All I Got For Christmas Was Seventh Generation | Seventh Generation
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All I Got For Christmas Was Seventh Generation

Author: abbybrooks

We first met abbybrooks when she posted a message to our Facebook page explaining that she had asked for, and received, Seventh Generation cleaning products as a Christmas present. We were intrigued, and asked her to share her story with the rest of the Seventh Generation Nation.
--The Team at 7Gen

I'm pretty new to all this "being green." I honestly thought I was doing my part by dumping bottles in the recycling every week and patting myself on the back as I did so. I thought people who lived green were "tree huggers" and maybe a little fanatical. After all, the view from my window here in Virginia was pretty good. But everything changed when I became a mother.

My transformation began when one day I shuddered at the thought of people wearing shoes -- that had walked through who knows what -- on floors that my daughter had started exploring with her hands and knees. I proudly displayed a sign at our front door: "Please take off your shoes, 'cause we've got some news...She's crawling!" My new rule was not always well received, but I insisted in an effort to create the safest home for my daughter. My husband came up with a way to keep the peace when someone is uncomfortable in their socks or bare feet: We offer bags to put over their shoes (yes, I still use plastic shopping bags, but I recycle them so please don't kick me out of the green wannabe club).

So I had successfully rid my home of toxic shoes, but what about the other toxins creeping around, like those RIGHT UNDER MY KITCHEN SINK?!? I had relied on these cleaning products to banish germs and dirt, but I began to realize what they were really leaving in their place...suspected carcinogens and endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins, oh my! Seriously, OH MY! I would have been better off just leaving the dirt! I began to look at labels. Not really a lot of information there, but the usual "caution" and "warning" stickers made me realize I needed to be more cautious about what I was using to clean the house.

But my most powerful awakening came on a day I scrubbed the tub (must be super clean for my little one's bum!) Of course, I had to keep her out of the bathroom because the fumes were so harsh I could barely breathe, even with the fan whizzing and the window open. Then I thought, "I can't let her swim in this stuff!" So I rinsed the tub for what felt like 15 minutes, scrubbed it with plain water and still waited two days before I let her in. After that experience I made my first green move -- I headed to the store on a mission for a more acceptable cleaning product and brought home Seventh Generation's Natural Shower Cleaner. I felt SO good cleaning the tub that weekend! I could breathe without fear of fumes, I didn't have to send my daughter out of the state, and hey, what do ya know, the tub got just as clean! Maybe those green fanatics have something here.

Then I read The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability by Paul Hawken. I would say this book scared me straight. Not only do those nasty chemicals contaminate my home, but the junk unloaded on the environment and the potential effects to living systems is frightening. I realized that taking care of the environment means doing a lot more than recycling. I have to choose to be a wise consumer. I can drive change with each dollar I spend. I must make an effort to research companies that produce the products I need and support the organizations that do the least damage. Unfortunately, that's the way I have to state it: "the least damage." I have faith that eventually business will wake up and begin restoring the environment instead of just mitigating harm.

I decided to apply my newfound wisdom this Christmas. My family thought I was crazy when I asked for cleaning products as gifts and sent them the link to the Seventh Generation web site. On the big day I was thrilled to open a huge box filled with kitchen, bathroom, glass, and all purpose cleaners; laundry and dishwasher detergent. I eagerly lined up the bottles on the table next to the brown Seventh Generation paper towels and tote bags that came with my cleaners. I installed the nozzles and have been happily spraying ever since. When I clean the table I know it will be safe when my daughter sits down to eat. Clean and safe -- what a concept!

I'm planning to clean up my old cleaners, but have to wait for the hazardous household waste drop off day planned by my city to get rid of it all. Wow, that really hits hard, I used these products daily and I have to dispose of them as hazardous waste, ouch!

So, I think I'm on my way to greening up my life. My "get green list" is growing as I realize I have only scratched the surface. I must work on accepting a bit of a price increase for healthier products, including organic food (haven't done organic yet, but I'm working on a trip to the local health food store as soon as I can get my husband on board). I'm dedicating myself to becoming a wise consumer. I try to think about what I do every day, including the waste our household generates. My biggest obstacle might be convincing my husband to carry these 7Gen tote bags to the grocery store (yes, he does the grocery shopping, how lucky am I?!). But I'll still keep some of those plastic ones for shoe emergencies! Thank you, Seventh Generation, for making my planet home clean and safe.

To see Seventh Generation's new television commercial, click here.


