I've always been unconventional, but life as a suburban mommy has pushed me further into the consumerist world that I am comfortable being. A huge part of my job as Mommy is shopping. I know that sounds a little odd, but I have to make sure that 5 people have every shoe, sock, pant, shirt, undergarment, dress, skirt, jacket and hair accessory that they could ever need. The pets need fish food, algae drops, cat food, cat litter, flea medicine and things to scratch on. The house itself needs fourteen kinds of cleaner and a ready stash of medicines to cover anything that might possibly go wrong with the human body and for each age group. Then there are health and beauty products to maintain the exterior of those bodies as well as the safety gear associated with three small children. Don't forget to factor in that those bodies grow and at different rates that don't necessarily correlate to seasonal taste and/or personal preference. It's a lot of shopping and I didn't even begin to discuss food.
I was never all that concerned about global warming and impending doom, but it does bother me that every thing I purchase comes in no fewer than three layers of packaging that often outweigh the item itself. Not only do my crackers come in plastic sleeves, those are encased in a cardboard box and are shipped to the store in an even larger cardboard box. When I put them into my basket and go through checkout, they then put the crackers wrapped in plastic stashed in a box into a larger paper or plastic bag and then hand me a paper receipt to prove that I bought the box. I take them home and put them in my cupboard, then put them into snack sized plastic baggies to distribute to my children in their lunches.
And that is just one item.
I am also a huge fan of personal hygiene for myself and those around me, but I also gotta wonder just how much personal maintenance one body should require. There's the shampoo/conditioner/dye/styling product/moisturizer for my head, the mustache bleach/cleanser/moisturizer/eye moisturizer/foundation/powder/eyeliner/mascara/eyeshadow/blush/lip moisturizer/lip liner/lipstick/lip gloss combo for my face, the toothpaste/toothbrush/toothpick/floss/mouthwash for my teeth and I have only made it down to my chin.
Do we really need all this? Is body hair so offensive that we must spend that much money into products to get rid of it that take time to use and then either contaminate our water or fill our landfill? My legs are not attractive even when the hair is gone. I appreciate that others do not smell and find that to be a lovely aspect of our society, but can all those chemicals really be good for our bodies to absorb?
I'm feeling a little trapped by society's trappings here.
I've started to garden, to compost and did quite a bit of cloth diapering for Melody and Charlie. I'm not sure if I buy into the whole 'organics' movement, but I am starting to reach for food items that require less packaging and more cooking. I'm hoping to grow more and, once we have actual income, buy more local food at farmer's markets or find a community-supported agriculture group and subscribe for a share. I have started making our jam and our applesauce and miss the days when I baked bread twice a week with my own little sous-chefs on stools.
Now that I'm working two jobs it is really hard to make sure that our house has everything it needs (and two spares plus alternate items) and I'm just tired of it all. I keep reading about how people are cleaning their houses with vinegar and water, making their own laundry soap and using baking soda instead of shampoo and think that these things may be more time-intensive in some ways, but at least my kids would learn something by making laundry soap that they wouldn't learn being strapped into the stroller for a third trip to Target this week.