Have you ever heard of the term "greenwashing"?
You've probably heard of whitewashing, defined as the glossing over or covering up of scandalous information through a gross biased presentation of information. Greenwashing is a little lesser known. This occurs when a company spends more time and/or money claiming to be "green" through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental and health impact. Environmentalist Jay Westerveld coined the term in 1986 in a critical essay inspired by the irony of the "save the towel" movement in hotels.
The idea of greenwashing emerged in a period when most consumers received their news from television, radio and print media, and didn't have the luxury of fact-checking in the way we do today. Greenwashing has changed over the last 20 years, but it's certainly still around.
I was greenwashed. And then my kid got cancer.
Allow me to explain.
I have always been 'health conscious', and in my family I have been called a crunchy hippy a time or two. I wanted to do what was right by my body and the world around me. It never occurred to me to read labels as I was a trusting soul, thinking a baby wash with a cute wee one on the label, in a field of oatmeal stalks was the best choice I could fathom. After all, that product was twice as much as the other more evil looking wash. Or the fact that I purchased Trader Joe's lotion because I trusted them to provide only the cleanest products for my family and me.
Sunscreen? Oh yes. We used it by the truck load because our children were a special shade of pale and we were well aware of melanoma. Of course I chose the one that had the dermatologist seal of approval.
Two years after our son was diagnosed with melanoma I had an epiphany. The doctors has firmly warned us against the future dangers of Zion ever swimming in a pool during daylight hours (true story) and certainly it was forbidden to do without sunscreen. I was scared out of my mind that this sinister cancer would find its way back to my child, especially if I did something like let his body see sunshine.
Wait a minute... hadn't we always been hyper vigilant about sunscreen? And hadn't all my children always reapplied, especially if being in the sun for an extended period of time?
I started wondering if the ingredients in sunscreen were all that safe. Then the thought of laundry soap and skin care and even the baby wipes we had used in the past.
At this point I was well verse in all the crunchy blogs and followed a few that gave recipes for DIY baby wipes, laundry soap and I had opened my purse strings to purchase Thieves household cleaner. I still had a poverty mindset so I didn't see the value in the "expensive" cleaners. It literally took my breathe away to spend $22.50 on a cleaner. I understood it was a concentrate. But when you are so stuck in that mindset all you can think of is, in one fell swoop, I am about to plunk down $22 on a CLEANER?? I know, I know. It is ridiculous. But a poverty mindset is just that~ridiculous. I wasn't thinking of the fact that I could actually get 28 bottles out of that one concentrate, I was only thinking of the money up front. Never mind the fact that I would have likely wasted $22 on stupid crap at Target that I didn't need, but because it was that much for one cleaning product, my mind was struggling.
Not to mention I was now purchasing essential oils here and there on my own and again, good grief, $33 for Thieves oil? What the actual? I need Lavender, well that was going to set me back $23. And I would like the Gentle Baby oil, but dang! Well, what the hell, I was pregnant with a baby with a birth defect, the least I could do was have a nice "baby" type oil to rub on her when she was born.
Frankincense? Yes that one hurt.
I share this with you to give you an idea of the miracle that has occurred in my heart and mind.
You see, I don't think people buy cheaper inferior products because they really think they work. They just don't see the value. They can't even imagine why they would spend $29 on a bottle of laundry soap. Even if they understand that same laundry soap can be divided into 3 smaller bottles, still, $10 is insane. But follow them to the Wal-Mart and you will see a cart full of crap that is actually killing them.
They too have a poverty mindset as I once did.
They too think if they purchase from an MLM company, well, that person earns money off of them. When you read it in black and white, the argument seems utterly ridiculous. Yet we emotionalize with it and forget in the process that we deserve to have better for ourselves and there is truth to what these small businesses are saying.
All of this prevented me for far too long in purchasing what our family needed. I can clearly remember cringing as I bought some healthy crackers at a health food store because the price was higher than the Target crackers. I had to talk to myself and say, "the money will replace itself". Oh so much self talk needed to be done as I walked us through a journey of living better.
People often ask me, "what's the first thing I should change if I want to go more natural?"
My response is always the same. First I say "everything, today." Usually they say "well I want to start slow", and after I realize alright, this is their level of awareness and I become grateful they are even considering a change, I say, "laundry soap, household cleaner and toothpaste".
Three things isn't unreasonable to change out. The laundry soap was the first for us because we sit in the soap every time we are wearing our clothes. Think about it, your underwear are resting on the thinnest skin on your body. Your skin is your biggest organ and whatever is put on your skin, the body absorbs it. Household cleaner because like our clothes, we live in our homes all day long. We are breathing in the residue left behind after cleaning and if it is toxic, then we get to breathe it in throughout the day. Asthma, allergies and many forms of cancer are caused simply by household cleaners. There's a freaking poison symbol right on the bottle! My mantra has become, if I wouldn't eat it I should clean with it. Not that I would pour a nice glass of Thieves household cleaner to sip, but if it got into my mouth or I ingested it, I wouldn't be sad. I had diluted it down to where I now use it for my fruit and veggie wash. And then there is the toothpaste. So if your toothpaste says call poison control if swallowed, that's a problem. Go check, it's ok, I'll wait...
If swallowed. I don't know about you but my teeth are in my mouth and last I checked under the tongue was the quickest way into the bloodstream. So forget about swallowing a rogue bit of toothpaste, people are literally injecting toxins into their bloodstream, just by brushing their teeth. The doctors told us that melanoma can show up in the mouth so yea, we changed out the toothpaste real quick.
I grew up hearing "everything causes cancer", with the mindset of, why even try to do anything healthy. Like the poverty mindset I spoke of, this is sheer nonsense. Many things do cause cancer, but many do not. It's important that you take the time to read the labels. It is time consuming but it is time well invested for yours and your family's health.
And remember~ When you buy a toxic product you are voting with your dollars to keep that product on the market.