Why I Boycott The Honest Company: Support For The Honest Toddler

The “Honest” Company, maker of highly popular, biodegradable, and adorable disposable diapers and other products, has made me angry. So angry, in fact, that I am boycotting their company, starting today. Author Bunmi Laditan, creator of the incredibly wonderful Honest Toddler twitter feed and blog and book, The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting, feels persecuted by The Honest Company. I have looked at both sides, and I call bullshit on The Honest Company’s behavior: I agree with Laditan. I am a writer, too. I hope to write a book one day. I am a mother who writes about her child. I used to be an English teacher. I do not believe that a big company has the right to demand that Laditan stop using the adjective “honest,” let alone throw around lots of money and lawyers in their attempts to take the Honest Toddler name from her and even call her names. I hope that you, too, can see the irony in the fact that The Honest Toddler is not the party throwing tantrums. You can read Laditan’s version of the timeline of events, here. I refuse to even dignify the HC’s “response” by linking to it.

I am switching from Honest Company disposables to cloth diapers immediately after we move to our new apartment, next week. I had intended to make the transition more slowly, spending less money over more time. I was a huge fan of HC products, and subscription home deliveries make up the majority of their business model.  I could go to their site and, free from anxiety about the harmful ingredients most big companies use in baby products, purchase anything from shampoo to dish soap to hand sanitizer to, yes, diapers. These diapers have cute prints on them, and they biodegrade. I can put them in biodegradable bin liners and feel less guilt about adding to landfills. No laundry and little guilt? That was nice. Then, they went and threw their tantrums and even tried to take career opportunities away from a mom and writer by writing to the producer who optioned the rights to her book. I now feel guilt and anger about buying anything from the HC. And so, we will use up what we have, and then, no more.

I have wanted to use cloth diapers in our family since I first encountered  modern, easy-to-use, adorable brands while babysitting. We are moving into an apartment with its own washer and dryer. I am beyond excited about having non-coin-operated machines right in our own home! I was already planning to switch to cloth. It will probably be a bit tricky to do that all at once. I will go so far as to buy non-earth-friendly, big-name disposables, if we run into any snags. I will use faux-green, not-really-natural diapers that claim to be good for the earth (but they’re not) rather than buy anything else from The Honest Company. In fact, I’ll go further than that: I would rather hand wash poop out of cloth, should our washing machine break.

I am treating others the way I would like to be treated. Should I ever achieve success as a writer, I would want this kind of support. I am, therefore, putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak. For once, I am glad that an internet company forces customers to actually call them on the phone (this makes zero sense to me) in order to cancel a subscription; I can tell them directly that they have lost my business because of their absurd behavior. And, in case you’re wondering, The Honest Toddler did not ask me do this or write about it. This is all me.

Buy this The Honest Toddler Book. It will make you much happier than anything sold by that company. Clicking on this picture will take you to a hilarious post that proves my point.

Buy The Honest Toddler book. It will make you much happier than anything sold by that silly company. Clicking on this picture will take you to a hilarious post that proves my point.

 

::UPDATE!::

Hours after I published this, The Honest Company released the following statement–

“For the past several weeks, you may have watched an unwanted situation unfold between The Honest Company & The Honest Toddler. We have now arrived at an amicable agreement which protects both of our respective business interests today and in the future. We want to thank our communities for your unwavering support and look forward to moving forward and doing what we each do best.”

When I called to cancel my subscription (which I did, now having enough cloth diapers), the customer service employee said she understood my reason for canceling, asked me to hold a minute, and then informed me that this would be announced later today! I’m glad there will be no more fighting. For her part, Honest Toddler had this to say–

“Yeah what they said!

Thank you thank you thank you to all of you for your support! Wish I could give you all some red drink and intact crunchy snacks but you know how I feel about sharing. ♥”

There are definitely worse companies out there. I’m still not a fan, and I’d like to see an apology for some of the more ridiculous behavior. But I’ll settle for a nice, amicable The End!

Me: Published Author! The Good Mother Myth

The gorgeous cover!

The gorgeous cover!

In January, I will become a published author, when my essay appears in an anthology called The Good Mother Myth! Here’s what our anthologist, Avital Norman Nathman, has to say about it:

“Her kids have always slept through the night, and even if they don’t, she still manages to look like she has had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. There is always a well-balanced, home-cooked meal on her dinner table. She either happily stays at home or holds down a fulfilling job while still finding time to join the PTA, run the school’s book sale, and makes it to every single soccer game. Her house is absolutely spotless, and if it’s not, she can effortlessly laugh it off.  She has the energy and desire for a happy and adventurous sex life, and her partner is always satisfied. She is crafty, creative, and embodies the perfect blend of modern woman and hipster housewife. She is usually white, middle to upper class, heterosexual, and neither too young nor too old.

