Hi Lexy & Dierdre,
First - love, love, love the book. I am writing because in my quest to become more organic and healthy, I can't help but want to pass this info on to others. How do you do it without driving people crazy?? My husband and roommate (I'm in my last semester of college - a "returning" student - Interior Design) roll their eyes, poke fun, or get plain annoyed at me bringing up something regarding the book, or the Daily Green, or whatever I've recently discovered about everything we talk about. But I can literally say something about almost everything we discuss! We talked about buying a house, dinner, where to go eat, etc. Plus I e-mailed some info. to some friends with kids to make sure they're not using toxic bottles!! I'm sure in time I'll become a "go-to" person regarding all of this, but did you guys run into any of these problems?
- Lindsay in CA
Your email made me laugh out loud. It hits home. I hear you about having something to say about almost everything these days. And even after all of these years, I have plenty of friends and family members who roll their eyes and are driven insane by my choices. The thing is, no one likes a know-it-all, no matter what it is theyre talking about. So I decided pretty early on to share my green knowledge or opinion only when asked. I work very hard to stick to this.
Sadly I get asked plenty of questions by people who dont actually want to hear my opinion. Odd. I just got into this situation with a relative the other day he was asking about the safety of his (possibly pregnant) stepdaughters house renovations, especially with regard to probable lead dust all over her garden (where her son plays). When I started to respond honestly, it was pretty clear he didnt want to listen to what I was saying. Maybe it was because it was scary to him that she and her son were possibly living in a house full of fumes? Or digging/playing in lead dust? He didnt really need me to explain the dangers to him. Theyre clear. Mainly he wanted someone to direct his anxiety at. Unfortunately that was me. As soon as I figured this out, I finished what I was saying and politely managed not to discuss further.
Along these lines, I think its a tough call to email friends about their possibly toxic bottles unasked. Parents get very defensive if youre insinuating theyre poisoning their children. Actually they even get defensive when youre not saying anything at all if they know youre green/organic. Not a day goes by without a mom-friend pulling out a snack for her kid(s) in front of me and either aggressively or sheepishly yelling at me, Its not organic! Not that I asked. Im used to it by now but the first few times this happened, I was shocked. Just by standing next to them with something that was organic, they felt I was judging them. Odd and unfair. A great way to let close friends with children know about nontoxic bottles without bombarding them with scary information is to buy them as presents. I often give Sigg sippy cups as newborn or toddler birthday gifts. I dont bother to explain why I chose them, but I bet my friends know why, especially now that information about BPA in plastic bottles is so rampant in parenting communities.
With regard to your choices at home and daily discussions of where to/what to eat for dinner, I have found actions to be better than words. Discussing organic food with people who dont care about it just leads to frustration. So just choose the food and where youre going and dont talk about it further. I do tend to pick where were eating if were eating out, because it matters most to me. But being green doesnt exempt me from being a normal social being. Majority still rules if were hanging out with friends who all want to eat somewhere I wouldnt eat. I go along and order whatever I can off the menu. Ive gotten pretty fluent at picking the best/safest items. I used to feel the need to explain to my dinner mates what I was ordering and why, but I quickly came to realize that more often than not I was making my friends feel bad when they were out trying to have fun. I dont want to be obnoxious so I stopped doing that. Often, if were with pregnant friends, theyll ask my advice and Im happy to make suggestions. But I never offer more detail than necessary (i.e. Ill tell them what fish is their best option without explaining that the other choices are too high in mercury and PCBs).
With regard to eating at home with your husband and roommate, if you buy the groceries and do a good share of the cooking, theyll eat it, no? It is overkill, however, to buy the good stuff then force them to listen to why what theyre eating is better for them and for the environment. I have found that people pretty quickly come around to an organic, whole foods diet if there is a driving force in the household. It tastes great. There are times when my boyfriend eats things that I wont, so he gets them and makes them himself. Maybe if he were breastfeeding our daughter, Id suggest he didnt eat certain things but as thats impossible, its his choice, his body. (I should say hes a very happy member of our local organic farm and gets as excited as I do about everything we eat, so maybe hes not a great example.)
We spend a lot of time with our extended families who dont happen to always eat organic, or use green cleaning products. Thankfully, with my parents, I can be as preachy and unedited as I want. We have that kind of relationship. When I found out my mom and stepfather were pouring toxic gunk all over her lawn to make it pretty, I did the research on better products and begged them to switch over for the sake of their grandchildren who were wriggling around in their grass. Ive bought them green detergents and the like mainly so I can use them when Im visiting overnight. Theyre fine with this. Im not saying they dont get exasperated from time to time, especially when they want to go out to dinner and it takes me 40 minutes to find a place online that I think would have something Id be willing to eat, or when I yell at them for allowing Aili to have non-organic Cheerios or drink from a hand-me-down plastic sippy kept at their house for her older cousin. Theyre equally harsh with me about this stuff. Im well aware Im annoying but I try to keep a sense of humor. Its a good give and take. But to try this if you dont have that sort of understanding would be rude.
When Im staying overnight with other friends or relatives, I tend to bring what I need with me, mainly food for Aili. Im fairly relaxed about eating whats in front of me when on vacation (nontoxic living is about minimizing exposure and our toxic load is very minimal at this point, so whats a few days?), but Im not great about letting Aili eat whatever. Yet. Yes, I get serious eyerolling for sequestering entire shelves in peoples refrigerators, but no one ever has to feel like they need to buy special things just for us. Were self sufficient. Im sure Ive pissed people off, and made them feel their bread/milk/cheese isnt good enough for me. But thats ok. Friends annoy friends. I apologize even as Im doing it. We all have our quirks and compulsions.
All of this said, it sounds like the main person who is going to bear the brunt of your newfound religion is your husband, especially when trying to get pregnant and talking about buying a house. Who else are you going to dump all of this information on? My boyfriend has always been interested in being green, but it isnt his passion like it is mine. But he has been open to it, followed my lead, and supported my decisions (even when it took 8 months to find a non offgassing, eco table). Im very appreciative. Maybe start slow make the green decisions yourself without requiring him to listen to all of the details unless he wants to know them. Explain what youre doing if he asks, and instead of offering unsolicited comments, ask him to read articles on certain toxins that may worry you so he can help talk through your concerns. If you want likeminded people to preach, lecture, and commiserate with, hop on the message boards here. Most importantly, dont require him to share your organic toothpaste (or anything for that matter). Ive been there, too. In the words of my boyfriend from the early days of my organic transformation, just because Im willing to smell like a dirty hippie doesnt mean he is. He was joking (I smell like biodynamic roses!) but everyone has their own personal boundaries. I know it feels like youve found the most amazing information ever and want to shout it from the rooftops, but to each his own. Between us, I bet theyll all come around and join the revolution soon enough.
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