My post yesterday reminded me of something I forget from time to time. The green police don’t like Melissa and Doug toys, LOL. Anyway after getting some not so nice comments online and via email by a reader who didn’t care for my Melissa and Doug recommendation I commented about my criteria for choosing green toys and thought it should be repeated here.
First off let me address the all or nothing attitude that is popping up all over in green circles everywhere. I am a pretty dark green mom. We have a green house and I am very vocal supporter of certain things like green cleaning, cloth diapers, organic foods, no vaccines, no disposables, etc. I am not however an “all or nothing” person. I think being an all or nothing person sounds great when you apply to yourself. More power to you honestly…but when that attitude spills over onto other people…some who may just be learning about green, I think you need to step off.
Take green toys for instance. I have three criteria for choosing toys.
Sustainability – Is the toy made of sustainable materials like natural fibers or wood? Or is it made of plastic or synthetic fibers that will not decompose over time?
Toxicity – Is the toy safe for the planet and for kids – aka no BPA, PVC, lead, phthalates. etc?
Locale – Is the toy made locally (for me USA made) so that transportation does not need to occur over long distances?
An all or nothing person may decide that all of these criteria must be met for each and every toy that enters there home. I try to do that myself but honestly these issues are negotiable depending on the circumstances. The sustainability criteria may be ignored for example when we purchase Legos. There is just no suitable, sustainable alternative to Legos. Fortunately I have rarely had to buy any because my boys have a huge Lego set they inherited from my brother but for Legos I might negotiate my buying criteria. I say might because I try to buy used Legos if I can.
The last issue is locale and that too is often negotiated because there are not as many options in Indy toys and the price is a big sticking point. If you could find a US made, wood sushi set like Melissa and Doug offers…and that is a big IF…it would likely cost 3 to 4 times what Melissa and Doug charge. That is a deal breaker for many parents.
So basically an all or nothing person says I can’t have Melissa and Doug because they are made in China and I can’t buy Legos because they are plastic…and guess what…neither can you if you want to say you care about green issues. I call BS…sorry but I do. That attitude is just not helpful to most people.
Think about an average mom today walking into Wal-Mart where she buys a plastic grocery cart for kids filled with plastic food…all made in China and likely containing lead and chemical nasties. I used to be that mom years ago. Now imagine another mom shopping online with a US family business that sells natural toys. She buys a Melissa and Doug set that is all made of wood and has been tested by Healthytoys.org as lead and chemical free. She is happy that she was able to buy a nice wood set with her VERY limited budget.
An all or nothing person will tell you there is no difference between these two moms…they are both green failures. Once again…I call BS. I hope that second mom continues to make the best choices she can and not listen to naysayers who want to make her feel guilty for not being the perfect green mom. This scenario applies to more than just toys too…it could 100% local food, or 100% organic clothing and food, etc. I certainly hope the US sector of the green toys police are not eating bananas or drinking coffee!! ;)
Green is a journey and all we can do is take as many green steps as we can and not consider ourselves failures for not being able to tackle them all at once. Circumstances like money may often prevent us from making what others consider to be the best choice but as Dori said in one of my fave movies, Nemo… “Just Keep Swimming”. And ignore those people who appear to be swimming faster or better than you. If they can turn back to you while they swim to comment about how badly YOU swim then they are not worth your time….but don’t let them make you stop swimming.
What is your take on the all or nothing green phenomena?