2014 is the beginning of a new and exciting journey for my family–a series of 100% natural do-it-yourself (DIY) adventures–and I’ll be sharing a variety of posts with you in the coming months on homemade everything, from lip balm and body butter to household cleaners to toothpaste and deodorant. Heck, I’ve even stopped washing my hair! The last time I used shampoo or conditioner was more than a month ago, and my hair has never looked or felt better. But we’ll talk more about that later.
As I begin to make and use these new recipes, I will share with you the good, the bad, and the ugly. When something works beautifully, I will tell you all about it! When I experience an epic fail, you’ll hear about that, too. I am definitely not an expert on any of this. We will learn and grow together. I can’t wait to hear your feedback, as I bet that many of you are already way ahead of me and have tried-and-true recipes of your own. I know that my dear friend, Christine, for example has been making her own laundry detergent (for a family of six!) for many years. She is one of the people who has inspired me to go on this journey.
For the coming year, I have several goals in mind (in no particular order):
1. Completely eliminate the use of harsh chemicals in our home. The moment we step outside, we are bombarded by all sorts of nasty stuff. We can’t control that, but we can choose to limit our exposure to many toxins by simply not bringing them into our homes. It’s not like we were using a lot of harsh chemicals in our home to begin with, but I am one to constantly reevaluate, and I found myself thinking recently, “Wouldn’t it be nice if everything we used contained mostly food-grade ingredients? Why, yes, it would!” This isn’t always possible, but at a minimum I will be avoiding any ingredients that are even remotely controversial (such as Borax, for example). I am not saying that Borax is bad–I truly have no idea, because I’m too lazy to comprehensively research it–I only know that there is a lot of debate about it in the natural DIY cyber-world, so if there’s something more benign that I can use instead, then it’s easier for me just to avoid it. This will be true of some other ingredients, as well. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a journey, a constantly-evolving process, a learning experience–and we are each simply doing the best we can in any given moment. So if you use Borax–or whatever else you happen to use–great! No judgment. Ever. 🙂
2. Keep each recipe as simple–and with as few ingredients–as possible. I will always aim to use ingredients that are common, inexpensive, and easily accessible. For some products, I’ve had to place specialty orders, but I only do so when it’s truly necessary, and I now have these ingredients on hand for future batches. I also try to use recipes that share as many ingredients in common as possible, rather than, for example, using shea butter for one recipe and cocoa butter for another. In this way, I hope to prevent waste and reduce costs. Which brings me to my third goal:
3. Save money. We are so blessed these days to have an incredible variety of options for products that are gentle, non-toxic, organic, fair-trade, cruelty-free (no animal testing or ingredients), luxurious, and/or packaged with environmentally sensitive materials. We can buy them in stores, online, at Farmers’ Markets…you name it. But as wonderful as they are, many of these items come with a steep price tag (as they should!). Now that my family is living on one income, I am trying to stretch our money as far as possible without sacrificing the quality or eco-ethical integrity of the products we consume. Making things from scratch can be a great way to do this. I just have to fight my natural tendency to over-complicate things (going back to point number two, above).
4. Reduce the environmental costs of packaging and transportation. By keeping the ingredients on hand to make my own products on demand as we run out of them, and by reusing the same containers each time, I hope to reduce our family’s eco-footprint in some small way.
5. Learn to be more self-sufficient. My mom recently joked with me (when I started making all of my own almond milk and flour) that I was becoming a pioneer woman. I love this idea! It feels great to have complete control over all of my ingredients and processes and to learn new skills along the way. Any small step that I can take towards becoming more resourceful and self-sufficient feels good to me.
So… these are just a few of my thoughts behind the coming experiments and subsequent posts. COMING SOON: an all-natural First Aid Kit!