I truly admire people who have gone completely green. You know, those that can easily forego the chemical products that we don’t realize are all around us…those that eat completely organic…those that understand where every fiber from their clothing is made. The reality is that change takes time. And even people who live a completely eco lifestyle endured a process to get to a place where they could understand the implications of using harmful products and then figure out alternatives to live more consciously.
While I want to arrive at that place (and hopefully will one day), I know these changes won’t happen for me overnight. Like any change in life, I believe going green is a slow, yet steady journey. It means implementing small changes to make a larger meaningful impact in your life.
For me, this started when my older daughter developed an itchy rash due to our soap. After some research, I discovered a new mild soap that, coupled with dietary changes, cleared up the rash within months. It was only then that I understood how product, specifically those containing fragrances and sodium laurel (a chemical used to improve lather), could negatively impact my family. It was also only then that I realized I was bringing something into my home that was causing harm to my children.
Although I’m more aware of what I buy, I know I can do better for my family. Most recently I realized certain changes needed to be made in the way we cleaned our home. With a four-year old and a 14-month-old baby, I find myself constantly cleaning –food on the floor to random messes happen daily. It’s annoying, but it’s also a way of life with small children. At night, my husband and I spilt up the chores where I make dinner and he cleans. It works for me because I hate cleaning and he’s meticulous about it. However, every single night as I dried my girls off from their baths and got them ready for bed, I'd hear this awful sound. The spraying of lemon-scented furniture polish on our countertops.
These seemingly innocent cleaners that we’ve used for years started to get to me. The smell is nauseating, and I now know that they’re laden with chemicals and toxins that I don’t want my girls (nor my husband or myself) to be ingesting every single day. I snapped when I saw my husband spray one of the cleaners right next to my daughter’s lunchbox.
I swore off the cleaners we knew and loved, but he was reluctant to make changes. I explained how using conventional cleaners was causing damage to our children and polluting the air we breathe. While he understood this and knew we could do better, he still didn’t think they could stack up to the cleaners we had used for years.
So, I searched the Internet for eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives. I oddly felt excited as I learned about the natural choices available to me. Such a simple change that meant so much to the health of my family—and all that it required was giving it a try. My husband even remarked at how much he loved using them and how he didn’t even realize how strong the other cleaners were until we made the switch.
For about a month we’ve used eco-friendly cleaners. I see no reason to ever go back to conventional cleaners, and now that we made this easy change it even seems strange that we once used products loaded with chemicals. But, like any change, once it’s important to you (and makes sense), you can comfortably look back at your old habits, realize that you’ve moved forward, and will never be stuck in the same way of living again.
~ Serena Norr of Mama Goes Natural
A Brooklyn-based writer and mom of two, Serena Norr believes living naturally doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Serena also serves the managing editor of Momtrends and the creator of Seriously Soupy, a Web site devoted to soup making. She loves to cook, travel, explore the city with her kids and learn more about green living, which she chronicles in her blog, Mama Goes Natural. Follow her on Twitter as @MamaGoesNatural.