Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Chemical Free Life

On my road toward finishing "Silent Spring" and moving on to a funny book (as so ordered by handsome husband), I'm still getting more intense. Anyone who reads my blog regularly (hi mom and Gail!) knows that I was startled by the chemicals in our environment that Rachel Carson first wrote about in the 60s. I am very health conscious. As a person with celiac disease and extensive food intolerances who must watch her diet intensely, I am very aware of what is in my food. What I didn't pay as much attention to was what chemicals were surrounding me.

I gardened organically, but sporadically added chemical fertilizer in addition to organics. (Doesn't make much sense does it?) I spent a good portion of last summer getting rid of an invasive weed using Roundup. I hoped that it didn't affect the surrounding trees, but I didn't really give much thought to what I was really doing. I have skin trouble and tried every product on the market, EXCEPT the organic ones. I have used chemical laden makeup all my life, dye my hair, and use mass market soap. I have one foot in the natural world and one foot where it doesn't make sense for me to be. For example, I love aromatherapy with essential oils. I use my essential oil warmer every day. As others plug in their coffee, I plug in the essential oils. But I also use Glad plug-ins. I use natural cleaners, but haven't made a complete switch yet. I started using them about two years ago. Why didn't I get rid of the Comet in the process? I use natural hand soap in the downstairs bathroom, but not upstairs. My daughter's hair conditioner is organic, but not the shampoo. What was going on with me?!

So I am making the switch. The Comet is gone and I'm slowly cleaning out the other chemicals in my closet. My naturopathic doctor referred me to the cosmetics database to find more appropriate products for my new "chemical free" life. I've started using a natural face wash and my skin is already much clearer. (I don't know if it will stay this way because honestly my face tends to do okay and then get worse, but this has got to be better on so many levels anyway.) I'm switching over all the soap and even bought new laundry detergent.

For the most part, I am not yet driving my husband crazy. (Hi Kevin!) He doesn't know about the complete switcheroo. It hasn't hit him fully yet, but I'm sure he has an inkling of what's going on since I ordered the cancellation of the lawn service. I'll leave his personal things for last. What is driving him a little crazy is that I complain every time a commercial or media promo comes on tv. For example, "Do you have [insert medical condition here] then talk to your doctor about [insert chemical here.]" If you are American, that line is very familiar. This morning I heard this new promo, "10 vaccines adults NEED to get. No. They are not just for kids" I propose this blanket statement. "Need to eat? Eat our crap..." My darling husband now holds the controller and fast forwards over the commercials as fast as he can.

(After my recent postings I have to add this caveat - On the good side, there are a lot more "alternative" products out there too and I come across at least something every day promoting green living, but my husband is afraid of those other commercials and my reaction to them. Our view of our products is changing, but it is a slow process. Someone needs to get a foot in the door and push it way open.)

When I first came to NH to attend the University here, I looked strangely at the "crunchy" people in Birkenstocks. Now I know better. I still don't jive with the fashion sense (sorry if you wear Birkenstocks, they are just not my taste,) but I do jive with the message. I also want to point out that I have not lost a sense of reality. There is a need for chemicals... sometimes. I just don't need them in every nook and cranny of my house. I have found that cleaning my floor with vinegar and water works better than the chemical stuff. When there is a need for a chemical to do a job, I am not totally opposed to it, but I plan to think long and hard about its place in my life and will work to find alternatives. (The hair dye might have to stay for example! I haven't found a suitable substitute yet and as more grays pop out every day...gray doesn't suit me. I don't even wear gray clothing.)

Long live planet earth and cheers for a major step toward helping myself live a Cancer free life.


Barbee' said...

This is an interesting post. I hope you will be able to follow through to the extent you need and wish to do. Keep us posted as to how you are.

I remember years ago my aged father who did not like vinegar in any form came to visit a few days. We were sitting there chatting and he said emphatically, "I smell vinegear!" I never did tell him it was because I had mopped the floor with vinegar water before he arrived.

Esther Montgomery said...

Yes - we use vinegar and baking powder for cleaning.

Both work better than most chemical cleaners.

The smell of vinegar can be overwhelming though - and I sometimes feel awkward about it if I'm doing a last minute clean up for visitors and the house hasn't time for a proper 'air through' before they arrive.

I'm just gearing myself for painting the inside of the house - and wishing ecological paint weren't so expensive!