It’s easy to romanticize the simpler times before Facebook and hash tags, when folks lived on farms à la Little House On The Prairie. But in today’s greener-than-thou urban enclaves from Portland to Park Slope, people are taking that fascination with the old-fashioned farther. Much farther.
Eco-responsibility is a positive thing, but butter churn nostalgia may better translate to a Colonial Williamsburg vacation than to the abdication of indoor plumbing. When you’re raising chickens in the backyard and making your own hummus (only $2.50 at the store!), life becomes more complicated instead of more simple (designer cloth diapers, anyone?). And the question arises: How green is too green?
It’s hard to say where the line falls between social consciousness and social repugnance, between eco-friendly products and eco-wacky products, but eco choices like the ones below can turn “going green” a decidedly pukier shade.
1. The Keeper
The Moon Cup and The Keeper respectively are mini-plunger-shaped latex and latex-free menstrual cups. Instead of using bothersome tampons and maxi-pads (wasting all that paper), this product is inserted and worn around, collecting blood throughout the day. Afterward, the accumulated liquid can be thrown away or, for the most open-minded among us, poured into potted plants for sustenance. That’s the deal. Period.
2. Flushed With Passion
These days, more people are taking over “gentleman” farms in the middle of nowhere or buying fixer-uppers that are more bare bones. Good for them! But keep the plumbing, people. The advent of indoor plumbing is on par with the wheel. And yet, people are throwing used toilet paper into wastebaskets instead of down the toilet for fear of upsetting sensitive plumbing. What about upsetting sensitive people? Recycled toilet paper chafes. Isn’t that sacrifice enough?
*NOTE: Since toilet paper covers seem to be rapidly disappearing at least in New York, one company has invented this Pee-Zee product, which allows women to urinate standing up. It’s a solution, but it seems a little ex-stream.
3. A Toxic Relationship
Just because it’s eco, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Certain throwback “alternative” green products have later proved more complicated than originally imagined. A case in point: The Neti Pot. No one likes the feeling of sloshing warm saline-infused water through their nasal passages, but people tried it because it reportedly helps with sinus issues. But this tool also killed two people in Louisiana in 2011, when they used contaminated tap water and got bacteria on the brain. Obviously, it’s important to boil the water beforehand, if, that is, you have a working stove or (gasp!) microwave. But maybe going to back to basics is not always a good thing.
Another example: Aluminum Sigg Bottles (used in place of disposable plastic ones) are adorable and landfill-friendly, but we now know that early models contained trace amounts of BPA, a substance deemed toxic in Canada in 2010. Thankfully the company has since corrected the issue. Both these products are perfectly fine to use now.
4. Animal Farm
Another growing trend is to get up close and personal with the animals you eat - visiting them at the farm, feeding them seeds, singing them songs. No, thank you. Of course it’s preferable to eat organic meat from well-treated animals who weren’t shot up with hormones and chemicals. But how well-treated could the animal truly be, if it’s now sitting on a dinner plate? Free range? Great! Grass fed? Fantastic! But people can’t always stomach their future hamburger as pet.
*NOTE: Eating every part of the animal so nothing goes to waste is a nice idea, but the reality can be creepy. Best wishes to those who will happily eat veal cartilage, chicken feet and intestines, but not everyone is that level of carnivore.
5. An Open Letter
Dear Natural Deodorant Users, You smell bad. I know you don’t want to get cancer from some mainstream brand and that’s reasonable, but you should at least acknowledge that your underarm product simply doesn’t work and stop bothering at all.
Sincerely, The Nose Knows.
6. Not To Poo Poo
None of us would begrudge a charity the money it needs to support furry, scaled and trunked friends, but sometimes even this gets taken a bit far. For example, no matter how “cute” this “elephant poo” based stationery may be, many of us might feel odd about sending “Thank You” notes on feces.
(Nora Zelevansky's first novel, Semi-Charmed Life, hits shelves on July 3, 2012.)