent, humane mousetrap, natural pest treatment, Simran Sethi Simran Sethi,

loadedmousetrapWhen we last left off, I’d positioned myself as some kind of eco-superwoman setting off to rid my home of furry little vermin. Well, things didn’t exactly go as planned. I’m sharing this because part of the promise of this series is to be honest with you and shed light on what my cherished meditation teacher S.N. Goenka defines as “the truth as it is, not as you want it to be.”

I killed the mouse.

Well, I didn’t kill anything. I managed to get others to do the dirty work. The day after I wrote my last post, I called my friend Eric and whined (just like I said I would) and then I called my friend Mary and whined some more. “Mary, I don’t know what to do! This isn’t what I had planned!” Of course, no one plans for a mouse. And no one also plans for friends to descend upon you like angels and make things better. Mary, her husband, Danny, and their son, Finn, came over and took care of me in the most extraordinary of ways. First, they brought me food (because once the mouse pooped on top of the stove it became off-limits for me). Then Mary helped me unpack (because, of course, now I was petrified that every single box I had was going to be infested with mice) while Danny bought, baited, and set traps.

Drop me in any city in the world and I will be okay. Pit me against a mouse, and I fall apart.

For all my chatter about humane mousetraps, I ended up using the regular ones. You know, the kinds that kill. My reasoning behind this was two-fold. One, my neighbor (i.e. hero-in-waiting) Tony told me he’d tried both traps and the live capture ones didn’t work as well. In the same breath, he told me he’d killed 18 mice in the first three days in his house. I guess he was trying to make me feel better? That comment led me to reason two: If I couldn’t use a stove on which a mouse had traversed, how did I think I could remove a live one from my house? Or live with one rattling around inside a trap until I could secure help?

Recognizing one’s limitations is very important.

Ten minutes after Mary and her family left my house, I heard a loud snap. Screaming bloody murder, I leapt out of my kitchen and got on the phone. Mary, Danny, and Finn hadn’t even made it home yet. They circled back to my house and Danny played executioner. It was his 40th birthday. Now you know why I called them angels.

The exterminator came on Monday and did exactly what I coulda/shoulda/woulda done. He took the snap traps I already had (replete with one eco-touch: they are made of FSC-certified wood, meaning the wood used to make the traps comes from forests that were managed in a way that cares for indigenous communities and the land), applied non-toxic bait, and stuffed the cracks with steel wool.

My neighbor Tony (who, fortunately, finds all of my pleas “funny” and isn’t sick of me yet) checked the traps last night. They remain empty. I have found the courage to cross the “killing zone” and make tea and coffee (caffeine is a powerful motivator) and am trying to be gentle with my fears.

Help comes from many unexpected places. I am learning to take help where I can get it and do whatever I can to be helpful to others. Here are a few sources that will help you navigate your own path.

Green Building Supply — This store is based in Fairfield, Iowa, but the information is invaluable no matter where you live. Owners Joel and Joy Hirschberg have created the resource they wished they had when they were building their first green home. They have collected the most incredible products, offer a goldmine of advice on how to use them, and also make themselves available via phone to anyone who needs help.

Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy sites — I often reference these agencies in my posts as a way to demonstrate green is a color that belongs to red states and blue ones. These government sites offer clear facts on energy and the environment and are great to pass along to folks who might feel like green is just for treehuggers.

Remodelista — The blog is identified as a “sourcebook for the considered home.” Information is broken down in a really smart way, has a great design aesthetic, and can be saved in your own design file.

Consumer Reports Greener Choices — I was raised by parents who referenced Consumer Reports for unbiased information on household products. Greener Choices offers that same rigorous testing methodology with a focus on environmentally friendly products. It has helped inform my choices on large appliances and will continue to do so well into the future.

Environmental Working Group and Michigan’s Ecology Center — These non-profits are dedicated to researching and reporting on toxic chemicals that end up in our water, food, toys, cosmetics, and more. They offer comprehensive and accessible information on the science behind chemicals and constantly update their information that is especially useful for parents.

Help is on the way!


Photo by Jessica Sain-Baird