Sunday, February 05, 2006

Going organic -- slowly

I was 'in conversation' with another happy customer.

He tells me that "when things need replacing we try and replace them with an organic/fairtrade option". I think that is just such a sensible way to go.

Like him, we are slowly switching over to organic bedding. Although the definition for 'need replacing' is slightly modified in my case. My son and I both have sensitive skin and some things have been making us itch. I wonder if it is the cheap cotton sheets we've been using.

Up till now we've been buying bedding on the basis of whether they look good. For example, son was into anything to do with space/exploration, so we went and got him bedding with a 'space' theme on it. At that time I had no idea what harm conventional cotton was doing and the effect of conventional cotton on the skin.

Some places offer such 'cheap' options that we -- I, really -- had succumbed to the temptation and had bought what I thought would suit us and our son solely on the basis of design.

However when one starts itching as soon as one climbs under the covers, something is not right. It is hard to believe that chemicals from either cultivation or manufacture could still have unpleasant side-effects so long after a product has left the factory. The itch might have absolutely nothing to do with conventional cotton. The truth is: I don't know what causes it, and neither does the doctor.

Still, it does the world no harm if/when as soon as we can afford to make the change, or as soon as things need replacing, we are doing so "with an organic/fairtrade option". That is a good principle which I would recommend to any one.

No use throwing all our current clothes and sheets and tea towels away immediately. It is not going to undo the harm that the growing of conventional cotton, sweat-shop production or harmful manufacture methods (leading to pollution of waterways, etc).

However, choosing wisely what to buy, buying less (frequently) and therefore allowing us to afford fair trade and organic the next time around is the way to go.

Thanks, Ade, for your email.

Back to Organic-Ally.


Anonymous said...

I do so agree - I hate to think that things I buy have been made in sweatshops. I have been teaching my children about fair trade and they then pass it on at school. In fact my daughter did a fair trade drama last term using the subject of trainers.
Just a thought about the itching - have you tried Bio D Laundry Liquid? No chemicals, smells good and no nasty itching. Lyds

Anonymous said...

Dear Lyds
Thanks for comment. I have steered clear of any washing liquid with 'biological' on the label. Is Bio D biological? Anything with enzymes seems to make me itch. I'll look it up, any way, and thanks again. LSP

Anonymous said...

Hi LSP, Bio D laundry liquid is a natural safe product, ethically sound and biodegradable. Its also allergy tested. The company do all sorts of eco cleaning products . I buy it at my local independant health food shop because I a) want a to avoid environmental damage and b) dislike chemical products in the house and use as few as possible. Mind you, I get through alot of bicarb, lemon juice and vinegar...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lyds, again. I looked up the product online and now think that the health food store where I get my Eco-stuff also stocks this item. So will have a good look the next time I go. Best, LSP

LaM said...

More along the same lines as those above—we have found that avoiding detergents is what makes the most difference to itchy skin. Now I use a vegetable based soap powder in my washing machine along with a little sodium percarbonate for hot washes. I did my children's cotton nappies this way and the results were fine. (By the way, I never sterilised nappies, just gave them a rough rinse and left them soaking in water until I had a load. My three children were always and still are robustly healthy. Clearly sterilising nappies is not necessary). Some dark clothes that aren't really dirty but (as my trousers often are because I have such dry skin) flecked with dead skin need no soap at all, just a thorough water wash. I these cases you can stop the washing machine after the wash cycle—no need to rinse, you see—and go sraight to the spin cycle. Quicker washing and uses less water. Using only natural fibres for your clothing fabrics also helps as you don't have to use synthetic fabric softeners either.

Henno said...

I so agree with Lam! I lent a cotton hankie to another mum on the playground the other day while we were waiting to go in to school. Her child's face needed some mopping up. She asked me for a tissue but I pulled out a cotton hankie instead which rather amazed her. Anyhow, she borrowed it and returned it to me some days later, laundered. Although it was technically clean, I had to wash it again because it STANK! It was absolutely riddled with poisonous synthetic perfumes that made me sneeze and gasp. I don't understand. Can most other people really be that insensitive to dubious pongs? Give me fresh air and plants and real earth smells any time!

LSP said...

Thanks to Lam and Henno for your comments. We bought sterilising liquid for our son's nappies, but never got round to using it. Just plenty of sodium bicarbonate. The folk at the T---O (supermarket) chemist could not understand why we bought such large quantities. On the advice of the health visitor, we only used water on our son.

I've offered my cloth hankie twice to different mothers. Yes, they were shocked that I had a cloth hankie (obviously organic cotton). One could not remove the blood stains from a nose bleed: it was left stuffed in her son's pocket for too long and they probably put it in a hot wash which only coagulated the blood. The other ... I think she simply forgot. The first offered to buy me a replacement. I said: But I am the only person in the UK (in fact, in Europe) who sells these hankies. She gave me a surprised look. I couldn't bring myself to sell a hankie to this mother because I was the one who offered the hankie.

Two weeks ago I had a lady come to my house for Bible study. She had so much perfume on her I could not sit next to her. It was overpowering and irritated my nose no end. I don't use perfumes either and avoid these in the cleaning stuff we use.

Henno said...

I have a lot of nosebleeds—because of perennial allergic rhinitis I think—and I find soaking hankies in COLD, well salted water takes out the stain. This is a tip handed down from my grandmother who was a laundress before washing machines were invented.