Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Natural Files: Compromise

A touchy subject amongst the natural/green/eco-friendly movement is that of compromise. There are die-hard environmentalists who won't go near anything toxic and then there are people like me, who do our very best to live as naturally as possible.

I call myself "just a lil' crunchy", and for good reason. [Side note: crunchy, granola, hippie, etc. are words to describe those of us who try to live green]. I embrace concepts of homesteading like handwashing clothes and dishes in addition to buying all organic or grass-fed meat, produce, and dairy when accessible (haven't been able to find good organic sources of cheese yet...).

I have always been adamant about using non-toxic/eco-friendly laundry detergent, hand soap, dish soap and household cleaners, in addition to finding natural ways to get rid of bugs and the like. However, this week I had to make two compromises. For a few weeks our home has been infested with tiny thief ants and I desperately tried everything I could: peppermint oil, vinegar, dish soap, baking soda... Nothing worked. I wanted to try a mix of Borax, as I'd read that was effective, but couldn't find it in stores (just found it at Target yesterday, much to my joy/dismay!).

As quality of life with the ants diminished, I couldn't eat (they were around the fridge, on the stove/counters/in cupboards), couldn't sleep (in the carpet, on bedroom dressers, bathroom and living room!) and was having stress related anxiety attacks frequently. The ants had to go.

Finally, I gave in and let my husband use chemical ant baits and outdoor spray and within two days, they were gone. I don't like the fact that we had to use pesticides, but for our sanity, for us, it was necessary at the time.

The second compromise was in the laundry department. One of my work shirts is white and while handwashing and spin drying, it got purple marks on it from another shirt that must have rubbed against it. (Oops, never doing that again). Needless to say, I tried every natural soap I owned and nothing helped. So I ventured into the laundry aisle at the store and bought a dreaded bottle of...bleach. I can't tell you how much I hate bleach, but I had no other options left. After a good drench and soak, the marks were gone.

In my opinion, making compromises from natural solutions to chemical ones are based on individual preference. Are all natural options exhausted? How urgent is the need for a solution? Can you live with the problem or does it need to be fixed immediately? Often, natural solutions take more time to work, or may not work as instantly as chemical ones.

Each of us have to weigh the options and make that decision for ourselves. When is it worth it to stick to natural or include chemicals?