Ever since I started writing as Mommy Greenest, I’ve noticed people avoiding me. Not my close friends, obviously. But the casual friendships—those afternoon coffee invitations that turn into weekend playdates with wine? I’m getting less and less of them.
I’ve heard, “Oh, don’t let Rachel see that,” as a plastic water bottle is shoved into a purse, and “She had fries—don’t kill me!” as my daughter is returned home from a playdate.
They think I’m the eco police.
Which is funny, because the more I learn about sustainability, the less vocal I am about it. I remember when I was working with Healthy Child Healthy World, a few years after I’d had my third child. A friend of mine had just had her first baby, and brought her family over for dinner. Her daughter was taking her first bites of food, and my friend showed me what she was feeding her.
“Do you think it’s okay?” she asked nervously. I looked at the box of rice cereal and the jar of mushed GMO potatoes and hormonally-enhanced turkey. “You know, making your own is really fast and easy and can save you a ton of money,” I said.
Now I’d already shared the information that eventually became my Mommy Greenest Manifesto with this friend. But she was a vulnerable new mother, and the last thing I wanted to do was make her worry even more that she was doing the wrong thing. So I didn’t talk about food dyes and hyperactivity, the studies linking pesticides to cancer or Dr. Alan Greene’s groundbreaking work on deprogramming infants from a preference for sugary foods.
I simply tried to lead by example. “I’m roasting organic sweet potatoes,” I said. “Do you want to give her some to try?”
That’s how I’ve always gone about it. When I’m sharing information about sustainability, I try to connect with people as a woman and mother first. I’ll talk about this great lipstick I just discovered—and then why I think the best part is that it doesn’t contain lead. If a pregnant woman asks me a question about flame retardants, I try to present all of the options—from mattress covers to totally organic—without terrifying her in the process.
But those who don’t really know me still assume I’m going to try to bust them.
I’m not the eco police, people. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can about this world we live in, and share it the best way I know how.
What do you think: Would you tell your friend the truth about habits that aren’t healthy for her family? Do you talk about the lead first, and the lipstick second—or the other way around?
About The Author
Better known as “Mommy Greenest,” Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, consultant, sustainability advocate and former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World who was Editor in Chief of Children magazine—before she had three of her own. Rachel was featured in Los Angeles and Lucky magazines and appeared on “The Today Show” and “CNN Headline News,” among others, to share advice about healthier living with less judgement. The author of The Big List of Things That Suck and partner at Give + Take swap shop in Los Angeles, Rachel also publishesMommyGreenest.com, where “you shouldn’t have to be a scientist to raise healthy kids.” Follow her Facebook.com/MommyGreenest and atYouTube.com/RachelSarnoff.