Man I loved me some Febreeze. Living in the same closet-sized apartment with a dog for eight years meant some limited cleaning options. A vacuum and some Febreeze later and it was like a new place. Before I met my husband, I didn’t give chemicals or toxins a second thought. I bought the cleaning supplies that worked, and the cheaper the better, chose the beauty products I used by how they smelled (and the cheaper the better), and bought the cheapest healthy food I could find. See the pattern?
My husband made a Febreeze joke within a week of our first date. I clearly hadn’t sprayed it right before he came over because he just said it, like an inside joke that we were both in on, probably with an eye roll. Something real judgy like “it looks like the kind of place that smells like Febreeze” or something ridiculous. I was not in on the inside joke but definitely made a mental note “do NOT let him see your Febreeze.” Don’t get me wrong, as bitchy a comment as that was, it’s not like his cabinets were full of Seventh Generation, no, no, he’s the kind of granola that doesn’t care about show-labels. He had an industrial size spray bottle full of a Thieves oil concoction. What is it exactly? “Thieves.” Yeah, but what IS it? “It’s like a non-toxic cleaner.” I don’t get it.
Then there was the fabric softener conversation. After we lived together, I was folding our laundry one day when he said “I would really prefer you stop using fabric softener.” “I would really prefer our clothes smell like Mountain Spring,” I retorted. “Well, I do not want all those chemicals on my clothes so maybe we’ll need to wash our clothes separately. I don’t mind.” “Yeah, maybe,” I said indignantly. We never washed our clothes separately. I stopped using fabric softener…and, bought three of those goofy yarn balls you put in the dryer at a farmer’s market.
Oh, and I can’t forget the deodorant conversation. “You know, you should really switch over to deodorant rather than antiperspirant.” Then I’ll have sweaty pits. I’m not cool with that. “Well you are basically putting cancer directly on your body all day every day.” (Eye roll)
As luck would have it, about the time I started reading my babymaking bible, The Book, (Making Babies by Jill Blakeway & Sami David), I was also introduced to the Think Dirty app by a pregnant coworker. “This will horrify you,” she prefaced. The app contains a search bar and a bar code scanner for you to see how chemical-laden your cleaning and hygiene products are on a scale from 0-10. Since The Book says eliminate as many chemicals and toxins from your everyday life as possible, and as previously established since I pretty much do whatever the book says, thus beginneth the chemical overhaul.
I soon learned that almost everything, even “unscented” or “sensitive skin” products has fragrance which just dirties up anything that might otherwise be ok. I also learned that some of the things I’ve come to associate with “clean” is synonymous with chemicals. Clean smelling, foaming, sudsing, moisturizing, mostly all created to make you perceive things are working. Fun fact, even Febreeze was originally scentless. It didn’t sell. It was only when they added “fresh” fragrance that people bought in droves. The research showed even though the freshening properties worked exactly the same, the scent made people perceive the rooms as cleaner. Changing over to better cleaning products was actually the easiest. “What is the name of that stuff in the spray bottle?” Everyday hygiene products were a little tougher. “What?!? A plain bar of Dove is an 8!” And then there were the real doozies, like cosmetics and supplements. “Wait, they make these vitamins out of chemicals?!?”
I’ve started to embrace this process as a fun (sometimes cathartic) challenge. For a girl who loves a bargain, I still get that high when I find the supplement BOGO sale. Or when I stumble across that dishwasher rinse aid I’ve been looking for because it’s a 0 on Think Dirty. And even when it’s not on sale, there is something satisfying when I find a lotion that’s a 1 AND smells like lavender rather than my unscented lotion that’s a 3.
So what’s the point…?
The Baby Buddhist Blog is debuting a new weekly installment called Soul Food Fridays. Each week I’ll highlight a person, place, product, podcast, quote, song, book…something that is feeding my need for spiritual growth, balance, or healthy mindful living this week.
For people committed to living a purposeful, mindful, healthy life the things we put in, around, and on our body, matter. The places we spend our time, the people we are around, the media we consume, the phrases we repeat in our head…it all matters. And, life is busy. Sometimes we just need things to be easier. If I can share a product you’ll love, a quote that inspires your day, a picture that makes you laugh my hope is that it makes it just a little bit easier for others to find their own purposeful, mindful habits.
Without further ado, I give you the very first installment of Soul Food Friday.
What’s feeding my soul this week? Laughter. I am a podcast freak. Love em. Listen to them in double speed anytime I’m in the car. A lot of political and legal stuff. But this week, I’m on the way to work in the usual Monday morning fog of blah and put on This American Life. This American Life is one of my favorites. I just love the stories. But the introduction of this particular episode just tickled my funny bone. The chuckles were a welcome start to the week, put me in a great mood, and made me genuinely nicer and more patient with my Monday morning court clients. Start your weekend off on the right foot and take a listen to the first 7 minutes. I dare you not to laugh.