Sunday, February 17, 2008

Eco-Moms must Learn to Delegate

A recent article in the New York Times, For Eco Moms Saving the Earth Begins at Home, has inspired me to confront my own burn out and get back to my Eco Mom roots, but I must insist on a little help from my government.

Right after Maya was born, I started to tweak out a bit over all of the chemicals she was being exposed to, from household cleaners to hormones in milk to industrial chemicals in the sandbox. As most of you know, I signed on with Kim Carlson, the EarthSmart Consumer, to be a regular guest on her radio show “Livin’ the Green Life.” Every week I tackled a new green living question, from chemical-free sunscreen to our new refrigerator, and incorporated those choices into our life. As a family, we are definitely greener for the effort I put into that research. As an individual, I got a bit overwhelmed and burned out by all of the toxic and environmentally damaging things we needed to avoid and all of the creativity required to live green.

According to the International Herald Tribune, and several other recent publications, I suffer from eco-anxiety. To combat eco-anxiety, it seems that other moms are forming clubs, harkening back to the consciousness-raising groups of a past era, to support each other in their effort to live earth-healthy and kid-friendly lives. Giving a name to my angst has sort of empowered me to pick up where I left off on the road to green living. With two girls to raise and a bit more time on my hands, I’m thinking of rededicating myself to finding new ways to reduce our ecological footprint and better products to substitute for the traditional “better living through chemicals” variety.

However, the eco-anxiety phenomenon could easily translate into more widespread burn out and a severe loss of momentum for the environmental movement. How can we prevent this? The New York Times says that eco-moms’ clubs are effective tools to keep people motivated and moving forward toward a greener horizon, but I still have trouble seeing the impact my own individual purchases have on the dramatic environmental problems Al Gore brought to light with An Inconvenient Truth. Also, no matter how hard I work to keep my kids toxin-free, I can’t watch every toy and snack and random chunk of cardboard they put in their mouths!

So eco-moms do need to delegate.

Politicians on both sides of the isle finally seem ready to make some tough decisions, and subsequently some real policy changes, that may take some of the burden off of individual consumers. A new administration will certainly help.

It is on our shoulders, though, not simply to be smart consumers, but to demand assistance from our government. I’m talking about the whole range of issues so-called eco-moms are dedicated to: energy conservation, waste management, toxins in toys and in food, and the organic foods industry among many others. We need to elect politicians that will create and pass policies that will protect the earth and our own bodies from the “better living through chemicals” era and our own petroleum lust!

We simply can’t be expected to do it alone, no matter how individualistic our society likes to be! The burden of these decisions combined with the routine challenges of potty training and discipline and work-family balance may cause more than eco-anxiety. If I have to confront all of these issues on my own (even with other moms), I may actually just hide under my bed and refuse to leave!

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