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Baby Steps to Natural Living

03 Apr
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If you’ve been around here for long, it’s no secret that I l.o.v.e. doing things naturally. I love learning and researching how to eliminate chemicals and toxins from our home and keep them from going into our bodies. I’ve been on this journey for a few years now and it certainly hasn’t been easy (not in the least!). But it has been fun! I see each aspect of change as a challenge. I envision what it must have been like to do these tasks or create these foods 150 years ago over a hot, wood-burning stove in the middle of summer with 15 layers of clothes on…and it is amazing how much funner (yes, that’s a word…ok, it’s not but I pretend it is) these tasks become. No joke!

Life, Naturally

But, what does “naturally” mean? Well, my definition would be this:

naturally – nat*u*ral*ly, seeking to live life with as few artificial contributions as possible. Put simply, do it myself.

“Ok, you’re crazy,” you say. Possibly. But I’ll tell you why “naturally.” For me, it is a conviction. As a follower of Christ, I have a responsibility to care for this body He has given me (as well as those in my family). Many believers teach about the sins of promiscuity and the need for moral integrity, etc. (which is good!). But how about the sins of gluttony or laziness? Did you know that your everyday lotions and beauty products contain ingredients that are very, very harmful? This is true for most of the products we use, whether ingested, injected or used topically. So is using these things helpful or harmful to my body? I believe it is honoring to God for us to be aware of what we are taking in; we wouldn’t want our children ingesting second-hand smoke on an on-going basis or watching pornography. Many of the commercial products we use are just as harmful to our bodies, yet we continue to down them and drink them.

Now, a lot of amazing things have come from labs, factories and plants in the past 150 years or so. But a lot of bad things have come out of them, as well. Particularly, the demand for ease and deserving attitude that is so prevalent in our culture. Think about it…we microwave leftovers instead of pulling out a pot three minutes sooner. We don’t want to take a few extra steps (or in many cases, including mine, don’t know how) to make chicken broth so we buy it packaged in the store. We buy the latest gadget/cleaning product/fitness routine/meal-plan/diet/immunization-suggestions that promise immortality, to shave time off that task, or get the results we want while “eating our cake, too.” But there’s a cost. A very high cost, at that.

The Cost of Convenience

For instance, buying just about any food bought in a conventional grocery store has the potential to save you money….short term. Heck, it even has the potential to make you money if you shop right. (I used to get those deals and they were exhilarating!) Unfortunately, those products in bright boxes and cool bags contain unnatural ingredients.

Yeah, but they’re FDA approved, so what’s the big deal?

The problem is that many of them, while FDA-approved, wreak havoc in our bodies in very, very serious ways. The chemicals in food products, cleaning products, toiletries, immunizations, etc have been proven to be harmful to our bodies – they are making us sick as a nation. They are lowering fertility, creating higher infant mortality, causing cancer/celiac disease/asthma/ADHD/allergies, etc, etc, etc. (If you haven’t watched this documentary, I would highly encourage you to do so. Genetic Roulette will be life-changing! …in a good way!)

What To Do?!

Fortunately, the art of making things ourselves is one that is pretty easily learned and, like I said earlier, fun. Does it take more time to make these items like cleaning products, home remedies, and foods than it does to buy them in the store and pick up a prescription. Most times, yes. But the payoff is amazing. My food is fresher. My family is healthier. I spend less money on chemicals (cleaning products, ingredients in packaged foods and medicines) and more on…food. Seems like a good trade-off, right?

However, it can be vaaaastly overwhelming and nearly impossible to know where to start. Of course, there are many “12 Step Programs” for the conventional American to take. I’ll simply (pun intended) give you my suggestions:

1. Pick one area, then one item.

Is it the food that you buy/make/eat that bothers you? Is it the cleaning products? What about your toiletries? Or your health and hundreds in Rx costs? Pick one area and then hone in on one aspect of that area. If it’s your health, what natural remedies are there for your condition? If it’s cleaning products, which do you use most often? If it’s food, which item concerns you? And then…

2. Research.

Search the internet. Read articles. Ask questions. Find someone who is “a step ahead” and become their apprentice. Make no changes until you feel confident in your decisions to make changes. Unfortunately, the marketers are doing a great job in selling “natural” and “organic” products that sometimes are no better than their counterparts. You’ll discover which ones are clever marketing as you dig deeper. Now this can take a while or a few minutes, depending on the item you’re researching. But I can attest that it is well worth turning off that show and spending a few minutes reading blog posts to learn how I can better care for my family (though I do still watch TV, almost every night!….a subject for another time, though =).

3. Implement.

This is the fun part. All your new findings come together and you excitedly pull some new recipe out of the oven and…it’s a mess. Or you brew your herbs and…your kiddo still has a snotty nose for three more days! Or you wipe down that tub and…your arm breaks off from scrubbing so hard. Yes, it’s possible. Just as it’s possible that that new Rx from the doctor didn’t work so they had to up the dosage. Just as it’s possible that that Hamburger Helper was quite as disastrous. Just as it’s possible that that Soft Scrub caused your arm to grow some serious muscle even though the commercial shows a woman with her hair done up, in her neat little outfit and bent happily over the tub. But I’m telling you, there’s a high – an excitement – that comes from the victory of trial and error and pushing through the “error” part to victory! And knowing that you can do this again and again, which spurs you on to…

4. Pick the next item.

I dare you to stop at number 3. You won’t be able to. It’s just sososo rewarding to know you can do something yourself, save money and give your family something better/fresher/natural.

