Tian, Xiaosu. “It’s the Only Thing I Can Do”, Boston College, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108935.
Why do mothers practice a sustainable lifestyle? While existing literature views motherhood as a motivating factor that encourages women to adopt sustainable practices, this article conceptualizes women's desire to live sustainably as an outcome shaped dialectically with the material experience of mothering. Drawing from interviews with eight mothers who self-identified as interested in living sustainably, this study shows that intensive mothering creates time scarcity in mother schedules, discouraging women from acting upon their ecological concerns, and exacerbates their reliance on eco-intensive options. Women adopt sustainable practices to compensate for their current inability to create institutional changes through political channels. By investing in the immaterial qualities of these practices, women pass on cultural resources that enable their children to facilitate institutional changes. Mothers' efforts in cultivating children's eco-friendly dispositions are not only a symbol of "good" mothering but also a marker of the boundary between the household and the market. My findings contextualize the formation of ecologically oriented taste within the experience of mothering and present an alternative approach to understanding why women engage in a sustainable lifestyle. This article also holds insights for explaining the relationship between engagement in a sustainable lifestyle and participation in the formal political process.