Some of you may know that our lives are pretty tame when it comes to smells. Perfum, Old Spice, Gain, and -insert noxious smelly product of choice here- would send Clay’s head spinning, then pounding, and his lungs gasping for air. I had to learn very quickly to cut out any and all smells in my daily routine if I wanted him to be able to come near me – and believe me, I did! Very quickly, my avoidance of these products caused me to develop an intolerance to fragrance as well, and in the recent past it has been more severe for me than for Clay! It was a matter of survival for us to find things to use on a daily basis that wouldn’t make us sick.
Have you ever stopped to really think about how much all these things smell? A lot, let me tell you.
I have always tried to make relatively responsible decisions when it comes to how I take care of the earth – I serve a great God who handed this ball of land and sea over to us and told us to take care of it, so I take steps where I can to live responsibly and be mindful of my actions. Little things I guess – recycling, driving a fuel efficient vehicle (no Hummer in our household), I don’t know, just basic common sense stuff I think. Most of the things that I do that are good for the earth are also good for the wallet. When you’re on a tight one income budget, you’ve got to pinch pennies.
It’s very fashionable to be “green” these days, what with global warming and all *cough cough, snicker*. You’re making such a cute and responsible fashion statement when you whip out your adorable floral canvas shopping bag at the grocery store, when 5 years ago it just felt awkward to say, “Um, no thanks, I actually brought my own bag.” Of course the bag probably wasn’t cute then. And you would have been considered a hippie.
So for all my scent free products and cleaning schemes, all my recycling and reusable bags, I’ve never really thought of myself as green or crunchy (granola….hippie…..yeah, you get it), it was just the way I did things. If anything I’d describe my actions as cheap, and a lot of it I learned from my mama. Okay let’s not say cheap…um, frugal. Thrifty!
I had a bit of an awakening moment about a month ago when I read this blog post – 40 Ways to Go Greener at Home (Besides Just Recycling). I realized I do about half the things on the list, and most of the others were somewhere on my radar as things to do – most were not news to me. Was I really that green? Did I really live differently than most people? Did most people not do these things? I just assumed they did. (If you read the post, I’m curious if you do some of these things. And let’s just be painfully clear here that I do not believe in justification through recycling and driving a Smart Car! Just so we’re clear.)
My understanding of myself being different continued a few days later as I meandered through Shopper’s Drug Mart. Occasionally I get out of the house by myself, and on these occasions I sometimes like to just browse through a big store like I have all the time in the world. (Without kids along, I really do have all the time in the world! And it’s very quiet…) Alright so this time it was Shopper’s. I start on the far wall – makeup or something, and wander through shampoo, lotion, deodorant, hair dye, perfum (I didn’t wander, I sped past), soap…..I walked through about 4 aisles when it dawned on me – I don’t buy any of this stuff. “Who buys this stuff?!” I wondered. I mean, I’m a normal person, and if I don’t buy it, who would? Ooooooohhhhhhhh. Maybe I’m not as normal as I think I am. It just hit me in a way I have never realized before, how not normal this part of my life is. It also hit me how much money we must save by not buying all this stuff!
It has taken me nearly six years of marriage to be where I am in my ability to manage a household and “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger” (Thanks Rod Stewart, you said it perfectly). Some of it was knowledge gleaned from my mom, some of it was found on the web and in ecofreak books, and and the rest just had to be discovered through a lot of trial, error, and headaches thanks to not being able to find anything to do the job that didn’t stink. I’m different, and that’s okay. And I hope to share some of what I know, so that maybe someone reading this could learn something too.
All those cleaning products under your sink, all the products in your bathroom – you don’t need them. They’re not helping, cleaning, or making life simpler – they are hindering, polluting, and making life more complicated.