I’m going to reveal to you a totally-secret secret. Are you ready? It’s going to be a shocker. I’m a bit of a hippy. I’ll wait until you collect yourself. Good? Good.
The hippy nonsense runs deep in my blood, even if on the surface I look like a total normie. I don’t work on a farm like my BFF (hi Nae!), nor do I smell completely of patchouli (only a little, it’s in my soap, what do you want from me). However, there are a lot of aspects of my life that I’ve brought back to basics, removed technology from, or have a heightened sense of connection to. I live in the modern world, and I quite like living in a house and driving a car and using a smart phone, so I’m not trying to walk into the treeline and never look back. But for a while I haven’t been able to shake the sense that in some ways, technology has gone a wee bit too far and done us a disservice. In small ways through living my life I hope to make informed choices that don’t make the world worse, or maybe even make it better in the long run.
- I met all my meat – I started trying to eat in a more ancestral manner years ago, and it’s taken a while to get into a groove with it. One of the aspects I’m most proud of is our meat sourcing. The meat that our family eats has all come from within an hour’s drive, I’ve met most of the animals and can vouch for the environment in which they were raised (grass-fed beef and pastured pork & chicken), and I know the people in the process of it all. Like many, I’m appalled by the factory farms in our country. But I can’t in good conscience eliminate meat from our diet for a few reasons. Meat is nutrient dense and healthy (read about the science & such here), and it’s not something that can be easily substituted. And possibly more importantly, opting out of the system IN NO WAY helps to fix it. For everything we buy, we are voting with our money. I choose to vote for local, ethically & sustainably raised meat by people I trust. And I only drove one county over to pick it up.
- I make my cats’ food – Before I even adopted our first cat Kelly, I was elbow deep in research about the proper diet for cats. Probably embarrassingly, I got the idea from hearing Rachel Ray talk about how she would cook her dog a side of food when she prepared dinner. Before then, I never gave a second thought to Dog Food or Cat Food. I learned a lot of information about the nature and diet of cats from CatInfo.org and CatNutrition.org. So, when Kelly came home with us in 2011, we slowly introduced the food I had cooked for her using the recipe I found. These days, she and the two other cats we’ve subsequently adopted Minka (whom we call Weena, don’t worry about it) and George are healthy, shiny, non-stinky, well-hydrated, great at calculus, do our taxes… jk. Anywho, I love them, they say hi.
- Skincare – Not long after I started removing trash from my food supply, I started examining my skincare product choices. I’ve had dry and crappy skin my entire life, and I definitely used to believe that I needed the power of chemists to cure my skin of its hydrocortisone or benzoyl peroxide deficiency. It’s become clear since then that my lifestyle was largely the culprit – I have an autoimmune skin condition called herpetiformis dertmatitis. Basically, I get rashy skin from gluten, so TAKE THAT FARTWADS, IT’S NOT A FAD. For a while, I largely used apple cider vinegar, baking soda and coconut oil for practically everything. While mostly effective for things like washing your hair, I’ve since upgraded to using more ingredients. I make my own face & body lotion, lotion for my son, and remineralizing tooth powder. I use shampoo and makeup from a company called 100% Pure. There are other great companies for non-straight-up-trash skincare like Beauty Counter, Primally Pure and Primal Life Organics (to name a few – there are many more!). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I haven’t been to a dermatologist since high school, and I don’t feel like I need to wear makeup to go to the grocery store. And put fat on your face. 🙂
- Cleaning products – While most people don’t generally worry about the ingredients in their cleaning products because it’s neither ingested nor applied topically to anyone, there are still a lot of concerns I have with common household cleaners. I don’t super duper want to poison my cats or kid, so I’ve been transitioning all of our products to things that would be non-lethal if any of the above licked them. This used to be another place where I used vinegar and baking soda for practically everything, but nature and technology working together have come a long way in the last 5 years. I use things for laundry ranging from natural to better-than-most. For a while I used Branch Basics until I ran out 🙁 , then used BioKleen for a while. I needed something with a stronger detergent power for cloth diaper cleaning, so I opted to use Kirkland’s Environmentally Responsible detergent for those. And, yes, I do still use white vinegar as a fabric softener rinse thing. I don’t use dryer sheets, but rather opt for putting essential oils on wool balls. Smells nice, man. For general cleaning, I use a diluted liquid Dr. Bronner’s solution along with vinegar to clean glass – it works wonders with a squeegee, Windex is gross. I also have an enzyme cleaner called BacOut also by BioKleen which I add to laundry, especially cloth diapers. I have it in a spray bottle, too, for messes like food/drink spills in the carpet or stinky peepee from the aforementioned spoiled cats. I also buy nontoxic dish soap, dishwasher detergent and ant spray. It all counts.
