Are Eco-Moms The New Soccer Moms? Does It Matter?
The other day, an e-mail landed in my inbox with links to a couple of articles on 'Eco-Moms.' "I'm curious what you might think about 'Eco Moms'" wrote the sender, "... positive trend or just another stereotype (like soccer moms, security moms, etc)?"
This, I thought, was an interesting question. I consider myself an 'eco mom,' and I've pretty much convinced myself entirely that my environmentalism stems entirely and more or less equally from two motivating factors: my desire to preserve the Earth for my children (tree-huggerism), and my desire to preserve myself and my children for more time on this Earth (paranoia about health and wellness). It had never occurred to me that my membership in this group might somehow conform to a stereotype, or that it might be compromised in some way by some kind of stereotyped trendiness.
But here's what I read when I followed one of the links, to the Consumer Reports blog:
'In recent years politicians on both sides of the aisle have tried to woo soccer moms, NASCAR dads, and Starbucks Republicans. But during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, candidates might have to focus their efforts on voters whose party color isn’t Republican red or Democratic blue but green . . . in the eco-friendly, environmentally aware sense....
What’s the hot new voting bloc, the fashionable faction? EcoMoms. In living rooms across America, these moms-on-a-mission are gathering to discuss ways to run more-sustainable households and shrink the carbon footprint of their families. Think 21st-century versions of Tupperware parties (without the plastic) or makeup-buying get-togethers (minus the chemical-laden cosmetics).'
They might have added, 'on blogs across the interweb...' Because, yes, we're everywhere, we eco-moms (I happen to be a Canadian eco-mom, so my status as a member of a potential voting bloc is irrelevant in the context of the original article, but still: I gots my opinions) and we have, as a group, some power. But does it do us a disservice to characterize us as just the latest incarnation of Soccer Moms?
I thought about this again when I read this post about Halle Berry 'going green' with her newborn's nursery (correction: nurseries). How's Halle going green? By decorating her three (THREE) nurseries exclusively with organic materials. (For a less consumerist example of a celebrity eco-mom, see this post on Andie McDowell). Which, on the one hand, great: more power to anyone who makes an effort and promotes the cause of eco-friendly anything. On the other: is this a sincere effort to serve the cause of environmentalism and protect her own and her baby's health, or just an effort to be on trend? To be an 'eco-mom,' because it's cool? And, does it matter?
My gut tells me that it doesn't matter. It is, in part, because of the growing eco-maternity movement - fuelled in some part, yes, by its trendiness - that moms everywhere have a better understanding of the connections between the environment and their health and the health of their children (which, let's be honest, is generally priority number one for mothers in considering environmentalism: how does this effect the health of my born and unborn children? how does this effect my own health?) We know, most of us, about bisphenol-A and toxins that can effect fetuses and about the reasons why organic cotton is gentler on skin and about issues concerning exposure to pesticides fumes and smogs and other icks precisely because these issues have become, to some extent, trendy to follow. And if it seems that politicians are now more likely to listen to moms on these issues because the trend has expanded so far to include virtually everybody, well, hey - that's not a bad thing, is it?
Not if it gets results, of course. But what if it undermines the cause? What if the 'trendiness' of eco-maternity really does just make it seem as though eco-moms are just another version of soccer-mom: fundamentally absorbed in their own interests and disinclined to think beyond their own communities? As a mere mom-fad? What if becoming just another voting bloc - or, egads, just another market - diminishes the reputation of eco-maternalism (I am, of course, totally making all of these words up) as the crucially important cause that it is?
For me, being an eco-mom is all about preserving my health - my life - and the health and lives of my children (I hug the trees because they help me breathe - not because they're pretty). It's pretty freaking important to me. So to hear it compared - however lightly - to being a soccer mom bothers me. This isn't about minivans. This is about our lives. Trendy or not, it's serious. And I want it to be taken seriously. Really seriously.
What do you think?