A Simple Table: Stepping Away From "Products"

Just some assorted ramblings that have been bouncing around on this topic, so thought i'd do another little "list of ten"...

1. "Green" Products are Still Products

I remember twenty years ago when i was diagnosed with environmental illness (chemical sensitivity, or in this case MCS, multiple chemical sensitivity). I'd known something had been wrong for a long time. Most folks with this condition say that it started for them in adulthood after heavy chemical exposure, but personally i was reacting to chemicals even as a young child, would get pretty sick when someone was smoking or putting on perfume or spraying hairspray and the like. And it just got worse, and more extensive, as i got older. Finally finding out what this condition was in my twenties, it was a relief in a sense, at least it had a name now. Its basically about being a "canary in a coal mine".

Our typical household and beauty etc products are bad for all of us, and the canaries are simply those that show the impact more blatently becuase their systems are more sensitive to them in smaller amounts, and so it affects them more strongly and obviously. But we all know the deal with canaries in coal mines...the canary is hit first with impact of bad air etc, and that acts as a warning to the rest of the folks down there in the coal mine. At least it is meant to act as a warning. Ignore that warning and then even those less sensitive can get dangerously impacted in the end. There are so many "modern diseases" of the subtle and chronic and especially dangerous sort, and its the hidden harm of things like typical toxic products (as well as pollution etc, which is related) that may be to blame. Some links on the very real harmful impact of the "normal" products we use are here, here, here, and here.

At any rate, when i was diagnosed i was living in a very politically correct neighborhood at the time, and the typical approach to natural healthy living was to try and "go green". So i found myself practically living at the health food store, spending waaaaay too much. But it was more than that, it was that i was still buying a bunch of "products", even though they were natural and nontoxic ones (like the woman above, even though Bon Ami is a decent product really...but its still unneccesary, simple baking soda works just as well and is already there in your kitchen). Buying "green", in itself, is not necessarily a healing approach i discovered. It can be just as coldly "sterile-ness" oriented (more on this later), and just as commercial and money driven and detached too, as shopping in a regular market. In short, it can be just as full of "products" that we are told we "need". But to back up, i think its interesting to look at how the whole area of having "household products" even came about in the first place....

2. Why Do We Have "Products" Anyway?

Personally, i'm not against all products. Some i think are genuinely useful, for example a simple natural bar of soap for instance ( i use Dr Bronner's). Things like this are inexpensive, natural and healthy, and really do make sense for a company to create and sell since soap making is a bit involved and something not everyone is necessarily up for doing. And also, its not such a stretch to even imagine some of our ancestors doing things like soapmaking for their neighbors...one gal is good at making soap and she trades/sells it for something someone else is good at making in her community. So all weve done is expand the size of that "community" nowadays for things like this. It still feels like an actual need is being met somehow with these sorts of products, they still feel "real".

But with so many other products, i often don't think this is the case really. The reason, i think, that we have most of the special products we have to clean with and heal with and the like, is not becuase of an actual need for these things but rather becuase of profit seeking/advertising. Folks wanting to make money off of our fear of disease have typically been the ones who launched our public awareness campaigns on what we need to be using, which we in turn believed and adopted as gospel truth somehow. Is it a coincidence that the things we were told we now needed often just "happened" to be needs met by the the very types of product they were selling or somehow affiliated with? It was/is so often about greed it seems, not actually about what we needed/need. (See here for one great article on this, as well as how much more work industrialization added for the homekeeper. For more on the latter, see this series too, best read from the beginning by following its links).

To make matters worse of course, many of these products were/are made with industrial byproducts that needed to be sold in some form, and/or things that were cheap (and unhealthy) substitions for natural ingredients. Many of these "normal" household products were, and are, highly toxic. As a few folks have gotten more aware of the danger there, there is also a market based on selling natural household products...which are far healthier to the body thank goodness. But they are still profit based commercial products, special products we are told we "need" when really there are simpler and far more basic (not to mention cheaper) ways of doing things. (There will be some upcoming posts btw on simple make your own cleansers and medicines etc...Still learning here, but will share the humble beginnings such as they are.)

