Lately I’ve been joking that I’m becoming a total hippie by changing a number of my shopping, eating, cleaning and commuting habits. I’m really struggling with that term ‘hippie’. I am saying it because I know the eye rolls I’ll get from people when I tell them how I’ve begun changing so I save them the time by making fun of myself. But I don’t really think I should have to make fun of myself for doing the right thing. I joked the other day I’m going to quit saying “I’m becoming a total hippie” and start saying “I’m becoming more awesome” because in my opinion, anyone who starts being a more conscious consumer IS in fact becoming more awesome.
So what am I doing to make me more awesome? Well it’s just that- I’m becoming a conscious consumer. I’m keeping myself informed of what is going on with GMO’s, or animal cruelty/testing and how they hide behind the mask of big business. I want to know where my stuff is coming from. I want to know that I’m not supporting a business that I don’t agree with their practices. I also don’t want to be wasteful. I want my carbon footprint to be small and the impact to be big. I don’t want to be inadvertently injecting harsh chemicals and cancer causing toxins into my body. Based on all of those things, why in the world I feel the need to make fun of myself for them when I explain it to other people, really blows my mind. What has society done to make us feel ashamed about being informed and shopping responsibly?
What it comes down to for me is I can’t bitch about the fact that bad things are happening, that these organizations and big businesses exist, if I still buy their products. It’s hypocritical and it’s stupid. So I started making changes.
It’s interesting because I’m finding this to not be as hard as I thought it would. I’m also finding it to not be as expensive (which was my biggest fear). I have ALWAYS had this theory that if you have to spend a lot of money on something, you’re going to be less inclined to waste it. Well so far that’s been true. If I buy cheep produce, or prepackaged foods, I’ll let them sit in my fridge until they ultimately become a 5th grade science experiment. If I spend a little bit more money to buy my produce or meats from a farmers market or in the expensive section at the grocery (which I’m still wary about how much you can trust them), then when I get hungry, I’m going to actually eat it and not go buy something quick at a fast food restaurant instead.
Seemingly out of nowhere, I got a bug up my butt to start paying attention to my makeup as well. I was at Target (a place that truthfully, I don’t shop at very often) walking down the cosmetic isle and went to reach for…I don’t know…whatever I was out of. I looked at the packaging to see if it said anything about ‘not testing on animals’ and I didn’t see it. This wasn’t something I typically did, but all of a sudden I had the realization I needed to start paying attention to that. So with the help of the internet in my pocket, I pulled out my iphone and did a quick search. Nope. Owned by a bigger company that does test on animals. Can you guess who the giant is? Good ol’ Proctor and Gamble.
Two evil empires I despise: Walmart & Proctor and Gamble.
I went to the Little 500 in Bloomington for the first time this past April. Since I am responsible for throwing a massive bike race, I thought it would be a good idea to check out their vendors, participate in the ‘games’ they set up, and try to get some ideas of our own. Well Walmart was there with a fun, interactive booth (easy to do when you have MILLIONS of dollars for marketing). So we bit and went ahead and listened to what they were trying to sell us. In fairness, it was a great program for college kids that utilized internet shopping. They sent us off with a box filled with samples- everything from a razor, to detergent, even a USB bracelet. While my coworker is in awe about the fact they’re able to give this all away, I am busy being the little investigator looking into where these all came from (nerd alert). Low and behold- Proctor and Gamble. I then gave my coworker my full spiel about them. She was receptive to it and I’m hopeful, while she may not completely quit buying their products, she’ll be more considerate of where they’re coming from and think a little bit more about whether she wants to support that.
Ok that was a tangent- so back to my point: I love animals. All of them. I have seen the videos of animal testing and it makes my skin crawl. PETA (who I am now completely opposed to after reading a frightening article about the truth behind them and their mass execution of feral animals that get turned into their head quarters) created a brilliant ad campaign during Fashion Week. Basically it starts with animals walking down the runway wearing humans. It then goes backstage into a room filled with cages and blood dripping from human skin on racks and pans over to a little asian girl terrified in the corner of the cage. Yeah. Even with it being all digital, obviously, it was enough to leave a messed up image in my mind. But that’s a good thing. I now see all of that in my mind when I shop.
Based on that logic, I should be a vegetarian, right? Well, I wish I could. I do. But I’m conflicted by this. 1) I like meat. 2) I don’t think it’s particularly healthy to not eat meat. 3) (and really this is an extension on 2) We were originally hunter gatherers. I think meat is supposed to be in our diets, just not the way we consume it now. Honestly, I think paleo’s are the ones who have it right, but paleo diets are not easy. It involves a LOT of thought about what you’re consuming. That being said, the whole point of why I’m writing this is because if we would all just make a few changes to how we consume (whether it’s food or random products), the impact would be huge.
I will say, I have unintentionally begun eating less meat. I was an awesome kid that always liked fruits and vegetables and now that it’s getting warmer and more stuff is in season, I will nom hard on some vegetables and not even realize I haven’t had meat in 3 days. When I do get that craving, again, I try to keep myself informed. I want to start buying from butchers where I can know what farms the meat is coming from, or at the farmers market where it’s coming straight from farm to dinner table. Please believe at my first Winter Farmers Market last season, I walked my happy ass around to each one of those farmers and made them explain their process to me. It was interesting. Slightly depressing, but interesting. I won’t go off on this tangent but the most interesting was learning about bison. I would love to drop beef completely from my diet and completely switch to bison instead, but it’s SUPER expensive. Babysteps.
