Wednesday, March 17, 2010

There's More Than One Path to Green

Ramblings from The Conscious Shopper

Did you all catch the article "The Femivore's Dilemma" in the New York Times Magazine last week?

In a nutshell, the article describes "stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin" and have transformed homemaking into a new form of feminism.
Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place. Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy. Rather than embodying the limits of one movement, femivores expand those of another: feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly. What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible?
I hate the label femivore, but overall I found the article very interesting. It definitely describes me.

My first job after college was with a private investigation firm. On paper, it sounds like a cool job, but in reality, it was long commutes, long workdays stuck in an uncomfortable office chair staring at a computer, lots of overtime without overtime pay. Two and a half years later, we moved to Maryland, and my very generous employer offered to let me keep my job working part time from home. Two years after that, they changed their minds, and I found myself in my new (and current) career as a full time stay at home mom.

At first, I was terrified to be completely unemployed. What would I do with all my time?...Turned out that there was plenty to do, and I loved it. Let me say this loud and clear: I love being a stay at home mom. I love being a homemaker. I love baking bread and I love being with my kids and I even get enjoyment out of cleaning my house. Most of all, I love the freedom of deciding when and what I do all day. The thought of ever having a boss again completely freaks me out.

But I also recognize that this career choice is not for everyone. Some women would go crazy spending their days on the floor with two preschoolers instead of in an office with other grown-ups, and some women might like to stay home with their children but financially don't have the option. This is the path that my life has taken, but that doesn't mean it's the right or only path.

Image by Sbocaj

The other day, someone said to me, "I keep following your blog, but...if I lived the way you do, I would go crazy."

My response is, "Why do you have to live the way I do?" This is the way that I choose to go green because this is what makes me happy. But there's more than one path to green.

If the mention of cooking from scratch and digging in the dirt and raising chickens makes you want to run screaming from the room, find a different path to green. If your financial circumstances limit what (if any) organics you can buy, don't sweat it - focus on the things you can do. If you're passionate about recycling but zone out when someone mentions water conservation, that's okay - we still need your energy and passion in whatever area you want to give it. If the circumstances of your life limit you to doing only the Baby Steps, well then, high five, my friend - thank you for doing what you can.

So whether you're an environmentalist, a conservationist, an activist, a femivore, a frugalista, an APLSOS, an NPSLE, or a person who hates labels, be proud of whatever path to green you've chosen to take. We can all use fewer limitations, less guilt, and a lot more acceptance.


The Mom said...

The femivore name is awful and I really hope it doesn't stick. The description is certainly me. I can't imagine going back to work now, I don't have the time. Too much to do taking care of my family.

Wonder-ful said...

Loved the article, but I agree: "Femivore" sounds like a women's personal care product.

Had a random thought though. Are labels compostable?

Julia (Color Me Green) said...

i totally thought of the green phone booth eco-moms when i read this article. i kind of wish i could be a femivore except i don't have kids and i don't have land to live off, so my desire to stay home and live traditionally doesn't seem to have as much clout.

Annelise said...

That term is awful. It makes it sound like you're going around eating women.

Glad people are talking about it though.

Daisy said...

Never let what you cannot do interfere with what you can.

Femivore sounds like something vaguely cannibalistic. I hope it doesn't stick.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Annelise and Daisy - That's exactly what I thought. Herbivore, carnivore, femivore...:)

concretenprimroses said...

Yes Its a silly name with the wrong meaning. I thought it said F E R N ivore! I was confused by that too. after all what does eating ferns have to do with it. (I need new glasses desparatly).

Robbie said...

Who came up with that term? About as bad as the ones I read about last week. ;)

I guess I'm not seeing how caring for your family, health and the environment is a strictly feminist issue?

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Robbie - Totally agree. I kept thinking as I was writing this that I should apologize to our male readers for excluding them from this post, and then I was like - wait, nothing I'm saying here applies only to women. You're exactly right that caring for family, health, and the environment has nothing to do with gender.

Cherie said...

Yuck - I hate the name femivore as well. Why do we have to be given a label anyway? That said, I agree with your point about doing what we can with what we can. Following our passions will make a better world.

panamamama said...

Great post. I have friends that think I'm some sort of radical for buying organic or going to the market. Huh? I like cooking from scratch and do want some chickens, but agree to each his own!

Amy M said...

I appreciate the end of this post in particular. "There's more than one path to green" especially makes me feel less judged, not that you are the judging type, Erin. Still I am awed at the energy you have to put into your environmentalism. Thanks for your educational blog; it keeps me thinking.


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