3. Science Isn't God

Another reason we have come to believe we need a bunch of special products in the first place, is because of germ theory. We have come to accept this as fact when really it is just a theory, much like evolution is merely a theory. The thing is, when we start thinking in terms of an army of germs to battle, rather than simply cleanliness and health, something happens i think....fear sets in and we turn to the "experts". Cleanliness is something a homekeeper can achieve pretty instinctively or by simple learning, just by using some very basic things she already has in the kitchen or garden. And to some degree this applies to health as well. But seeing in terms of "germs" instead makes us think we can't handle it ourselves and must turn to someone else.... and what they are selling.

4. Ancestral Wisdom

Its funny. We seem to forget that for generations many folks did get by with simple cleanliness along with simple wholesome eating--- rather than keeping things sterile like a hospital inside and out by buying specially produced household cleansers/products and medicines. I'm not referring to the folks who lived in flith (there were some who did and it wasnt healthy), but rather those who just kept things basically simply clean. And in spite of what we are told, the old focus on simple cleanliness and natural nutrition rather than sterileness and pills etc, it did not automatically turn these folks into household slobs or unhealthy folks who dropped off like flies (for example, see this article on the middle ages). In fact, in terms of the more insidiously chronic dieseses (such as cancer, chemical sensitivity, diabetes etc), these actually increased after the industrial age took root. That's no small thing.

5. An Effect is An Effect

Then there is the whole concept of "'side effects". No doubt whoever thought up that clever little idea did so to profit his pocketbook by promoting some of the new products we have come to see now as "necesssary"...particularly the toxic ones. The side effect idea was this: the good effect a product or medicine gives, thats the real effect; all the other things it does, like harm the earth and the human body in various ways, well thats just merely a "side effect". What nonsense really, an effect is an effect, that is if both the effects are strong ones. And in terms of many of our typical products today, the "side effects" truly can be just as strong as the promoted effect. For example, if something cleans your floors but also says on the bottle to not inhale its fumes, it shouldnt be called merely a "floor cleaner" but rather a "floor cleaner and harmful lung irritant". Both of those things are truly its "effect" i feel.

6. Needs of the Spirit

But its more too, its the impact upon the spirit. Does one's spirit lift when we walk into a factory or sterile hospital room? I know mine sure doesnt, and i've yet to meet someone for whom it does. So why on earth would we want this feeling in our homes by using industrial (ie "normal") cleaners and the like? We get homes that feel nurturing and wholesome by using our Creator's gifts from nature i feel, not from 'sterile' (is there a less life-giving word, ghesh) concoctions from a factory. And the other marketed option now, that of pricey little formulas using natural ingredients instead, well it still feels off to me really. It still makes things too detached and commercially oriented, we still being told what sort of specialty product we supposedly "need"... rather than being able to simply use simple ordinary things on our own.

And other needs of the spirit get ignored so often too as we focus on "products" for cleaning and medicine etc instead. For instance, in the middle ages having gently cheering song in the background was thought to be very important for the ill person. Today we tend to gloss over important stuff like this and spend most of our time and money on more and more "products" and their research. I just truly think we've lost something.

And even just with the area of physical remedies in themselves, the irony is so hard to ignore. We spent so much time and money trying to "create" cures for cancer and the like for instance when that cure may be in a simple plant we are ignoring. We have forgotten, i feel, that God gave us true medicine in His nature....and its medicine that heals not only our bodies but soothes our spirits. That is becuase it comes from our Father, we can feel His love in what He has created. So why do we keep turning to substitutes?

