Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Being Critical of Others

I recently started following the blog of a family here in the SF Bay Area that is living the Zero Waste lifestyle. Recently they had a news segment done on them and it apparently led to a lot of criticism. They had debated about getting publicity because they weren't sure they wanted to deal with said criticism. This is something we've thought about too.

But then you lose spreading your message and possibly inspiring others to do the same. I've gotten some criticism myself, but I don't regret sharing our story.

Someone commented on Zero Waste's blog and I thought it was interesting. It basically said that people think  their lifestyle is too stifling, restrictive and unfair to children (of course it was anonymous, which makes me crazy). They also said that it is hypocritical that they own a car and that living in a rich area "does not help" their message. They also stated that those of us that disagree with those that criticize are just as lame. Hmmm, interesting thought.

Everyone has limits. Many would find it too stifling and restrictive to live in a 750 sf home. Some would say that not buying fast food for my stepson when he wanted it would be "unfair." That doesn't make either of us right. It makes us different. We make different choices for our families. But to be critical of someone that chooses to be more "restrictive" than you do does not give you a right to try and make the feel bad for their choices. Instead people should celebrate our differences.

The other thing that got to me was how people thought the Zero Waste home should give up their cars, which aren't part of their goal even though they've greatly reduced their use and that they should live like paupers. Just because you can afford to live comfortably doesn't lessen your message. I think it strengthens it in some aspects because it shows that someone that can afford to buy whatever they want and do what they like is willing to reduce their waste so drastically and make that commitment and sacrifice. They've stated that it saves them money, which anyone regardless of income, can benefit from.

I'll be the first to admit that where we live allows us great opportunity to go without grocery stores. And while we live in a very economically depressed area we have cars so we're able to travel (generally short distances from our work or home, but further than people without cars can go) to find our food. We aren't reliant on food stamps so we can shop for food outside of grocery stores.  We have land to grow and raise much of our food. We live in an area where fresh food is always available due to a mild climate. The purpose of what we're doing is to educate people and let them know that they can make a difference no matter how small it is. It's to educate people to make better choices when they do go to the grocery store.

I guess my point is that I don't want our message to be lessened just because of where we live.


  1. Excellent post. I agree completely. We should celebrate our differences and be happy when someone believes in something strongly enough to change their lives for the better.

    Sadly, the criticism goes both ways. I stopped posting about my simple living/urban homestead attempts because I received criticism that I was not doing enough. Or snarky comments about not having enough land (only 1/2 acre) to be called a homestead.

    As our growing season approaches I will probably start posting about the livestock and garden again. It is discouraging though...but you just can't please everyone.

  2. Lorie, I'm jealous of your 1/2 acre! We only have a 1/4 acre and I know people with even less but are still homesteading.

    You just can't please everyone. There was a great post I saw yesterday that was called "Don't be an Urban Homesteader Asshole" and I think everyone should read it.

  3. Ugh, not too mention it's just rude to be so critical of other people's choices. I can't think of anyone that is exactly like me, not even my husband, and that is a good thing.

  4. I don't have anywhere near anything of an acre but you and people like you have inspired me to utilize every inch of it! I love your blog and will look forward to following Zero Life now that you've informed us about it. Oh and BTW the first person that came to mind when I had the chicken conversation with my son was YOU!!! go here:

  5. Being helpful and giving tips from one's own experience is one thing, but criticism of one's choices is just not nice...unless you are harming yourself or another (and not buying a kid chips is not harmful, if anything it is being kind.)

  6. I think the folks that criticize about where one lives are forgetting that these bloggers are real people with real lives, who did not set out to launch a BRAND. no meet everyone's expectations...just live and share what you do so others can choose to adapt (or not) and possibly make their own lives a little greener. well done on the grocery challenge...look forward to seeing what else is here.