Which mom are you?
- Are you an indignant mom who can’t believe a company would make a product for her kids that contains toxic chemicals?
- Are you an activist mom who doesn’t think twice about buckling her toddler into a stroller so she can join a local protest?
- Are you an eco-entrepreneurial mom who set up her own business so she could promote the greenest products and services available?
- Or, maybe you’re the funny mom who realizes that without a sense of humor, efforts to protect the planet and our kids could send us to an early grave?
Meet Paige Wolf, a mom who is all of the above, and who has packaged her indignation, activism, entrepreneurialism and humor into her book, Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt.
Spit That Out! offers an entertaining, practical guide to help us weed through eco-jargon so we can figure out what’s actually “green” and what’s being “greenwashed.” A mother of two young children, Paige draws on her experience of choosing organic food, sorting out dangerous chemicals in toys, and trying to clean her house with just baking soda and vinegar, to help the rest of us make smart choices despite how confusing all those choices can be.
Paige, a longtime supporter of Moms Clean Air Force, doesn’t pull any punches when she relates the way she resolves conflicts that arise between her principles and the practical reality that life imposes on her. For example, she was committed to using cloth diapers on her babies, but when her daughter started preschool at 18 months, the school surprised her by instituting a no-cloth-diaper policy. “I am both annoyed and relieved,” she writes. “I secretly hated lugging those dirty diapers home from school.”
But she also captures the frustration many of us feel when we want to do the right thing but just don’t know what that is.
“Shopping for itty-bitty socks used to be so much more fun,” she writes, before asking, “How about if I just let them go naked?”
Paige is a strong believer in using your marketplace clout to pressure companies to clean up the ingredients they use in their products, and in Spit That Out!, she cites several examples where moms have shifted their spending to bring corporations to their knees.
Paige is an advocate for making our schools much healthier, from the supplies they require kids to use to the cleansers they deploy when they mop up the floors and clean the bathrooms. In “Learning Your ABCs and PCBs,” Paige asks, “Can school be more a setback than a safe haven?” She reports that supermodel Cindy Crawford pulled her two children out of Malibu High School because she was concerned about elevated levels of toxic PCBs that were found in classroom window caulking. Other moms pressured their own schools to test paint and water for lead and other deadly pollutants. In the book, you’ll meet Jennifer Hankey, the Atlanta mother of two who started Healthy Green Schools to reduce classroom exposures that could make kids sick.
Paige is the first to acknowledge that our best intentions can sometimes backfire. She tries to use a home aquaculture tank to grow plants to purify her family’s indoor air, only to discover the plants covered with moldy spores that could actually be making the air worse. She was an early proponent of BPA-free plastic, and then was as dismayed as the rest of us when we learned that “BPA-free” didn’t necessarily mean it was safe (as I wrote about for Moms Clean Air Force here).
And those biodegradable dog waste bags you might have picked up because, well, they’re biodegradable. Skip ’em, advises Paige. They just create more climate-changing methane gas in the landfill. “You’re probably better off just repurposing your used ziplocks and random packaging.”
On top of everything else, Paige is a movie star. Well, sort of.
Her bestie is Alysia Reiner, of Orange is the New Black TV fame and the recently released, “Equity,” about women power brokers on Wall Street. Paige appears in the movie’s opening scene, along with Alysia, who is a passionate eco mom in her own right. You can read my interview with Alysia for Moms Clean Air Force here. In the foreword of Paige’s book, Alysia writes as if she were imagining the thoughts of her seven-year-old daughter, who she thinks would recommend Spit That Out! unequivocally:
“I suggest you buy and read this book because I think it will help a lot with you and your children. A lot of the things that this book tells you are not on any of the labels of any of the things you buy.”
Exactly. Spit That Out! gives you a point of departure if you’re just getting started, and inspiration to keep going if you’re starting to get a little fed up.
“What we don’t know won’t hurt us” is no longer an option, says Paige. “The answers are at our fingertips.”