Or rather, I've begun to do it. I've gone natural. Or at least, I've begun the process. It will take some time to filter out all of the chemicals and additives, but once you've fallen off the curb, you just keep gathering momentum.
I've always had a thing for the homemade and old fashioned. Growing up homeschooled - although a very suburban, "normal" homeschooled (no denim jumpers, waist-length "shining glory" hair, or livestock) - gave us kids a hands-on existance. We gardened, spent a lot of time outdoors, baked, quilted, sewed, and read. Later in life, the book "Entre-Nous: A Woman's Guide to finding her Inner French Girl" got me on the road to using real ingredients, getting off the shopping treadmill, and taking time to do things meaningfully. Then I went to Cambodia for a while, and learned that our cultural drive to BUY THINGS is something that can be overcome. I began trying to use things up completely before buying more and buying based on need instead of buying based on desire to buy something.
My favorite thing about Seattle is living in a culture where people really are trying to make a difference by thinking about their consumption - of gas, or food, of packaging, or chemicals. On the negative side, going organic/vegan/gluten-free/local/fresh is practically a fashion statement. Here there are plenty of farmer's markets, and every grocery store has a natural section, but if you're REALLY COOL you go to a Co-op that has REALLY EXPENSIVE organic everything. I understand why natural products have to be more expensive than cheap chemical laden alternatives. I DON'T understand why the same products have to be double and sometimes triple in price. With my husband and me trying very hard to keep a frugal budget on a two-theatre income, buying organic hasn't been an option.
Then, I bought a Prius. (This naturally prompts a smug lifestyle shift as one looks at other cars on the freeway and feels good about the reduced environmental impact) and my father was treated for Cancer - leading my parents into a hormone and chemical free lifestyle.
Then I found the site: DIY Natural.
Living in a rented 1/2 of a house with a septic tank has made me concerned about the chemicals I'm pouring into the backyard - and eventually into the river at the bottom of our hill. With the discovery of the DIY site, I can start transitioning out the chemicals in my house, and replace them with a homemade, natural version. And the perk? It's cheaper than store bought regular brands, and WAYYYYYYYYY cheaper than the corresponding Organic variety. And in a lot of cases, the old ways work more effectively.
One article on the site recommends that a good way to transition is to learn to make a new product as you run out of the old one, instead of trying to completely overhaul all at once. This seems very wise, and cost effective - since the startup product purchase can be a little expensive. Though cheaper in the long run, the initial purchases of essential oils to make things smell as pretty as the Bath and Body works and Herbal Essenses you're replacing can cost a bit.
So far, here is what I've replaced:
1. Laundry Detergent - blending up 1 cup Borax, 1 Cup Washing Soda and 1 Bar of Ivory took less than 5 minutes, and requires only 1-3 TBSP per load.
2. Dishwashing Liquid - I Tbsp Borax, I Tbsp grated soap, 1-3/4c water, boiled and let sit for 6-8 hours to gel. This worked beautifully. I used a little food coloring in this batch, but probably won't in future. I'm still waiting for the Creamsicle essential oil to arrive in the mail. It's weird using soap that doesn't contain foaming agents, but I'm getting used to it. If one has the money, Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap works, too, and foams naturally.
3. Shampoo - I found a bottle of organic shampoo at Grocery Outlet and decided to give it a try. Ditto on the lack of foaming, but the organic brand smells fruity and herby - so not a far cry from my Herbal Essences. In future, I may try making my own, but if I can get it at the discount grocery for the same money as regular shampoo, I'll let them do the work.
4. Toothpaste - the DIY site didn't help me here. I understand why a baking soda paste works, but I'm not fond of the texture. So, I bought Cinnamon Clove toothpaste on sale in the natural section of QFC.
5. Deodorant - The husband already uses Tom's - since he's allergic to most scents. This is my current work-in-progress. I emptied out two deodorant, and one footsie fixer tube and am gathering ingredients to begin making this. In the meantime, I'm doing my several day no-deodorant period - to allow the aluminum to sweat out of my system. Apparently, keeping your body from sweating is bad for you, and while I hate to jump on the "it causes cancer" bandwagon for everything under the sun, stopping schmearing chemicals on the largest organ of the body can only be a good thing, right? In the meantime, I found a bar of beeswax at goodwill for $3 instead of the $16 at the craft store, and oil of coconut was cheapest at Fred Meyer's natural section. I just need some essential oils (again, I like smelling like baked goods or flowers) and some arrowroot powder (optional) and I'm ready to go.
How far will this go? I'm not sure. I'm excited by the prospect, and if I'm making a lot of these products myself, I can justify the expense of the products I don't want to make. As I think about the products I use, an endless number of things that need replacing starts to get overwhelming. But, I will keep taking this one product at a time. And getting to make cute packaging helps!