But above all… she’s a myth. And it’s this myth that divides women and pits mothers against each other while fueling the flames of the manufactured ‘mommy wars.’

Join us as we break down the myth of the good mother, and in the process change up the current narrative of motherhood to include a rich, diverse array of voices.”

Sign up for our newsletter for (infrequent!) updates and opportunities to pre-order! Thank you for your support. I’m so excited about this project.

powered by TinyLetter

Update: UConn Insurance Discrimination

OK, so I stand by the statement that UConn is discriminating against families by not absorbing more of the cost of health insurance. But it turns out that insurance companies (Cigna, in this case) are running the biggest scam by charging employers like UConn outrageous rates. (Anyone surprised? Not me!) According to the insurance broker I am emailing with, UConn pays 95% of the premium for an individual graduate student’s insurance plan, making that student’s total annual contribution to the cost of health insurance $200. UConn pays 85% of the total for plans that include dependents. Sounds good, right? Yeah, but sadly it doesn’t turn out so great for us. Annual cost to insure a family of two: $1,440 bill for us. $9,768 for UConn. Annual cost to insure a family of three or more: $1,822 bill for us. $12,356 bill for UConn. In theory, this 85% deal sounds fair. But in reality, $1,822 is about 8% of my husband’s “stipend.” If the university covered 95% of the total cost, even for a family of 3, they could take about $1,100 off our annual expenses. That, to us, a month of rent and utilities. I am sure that a public university like UConn does not run up huge surplus every year, and that it is difficult to find a way to balance their budget. But this is all too familiar: Families with low incomes bear a much greater portion of the financial burden. I am so sick of this refrain. Our situation is temporary (we hope) as Nathan finishes his education. We have the luxury of help from family. I can make calls and write email during business hours. I have a college education to help me understand and navigate this system, while our income remains low. Please visit this marvelous post at Poor As Folk, a clear and concise summary of current politics and news surrounding poverty and hunger in America. You will find many other links to good information. Excuse me while I go shake in anger and try not to cry. Again.

I am now going to use a political image to point out what is totally obvious to anyone paying close attention to the goings on around Food Stamps legislation. If it upsets you, feel free to say so, but you may just want to skip my posts about living on a low income if you disagree.

The Real Hunger Games, brought to you by the GOP.

The Real Hunger Games, brought to you by the GOP. Thanks to Poor as Folk and the Twitter user known as @TheOtherWhiteBen for this image. (Click on the photo to go to the page where I found it.)

Discrimination Against Graduate Students With Families

There is now an update, here.

 

According to a letter we received this spring, our health insurance through my husband’s job at the University of Connecticut will change on August 15th. I think. No one seems able to tell me for sure if that is the correct date. The following post came out of my failed attempt today to find out whether we will still have insurance after that date, while they are “adding dependents” to my husband’s plan, which will automatically switch. The website they set up is under construction. There is almost no information about dependents. Over and over, I came across evidence that the university is simply happy to discriminate against graduate students with dependents.
UConn discriminates against graduate students with families.
Meanwhile: my medicaid (and Nathan’s) ended at the end of July, along with our Food Stamps, because of a paperwork error. Walt still has Medicaid and WIC, but not Food Stamps. I spent all day yesterday, including an hour on hold (I checked the time–53 minutes) and a long conversation with a cruel and rude call center employee, trying to fix it. In the end, I sent a twenty-six-page fax, and I won’t even know if they got my fax until next week. At least children under one are automatically covered, and I know that Walt’s checkup at the end of August will be covered. I am working really hard at this and still falling short.

And I just keep thinking–What do families do if the adults do not have long breaks at work to make these calls during business hours? 

Back to the topic at hand. My husband’s official title at the University of Connecticut is “Graduate Assistant.” The idea is that, in exchange for the time he spends teaching (A LOT), he receives his education and earns a PhD in Philosophy. I would love to see how much his education costs the university compared to how much they pay him, taking into account the fact that graduate students’ teaching allows them to avoid paying people who already have degrees. Graduate students teach dozens, if not hundreds, of classes, labs and discussion sections. All of their professors also teach undergraduate courses. What are they actually costing the university? The only real numbers I have relate to our health insurance. It’s changing, and the brochure we received about the change includes a breakdown of what the university is paying vs. what the student pays. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the huge cost we are responsible for, because there are three of us.

I wrote this letter to the president of the university today, Susan Herbst, just to give my rage some outlet, and I’m sharing it, here, so that others know that the University of Connecticut discriminates against students with spouses, partners and children by asking them to pay an exponential greater percentage of the cost of a health care plan. I’m not totally sure I chose the right numbers for the math, but I’m very close. If I go over it again, I’ll just cry.