- Cloth diapering – Since a few days after my kiddo was born, he’s been mostly in cloth diapers. I wasn’t keen to throw 10 stinky plastic and whatever else sacks into a landfill every day. I used to work from home and now I stay at home with him (he’s 2 now), so it’s not a big deal for me to do a load of diaper laundry every other day and to dispose of doodoos down the toilet. I use the laundry solutions mentioned above and it’s just part of our daily life. However, if I had to do it all over again, I’m not sure if I’d choose cloth diapers. There are a lot of brands that are better for the environment, like Seventh Generation. Cloth diapers may be a little too bulky and stiff for babies to get the best range of motion when they’re learning to move, and I honestly can’t say whether the manufacturing of and the daily maintenance of cloth diapers is more or less costly, both in money and to the environment – especially when compared to environmentally-friendly brands of disposables. That said, my 2 year old is in cloth diapers approximately 75% of the time and disposables the other 25%. He wears disposables when we’re on an outing, to his daycare 1 day a week, to his gym class once a week, and overnight. Whether this will prove to be the best choice in the long run remains to be seen, but I do still feel like it’s a bit of a hippy thing to do!
- Clothing – Buying clothing is a challenge for me. I never gave the clothing industry a second thought until being exposed to Katy Bowman’s work. There is a lot of unseen labor going into our clothes, and most of it is not something I would have endorsed had I known about it. Katy has written a wonderful post about eco-friendly clothes, and I promise it’s a great read dense with things that will enlighten you. So far what I’ve taken from this is to shop for clothes at thrift stores, online consignment websites, swap things with people in your community, source companies who have some set of morals and ethics that you agree with, and to make your own clothes. I’ve done some of these things, but I find it immeasurably difficult. For example, I just bought my 2 year old a winter coat from the store because I couldn’t find anything adequate in thrift stores. I’m happy with the coat, but I have no idea under what conditions it was made. Obviously, I’m knitting sweaters and socks and such, which I’ll talk about below. But I’d REALLY like to get into sewing clothes. And not just silly dresses that look like they’re from the 50s. I want to sew underpants and leggings and a zip up hoodie. But ohhhhh the fabric. This goes right back to the sourcing issue. Socially and environmentally friendly fabric is available, though scarce and HOLY EXPENSIVE. The clothing category is somewhere that I anticipate the most growth in my hippy nonsense success, but for now, it’s basically a list of things I need to figure out how to do.
- Knitting – I don’t think my purpose when I learned how to knit was to save the world, but my relaxing hobby and creative conquest is morphing into fixing global warming single-handedly. Well, probably more hands than mine will be needed, just let me be hyperbolic. I’ve outlined in two other posts how I choose yarn to work with and the concessions I’m currently making to make sure I don’t go bonkers restricting myself. Knitting is so damn fun with the colors and patterns and the kindest and most supportive community of any out there. I’m beyond thrilled to find a purpose tangential to the fun. Through knitting, and many of my other quests to bring things back to the Earth, I discovered that what I want to do is to support and add to the fiber animals being raised in a way that will regenerate the fertility of the soil, sequestering carbon. This plan will take a while to come to fruition (again hi Nae!!), but I don’t think I’ll be frustrated in the meantime in this knitting community <3.
This list may not be all-encompassing for the ways I’m trying to live the modern hippy lifestyle, but I for sure hope to extend the list as time goes on. Okay, that was a lot of typing, I’ve got a cardigan to knit! Ttyl.