Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

Green is the new black.

Or if you're a mom who carts her kids to activities all over the city in her gas guzzling SUV, green is the new thermometer by which you measure what a great mom you are. In other words, the more money you can spend on making your kid greener than somebody else's kid, the better mom you probably are.

Being a mom is very competitive. Until recently moms competed to have their kids in the most activities (outside of school) or the most expensive activities or the most obscure activities or the most talent-specific activities. Now everybody is buying into the idea that kids need at least a little downtime outside of school, so instead of schlepping the kids to karate, hockey, pottery class and the math tutor every week, moms are making them wear organic bamboo socks and eat tofu burgers.

It's not that I think being green is bad. On the contrary, I think we could all try harder to reduce our carbon footprint, feed our kids better and make sure our spending power is supporting a sustainable economy.  I just don't understand why it has to be a competition among women to rank ourselves and jockey for position.

One time at a playgroup we used to attend,  there was a mother who seemed to be writing a thesis called "Plastic is Bad" who had all the Grandmas in attendance captivated as she preached about how she has nothing made of plastic in her house. She went on to describe how only glass or stainless steel or ceramic ever came in contact with her children's food and how they only play with toys made of wood or cotton. Right.  I just didn't believe her.

There was another mom at the same play group who I knew was living on a shoe-string budget and one day I offered her a bag of very high quality second hand clothes for her daughter. She declined them because she prefers to make her daughter's clothes from reclaimed fabric. Apparently second hand is not nearly as green or budget-friendly as making a winter coat out of her grandfather's suit jacket that he wore to get married in 1945.  She even said, "My daughter doesn't wear GAP".  Oh.  Kay.

Then there are the vegan/organic snacks these moms brought for their kids. Vegan/organic oatmeal-flax-hemp-carob-chip cookies. Vegan/organic unsalted squash-yam-beet chips. Vegan/organic tofu-millet-mushroom sandwiches. Whatever happened to giving your kids an apple?  Nothing can convince me that these kids have never eaten a Schneiders Hotdog, especially the kids of the moms who can't go anywhere until after they hit Starbucks.

But it really disturbs me that we moms are so competitive that we have to show off for each other that we care about the health of our kids AND the health of our planet. Why can't we just support each other and pat each other on the back? (This from a woman who can barely be in the same room with a woman sticking a bottle in her baby's mouth.)  But seriously, I applaud the efforts of every mother to feed her child in a healthy sustainable way.  I just wish that those efforts would translate MORE into growing community gardens and LESS into bragging about how much money the weekly groceries cost at the local organic health food store.

I want my kids to grow up able to make responsible decisions with regards to their health and the health of the planet. And what I believe is really important is that they see that I live in such a way that shows them that there is one standard that applies to the whole family. This means that I don't eat Schneiders Hotdogs while I feed them organic spelt-quinoa-barley pasta, and vice versa. At our house, what's good for the kids is good for the parents.

And what's good for the planet is good for us all.

An editted re-post from the archives.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I laughed when I read this post!

    I have just found your blog after googling the controversy over Naomi Aldort. I can't wait to read more.

    I live in the UK and try as hard as I can to practice conscious/respectful parenting. I struggle with the fact that an interest in parenting in this way seems often to go hand in hand with being a bit sanctimonious, humorless and competitive.