I've never been one of those people with a niche. I haven't fit into a category, dressed in a particular style, listened to a distinctive type of music, or had a job that somehow gave me identity. Almost all of my identity has been bound up in being a mom, first being a very young mother, and now being the mother to a lot of kids. Still, the distinction of being a parent isn't particularly distinct. I've always been kind of like cottage cheese, the neutral accent to the peaches or berries I hang out with.
That may make no sense outside of my head...
So when I really started cracking down on our impact, blogging about it, and sharing those posts with my Facebook friends, suddenly I began to have an identity in a new way. I'm the green one, the eco-mom. It's not something I consciously created, but it's more true every day.
I am not trying to actively convert people. I get so angry when someone questions the way I parent, cook, clean, whatever. People who say things like, "Oh you shouldn't do that." or "I would never do it that way." or "Here's what's wrong with your way." are much less effective and far more off-putting than those who just live the lifestyle. Part of the reason I clung so long to disposable diapers was the way many cloth diaperers lectured me about my parenting. Same thing with breastfeeding. I've always been a "You can't tell me what to do" kind of girl.
If I bombard you with judgments, are you going to change the way you live? No. You're just going to avoid talking to me. But if I just live my life in a way that says, "I am trying to change. And it's hard." I'm not pushing you away, I'm drawing you in. The changes I make don't work for everyone, and I would never force my way of life on others. We all have our own journey.
What I am finding is, being gently open about my personal lifestyle choices impacts those around me to be more conscious. When talking to me, people think about their waste. Someone said to me "You would be so proud of me, I got four uses out of that paper before recycling it." or "I put sheets of paper on the floor...recyclable paper of course...". And I am excited by it, and amazed that they care what I think.
Just being in conversation with someone trying to live a green life plants the seed (oh look, an eco-metaphor...) in their mind about the choices they make. This is what awareness raising is. It doesn't mean blasting people with articles, or preaching about the dangers of processed foods, or shouting from your soap box whenever you see someone drinking bottled water. That's not raising awareness, that's raising hackles, and it often forces people to dig in and resist.
I really hope to continue to live the life openly, and be the change humbly.