I wished I’d kept a food journal, but now I’ve thought about it; a consumer journal. What I supposed were lifelong constants are no longer. I was willing to be faithful so long as manufacturers were true. I wanted them to care about the things I did. They offered more products and promises to get my money. I ditched them. But it took many years to get to that point. Back to the less-is-more world I grew up in.
During my rural small town 1970’s childhood brands didn’t map my life. My earliest memories are of Mr Sheen, the timber furniture polish and Fabulon ironing aid. The overspray from both made our timber floor fantastically slippery… great fun for a 4 year old wearing socks. I can’t remember what kind of washing detergent my mother used but a vague memory of the fragrance of Handy Andy mopped floors. At my grandparents’ farm I can remember only Sunlight soap and Phenyle.
My own first household brand choice was clothes washing detergent. My sister once remarked about our joint and ongoing dedication to Cussons Radiant washing detergent as we collaborated on bargains. It’s been around for over 25 years, and I’d been loyally using it the entire time until almost 4 years ago when a move to an apartment with a front load washer rather than top loader made me take another look, and opened up the world of eco brands.
Light turned on, I made the switch to eco not only clothes washing detergent but everything I could get: dishwashing detergent and tablets, paper towel and toilet paper. Not only changing brands but decreasing consumption.
I swapped out half washing powder scoops for bicarb soda and ditched cleaning products except eco glass spray and bleach of which we use less than a bottle per year. I substituted vinegar as laundry rinse, adding lavender and eucalyptus oils to make sprays for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. Reusable cleaning cloths and tea towels go into the daily wash. This, in the city by choice… But in the country by necessity because we have a septic tank for sewerage and otherwise our grey water runs into the garden.
No not-so-plastic-fantastic bottled water for us. In the city we boil & filter tap water kept chilled in the fridge or taken with us in stainless steel water bottles, and we use a Soda Stream to make carbonated-aka-fizzy water. In the country at Taylors Arm we employ an old-fashioned soda syphon and drink rainwater collected on the roof into tanks straight from the tap. For the G.O. and I, both coming from farming backgrounds drinking tank water is back where we began.
Coffee has been a lifelong journey from the instant powder of my early teen years to a grown up penchant for takeaway large soy lattes. About 4 years ago we went with straight blacks and invested in a Jura Ena 5 coffee machine which has more than paid for itself. I buy bags of organic fair trade coffee and we use our own cups at home or KeepCups for DIY takeaway. At Taylors Arm we make pour over coffee using a Hario drip decanter and unbleached paper filters.
Occasionally I encounter the G.O. shuffling jars around the tea shelf hoping, in vain, for a glimpse of a yellow Lipton’s teabag label therein. Left to his own devices he is a creature of habit. I offer to swap out another of his indulgences. Coke or Cadbury? No. He was just hoping but he’s fine with Daintree or herbal tea. He’ll have a Lipton’s at his mother’s.
I feel that same way about personal products as I do about food labels, if I don’t know what it is I don’t want it as an ingredient. It didn’t make sense to go to the effort and expense of pursuing clean and home cooked food while undermining the effects by applying goodness-knows-what to our persons.
Seduced by product claims, marketing and colours I have a drawer full of accumulated lotions and potions. Now, I wear less makeup, perfume, nail or skincare products and look for brands that are safe-ethical-eco-organic such as Natio. I’m fond of Clarins and OPI which are apparently ok but could do better. We use locally made lemon myrtle products and oral care products such as Grants.
Of course, it’s all work-in-progress. Ongoing changes come about as I continue to research and discover good products. I’ve checked my habit of impulse buying fragrant candles replacing them with beeswax, essential oils and incense. Magazines also are a treat rather than a regular purchase. I find more than enough inspiration via the blog-world, Facebook Pages Feed, Pinterest and free online subscriptions to websites that interest me.
On my to-do list is make my own washing powder and skin moisturisers. On my to-do-better list are clothes and household items. Possibly the most complicated and expensive exercise. The best we manage at the moment is to limit consumption, buy Australian Made where possible, get value from wear and reuse-recycle.
A daunting and recent change is abstinence from hair colour. As a kid my fair hair was naturally blonde due to the time I spent outdoors. In my late teen years it darkened to mouse with increased time spent indoors at a desk studying, then working. It’s been lightened unnaturally for just over 30 years. Now I’m turning 50 and my hair is turning silver, I’ve decided to embrace it.
“Act as if what you do makes a difference.It does.”William James