 

Dear Dr. Herbst,
Soon, University of Connecticut Graduate Assistants will be forced into a change in health care benefits. After examining the costs and benefits, I have realized that our family, should we choose a plan that includes dependents, will be paying a disproportionate amount of a graduate assistant’s income in order to have health insurance compared to a graduate assistant without dependents. As it stands, our family of three qualifies for Husky, SNAP and WIC, because my husband makes so little income. This change in insurance adds insult to injury by increasing our health care costs exponentially simply because we are married and have a nine-month-old child. The choice we face is to change our care providers to those within the small network allowed by Husky or to pay the difference in cost UConn is not willing to absorb.

A single graduate assistant would be paying only $200 for an entire year of health care worth, according to the brochure from human resources, $3,988. That’s about 5% of the cost of the annual plan.

A family of three must pay $1,622 for a plan worth $8,368. That is about 45$ of the cost of the annual plan. We must pay an additional $250 deductible for seeing an off-campus doctor and, unless UConn has hired a pediatrician recently, anyone with 2+ dependents would need to do that. Because the therapist and psychiatrist I depend on for mental health care are not inside the new Cigna network, we will have to pay an additional $500 deductible for out-of-network coverage or change providers, a transition that is not at all good for my mental health. By the way, we already paid Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield a $500 deductible for the privilege of seeing out-of-network care providers this year.

Tell me: Is the assumption that a family of three must have two incomes? If so, how do you justify making such an assumption in a state and country where childcare costs so much and family leave is so rare?

I can only conclude that the University of Connecticut is knowingly practicing discrimination against its graduate students with dependents. Why should a marriage or parenthood force a student to live in poverty? I am disgusted by this practice. We are going to be living under the poverty line and incurring extra expenses simply because your university does not treat its graduate assistants with the same respect other employees receive. In addition to paying them salaries that hardly qualify as a living wage, your university asks for a significant amount of that money back in exchange for providing average-quality health care coverage. I hope that this practice changes in the future. For now, all I can do is write this letter and continue to beg the state of Connecticut for help, until my husband can finish his degree and obtain a position that pays a living wage.

Sincerely,

Anne-Marie Lindsey

Internet Attention & Training Weekend

I’ve always been a ham, a lover of attention. I did Singing Performances at age 4. I once wanted to be a professional actress. I blog. I would do community theater right now if I could find a play to audition for. Love. The. Attention. Today, I got attention in two separate places!

At Baby Zone, I was quoted about drinking coffee while pregnant. People really overreact to that “rule” and need to stop with the all judgey, stink-eye expressions around pregnant ladies.

I shared at The Fearless Formula Feeder about using breasmilk, donormilk, AND formula to get Baby Walter fed without sacrificing anyone’s health or happiness. Because we need all the health and happiness we can get, and no “shoulds” are allowed to get in the way.

Tonight is my last night in this horrific hotel which reeks of cigarette smoke and can’t handle anything but processed crap and tiny cups of coffee for their “continental breakfast” – seriously, how hard would an orange be to bring in? – and it’s been a roller coaster.

First, we learned all about hypnosis, and the difference between what you see on a stage for entertainment, what people use in therapeutic settings (quitting smoking, overcoming a phobia) and what is used in HypnoBirthing®. That was super cool. I will go into that in some later post, I’m sure. For now, just take my word for it that no one controls anyone’s mind in any of the above. Mind control is a pipe dream, sadly for us mothers. ;)

Then, at the lunch break on Friday, I nearly drove all the way to my mother-in-law’s house to hold my baby, after hearing a couple classmates talk about how they avoided leaving their babies for a year or more. I think they meant well when they said they couldn’t have done this (leave for 4 nights, 4 days), but it hurt. I sobbed on the phone. My heart ached. But I stayed. I’m so glad I stayed.

I completely adore the philosophy, techniques and results I’ve seen with HypnoBirthing® and cannot wait to share my knowledge with the couples I will get to teach. It will be such a privilege to serve women and their partners in this way! My teacher, Vivian Keeler, is usually a chiropractor, doula and Certified HypnoBirthing®  Childbirth Educator while helping to run two amazing places for pregnant ladies in South Florida. She is a wonderful teacher, and came highly recommended by my instructor and doula, Kate. We are learning in a beautiful home setting, thanks to the generosity of our host. I am so excited I can hardly contain it!

In case you are wondering, YES, I want to give birth again. Strangely, NO, I don’t want to be pregnant or raise a second child. Check back with me in a few years, but I have an odd feeling that nurturing my Walter and being a birth worker will be all the baby fix I need. Can’t I please just experience a water birth without having an actual child or spending 40 weeks in pregnancy? No? Ah, well. (Does that give you an idea of how exciting this is for me?)

Oh, and since I already mentioned feeding the baby, a note: I have crazy amounts of respect for women who pump at work. Pumping whenever I feel full while I’m away from Walt (he is having pumped milk, formula and solid food) is pumping far too often. I am sick of that machine. Even if Walter does bite, sometimes, at least he smiles at me! 

Love from a happy place,

Anne-Marie