"Neurotic Green Living" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

NOTE: You can listen to the MP3 HERE.

Neurotic Green Living
By Heather Curlee Novak

I’m going to ruin your day. Just like that...you have had a perfectly fine day going about your happy life and all of a sudden in my attempt to save your life I will actually ruin it. You know how once you buy a certain car you see that model everywhere? This will be like that. It is my new neurosis, and in fact...many have it now: The Green Movement.

Your body wash is killing you. The parabens in it and also in body lotion are known to cause cancer. My baby is basically laying face down in the street even when she is safely in our home laying on the carpet....but our shoes tracked in everything from the street so there she is laying in it. My household cleansers are full of toxic poisons that irritate my skin and could poison my darling baby if she gets into them. Or if she sucks on my fingers after I used them if I haven't washed them well enough--then again my hand soap has sodium lauryl sulfate in it and that can affect her reproductive organs down the line. Whew.

I used to be normal. I still remember it well, it was about seven months ago before the tandem birth of my baby girl and my awareness of the new Green Movement. I was somewhat aware of whispered warnings in mass emails, but I could hit delete...we all have to die sometime right? I heard the whispers but ignored them in order to continue in my happy, normal and sane life.

As I left the business world to be a mom and tend to the little bit of diapered business at home I looked at it like a career change. I read every book on pregnancy and child development I could check out of the library or shake down from friends. I web surfed any topic that caught my fancy or made my stomach roll over in worry. I learned way too much.

I tried to bring up some of the topics to my husband casually, starting with baby’s body wash. I talked to him about changing from body wash for all of us to bath soap in a good old fashioned bar with fewer ingredients. I tossed the standard issue baby lotion with toxic fragrance, parabens and God knows what else and made my own baby rub with lavender essential oil, grapeseed and almond oils. My husband smiled indulgently at me but said little. I asked him if we could stop wearing our shoes in the house, he said to just remind him for awhile, that would be fine.

I asked him if he was ok with more vegetarian meals since meat is carcinogenic and so is dairy according to several books and web sites I had surfed. He said it was fine until a visit to the health food store netted not a single meat item in our kitchen that week. We had a throw down. He meant one or two meals without meat, not only one or two meals with it. He said I was really making it hard for him to follow with all the big changes I wanted to make. I told him I was only trying to do the best things for my family. He told me I was buying hype, I told him he was buying the standard as the best option when it wasn’t.

He stayed calm and pointed out how neurotic I was beginning to be. I started to realize I was the healthy living lifestyle version of Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live! I could and would tell you the pros and cons of anything going on your skin or into your mouth. I regularly suggested friends run their various skin care products through the cosmetic database website to see their level of toxicity. I was as close to pious about my cloth diaper use as I could be and still have disposable diapering friends. I was in love with bacon but tried to hide my lust in order to follow the line about meat being cruel and full of nasty chemicals. I was indeed becoming neurotic.

I think green living is crucial for our lives, for the well being of our environment and for our personal health and wellness. I believe all of us are better off giving more consideration for how we use things, buy things and go through our days. I also think we can over do it and get bogged down in trying to do everything at once. I guess the answer for us is to be aware but not obsessed. To make changes but not everything all at once. To enjoy life and give up trying to control it by trying to know and do everything possible to prolong it. I think I’ll go green in a rainbow of ways with a relaxed, less neurotic smile on my face. I hope you can still have a wonderful day!


Anonymous said...

Exactly. Lets be real, there are chemicals in everything and short of building a house with chosen ingredients by hand and living self-sustaining off the food we grow and raise (meat and otherwise) well, we are just going to have to live as normally as possible in the real world. However, I will say that personally I find it empowering to read products and know what I am buying and to be able to use my consumer buying power to influence products that I want to see or avoid :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, probably so it is

HeatherCurleeNovak said...

Thanks for 'getting' me Beth...I still vacillate between the two extremes. UGH!