Is “Being Green” The New Battle In The “Mommy Wars”?

Hot Trendy MamaI really hate the so-called “Mommy Wars.” I get it that every parent wants to think his or her way of parenting is best, and I get it that we wall make different choices (stay at home, work at home, or work outside of the home; stay with kids, nanny, daycare or child care; public or private school; soccer or not; fast food or not; whatever) but I don’t get criticizing somebody else for his or her parenting choice. We shouldn’t be fighting – we should be working together and celebrating our differences. (Okay, one caveat – you can criticize a parenting choice and take action if the choice is immediately harmful to child – such as leaving an infant in a hot car on a hot day).

I suppose it is hard to not criticize, because if somebody else’s choice is good, then it must be better than your choice, right? At least that is the thought process. And if your choice isn’t good (like working outside of the home and putting your kids in childcare), then it must be bad, and harmful to your kids. So then you are a bad parent. As a result, it is better to criticize the other parent’s choice as a preemptive strike because if you don’t, you will branded a bad parent.

Okay, ugh.

In any event, Clorox Green Works is launching a new ad campaign that, well, mocks eco fanatics for their “greenness.” Apparently, some survey found that women feel more pressure to be green (39%) than skinny (29%). So Green Works has come up with The Green Housewives who are parodies of eco green fanatics (all while shopping and consuming, which, is well, not very green but let’s set that aside for now). And, by the way, these Green Housewives don’t really know what they are talking about and their choices don’t seem particularly informed. Are they interested in being green to reduce energy consumption? Improve working conditions? Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals? Reduce plastic consumption? No, they are just eco fanatics spouting lots of buzzwords.

In any event, so now apparently we are pressuring one another to be a certain level of green and making one another feel guilty about our choices and their greenness or lack thereof. Will this be the new battle in the Mommy Wars?

I hope not. Certainly, peer pressure is a method to advance social change, and we need social change to improve. If social pressure can assist with reducing energy consumption, conserving natural resources, and improving health, safety and the environment, then, well, I am all for it. But that doesn’t mean I get to criticize somebody else’s choice that isn’t as green. It doesn’t have to be a war. I can simply lead by example without preaching.

I know that being green seems to lend itself to being “greener than thou” instead of educating, and it lends itself to media coverage that is fear mongering and a culture of denying oneself material goods. Unfortunately. Somehow we  need to change the dialogue so that being green is positive.

That being said, there still seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding that being green is more expensive. Being green seems to be a status symbol in certain circles – that you have a hybrid car, for example. But being green is not more expensive. That is really the myth that Clorox Green Works is selling.  Clorox Green Works is pushing, like all the cleaning companies do, the myth that you need several specialty cleaners to really get your house clean. And you don’t. You can clean your house with basic pantry staples that are LESS EXPENSIVE than buying any of the conventional cleaners or even the “greener” cleaners. Baking soda, vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, salt, lemons, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tarter – all LESS EXPENSIVE (significantly) than buying a glass cleaner, a counter cleaner, a tub & tile cleaner, a toilet bowl cleaner, etc.

Also, saving energy – less expensive. You will save money if you set your thermostat so as to reduce the amount of heat or air conditioning needed.

Granted, clothing and food items may be more expensive – but to be honest, being green isn’t about buying new stuff all the time, it is about making do with what you got. So you make do with your sheets, blankets, clothing, etc. If you do  need to replace and aren’t into buying recycled items, even the big box retailers have options for organic, fair trade, etc. items.

Food is probably the one place where it tends to be more expensive – if you are comparing to buying conventional goods to organic goods at a super market. Studies, however, show that many Americans eat out regularly – often convenience foods. Those convenience foods are expensive, and you can reduce your total food costs if you cook at home with organic over eating out. And we tend to by food in convenience packaging (single serve apple sauce, for example). Buying in bulk can significantly reduce food costs. Also, growing your own (even in containers if you are in an apartment) can be less expensive.

So let’s forget the battle of the green in the Mommy Wars. But if you want to know how easy it is to clean with baking soda, or to use rags instead of paper towels, or how I haven’t broken my glass bottle in 2 years, I’m happy to talk about.