Healthy Living

I’m Not the Eco Police

mommy greenest eco police policewoman angie dickinson photoEver 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.

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? Please leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks!

No, that’s not me. That’s Angie Dickinson in “Policewoman.”


  • Celine

    I’m confused I thought potatoes weren’t genetically modified yet. They want to approve them but they haven’t approved them yet but nonorganic potatoes do contain 35 different pesticides on it. No I don’t think you are an eco police. It’s like with my Christian faith people think we are fundamental and extremists but why should Christians keep silent the other side isn’t keeping silent either. I know I’ll be hated because that’s what Jesus said that believers will be hated. He was hated when he walked this earth. So to compare it is important to stand up for you convictions and not let people silence you because if we don’t stand up it’s not a good thing. If they take one groups right to speak then another group will be next and so it goes on.

  • Emily

    This is such a tricky point. I have the same experience – since I started learning more, I’ve started saying less (in part because it’s hard to say just one thing, when what’s on my mind is really All The Things!! that could be said). And yet some people have said that they worry that I’m judging them. Well, guess what… long story short I think it’s me who ends up being judged for my (own, personal, kept-to-myself, unpreached about) lifestyle choices! So how’s that for irony.

    If someone asked me about their lipstick, my inner voice might say “oh, gross,” but my audible voice would definitely focus on something positive – “oh wow, that’s a great color on you,” or “huh, isn’t that supposed to be a nice brand? and you got it on sale? what a steal!” …and then I would promptly make a mental note of their color of choice so that when an appropriate gifting opportunity comes up (birthday, etc.) I can consider offering them a similar option from a brand I love. My note might say, “Hey, I saw this fun color and thought of you! Turns out that it’s lead-free and as a bonus the company is butterfly cruelty-free certified, too, so yay butterflies! Happy birthday you rock etc….” (I completely made the butterfly cruelty-free certification up, btw, I don’t think that really exists. But for instance.) This way they can try a new product, maybe they’ll love it, maybe not, but hopefully they will, and hey, free lipstick. Maybe they’ll ask me what’s the deal with lead or not. But that way the ball is in their court to learn more, and I feel like I’ve opened a door to a possible discussion without picking on their choices. At least it seems gentle to me. 🙂

    All goes to say that I tend to keep my comments to myself unless asked. I’ve found that the best way to encourage people to be interested in your opinion is to demonstrate your own love and appreciation for them first.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      I think you and I are using the same tactics, Emily. Although I really wish that butterfly cruelty-free certification actually existed…although now that I think of it, that would be USDA Certified Organic since it’s pesticide free right? Thanks for commenting!

  • Amber Grandpre

    I think enlightening people on healthy alternatives is awesome. If you don’t stand in the gap between the GMO products and your friend’s baby then who will. Knowledge is power and when we find out something is bad for us or bad for our children, with plenty of research backing us up then it’s in our nature to share with the ones we care about. Now human nature doesn’t like change and most 95% off people won’t change their ways until they are sick with cancer, or some type of disease. I love your weekly blog email updates. Honestly I wish I met someone like you years ago when I was young and fist had babies. I will be 35 this year and 3 years ago I went vegan for 35 days, then went vegetarian and have been full vegetarian for over 3 years now. My kids are veg too and last year my hubby did a year of pescaterian from my influence and info. I sold all my Prada, Coach and cruel designer items. I am a concious consumer, I still have fashion but choose Harvey’s Seatbelt Bags over leather ones. A seatbelt bag is Eco friendly and better for then environment that tans chemicals into their own drinking water in China. I don’t want to contribute to dogs being pulled off the street just to fulfill a Micheal Korbs order. Keep on with all your informative colums. I speak my mind, host Arbonne healthy living events at my house monthly, pin a lot on Pinterest, add FB posts in between the cute family pics, I slip in the hard posts and real them back in with a sweet quote p, and though at times I feel like friends & family see me as the cruelty-free police, some have made baby steps in better choices from conversations they have had with me. Or a pin they read. Change for most is small but if I can guide them to choose a lip stick without lead and have it not be tested on animals then that is a good day. Be who you are called to be and don’t worry about sugar coating issues, you can please most but their will be a small handful of people (woman mostly) that get offered. My husband tells me all the time that people are just trying to pay bills and make ends met, that the average American doesn’t take the time to think about ingredients, how animals were treated before the got to the grocery stores, etc. I say then it’s my dutie to educate and promote animal rights, health issues, and stand up for daily exercise. People’s negativity will either brake you or make you. To be a health nut you got to get thick skin because the resistance is so high. Sometimes when I feel bad if I hurt someone’s feelings because I shared something, It wasn’t me or the nice presentation, it’s really them being mad at their own self for poor choices. Keep your head high Racheal, you are not alone. Just remeber to stand firm in your beliefs and values as you never know who is watching you and who you are inspiring!
    Amber Grandpre
    PETA pack racer for last 3 years, vegetarian, marathoner, crossfit lady, cyclist, hot yoga chic, mother of two, wife, stay-at-home parent, crafter, photographer, and lover of all creatures human & non human!

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Wow what a passionate and amazing comment, Amber. THANK YOU so much for sharing, and for being a part of this movement. You’re amazing!!

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