So why go natural?
I explained in my last post what started me down this path, but there are many sound reasons that it makes sense for anybody.
1. Your Health
Here are some ingredients from random things I found laying around my house:
- From fabric softener: dimethicone, methylisothiazolinone, milliken liquitint royal
- From “natural” body wash: cocamidopropyl betaine, acrylates copolymer, ethylhexanoate, macrocystis pyifera extract, polyquaternium-7
- From salad dressing: phosphoric acid, polysorbate 60, propylene glycol alginate, artificial color, natamycin
I mean, what in the heck ARE these things, and why do we put them in and on our bodies? Maybe they are not bad, maybe they are. But the long-term studies are not there, because these things have not been around long term. Our grandmas and great-grandmas did not have these things in their laundry, soap, and food. I often wonder if the reason we and so many of our otherwise healthy friends have had reproductive problems are because these things have been in our lives. I wonder if cancer impacts so many families because of these things. Unfortunately, there are so many factors and conditions that impact a specific person’s health, it is impossible to isolate causes of health issues to a single chemicals or group of chemicals. So I try to limit that stuff as much as I can. If I don’t know what it is and I can’t pronounce it, I’m probably not going to buy it.
2. The Environment
I’ve always been an Earth-lover. In fourth grade I started the Earth Savers Club and all the other fourth graders would come over and we would study penguins and pick up trash. We participated in Nickelodeon’s Big Help Day. Yeah, I was weird.
Today, I just want to have as little of an impact on the environment as I can. That looks a little different for each person and what works for me might not work for you. I have a 60-mile round trip commute to work, so I try to be extra green in other areas like recycling, reusable shopping bags, limiting trash, etc. Making stuff at home is definitely a way to help with limiting trash. It also means that less things are being mass-produced, shipped, etc.
3. Cost Savings
I will be honest. Eating more naturally is not cheaper. In fact, it’s freaking expensive. And that really annoys me, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
But homemaking stuff is. I can make detergent and cleaners for a very small fraction of what they cost to buy. Especially if you compare it to the cost of the “natural” stuff. And I can use that savings to go towards my increased food costs.
4. Responsible Consumption
I read a book a long time ago that changed my life. I have sort of dark reading habits; my favorite books are nonfiction accounts of horrible things that happen in the world today. The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today is one of those books. It opened my eyes to a whole reality that I didn’t know existed, at least not to the extent that it does. Since I finished that book, I have really tried to make sure I know where the things I consume come from.
For example, I LOVE chocolate. But the chocolate industry is ripe with corruption. Nearly half of the world’s cocoa beans come from the Ivory Coast in Africa. A BBC report several years ago found that hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their poverty-stricken parents. In some cases, the kids are stolen. The parents sold them because they were desperate and they believed the kids would go to work and be able to send money home. Only that doesn’t happen. The kids are forced to do manual labor for 80-100 hours a week for no (at best, very little) pay. They are fed just what they need to survive and are beaten regularly. Most never see their families again.
This is real. It is happening today. Hershey and Mars Co get the bulk of their chocolate from the Ivory Coast. They are not purposefully exploiting children, and made changes to their supply chain when the problem was exposed. But oversight is lax, and the problem continues. In fact, CNN just did a big report about slavery in the chocolate industry. Check it out here.
When I want chocolate (which is daily), I just want some chocolate…I certainly don’t want to support these awful things with my dollars. And chocolate is not the only industry this is prevalent in- coffee, sugar, produce, and many other industries have equally awful stories. So, as part of my natural living journey, I try to really make sure I know where the products I consume come from. I try to buy locally grown/produced food first, and if that is not possible then I try to buy fair-trade certified products…especially the ones I listed above. For some reason, I was lucky enough to be born in America. This is my way of making sure that those without that luxury are not exploited and get some of the very basic protections that I’ve always taken for granted. I see that as a responsibility to human kind.
Stepping down from my soapbox now. Sorry about that.
Tricked you! I will admit it…homemaking is not more convenient than going to the store and buying stuff. But, convenience is a huge consideration of mine when deciding what to homemake and how to go about it. I always start off with very easy solutions and then tweak if necessary. I have a busy schedule- I work full time, volunteer about 20 hours a month, am in a weekly small group, and have gobs of friends and family who live close by and keep me busy. I don’t have hours to spend making stuff, so if I find something to be a huge hassle, I don’t continue doing it. I think you will find that everything I will write about will take just a few more minutes of your day- and the reasons listed above make those few minutes well worth it, in my opinion.
Next time I’ll tell you what you need to get started, and then we’ll get into some of the actual recipes!