Going Green: One CafeMom's Natural Transition

green productsScience_Spot recently made the decision to go all green in her household by eliminating health and beauty products, foods, and cleaning supplies containing chemicals.

Her main motivation? To control persistent hives on her face and body, as well as her daughter's eczema and her baby's red, sensitive butt. The transition to an all-natural, chemical-free home is obviously one that will take some time; and Science_Spot has agreed to blog here in Healthy Living Buzz along the way.


Each week, Science_Spot will update us on her progress. Today, she explains why she is embarking on this natural transition.

How did it become the norm to use products made with chemicals? Why do we need expensive, complex solutions of chemicals to clean our homes? Why is everything I use on my body made from so many ingredients? Why is it so hard for me to find unscented plain old white soap for hand-washing? Is it a surprise people will use antibacterial soap at every sink when it is more readily available than anything else and is priced cheaper, too? These are among the many questions I have been focused on lately. These same questions have been my incentive to finally make that transition to an all-natural, chemical-free home.

It isn't so much the idea that any one chemical or group of chemicals is bad or the worst. My concern is the excessive use of chemicals in every product, and excessive number of products for every individual application. I do not want to use chemicals for everything! I know I can find something better. I know I can do this for myself, for my family, and for the Earth.

It has been nearly two years since I developed hives during my second pregnancy. I am not allergic to any foods, and until then, had not been allergic or sensitive to anything, ever. Looking back, it seems silly to have freaked out thinking it was the chicken pox! The hives started as mildly itchy, mostly on my belly, butt and thighs. I assumed it to be linked to red dye #40 in my diet, and immediately stopped consuming it. That turned out to be harder than I thought as just about everything I use has dye in it! Even with my best effort, I was still getting a minimal red dose from my cherry chap-stick addiction, and still had a minimal number of hives. Over time, the hives started coming in constant waves, moving out from my trunk to my extremities. They are now much more itchy and some of them are larger in size and quite painful, lasting two months or more. Here's a picture of me. See the breakouts on my lower face? That is not acne, those are the hives popping up on my face now, too!

mom with hives

The dermatologist says it could be anything causing it. Anything. An insect bite two years ago that my immune system decided to constantly react to, or a sensitivity to some product I am using or food I am eating. Anything. There were no obvious changes to my diet, but I use a wide variety of household and personal products. The doctor explained it could be a single product or component that I developed sensitivity to. He sent me on my way with a prescription for a topical cream to help with itching and Claritin. The Claritin helped reduce the hives a little bit, but I was struggling with my milk supply and this just made it worse so I quit taking it. That was six months ago.

Without a doubt, living with itchy skin and hives stinks! I hate being itchy. I hate how ugly hives look and I hate not knowing what is causing it. As I was making a chart of products I use and their ingredients, it dawned on me. If I want to eliminate certain components from my regime, where would I start? How complicated is this going to be? How long is this going to take to get relief?

Anyone who knows me, knows I can be a bit dramatic. What I decided next might be considered dramatic to some, but I made the decision based on how to best simplify my method for eliminating whatever is causing my hives. I decided to cut out everything. Everything. That's right, everything. I am going natural. All natural is better for my skin, and maybe it will improve Sarah's red little baby butt and Abby's mild, but persistent, eczema. Maybe these product sensitivities have been showing their symptoms longer than I thought.

My husband is generally accepting of this declaration of a dramatic lifestyle change that is bound to affect him as well. His acceptance is based mostly on the assumption that this is not going to increase the budget for household and personal care. I assured him it would not, and my preliminary figures show it will actually be a savings, perhaps a significant one. The effect on cost is actually a very interesting concept, and it will provide another way to measure my success in this transition to all-natural.

Now all I need is a plan. Since cost is important here, and I have a lot of extra stock of products, I'll have to make this transition in stages, as I run out of what I have on hand. That actually will help with keeping this simple, as I won't have to learn everything and change everything all at once. It will also give me the opportunity to blog about this adventure, sharing my experience with anyone who cares to read it and learn from me. This transition is bound to make 2010 a very interesting, enlightening year!

Are you thinking about making a natural transition in your household?

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