I would love to say that I was raised in a hippie commune where I was taught to garden, make my own clothes, and treat animals, humans, and the planet with respect.
But no. I was raised in the United States—in the Deep South.
Sure, I learned how to garden, but I never heard the words organic or composting until adulthood. Concerns with growth hormones, pesticides, and artificial ingredients were unheard of. We ate cereal saturated in sugar and our bread was highly processed, plain white bread with the crusts cut off.
We never worried about the chickens who provided our eggs or if the animals we ate were treated and processed ethically. We trusted that grocery stores wouldn’t sell us something blatantly bad for us. We used antibiotics and over-the-counter medicine for every cough, sneeze, and throat tickle, and the only home remedy that was ever suggested was a hot toddy. We didn’t juice, and we sure as hell didn’t carb count.
Not everyone lives in a family or community where they are exposed to eco-friendly ideas. Holistic health is also often a totally foreign concept. Many of us start this journey as adults. We’re socially conscious, and we’ve taken strides to become more environmentally conscious as well. If we can utilize some healthy strategies to treat the mind-body-health connection at home, we’re all about it. We truly want to do better.
There’s just one thing: some eco-conscious people and their holistic health friends, frankly scare the hell out of us.
We’re totally on board with making some changes, but then we hear about a few weird, intense, or scary things that turn us off to the whole idea.
This is a truth bomb that few people will want to hear, but I think it’s important that we acknowledge our zeal to save the planet and live healthier lives can sometimes become the sort of zeal that transforms us into street-side hecklers, preaching that we’re all going to hell. Zeal without compassion can come across as scary, angry, and inappropriate. Instead of inviting people into our eco-friendly bubble, we’re driving them away.
Here are a few examples of eco-conscious sorts of things that scare off the average human:
Vaginal steaming. I get that this could be a really helpful sort of thing, but I actually cringe every time I read the words vaginal steaming. I get that herbs can help a wide variety of issues, but…I don’t need steam anywhere near my vajayjay. It sounds super uncomfortable. Perhaps a different name might have made it fall on friendlier ears, but I’m going to take a pass on this one and I know I’m not alone.
Going vegan. Look, I get it. Vegans are deeply concerned, compassionate human beings. They care deeply about the planet and about the ethical treatment of animals. But here’s a truth bomb: some of us actually like bacon. And some people eat meat or consume dairy for health reasons that they may not openly share. How we nourish our bodies is a choice, and I love that vegans are super passionate about their lifestyle, but sometimes that passion becomes harsh judgment. Someone could be interested in the lifestyle, but might be pushed away if their current choices are going to be eviscerated.
Anti-vaxxers. Look, I get that there are concerns about many vaccines, both ecologically and health-wise. We should all be informed about what we put into our bodies. I know a great many nurses and medical professionals, and I don’t know any of them who advocate refusing all vaccines. Some diseases aren’t prevalent in our country anymore because of vaccinations and medical science. The anti-vaxxer movement can be a huge turnoff to people who might be open to some alternative or holistic medicine, but also want to vaccinate.
Selling essential oils. I would love to better utilize all of the essential oils I own, but often when we try to converse with people about oils, we quickly figure out that they’re just trying to sell them to us. Instead of telling us what we can do with what we already have, they want to up-sell us with something new. Not everyone can afford to spend a ton of money on holistic care and these aggressive sales industries make it tough for people who would like to try, but aren’t able to buy enough to help someone meet their sales goals.
All organic all the time. It’s great if we’re able to only purchase organic products. I’ve lived in many communities—some have limited access to grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and even co-ops that offer organic options extensive enough to feed a family. It’s also expensive. Many families live paycheck to paycheck. They’d like to do what they can, but when it comes down to it, the number one priority is feeding the family.
I think the most important thing that we can do when we try to communicate about our passions is to remember that our zeal needs to be softened by compassion. I get it though: I probably come across as a militant feminist to some who are not quite as woke and I know I can do a better job compassionately communicating why I feel the way I do.
There are a lot of people who would love to be more eco-conscious and would definitely like to know more about holistic health. The truth is, many of us are just starting to learn and we may need to take a few baby steps first.
What we really need is information given to us kindly. If we should consider organic options, tell us why. If we need to skip fast fashion for sustainable, eco-friendly fashion—where do we go to find that and what should we be looking for? If there are better ways to treat an illness than antibiotics and OTC medicine, make a suggestion. If we know home remedies that could help others live better, educate with enthusiasm and not with judgment.
We want to learn. Truly, we do. There’s just no need to be scary about it!