Yesterday I had this really great conversation with truly one of my favorite people in Indianapolis. He works for a produce delivery service who only sources organic and tries to be as local as possible. He’s the bomb and so is the company he works for. Well apparently his mom raises sheep for slaughter. I cringed. (Truthfully, I had flashbacks to my childhood where I went to a family reunion in the Pocono’s and I had my Lamb Chops Play-a-long doll with me and my Filipino uncles jokingly said to me that’s what they eat, and pointed to my stuffed Lamb Chop…cringe…) Anyway, we talked about how that was a sad thought and how lamb is another one of the meats (in addition to pig) that I’d like to eliminate from my diet completely. But I do like bacon (not the way some people freak out about it- I actually blame-or credit- moron Mitch Daniels and his pledge to make Indiana the leading Swine producer in the country for why I don’t want to eat pig and support his idiotic agenda) and I do love me a gyro from time to time. He brought up this great point that the hardest part about meat is even though the farm will raise them to be grass fed, and have a happy life and be treated well when they are alive, it can all be shot to shit depending on where you take them to slaughter. I guess I hadn’t thought too much about this. So now I’m on a mission to learn more about that side of things (which is going to be a super depressing task). He and I sort of wrapped up that conversation about how he wishes more people asked the questions I did. It’s important. And we don’t. Most people ARE happy to be ignorant to it all, and that’s the problem.
So I’m trying. I don’t buy meat from the grocery anymore, because I can’t despise CAFO’s with every ounce of my being if I’m still buying meat that comes from them, I’m trying to buy foods that blatantly say “no genetically modified products” on the packaging, I shop at farmers markets when I can (whew hoo! The one across the street from my office opens soon!), I recycle like a BEAST, I use compostable garbage bags and I have switched my tooth paste and my deodorant to not contain aluminum (something they have absolutely linked back to breast cancer- a cancer my mother was diagnosed with TWICE even after having a double mastectomy the first time). I use a few different cosmetics, that even then I will begin to look closer at because even though they don’t test on animals, it doesn’t mean you’re not still putting toxic chemicals directly into your skin. For now I use l’oreal (does not test on animals), bare minerals (same) and once I’m out of my eye liner and mascara, I will switch away from Cover Girl (a P&G product). Shampoo and detergents will be next as my Herbal Essence is a P&G product and so is Tide. I’ve already changed the soaps in my kitchen and I will also need to find an alternative to my Glade Plugins (which is probably my worst habit). One of my favorite places to buy all these items for the home is at a WONDERFUL local shop in Broad Ripple- The Good Earth. The other hard one is being aware of artificial food dyes. I found this article which lead to more and more great articles about the problems with food dyes and it’s hard because every now and again I LOVE me some KRAFT (one of the evil empires) Mac ‘n cheese (yellow #5) or some guilty pleasure candy (utilizing ALL the various bad colors). There is so much to know about EVERYTHING and I have become QUITE the label reader.
Reading this I realized I never even bring up the fact that I bike as often as possible and despise having to drive anywhere more than 15 miles away (so trips to Trader Joe’s are few and far between even though I LOVE them). I bike because 1) it’s fun 2) it’s helping eliminate this god awful muffin top that has grown all winter long 3) it’s cost effective (new favorite shirt- pump tires, not gas) 4) if you get road rage because a driver did something stupid, you immediately forget because you’re on a bike and you’re too happy to be mad 5) $0/ gallon, 0 gallons per mile 6) You get to actually SMELL the flowers 7) you get to spend your commute OUTSIDE before you have to sit inside for the next 8+ hours 8) no carbon footprint 9) bike people are awesome 10) it’s fun! The list goes on, but you get the idea.
There are so many things we can change and none of them are THAT drastic in the grand scheme of things. In this day in age, it’s a lot easier to pay attention because most people CAN look things up while they’re shopping! The whole reason I got the itch to write this today is because I woke up and saw a sponsored article on my facebook feed this morning. It was about a new app that allows you to scan your food and find out where it’s coming from, if it contains GM products, if they support organizations that you don’t, or even if they support organizations you DO! It sounds pretty neat, so I’m looking forward to checking it out. You can read more about it here. I also follow a couple groups on facebook that provide simple recipes or tips to lead a more holistic and natural life style. I am immediately turned off by anything too radical, which is why I like Holistic Squid (an EXCELLENT blog that’s actually done by a family member- to tie it all back together, I met her at that family reunion where my uncle’s traumatized me about Lamb Chop :) ) it focuses on holistic tips and tricks and real food diets as well as Just Eat Real Food (I will say, I like that one, but it is HEAVILY focused around paleo diet, which sometimes gets old) and it has a bunch of all natural recipes. I’m also now intrigued by a new one, that I don’t have a formed opinion about, Organic Health Alliance. I just ‘liked’ it so we’ll see how that goes.
I have so many more thoughts about all of this but as I reread everything I’ve typed, I found that this is already getting long and at certain points I just ramble, so this is enough for now. Coincidentally while writing this, my coworker (mentioned above) called me to tell me an epiphany she had yesterday about leading a healthier lifestyle and implementing some changes. I couldn’t help but beam with a little bit of pride. Imagine if we all just had these conversations with friends every now and again? It would be a start. A good start.