Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eco Guilt

You become a mother, and you start looking around at other mothers who are doing it better. They make all the baby food from scratch. Create fantastic, imagination-stimulating nurseries in coordinating colours. Maybe even sew baby clothes from organic cotton. 

A feeling of inferiority sets in. It's known in modern terms as "mommy guilt." Based on the amount of magazine articles, blogs, and web pages it's hugely prevalent. The cure, if there is one, seems to just be to remind yourself that you're doing the best you can for your child. And that all the other mothers are doing the same thing, so it's not worth comparing. Do what you can and don't worry about the rest. If you want to get better, take baby steps - don't give up just because you're still in progress. Enough is enough for now. 

Today I had a lovely visit with a friend of mine here. one of the things that came up - that we both whole heartedly agreed on, was that there were areas we wished we could improve on. That if we had more time/energy/money/patience, we would do things differently. It was comforting to know that both of us - intelligent, dedicated, loving mothers - were doing our best, but still shared a guilt for not doing more. But this was a different kind of guilt.

She mentioned plastic throwaway containers. I brought up cloth diapers - which I don't use. And so on. We talked about recycling. About how we'd love to have gardens and be able to grow plants.

Eco guilt.

I think it's fantastic that the world is starting to focus more on earth-friendly actions. That being 'green' is cool, and that there are myriads of information sources with tips to lessen our carbon footprints and teach our children to be good stewards. By living in Holland, I have easy access to recycling containers (glass, plastic, paper, and - depending on the neighborhood - plant and organic waste). Biking or using public transport is normal here, short distances means reduced fuel usage, and there are farmers markets and organic stores scattered throughout. Obviously, it's not a perfect country, but making an effort to live 'green' is not hard. And even if it was, there are always media sources and my own friends to inspire me. At least three of my friends use cloth diapers. Several are vegetarians. One family doesn't have a personal car, but hires a 'Greenwheels' when needed. 

The downfall is that I'm always thinking of what more I could do. I could only buy vegetables from the market and refuse all plastic bags. I could choose to only buy the organic cotton tshirts from C&A and to make my own shampoo and washing detergent. I could choose to bake my own bread with no preservatives and to support FairTrade in every possible supermarket item. No more plofkippen, no more shopping at stores full of mass-produced items of questionable origin but cheap prices. No more long showers, no more toiletries from non-green companies. I could choose the eco-friendly paint at the store, and put a compost bucket on my balcony. Some of those ideas I've tried, and they just didn't work for me at this stage of my life. Some I haven't tried, but I wish I did - if only I had a garden. If I had the money. If my husband/family/coworkers/friends were more serious about saving the planet. If I had the time or the dedication to help save it myself.
Eco guilt.

The only antidote I can come up with is the same one used against mommy guilt.

Do what you can, don't give up.

Take one baby step at a time.

Enough is enough for now. 


  1. Love it, even we from a other generation are thinking about this stuff. Alsof trying and frustrating and going and chanching