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.