I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The dirt on.....DIRT

I've been thinking about  the word "dirty" and what it means to us as a culture. I think it's safe to say that as a general rule, Americans associate "clean" with better, and "dirty" as not as good. Think about tv commercials you've seen. What percentage of them are ads for household cleaning products, or personal hygiene products such as shampoo? Then think about how these products are marketed. Is it enough to say that the products simply clean? It's not! In order to impress us, the products have to do much more than clean. They need to shine what they clean. Or scour away dirt. And they need to leave our homes/laundry/hair/skin smelling good! They need to make white whiter or colors brighter. Even our air can smell cleaner using air "fresheners." Then there's the spray to make our upholstered furniture smell clean. We are so conditioned to expect the advertisers definition of clean that we are willing to spend a fortune on products that claim to work the best to achieve these results.

I did a google search for this, and the first definition of clean I found is "free from dirt or impurities." I guess all things can be subject to interpretation, including "dirt" and "impurity."But I remember reading on the internet one. Various websites but all about how to be more green, and this really stuck with me. CLEAN HAS NO SMELL. Think about it! It makes sense. We have been taught to think that something with a pleasant scent must be clean. Or cleaner. But it's not true. Now some folks might prefer the scents, but that's another discussion. But you can clean your hands, hair, car interior, carpet, laundry, etc., without it smelling like lavender, roses, vanilla, wildflowers, orange, lemons..... They are still clean.

In fact, in my opinion, they are cleaner without the scents. I mean, isn't it true that in order to make something smell like something, you must add something to it? And wouldn't that, in a sense, be making the product less pure? So wouldn't that, then, qualify the added ingredient as an impurity? And, (work with me here) wouldn't that, by our definition, make the product un-clean? So while using the product to "clean" the dirt from something, aren't we, in a sense, adding more? Is that wacky?

Now more than ever before, people, children, are getting asthma and atopic dermatitis. Why? Could our products have anything to do with that? When we use all of these products in our homes, where is all of it going? I'll tell you where. On our skin, in our lungs, in our food. So? Maybe that's fine. Maybe they have no effects, short or long term. But maybe is not good enough for me. I remember once tossing some carpet freshener powder over a carpet and running the vacuum. The stuff was so thick in the air and in my lungs I had to leave the room. I felt sick to my stomach. Yuck! Then more recently I volunteered to help "clean" my daughter's school in preparation for the school year. I spent about 2 hours washing windows using store-bought window cleaning spray. I had what I termed "Windex heartburn" for hours after that. Not good! Yes, I have eczema and perhaps I'm more sensitive than most. But this stuff cannot be good for us. Anyway, perhaps I'm straying a bit from my original point. Which was, basically, what defines dirty?

So. If clean is sparkling, shiny, scented, scoured, fluffy, colorful, super white, tangle-free...then dirty is, perhaps the opposite of that. Interesting. Truly it must be difficult for us, as Americans, to keep everything in our worlds up to this standard. But we try, don't we? Heck, you can even buy "new car scent." That cracks me up! So we want our cars to smell like plastic and processed leather. Ak! I would love to see a comedian do a skit on this topic. Wouldn't that be a crack-up? And we'd all laugh. Because what's funnier than ourselves? Right?

Anyhow, I'm just sharing my thoughts from today. So do me a favor. If you want your house to smell like flowers, TRY BUYING SOME FLOWERS. Weird, I know! And try washing your hands with unscented soap. Ew! Who wants to smell like nothing?!

Well....me. (shrug)

PS Because I live in a relatively unscented world (due to eczema primarily) I am REALLY aware of scents around me. Everywhere I go. Funny, that.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! Not to say that I don't like to add fragrance to things- or myself- but I definitely like the idea of it being natural.

    "New car scent"- I've always wondered who on Earth would want that- I was always sick when riding in new cars!

  2. Sent to me by FB message from JK:

    I always had this idea that after germ theory was discovered, the whole idea of clean was to kill germs. And what kills germs? Toxic things that can also kill us (or parts of us). So I think we've gone overboard on the killing of germs and that now toxicity is our big issue. Germs (bacteria) don't kill like they used to, in fact, many beneficial bacteria are being wiped out, but toxins are causing so many problems now. At least that's how I justify not spending my days up to my elbows in scouring powder!