We turn to these substiutes in their little bottles, i think, becuase we have made things so desparate. By living so fast and also so toxically from the industrial era on, we have made things in our world and our bodies so stressed and harming and unnatural that unnatural solutions are sometimes needed. In the present, sometimes they cant be helped (i've sure taken/take some conventional medicines when needed for example, sometimes its been necessary). But the deeper solution, i feel, is to heal that toxicness in the first place. No "product" is going to go deep enough to do that, we ourselves will need to. (Sorry this is getting so soap-boxy, i get kind of "riled up" with this topic, lol)

7. Simplicity Isn't Waiting in a Bottle

I guess its more than this though too really, its about our actual day to day life. Nothing, be it from the supermarket or the health food store, that we can buy in a pretty little bottle is going to make up for being too busy, being surrounded by too much noise, not getting enough sleep, a lack of faith, and the like. A simple quiet life is our foundation, is a true necessity, along with its peacefulness and simple soothing beauty. "Products", on the other hand, are often not a necessity and yet are so stongly presented as such. And all the while the true importance of the real necessities are brushed aside, since they can't be sold in a package so easily as lysol or nyquil and thus fatten someone's wallet. We have come to let greed come to rule i feel, rather than need, and it really upsets me to be honest. And in the process, we've come to believe that the important stuff is the stuff we are wrongly told we need rather than what we actually need.

8. True Living Takes...Time

Another factor i think is how our views on time have changed. A simple quiet life takes.....time. One part of this is that making and using household cleansers and medicines etc from scratch, just like cooking and eating from scratch, well it takes time. And somehow, that has come to be seen as a waste, "a waste of time". Saving time has come to be the goal, rather than actually living well and helping those we love live well as the goal. Funny how we forget that and have made timesaving into a god really...just so we can keep busy at moneymaking and/or running around and in turn need more and more "products". Talk about backwards. Somehow, our priorities have turned upside i feel, and it's just not worth it.

9. Going "Back to Basics" Should Not Come With a Price Tag

Like many others, i just long more and more to "get back to basics", its a feeling that grows deeper each year. And that means different things for each of us, we may get different things laid on our hearts there, each of those differnt things being important . In my case there has been an increasing focus on this "getting away products" thing. And i long not to jump from our typical toxic products to health food store (or green living either) products instead...i long to get away from the whole "product" thing in general if i can.

And when i think of simple living, i don't want to be thinking in terms of what i will need to "buy" for it, to me that loses the whole point. When i think that way, then i feel i can't start living simply until i have jumped through the buying hoops profit seekers have set up for us......and that just doesnt make sense. And thinking that way, i feel i'd never really live simply, becuase there would always be one more hoop to jump through as new things are added. My heart would still be on "products" rather than on what God has given us. Nature, its been wisely said, is "God's book". Its real, its healing, its simplfying. Commercialm often isnt any of these things really. Not even commercialism that doesnt cost much, such as the typically toxic type products that are lining the shelves of 99 cents stores and the like. Frugal though they may be (or rather seem to be, homemade is far cheaper and healthier), they still make us feel dependent on "products" rather than upon God i think.

10. Oddballs Unite : )

I have to admit, its become a downright obsession almost, this thing about stepping away from "products". And its a bit embarassing, becuase i know how odd it looks to many. Yet i comfort myself to think that, "hey....i cant be alone in this obsession". Its still so against the grain though, and that can be hard. I look around me and find most think living with products is just "normal", they don't seem to get bothered by them. But i can't help but get bothered by them. Sure, there are some i might use sometimes, but in general i long to get away from them more and more. I guess i'm just so very tired of being told what i "need" is something that is being marketed up (this can include even spiritual things as well), and so tired of what i really need being seen as unimportant (quietness and contemplation, care, enough time, very simple little tangible things rather than products). Please tell me i'm not the only... oddball.

Seriously, knowing we arent alone here really helps i think. It gives us the courage to just kind of step aside. To simply ignore the product approach most see as normal and carry on in a different way. A way that looks so odd to many. But maybe that doesnt matter really in the end. I'd like to think so. And i'd like to say...oddballs unite : )

(Image from here)

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