Astrotrain picture
Abby, thanks for sharing your story. I have also been undergoing a green transformation during the last couple of years and educating myself on the benefits of healthier living. I am a mom of an almost 4 year old child and like many other mamas on here, she has been my main motivation for change. I still consider myself "light" or "medium" green and you don't have to make very radical changes to live better. Making little changes helps a whole lot. I think the most important changes I've made to our lives has been switching to non-toxic products whenever possible (a great database to check and compare all kinds of cosmetics and cleaning products is here), eating more organic food (not *everything* has to be organic if you can't afford it, some foods are dirtier than others, check this handy guide (pdf)), and consuming quality vitamins and supplements. The book Green Goes with Everything: Simple Steps to a Healthier Life and a Cleaner Planet by Sloan Barnett changed my life and opened my eyes to all the hazards out there. It may be a good start for you. I have found this journey completely engrossing and exciting, and I am still learning! It's become a passion, especially knowing I am doing the best I can for my little family.
abbybrooks picture
Yes! I would like to figure out how to plant an indoor garden!
brwstac picture
I am glad that you are making your house safer for family. I never had children, but the older I get the more I "hug those trees." I do it for your little girl and all the other children out there who deserve to inherit a better planet. We all are stewards in this world and our everyday actions determine the kind of stewards we choose to be. One of the things that struck me about 7th Generation is that it is a company made of people that believe that our actions today must be based on considering the effect of our actions seven generations in the future, hence the compay name. What a great way to move through the world. Good luck into the future. P.S. I buy organic food and it can get expensive. Start an organic vegetable garden (or grow healthy veggies in a pot) if you have a chance. It is something you can share with your little girl. I bet the two of you would have a lot of fun. You working and her exploring. :) Stacey
abbybrooks picture
Thank you everyone for your comments. Love the recommendations regarding organic food options, I'm working on it! And I know it is good for little one's system to be exposed to germs, but I don't know if I will recover from germaphobia! :-) There's so much I can't control, why not try to control the things I can? But thanks for your recommended reading, I'll check it out. Thank you! I'll let you know how my journey to organics goes!
karad picture
I commend you for your efforts in becoming a green family. I will, however, say that children need exposure to dirt and germs. A great new book came out this year called Green Barbarians: Live Bravely on Your Home Planet by Ellen Sandbeck, I recommend reading it to all and especially those who turn into germaphobes when they have a new baby.
eshoudy picture
I too have a husband that isn't convinced that the food we eat is an issue. Having just watched Oprah feature Food Inc. I recommend this as a must see for any one trying to figure their way through this very important issue. I have gotten my husband to use cloth bags, we save .05 for every one we use. Now I am on a mission to get him to watch this movie with me. good luck!
sarawutzke picture
Wow, you could have just been telling my story! I went from a girl that did VERY little, and was really turned off by it all to a cloth-diapering, green cleaning product using, free-range meat buying mama...when I was pregnant with my second child and felt nauseous after cleaning the bathroom, that was the defining moment. Thanks for sharing your story!
hillarylouise picture
I bet you have some awesome CSAs in Virginia. While I was transitioning to organic food, I found our local CSA (community supported agriculture) and realized that the local, organic produce that comes in my CSA box each week ends up being both cheaper and fresher than what I get at my local grocery store and natural food store!
Mommymessage picture
Abby, I too started our worrying about people's shoes and the cleaner I used to clean the bathtub. Eight years ago we started making baby green steps. Little by little we replaced products we had used for years with non-toxic ones. Now our cabinets are filled with Seventh Generation cleaning and baby products. We know we are making a difference in the health and eco-life of our family and planet. Great story!!
BC Momma picture
BC Momma
Good for you abby! Feels so good, doesn't it?! I too, love my 7th Generation Cleaners! Having a little one around sure makes you take a good long look at what the household uses, consumes and throws away. We have always used 7th Generation diapers but have moved to using them only at nighttime or on holidays and using cloth during the day (no offense 7th Gen, your diapers are great but I needed to 'cut back' a bit) The move to being Greener is so very rewarding as mothers / parents and for the future of our children! Way to go!
kak005 picture
Once you become a parent something clicks inside you. Now I am one of the "crazy" parents! And I love it! It has been a steady progression the last year. Now if I can only convince my husband that using cloth diapers is good idea!
cziedins picture
My daughter just turned a year old in December and I switched over to green cleaners while I was still pregnant. When I had to leave the bathroom because of the fumes, I knew it couldn't be good! Now that my daughter is also eating all table food, we're making a much larger effort to eat all organic and greatly reduce processed foods (even the organic ones!). While organic gardening is great, living in Colorado I get such a short season for my garden. I recently found a great alternative with a food co-op that works with local organic farmers and they deliver a box of organic produce to our door every week. You're not only supporting organic farming but keeping it local/seasonal as well!
ryoum picture
hi, i too decided to try and be more green with the birth of my first child. i love the seventh gen products too, especially their diapers. as a result to try and be more green my husband and i developed a website that might helps promote green ideas and products for people to be able to sift through and decide what's works for them. its, still in its beta version, but check it out for some ideas that might help you and your family,
oktobeafanatic picture
You can also make your own cleaners, all you need is some baking soda, vinegar and some essential oils as desired. Easy as pie! also: you save plastic by re-using bottles again and again.
meglet44 picture
I use 7th Gen products almost exclusively, and love 'em. If you want to transition to organic produce, consider planting a small organic garden...or just container gardens if you live in an apartment. Seed is much cheaper than produce, plus your child will then learn something very important---how to grow her own food, sustainably.
Holistic Mama picture
Holistic Mama
So many people become more aware of green issues and healthier living as they become parents! Welcome! You'll find lots of mamas (and dads!) like you at the Holistic Moms Network. Every little change adds up and helps you, your family, and the planet!
cebinaz picture
Good job abbybrooks! Being a fan of Seventh Generation, I switched to the dishwasher detergent when my kitchen smelled like bug spray from the store brand. UGH! When you reach the stage of using recycled "bathroom tissue", be prepared to convince your husband that it is recycled paper from other sources! The look on his face will be priceless.
abbybrooks picture
What a great idea, Rhymory! I can get rid of these old cleaners, prevent new consumption, AND spread the word! Thanks so much for sharing!!
Rhymory picture
Congratulations on going green! Retails shelves show there are still plenty of people who haven't, however. Why not give your old cleaners away on FreeCycle or through a free newspaper ad. Anyone who wants your products would have bought them at the store anyway, so you'll save extra product from getting into the environment. You can also seize the opportunity to tell the recipient why you are getting rid of them. Maybe they'll mull that over while they're using up the free products and make the switch themselves!