Today, I’m excited to kick off a new little series I’m going to try here called “chats with my girlfriends.” I’ve mentioned before that I stay in touch with nine of my closest college friends in a Voxer group where we talk about – literally – everything. It sounds extreme to say this, but getting this group started and using it regularly with my friends has been one of the greatest blessings of the last year for me. There is something about hearing your friends’ voices and being able to “talk” in real time (while we are waiting in carpool lines, drowning out a screaming toddler, or cruising the grocery store) that makes the distance between us and the fact that we only get to see each other once a year or so, SO much better. I love it, and I’m excited to welcome you into our conversations (with their permission, of course) once in a while here.
Before I introduce today’s topic though, here’s a little background on the group: We met our freshmen year at Clemson and had nicknamed ourselves “the 10” by that summer. Throughout college we had a weekly Bible Study together that – if we’re being honest here – was more of an excuse to get together and laugh, cry, and unload from the week. Some of my very best memories from my college years revolve around those Thursday night hours on the sofa together. We’ve been out of college for ten years now (!!!), but we’ve stayed close thanks to cell phones, email, regular weddings/vacations together, and now, Voxer. We are all married and are spread out all over the US in Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Between us, we have seventeen kids ranging in age from 7 to 1 month and three more set to arrive between July and October! There are three of us in education, one writer, two stay at home moms, four in the medical field (including one in women’s health and one in pediatrics), and three pastor’s wives (not mutually exclusive of the former). So, as you can see, we run the gamut, and there’s pretty much no topic left untouched among us. I’m trying to convince them to start a podcast with me ;), but until then, this little series will have to do. What do you think?
Speaking of this series, I’m hoping to post every two weeks (or so) where I share something that we’ve been chatting about and ask for your input. I’m hoping to select topics that come up organically for us, but I’m certainly open to topic suggestions or questions as well. I’ve promised my girlfriends not to share anything too personal (of course), and I won’t use their names without explicit permission from them. I think, other than that, this will just be pretty casual and a fun glimpse inside my life and my closest friendships. I hope you’ll enjoy it!
So, to kick things off, today we’re talking about natural and/or organic products. Specifically, what do you buy organic and what do you choose not to worry about?
Here’s how the question was first asked in our group:
So it seems like a lot of my friends here are on a good kick of trying to really eliminate chemicals from everything they’re using – whether it’s cleaning products, or, especially, things we put on our bodies like soaps, make-up, shampoos. You know, trying to do natural. They introduced me to this website where you can look at your products and see what ingredients in them may be harmful, cancer causing, etc. Anyways, I feel pretty paralyzed by all of it if I’m being honest. I just feel like so much of what I use is probably really really harmful, and it feels really overwhelming.
So, question for our medical people, or just anyone: What do you avoid? What brands do you use, and what are your thoughts on all of this? I can really get myself worked up about it, and I don’t know how to both make healthy choices and avoid chemicals that are in so much and also trust that God has numbered our days. You know, how do those two things fit together? Anyway, I’d love some advice or how you approach stuff, or if you think about it. Are there specific things you stay away from?
We talked about this for awhile, and almost everyone chimed in. The general consensus was that we want to make educated and wise choices for ourselves and our family (especially our kids), but we also don’t want to be paralyzed by fear or consumed by worry in general. Most of us said that we liked the idea of using all natural products, but just couldn’t justify the cost of some of the make-up and skin care lines in particular.
As moms, we agreed that we care more about the stuff we put on our kids than on ourselves. (Bad, maybe, but true.) We are careful about things like sunscreen and soaps (most of us have quit using Johnson & Johnson – though I admit I still use the lavender scent from time to time on Sam), and when we buy organic we focus on animal products like meat, eggs, and milk and sometimes fruits and vegetables.
Interestingly, almost all of the girls in the medical field said that they do not worry about things like this very much (if at all) and that the medical world really doesn’t talk much about them. They said that, while there are certainly concerns about chemicals etc., most of the natural products haven’t been researched enough for us to know one way or the other about them yet either. So there’s really no guarantee. One doctor-friend said, “the only things we KNOW cause cancer are smoking, direct radiation, and direct sunlight.” So, I guess after that, it’s anyone’s guess.
We also agreed that it’s more important to focus on things like exercise, sleep, water, eating fruits and vegetables, etc. FIRST, which was a good perspective for sure.
To be clear, none of us are experts on this subject at all. That’s the whole point of these little “chats” though. Maybe this is something you’re talking with your girlfriends about too; or, maybe you wish you had someone “normal” you could ask about stuff like this. My goal is to extend the conversation here and, hopefully, help you feel a little better about your own questions and choices too.
Here are a few of the products/brands that were mentioned among the group:
Babyganics (I use their sunscreen and bug spray.)
Burt’s Bees (I use their baby soap, diaper cream, and lotion.)
Seventh Generation (I use their baby wipes occasionally – but I find them pretty sticky!)
Method (I use their kids’ shampoo/soap and cleaning products.)
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (I use their hand and dish soaps + kitchen cleaner.)
Grove Collaborative – formerly ePantry (This is my referral link. I get most of the above products from this service, though you can also find them on Amazon, at Target, etc.)
And the website mentioned in the initial question is www.ewg.org in case you want to check it out.
So, there’s how we handled this question… Now, it’s your turn to chime in!! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of natural/organic products. What do you worry about it? What do you not? Where do you “splurge” on chemical-free products? What are your favorite brands? Please share below!!