5. Watch for guilt.

This little booger sneaks up on us like a mosquito, but leaves much worse consequences than an itchy bite. There will always be someone who is further along in this process than me. I can get frustrated that I’m not doing enough or that I don’t have the money to overhaul this particular area of our lives. At the end of the day, did I love on my family? Were they fed and clothed? Did I honor God with my priority-placement? Those are the biggest biggies, right? Everything else will eventually fall into place! So remember to take it slow and find those who are “behind” you who could benefit from your new-found knowledge and experience! Become a teacher!

Over the past few years, these are a few of the changes I’ve been able to make (this is a sloooooow process):

  • Cloth diapers and line drying
  • Switched all processed oils to coconut oil, homemade tallow and a little bit of olive oil
  • Organic produce (EWG is a great resource for what is good to buy organic and what is personal choice and check out the awesome new company Local Organic Moms!!!)
  • Make bread
  • Make household cleaners (vinegar and water, baby!)
  • Soap nuts for laundry detergent
  • Grassfed beef and pastured chickens
  • Raw dairy
  • Eliminated processed and pasteurized foods from my pantry and fridge
  • Make kombucha (a probiotic drink suuuuuuper beneficial to the health of your gut!)
  • Make toothpaste
  • Soak beans and nuts
  • Make handsoap
  • No immunizations

Some of you are probably laughing at how small this list is…leave a comment so I can find you and learn from you!!! =) For those of you who are tempted to be overwhelmed or intimidated by it, please remember…this list is an accumulation of years of “switching.” I didn’t make these changes overnight!

The next areas I hope to tackle are household items and toiletries. I want to find alternatives for things like deodorant, shampoo and paper towels/napkins. I’ve been gathering my information and am about ready to take the plunge in a couple of them! =)

What are you currently working on?

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14 responses to “Baby Steps to Natural Living

  1. Heather

    April 3, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Such a good practical list to getting started and not burnt out! 🙂 For the paper towels/napkins we use wash cloths and dish towels. They currently don’t match or have a theme but they work easily and well, especially for spills! You could probably incorporate pretty in expensively and easily and then invest in a nicer set for guest and visitors…

     
    • Jennifer Fountain

      April 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks! :o) Yep, I’ve got my eye on a friend’s unpaper towel business…just gotta see how much cash I have. :o) I can’t wait!!!!!!!!

       
  2. Janine

    April 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I love your post. I am on the same journey. I have had so much fun experimenting with my own cleaners, my own “convenience foods” and even growing my own milk (goats), eggs (chickens) and veggies. I have also spent a lot of time the past year learning about using essential oils for healing and skipping (as much as possible) the chemicals in conventional medicines. I started blogging about that recently and am having fun exploring other blogs of like minded individuals! Feel free to stop by. (I found this link through Wellness Wednesday)

     
    • Jennifer Fountain

      April 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Awww, yay! Thanks for saying hi! I love your blog! =) And I’m so impressed with all you grow! We have an HOA, boo!, so I’m extremely limited. 😦

       
  3. Trisha

    April 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Love this post on making changes! Slow and steady wins the race. I know, from experience, when you try doing a huge overhaul of anything all at once you burn out and don’t stick with it. Small changes that become habits work so much better. Thanks for sharing this on our Wellness Wednesday link-up!

     
    • Jennifer Fountain

      April 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      Thanks, Trisha! It really does!! I also feel a sense of stewardship to not simply toss out things that I’ve used for a lifetime just because of something I’ve learned. Some things, YES! (Like canola oil). But other things…not so much. So as I use them up, I implement a replacement! 🙂

       
  4. Tess

    April 4, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Ahhh! I saw soap nuts on that crazy show “Shark Tank.” They did sound preeeety cool! Do they work to remove bad baby poop stains!?!

    I really enjoyed this book, and you might too: http://www.amazon.com/See-You-Hundred-Years-Discover/dp/0385342683. It is not probably as serious as many of the sources you are using to change your life, but it is an enjoyable read!

     
    • Jennifer Fountain

      April 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Hey Tess! I loooooove soap nuts! And I love Shark Tank! I haven’t seen that episode yet, though! We actually don’t have poop stains since we use cloth dipes (anytime I use a sposie, I get a blowout!) but I have found the SN to work equally as well as commercial detergent. Anything you’d expect to have to pre-treat and do a bit of “toothbrush” scrubbing, you likely will have to with SN. But they’re FUN to use and I think kids would get a kick out of them. :o)

      I can’t wait to check that book out!!! Love to read! :o)

       
  5. Jackie

    April 5, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I’m impressed! Never heard of making your own toothpaste but love the idea. My mom was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and since then we both have been on a journey to clean out all unclean and toxic things in our homes. I just found your blog and I’m so excited about it. I’ll be using this as my go-to-guide. Thanks!

     
    • Jennifer Fountain

      April 8, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Oh, I’m so sorry, Jackie! I hope she is doing well!! It is amazing how easy many items are to replace once you have the research under your belt. For instance, the toothpaste is incredibly easy to make and lasts forever!!!! I’ll try to get the recipe up soon. 🙂

       
  6. BK

    May 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    People think we’re strange because we don’t have paper towels or napkins (actually, I have some napkins now because I needed to have some for a work meeting). I just hand them a washcloth!

     

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