Saturday, May 6, 2017

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Green Light- Roe

Being toxic-free makes so much sense to present me says this eco-sista

How long have you been eco-friendly? That's such an interesting question! At this point in life, it feels like "forever" or "always" but I think that's because being toxic-free makes so much sense to present-me! HaHa, if I do some reflection on it, I've incorporated eco-friendly products into my home and into my decisions since 2006, 11 years.

Why did you choose to be eco-friendly? Self-transformation, community and gut. Before I went natural, I took a cold hard look at what was going on in my products in a way I'd never done before. A study had come out how relaxer contributed to early puberty in young women and there were boards of women who were transitioning who had to go eco with their products out of pure health necessity. A year after, I joined an intentional living community call the "Simple Living House", really just a bunch of inquisitive young people who were asking questions about everything. Including our relationship with the planet.

We would read and talk about recycling, really benign type stuff at first but then after we completed out Environmental Science classes and after I finished the majority of my international development studies, a lot of things were coming into focus. If DDT affected birds, whey didn't it occur to us that it could affect humans too? If pesticides killed bug, wouldn't it have an affect on our immune systems over a lifetime? If fast agricultural cultivation and artificial fertilizers eroded farmland in years that had taken centuries to build, what would happen to our top soil and food systems if international agencies recommended these methods to every developing country?

While in school, there were no conclusive studies on any of these things and there's still scant research out there for public access. However, turning them over in dialogue with others tuned my intuition that something was amiss. A sinking feeling either society was backward or we were and I had a feeling it was more the latter. I started steering clear of non eco-friendly products from college onward. 

What do you like about it? You know what I've gained? Connection to my ancestors. Honestly, anything "eco-friendly" is really just what our grandparents's parents knew but our parents forgot. You can put it in a bottle and market it but the truth is items like all purpose cleaners are often just a combination of water, vinegar, essential oils, and what...lemon? Another benefit I like of using clean products are being headache-free when I'm cleaning the shower (no harsh chemicals I'm inhaling). In college, I used to be a housekeeper at hotels in National Parks so it gives me peace of mind that I can recognize the ingredients. 

Did you face any challenges?If so, what was/is the biggest obstacle(s)? Some would say cost but I'd say effectiveness. Cost shocks us because production companies have an invested interest in leveraging chemical compositions to avoid ingredients with a short shelf life. They sell it to us, women in particular, and even if what they use begins to concerns their market, they'll mislabel it "natural" and we'll have a tendency to go for it. The truth is the cost is hidden. You'll pay for it twice in your health and eco-system.

But when you choose an eco-friendly product over its contemporary sometimes it just doesn't work as swiftly. Elbow grease? Ha! Some you need an elbow hammer to cut grime or cut through dirt or add moisture to something. And that kinda sucks but I'm not sure it can be different. It would be dope if it was. I'd love that.

Also, capitalism is so slick. Greenwashing is serious, I can't tell you how many things I've picked up and read "natural"  when you can't pronounce anything on the labels and the company didn't factor in the packaging they used, which is un-recyclable or used plastic in the first place. An example: current natural hair products. When I went natural in college, there were dozens of message boards (because it was before being natural was a movement and celebrated in magazines or on social media) with black women who strictly committed to putting things on their hair they could recognize. Nowadays, it seems like that fervor's gone, if not completely silenced. I pick up natural, eco-friendly hair products and I'm not sure if it's just me or what I'm holding is actually what I think it is: a container full of complex chemicals to me... Has our concern for ourselves gone?

Any tips/advice for someone looking to be more eco-friendly? Yeah! E and I are minimalists so there's a dovetail with our lifestyle here. Instead of jumping into stressing about chemicals, identify where in your life you'd like to be toxin free. Your kitchen? Your bathroom? Your makeup? Your hair? Or even your clothing? Then ask yourself, "what products do you need? To steward the earth and yourself, it's not about replacing everything you have with a "natural" alternative. It's about having the right tools and support an area that's important to you. Less is more, when it comes to ingredients and items to use. If you have a few of your favorite items from companies you've learned you can trust this takes away any sticker shock that happens when you're comparing a toxic full brand. You own less, will need to replace it less, and you won't have to pay it back with your health bill, so the price is a great value of what you're getting.

**Also, the most eco-friendly thing you can do for yourself and the planet is to throw away less! <3

Going green can be complex. This discourages a lot of people. There's really no "right" way it's basically trying to do something than nothing at all. I sometimes feel like a green hypocrite. Do you feel that way sometimes? I do, especially when I have to make a decision against my values because I'm hurried, impatient, or have no other options. Like, UGH! Sometimes, I'll buy the haircare product where I can't pronounce the ingredients because everyone on the natural hair Instagrams says it's a miracle worker and I don't have time to research the ingredient. What I would like is a world where it's much easier to live aligned with what's deeply important to you. And that's where your "own" way comes in. Something is better than nothing, you can give yourself grace, and buying products that are good for you, shifting the system and creating way for the next generation.

You know I gotta ask, How long have you been natural and how do you keep it so FLY? Oh my god, do you think it is! Thank you! I'm a hair twirler (I am twirling as we speak) so I feel like I struggle with it breaking but going natural was the best thing I've ever done for my psyche. I went natural 11 years ago. I keep it short because I can't get it to grow but I've come to a deep peace with that. The shape fits my face, I think.

Is there anything you like to add? You can find me and Erin on Instagram sharing our unapologetic living.


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