I met Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall recently – here is her interesting Blog
Making Non-Corporate Choices
America’s pre-eminent consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader frequently talks about the last two generations growing up “corporate” in their attitudes and lifestyle choices. An important aspect of growing up “corporate” is automatically giving into constant pressure from the corporate media to see ourselves as “consumers” rather than citizens – and to oblige by continually consuming. A strong proponent of the voluntary simplicity movement sparked by Vicki Robin’s 1992 Your Money or Your Life, I have always viewed myself as pretty non-corporate in my lifestyle choices. Like many of my friends who have also chosen to “downsize” their lifestyles, I have felt no sense of sacrifice or deprivation in choosing not to own a car, DVD player, cellphone, flat screen TV or digital camera – or in choosing not to subscribe to satellite TV or spend thousands of dollars on fashions, cosmetics and plastic surgery to make myself look younger. If anything, our lives have been happier and far less stressful without the financial pressure of paying for all this.
I am also scrupulously “non-corporate” in other ways. I hang my wash out, rather than using a clothes dryer, make do with a small refrigerator that fits under the counter and shop at second hand stores for most of my clothing, furniture and appliances.
Needlessly Wasting $1,000 a Year
Thus I was extremely surprised to discover – after attending a class by local Taranaki mother Lyn Webster – that I am needlessly wasting thousands of dollars on commercial cleaning products and toiletries. Webster (http://pigtitsandparsleysauce.co.nz/) offers classes all over New Zealand and on national TV demonstrating how ridiculously easy it is to make most kitchen and beauty products at home yourself.
As a single mother with two kids to support, Webster acknowledges her motivation for learning to make her own kitchen and beauty products was entirely financial.
Dangers of Endocrine Disrupters
My own reasons relate more to my concern about the environmental toxins in most commercial cleaners and toiletries. Women’s cosmetics especially contain a number of endocrine disrupters – chemicals that interfere with human hormonal functioning. Most pass though sewage processing unchanged, which means they wind up in our drinking water – and are found in measurable amounts in all our bodies. This is of major concern to epidemiologists, owing to increasing evidence linking these endocrine disruptors to epidemic levels of breast cancer, early puberty in girls and low sperm counts.
Why Kiwis Tend to be Less “Corporate” Than Americans
Most of Webster’s household cleaner recipes rely own baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), white vinegar and something most Kiwis know as “Sunlight” soap – even when referring to cheaper generic brands – a plain bar soap with no added perfumes, skin lotion, or chemicals. Both baking soda are highly reactive (but safe – both are used in cooking) compounds that readily dissolve oil and grease and kill most bacteria. Webster stores her products in a variety of recycled containers. This is where the savings comes in, as packaging is the second biggest factor (after profit) in the cost of commercial products.
What I find fascinating about living in New Zealand is that multinational corporations were late (thanks to a strong tariff system) in penetrating the New Zealand market. This means there are many women of my generation who can recall their own mothers washing dishes in Sunlight bar soap. They swear it got dishes much cleaner than any commercial dishwashing detergent. The only drawback was that it left an ugly scum in the dishwater owing to New Zealand’s hard water. Webster has solved this problem by adding a “water softener” – calcium carbonate (also known as washing soda) to her dishwashing liquid, as well as her powdered detergent for the dishwasher and laundry. This combines with the calcium and magnesium that make water “hard,” preventing them from combining with soap to make insoluble salts that float on the surface as “scum.”
To be continued with a list of recipes and discussion of how we became addicted to more expensive and toxic “corporate” products.
Webster on TV NZ: