C196: Cleaning Product Purge

This is really just a placeholder for my series on purging. I named the category long before I'd eliminated most all my cleaning products that were filled with chemicals I didn't want in my home or the environment any longer.

Last week I did go to the local healthy store and bought some environmentally gentle dish soap. I haven't been feeling my dishes were getting clean. This new soap isn't sudsy and I admit I miss the suds, but the dishes feel clean. I think it is cutting grease better too.

I also have some environmentally gentle detergent I picked up when I'd forgotten the soap nuts. I decided to buy a green version of my favorite brand of toothpaste for sensitive teeth. I occasionally use baking soda just to make it last longer.

This is as good a spot as any to acknowledge that I am just not as interested in cleaning as I was before the challenge. I believe it is partly due to my hyper-consciousness of the water use in cleaning and the hyper-consumerist anxiety over dirt and germs. This last is something that goes way beyond health and hygine in this culture. This is blatant manipulation over decades and decades to create consumers a bit obsessive about cleanliness in order to sell products we don't really need.

For me a perfect example was my elimination of shampoo and conditioner. I clean my head and hair with water and the occasional bit of baking soda. After the first month or two I never looked back. What a waste of money and resources.

Funny I now think of cleaning products for the house and my body in the same category. Again, I think the distinction is a marketing one rather than a rational distinction.


Kim from Milwaukee said...

I'm with you on the cleaning mode, Kate. I'm phasing out my shampoos and conditioners, and going with just baking soda and vinegar when they're all gone. Isn't that what our grandmothers used to clean everything? Why did we ever think we needed special smelly products in plastic bottles? Remember 'Gee, your hair smells terrific' shampoo? It seems that if anyone smells one little bit like a human being and not a fruit or flower, you must have the IQ of a fruitfly and the sexiness of a toad. Where did this come from? And the obsession with germs...that I KNOW came from Clorox!!

katecontinued said...

Good for you, Kim. In this culture it is an act of bravery.

A big part of the experience for me has been sharing it in conversation. Some people are visibly troubled and I throw out facts and rationales to allay their fears. Others don't let on at all - and their silence closes a door. I am unable to even address a negative judgment when a person silently condemns me as a dirty hippy, old eccentric or otherwise beneath contempt - while smiling.

Yet, it can't matter or I would be constantly stalled in trying to do the right thing and live lightly.

Rosa said...

I had no problem being a dirty hippie when I was living with the hippies. There really is a point of comfort after the conversion.

It's this damn job. I am *not* comfortable washing my hair less than every other day, if I have to work. I am not comfortable skipping deodorant or not at least occasionally shaving my legs, when I have to dress up and go to work 5 or 6 days a week. I have enough trouble making myself acceptable for the office with thrift-store clothes and not ironing and line-drying everything and cutting my own hair.

The house is a whole 'nother issue. I haven't bought commercial cleaners...well, ever. Before I got my first apartment, I read one of those "50 things to save the earth" type books, so I've always just used baking soda & vinegar.

katecontinued said...

Rosa, the hair thing is also about what your hair is like - in texture, length, oil, etc. Don't you think?

I have short curly hair, on the dry side. And I didn't have the work environment to suffer through that initial period. That work schedule and work environment is the biggest obstacle for living lightly - in my opinion.

Besides, I really do believe that 100% on every item we learn about is just not going to work for me or for most of us. I think we in the front lines are data gathering when it all becomes more the norm.