Green Shaming

We’ve heard of fat-shaming and thin-shaming, dog-shaming and cat-shaming, kid-shaming, husband/wife-shaming, and a whole list of -shaming.  I have a new one for you: green-shaming.  Not shaming people for being green but for not being green enough.  Ungreen-shaming, maybe.

I read an article a friend had posted on Facebook yesterday.  A 20-something New Yorker got an Environmental Science degree, recycled, lived a pretty green life.  Her family referred to her as their “hippie” and “tree-hugger”.  I’m reading this article, and it’s resonating with me.  “Me too!” I’m thinking, as I read about how she watched a classmate bring her lunch in all plastic containers and then throw all the containers away, and how mad it made her.  Then she got home, opened her fridge, and  – WHAM – realized most of her fridge contents were contained in some form of plastic.  Guilt.  Hypocrisy.  My emotions were as raw as the ones I was reading when I realized I, too, am an eco-crite (there’s another new word for you).  So said New Yorker decides to change her life to be zero-plastic; she started bringing her own jars to the bulk grocery, bringing her own bags, going to the farmers’ market, cooking from scratch all the time, yadda, yadda.  Feelings of bonding are still wafting through my brain as I’m reading, mixed with some jealousy that she has nearby groceries that she can bring her own containers.  I’m pretty sure ShopRite would throw me out if I tried that.  She makes her own personal care products to avoid buying anything in plastic.  “Go green girlfriend!” I sigh.  Then I get to the end of the article.  She quit her job to start her own business making and selling her products.  Okay, seems like a lot of people are hopping on that bandwagon, myself included.  I clicked on the link to her store, but there’s nothing there but a Kickstarter.  So wait – how is she packaging her products to sell?  Does she have/want just a local shop, where people can come in and buy her products packaged in glass jars?  Do they bring their own tubs and totes and spoon in a month’s worth of toothpaste?  Does she realize how heavy a full one-quart Mason jar is to calculate shipping???  And then I realize, I think she’s an eco-crite still.  “Here, I am going to green-shame you into buying my hand-made eco-products by telling you about how I am zero-plastic and zero-trash, but likely I am going to end up packing my stuff in plastic, if I don’t already.”  Maybe I’m wrong.  I HOPE I’m wrong.  But I’ve also shipped a pound of bath salts to California from New Jersey, and even in a plastic jar, that wasn’t cheap.  I can also hear the logic, “Well, YOU are buying the plastic, not me.  I am just a stopping point for the plastic to be filled with hippie goodness.  YOU have to figure out if your soul can live with the plastic waste.”

And then my mind really started going.  Since when has environmental consciousness become elitist?  Can the average person not be ecologically minded?  Now if you can’t afford to be Green Enough, you are green-shamed.  Being environmental has morphed from trying to clean up the crap of this and previous generations, so that future generations might just have a chance on this planet, to some badge of being Better Than You.  “Oh, I only purchase hand-pressed olive oil shipped from a tiny village in Italy, I don’t buy that processed stuff.”  “Oh, you went to Disney this year? [audible sniff] We went to the Canary Islands to clean up a beach.”  “Aw, you got Christmas cards printed on recycled paper this year? How sweet.  We made our own paper and colored it with berries we picked ourselves.  Then we blended our own soy ink and used a turkey feather we found in the yard as a quill.”

Remember Amy Burley from True Blood?  Right before she staked a vampire, she went on a rant about how she was an organic vegan and her carbon footprint was zero.  Then blood and guts and melted vampire everywhere.  So, what?  Being an organic vegan is justification for taking the life of another sentient being?  Even if it is only mythology? (I’m still somewhat grounded in reality)  Is that what we’re becoming?  A society where the green-minded become a ruling class, eschewing the morals and rules that first led them to becoming more green, green-shaming and preying on the Ungreen or Not Green Enough to fulfill their new moral supremacy?

Meh.  You keep doing whatever you can, my friends.  If you don’t have time to make your own toothpaste, but you recycled all 900 cans Uncle Ralph had in his old shop “just in case he needed them,” you’re still alright by me.  Any green step is a positive step, as far as I’m concerned.  And I’m a self-professed eco-crite


What is a “responsible omnivore”?

You’ve found me!  And now you may be wondering, “what is a responsible omnivore?”  As with most new terms, everyone is going to have a general idea, but there may be some flex on the details.  To help with how I approach the term, I’d like to break it down.  First, omnivore.  In the realm of human genetics and evolution, we are omnivores.  We possess the dentition, enzymes, and gut flora to digest and obtain energy from both plant and animal matter.  One of the challenges nearly every vegetarian I know deals with is how to ingest enough daily protein from non-animal sources.  Not that it can’t be done.  But it’s just not how we are originally designed.

Alright, that part was easy… so what is responsible?  Being responsible is making a conscious choice to do X, or not do X.  Responsibility is accountability.  Taking the idea further, “responsible” means “upholding the well-being of someone/thing over which you have control or an influence.”  Granted, I will concede that well-being doesn’t equate to sacrifice so that we can have a cheeseburger.  BUT – well-being can equate to beef that was raised as humanely as possible prior to becoming a cheeseburger.  Putting the two terms together, a responsible omnivore is someone who makes a conscious decision to choose to eat foods raised with the well-being of the food source in mind.  Free-range chickens, for example, or grass-fed cows, raised without being subjected to antibiotics and those wacky growth hormones.

There you have it.  That is what surficially is my definition of a responsible omnivore.  It goes deeper than that for me, but that’s a topic of discussion for later posts!