I'm Breaking Up with the Eco-Friendly Movement

I'm Breaking Up with the Eco-Friendly Movement

Our world loves dichotomies:  Black or white.  Good or evil.  Eco-friendly or lazy/selfish/stupid.  This kind of thinking is really good for anyone trying to sell a product or an idea.  It simplifies the work of convincing a population that's being constantly assaulted with decisions.   If you don't buy this product, follow these steps, or do these things then YOU ARE BAD.

In eco-friendly messaging this looks like:

  • "Out/ In" lists. 
  • Reels rolling eyes at "non eco-friendly" behaviors
  • Sweeping generalizations that are obviously meant to include you (ex. 70% of waste comes from women wearing clothes - I made that up).
  • Talking shit about "other" people who have ever in their lives used ziploc bags, drank water from plastic bottles, or done any other non-eco-friendly thing. 

Sadly, I see this messaging everywhere. 

There's more than one shop I follow that offers eco-anxiety workshops but also regularly posts things meant to make people feel bad for not doing things perfectly eco-friendly.  It drives me batshit crazy. 

This kind of generic messaging ignores physical limitations, access to eco-friendly resources, diverse cultural norms, cultural histories, and personal taste.  Essentially eco-friendly messaging today mostly ignores entirely that you are a unique human being with your own background, lifestyle, and needs. 

Over the last three years I have experienced things that I genuinely thought would break me.  I've watched my mom slowly lose the use of her hands from rheumatoid arthritis, experienced extreme financial strain when Mr. Danger was out of work for six months, split my time between caring for kids, running a business, and checking in on my ailing dad, all while also living with cats that puke and kids that have varying abilities to help care for our home.  My commitment to work for a healthier planet is unwavering, but there have to be easy and realistic and joyful systems in place to make it run even when the shit hits the fan. 

Seeing my mom struggle with simple daily tasks, and watching my dad's health decline rapidly before he passed away this Spring, I understand to my core that we all have unique challenges that influence our ability to participate in earth-friendly practices

My mom isn't a bad person because she often uses paper plates.  My dad wasn't a bad person because he cared more about his blood pressure than doing extra loads of cloth napkin laundry.  And I'm not a bad person because I use paper towels to clean up pet messes. 

Eco-friendly messaging is so successful at creating baseline guilt that 99% of the time when I tell people that I design and make eco-friendly kitchen products the first words out of their mouths are "I wish I could be more eco-friendly, but ...".  They immediately feel bad.  No matter who they are or how sustainably they are already living, the sentiment they feel most strongly tied to at that moment is GUILT. 

Being "eco-friendly" is a moving target whose standards change with every single person doing the talking.  Of course you feel guilty- it's the only way you can feel when you're constantly told to meet a shifting set of standards that are set by thousands of voices who rarely, if ever, admit that anything less than perfect will make things better for our planet

I'm here to tell you that your relationship with the world around you is not built on how many reusable water bottles you have or how large your collection of paperless paper towels is.  Your commitment to nature is not reliant on glass versus plastic.  You are doing enough if you are doing anything to work towards a better planet and my guess is you're already doing more than you think you are.   

If you have sustainable habits at all on the brain, I'd bet an electric car that you tend to make sustainable choices more often than not.  It's easy to brush those choices off because we're trained to think we're never doing enough.  

Here's what I need you to know: Fear is necessary to sell solutions.  If there's no problem, then there can't be a solution.  I'm telling you this as a small business owner whose job it is to wear the hat of a marketer.  I can solve your problem with my product, and here's how you know you have that problem.  And what bigger problem than the certain demise of our planet and its inhabitants?

When I say I'm breaking up with the eco-friendly movement I absolutely do not mean our burning planet isn't an actual problem. Our burning planet is a problem.  It's a dynamic, never ending, and perpetual problem that requires dynamic, never ending, and perpetual solutions.  Solutions that will necessarily come in a multitude of forms.  YOU get to choose which ones YOU will participate in. 

You are not bad for not doing exactly the thing you saw a 20 year old doing on tictoc.  You are not bad for using a different kind of food storage system than the other moms at your kid's school.  You are not bad for using (gasp) paper towels to clean cat puke, bacon grease, or any other thing you want to use them for (unless you dry yourself with paper towels after you shower, in which case, please switch to cloth towels). 

I'm breaking up with the Eco-Friendly movement because I believe that truly sustainable actions come from a place of ease, joy, pleasure, and love rather than fear, guilt, anxiety, and pressure. 


So how can you build more earth friendly habits without succumbing to eco guilt and peer pressure?  You do it by finding habits that fit into your life, and that feel good to do, and by acknowledging that this work inherently requires dynamic and diverse approaches, habits, and systems. 

Your daily challenges will be different from even your very best friend.  So must your habits be, and that's okay.  If cotton sponges and natural dish scrubbers and cloth napkins in fun colors happen to be your jam, I'm here for you.  And if not, that's okay too!  I just want you to know that you get to choose the eco-friendly habits that fit your unique set of needs. 

You can find 100% cotton sponges in fun colors HERE

 

 

 


 

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