I know that isn't a word.  But it should be.  What else do you call the annoying trend where people try to top each other with their "green" lifestyles? 

Before you get the wrong idea about this post, let me clarify one thing:  I am in no way bashing "green" lifestyles.  Luckily, most of us seem to have gotten the message that we need to change our habits and lifestyles or we are going to destroy the planet for future generations.  I am taking aim at those eco-warriors who look down on other people who aren't as "green" as they are.  You've met someone like this, haven't you -- the smug, holier-than-thou types who create the need for words like "eco-guilt?"

In the past two years, we have made lots of changes around our house in the name of living a "greener" lifestyle.  We recycle (not always an easy thing to do when you live in Chicago).  I have switched over all of my light bulbs.  I always head out to the grocery store with my reusable bags.  We belong to a CSA and try to buy organic, locally grown and produced food whenever possible.  We are mindful about lingering in the hot shower for too long in the morning.  My kids dance around the kitchen to Jack Johnson's "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."  You get it, right?  We really are trying.

All that being said, I am still responsible for a number of egregious environmental wrongs.  My family's collective carbon footprint is . . . rather large.  I drive a massive, gas-guzzling SUV (and no, it isn't a hybrid).  I often forget to turn off the water while I am brushing my teeth.  Diapers that once covered my children's' bums litter landfills the whole world over.  And I am no where near emotionally prepared to start using the environmentally friendly menstrual products on the market.  So overall I would say that my family has made progress -- but still has lots of room for improvement.

What gets me is the members of the eco-conscious set who are quick to let you know that they are doing more than you (the implication being that what you are doing isn't enough).  Sometimes this message is subtle.  It is the Mom at playgroup who says, "Oh, you still use plastic bottles?  Aren't you afraid about the chemicals leaching into the milk?" Or the neighbor with the rain barrel who shoots you a nasty glance as you generously water your wilted hydrangeas.  Or when your cousin comes over for a family party and remarks, "Oh paper plates are such a waste.  We use bamboo plates when we entertain."  This "greenupmanship" reminds me of kids trying to out-do each other on the playground:  "We compost."  "Oh yeah, well we would never use anything other cloth diapers on our babies."  "So what.  We only flush the toilets at our house once a day to save water."  What comes next here?  Oh yeah -- "I know you are but what am I?"  

Come on.  Rather than focus on what we aren't doing to lead a greener life (and aren' t we are ALL doing something harmful to the environment on a daily basis?), can't we focus on the positive changes people are making?  Shouldn't any step in the right direction be commended?

Earth Day is coming up April 22nd.  I propose that those folks who could stand to live a little "greener" commit to making three lifestyle changes (start with the reusable grocery bags -- so easy).  And why don't those eco-warriors who are already living clean and "green" reach out to someone else and say something complimentary like, "Hey, I noticed that you have been riding your bike to work rather than driving.  That's great."  Let's be positive people! 

Looking for easy ideas to live a "greener life"?  Want the tips without the guilt?  Check out Ideal Bite, Sprig, or The Daily Green.