Saturday, March 19, 2011

Confessions of a Small Town Hoe'r

So, I'm really, really hoping to make this little farm and farm house as green as I can.  Wind generators, rain barrels, recycled EVERYTHING...the whole nine yards.  Over the past few months, however, I've started to slide backwards for one reason or another.  I feel guilty posting about healthy, green living when I seem to add another chemical to my daily life every few weeks. And yesterday I realized, as I was standing in line at the grocery store watching the clerk place my purchases in bag after plastic, land fill clogging bag, that I have yet to use my reusable grocery bags this year.  I made a pledge two years ago to quit bringing them in the house.  As pennance for the times I forgot to pack my reusable bags or made an unexpected trip to the store while I was out and didn't have them with me, I spent hours last year ironing the ones that did make it home into reusable sheets of plastic which I sewed into more reusable grocery bags and still I forget to put them in the van.  But not only have I backslidden with the bags, there are unnatural chemicals in the house again until I can find suitable replacements.  Here is my list of confessions and the things I need to work on and what I am doing to change things back again.

1. Bleach containing dishwasher detergent--  Okay, this one was hard because I LOVE bleach and the smell of chlorine.  As a professional cook, when I'm working I nearly always have a bottle of bleach water near me or a bleach water soaked rag next to any station I'm working on.  I refuse to let any customers get sick from cross contamination on my watch.  I did the same at home.  If my kitchen didn't smell like bleach at all times I thought I was a bad housewife and mother and didn't want anything but that "clean" smell in the house.  I bleached my counter tile grout every day and washed my vinyly floors in bleach every day.  Well, the first thing to go when I went chemical free was dishwasher detergent.  I started using borax and vinegar or baking soda and vinegar and we had to replace the dw soon after.  It was old, but my husband was convinced that I had killed it.  I used only Seventh Generation dw detergent for two years, but not long after we installed the new dw we noticed it didn't dry very well.  It got to the point that I was scrubbing traces of mildew from parts of the interior every two days.  I did this for two yrs.  I homeschool, garden...after a few months of having a new puppy in the house and all that is involved with staying on top of him and the holidays coming, I caved...I don't have time to be scrubbing the inside of my dw.  Back to bleach containing dw detergent.  Did the trick.  But I snitch and use it, because of the bleach I love so much, here and there.  I'm like an addict who can't even have a little of what I'm addicted to.  My dw detergent has bleach but is phosphate free.  Still, I wish I could find a better solution.  Hubby's in the middle of checking it out right now, so maybe he'll be able to fix it and I can go back to Seventh Generation.

2. Deodorant-- I have tried and tried to find a natural deodorant for my family that actually works.  I use them during the week when I'm home to try them out, but always end up using the toxic stuff when I go out "just to be safe".  I have just tried Thai spray deodorant and have been using it for a couple of weeks.  It's made with the same salt that the natural deodorant stones are made of, which I have never tried, and works amazingly well.  It's still cool though, so I'm not getting my hopes up until summer when I will let my teenager really put it to the test.

3. Soap-- Switched to Dr. Bronner's almost 3 yrs. ago.  I love, love, love it!  I use the liquid diluted all over the house and now I'm not happy if everything doesn't smell like lavender all the time now that I've let the bleach obsession go, for the most part.  We use solid for bathing and shampoo.  I noticed though, that I was getting raw, red skin on my face with rough patches a few years ago.  I starte using only coconut oil for moisturizer and it was working to keep the redness minimized.  I had been suspecting that I was getting rosacea for the last five yrs. or so, but last year my face changed completely.  I wasn't actually diagnosed with rosacea, but a few weeks ago my chiropractor agreed that it looks like that's what is going on.  He suggested I see a dermatologist and go on antibiotics.  That makes no sense to me right now because rosacea is a permanent skin condition so I wonder what will happen when the round is over.  As the daughter of a chiropractor having grown up with natural remedies and very little medical intervention, I am opposed to the overuse of antibiotics.  Also, I have been on two forms of antibiotics and ended up being allergic to both so am really not ready to try again.  I am trying all the natural remedies I can first.  I ended up switching back to Dove moisturizing soap for my face only and have noticed, along with the use of lavender and jojoba oils, a huge change already.  Feeling hopeful, but also looking for a suitable chemical free alternative to the soap.

3. Makeup-- I've been using natural makeup during the time that I noticed the rosacea starting which hasn't helped my skin.  Someone told me to try mineral makeup which contains titanium dioxide which is thought to help with rosacea, so I bought a cheap version from a dept. store to see how it did.  I really like it, but now that I've done a trial run, I will use this entire system up and then buy a completely natural version.

4. Toothpaste--  I was buying an organic toothpaste in an attempt to use SLS free products on our skin.  After about a year I finally read the ingredients list and saw that it contained SLS also.  At $4 a tube, I promptly went back to the usual stuff.

5. Paint--  I'm a paint addict.  I have painted my kitchen almost every year since we moved in.  I keep a gallon of glossy white handy in the cupboard under the kitchen sink for frequent molding and door repainting.  I have yet to switch to low VOC.

6. Spray foam insulation--  We bought a drafty old farmhouse that was in the midst of renovation when we moved in.  I use this toxic stuff everywhere and have almost gotten us to the point where every little nook and cranny has been filled and trim placed over top.  Not quite, but almost.  I love this stuff so much I won't even research it to see how toxic it is.

7. Mexican Bean Beetles-- I hate these things.  I love summer squash.  I can eat an omelette with yellow squash in it every day and used to when I lived low-carb.  These rotten little pests can wipe out my squash garden in two days.  I tried every natural insecticidal soap I could find through researching over the last two growing season and was only able to slow them down.  I dont' know what I'm going to do this year.  If I can't find an organic solution before planting time, I'm grabbing a bottle of insecticidal soap from the home improvement center that I always see that claims to be environmentally friendly.  I don't trust it, but I can't stand to sit by and watch all of my hard work shrivel up and die another year.

8. Roses-- they are gorgeous in the spring but as soon as those stupid Japanese Beetles start to hatch that's the end of them. I haven't used chemicals on them, but like with the bean beetles, I predict I will be giving up this year and using something not so Earth-friendly on them.  We'll see.  More research for natural remedies first.

9.  Paraffin candle wax--  Gave up paraffin candles a few years ago, then two of my closest friends started selling Scentsy warmers and wax.  I love the smell of laundry detergent and really miss it since I started making my own.  I had bought a candle yrs. ago called clean cotton or something that smelled just like laundry detergent.  When I found out there was a Scentsy scent that was supposed to smell the same way I decided to go ahead and try it.  The warmer uses an incandescent bulb which is not good and the wax is made  from paraffin, but it's not being burned and released into the air so I am not too worried about it.  An added bonus...I can warm lavender essential oil and other oils in it!!

So there they are my confessions.  My gardening break is done...going back out to continue weeding because I refuse to use weed killer. 

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