Written by Emily
*Slowly walks toward soap box. Dusts it off. Steps up.*
Today I spent a car payment (a nice car, too) on seven bags of groceries. There may have been a few frivolous purchases in there, sure. Did I need an essential oil diffuser? You can argue not, but I do have a 100-pound Great Dane with allergies and a toddler in diapers whose poops smell very adult. I prefer the house smell like Joyful Grapefruit. To make up for my indulgence, I purchased aluminum-free, organic deodorant that can probably double as a snack if I’m desperate. I’ll answer to The Bargain Babe from now on, thanks.
The truth is, there were 0 coupons for anything I bought today. There were a few bonus buys that saved me 23 cents–and those savings came from canned goods that were no-doubt teeming with BPA from the lids.
I bought organic produce (the thin-skinned stuff). I bought organic milk. I bought eggs from cage-free birds.
I spent a car payment.
A few weekends ago, I found myself standing at a Nordstrom make-up counter. I have never in my life purchased make-up (or anything else) from Nordstrom, and from the looks of myself in the mirrors under their interrogation lighting, the entire cosmetic staff probably preferred I hadn’t even come inside. When I saw my reflection I actually said, “Oh no!” out loud.
But I was curious. A good friend of mine wears a lovely Bobbi Brown lipstick, and I wanted to try it. That friend was with me, so I was brave. We spent two hours at that make-up counter. Two hours–partly because we didn’t have our children and partly because we were luxuriating in products that didn’t contain a slew of toxins. I practically bathed in Diptyque fragrances with ingredients I could pronounce.
I left there smelling lovely and feeling sad.
Organic. Toxin-Free. It’s for yuppies. It’s for people who can afford to spend a car payment or several to avoid poisoning their systems or their children’s systems. People call these concerns first-world problems. People call these concerns luxuries.
If I start screaming I may never stop.
I go back and forth all of the time. Surely we’ll be fine if we drink regular milk instead of organic. Are those hormones really all that bad? Pthalates in my make-up won’t mean my demise, right? I don’t know. I do know the United States has banned 11 ingredients from cosmetics. Europe has banned over 1,000. That’s similar. This would be the perfect time for my kids to ask to backpack through Europe.
When I’m feeding my family, when I’m bathing the kids, when my girls want to play with nail polish or lip gloss, angel and devil characters perch on my shoulders: one is whispering, “Oh, it’s fine!” and the other is singing, “Do you know what’s in there?” Yep. I do. It’s probably formaldehyde, the very stuff that stank up the anatomy room on dissection day, and is that a baby shark floating in a jar?! I know. I know. Formaldehyde is everywhere and not so bad in small quantities. No big deal. Except it is. Let’s not use it…just in case.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m no mathematician. The second person would probably be my high school pre-calc teacher, but I digress. I’m beginning to see things like this:
Shampoo (few toxins) + Conditioner (few toxins) + Face wash (few toxins) + body wash (few toxins) + moisturizer (few toxins) + deodorant (few toxins).
(few toxins) x everyday for the rest of your life=a lot of toxins. Not today, cancer, but maybe later.
I’ll pretend that’s the reason I don’t shower or wear make-up as often as I used to. I do, however, still eat. I shudder to think of the junk I’m actually ingesting or the junk my kids are ingesting. I’m not even talking about sugar. I’m talking about scary stuff hidden in words like “flavoring.” Labels are like a mirage or a magic eye picture. You have to know what you’re looking for, trained in the art of deception.
Just yesterday I read an article about toxins in plastics--the BPA-free plastics. Also not safe. Nope. They release synthetic estrogen, which wreaks havoc on our bodies. Awesome.
I have the luxury of choosing not to buy my son a plastic water bottle from the Dollar Tree. I have the luxury of buying glass or aluminum lunch containers. I have the LUXURY to do that. Just like I have the luxury to buy hormone-free milk and organic apples. Just like I have the luxury to buy lipstick without carcinogens.
Those are the luxuries. Choosing the safest, least harmful products. That’s a luxury?
I’m angry for me. I’m angry for my friends, my family, people I don’t know who don’t have the luxury of choosing something with fewer ingredients and less junk. I’m angry when I have to choose safe or cheap(er).
But don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll all be just “fine”–whatever that means, and I hope it’s not the same fine I give when someone asks me if I’m okay and with puffy, tear-stained cheeks and a clenched jaw, I say, I’m “fine.” I hope it’s not that fine.
*Steps off soapbox. Sees it’s made from cheap plastic. Starts weeping. Assures everyone that she’s “fine”.*