I don’t think I am the only one to feel “not eco enough” when I walk into a health store, or, even worse, a “green” baby store. I dislike the assumption that I am a mindless consumer in the store to gobble up whatever new fad is being pushed: teething necklaces, pebble crayons that teach proper hand position, super-organic bamboo diapers. While many of the products are great, I don’t need them to display how eco-friendly I am. “If you get this organic, natural, green product you are a good mom and you like the environment. Good job!” “Oh, you don’t think you need this? Well, let me explain why you are wrong and should immediately buy one.”
I always feel awkward in those stores because, to be honest, I really like their stuff even if I don’t need any of it. I don’t want to be rude, so I feel the need to placate the sales person by smiling and nodding throughout their schpeel. Case in point:
Before our baby was born we were trying to gather what we needed for diapering. We already had diapers, we just needed something to hold them closed. I had heard about Snappis and wanted to get a few, so I went to a local “green” baby shop. The owner, in a fairly condescending tone, told me that if I was going to use old cloth diapers I might as well go full hog and use pins. She went on for so long that she talked herself out of a sale: I left without the Snappis, and bought them somewhere else. Fast forward a few months to when the baby is six months old and I lose all the diaper pins: I went back to the same store (stupid, I know). The owner obviously didn’t remember her last lecture because when I asked about pins she went on a rant about how Snappis are so much better. After ten minutes, my mom bought something (out of guilt, I assume) and we ran out of there.
The woman in that store always makes me feel like I’m doing everything wrong. I know a few people like her. “You are using cloth diapers? Good for you! But you aren’t using this specific detergent to wash them? Don’t you know that ALL the other ones are horrible for your baby?! You really should be using this detergent.” “Breastmilk is so good for babies. You shouldn’t nurse past such and such age, though, or it is just weird.” “Kids don’t need much, but you really should buy this swing if you want your baby to be happy.” Blahhhhhgg.
I am a big push-over, so I don’t usually say much to these people. I let them tell me all about how I should be concerned about chemicals in cleaning supplies, why I need to buy a certain product, or what I need to do to raise a healthy kid. I’m usually too tired/busy/lazy to bother getting into a discussion with them so I escape as soon as they finish. After listening to the “We are SO GREEN, more GREENER THAN YOU!!!” discussion, I fantasize about sticking out my tongue, yelling something mean, and running away. But, that will never happen because I don’t really care about their opinion.
I’m happy washing our house with baking soda and vinegar; I don’t need to spend eight dollars on a fancy green-washed cleaner that the sales person thinks is wonderful. I like the boring, unscented, junk-free detergent that my mother-in-law has been buying for decades and don’t feel the need to switch to the expensive hipster stuff the baby store is selling. My kid doesn’t need me to buy her that cute wool doll and then sleep beside it so that it smells like me – her ugly doll already smells like me because it took me five months to finally finish knitting it.
Therefore, to the people who aren’t living up to the expectations of the “eco-friendly” folks: don’t worry about it, neither are we. We live in a house made of wood, cotton, and wool; we don’t clean with anything that we couldn’t ingest; our baby plays with homemade wooden and woolen toys; and we grow our own organic food – and we STILL aren’t “green” enough. So, relax. Smile and nod during the lecture, and get away from that person as quickly as possible.