When I was young our help at home insisted on cooking on the wood stove in mud / stone vessels and cleaned them with wood ash after the cooking was done. She used the work area for doing this as the main kitchen by then had tiles, Vim powder, steel & aluminum vessels and gas and the bathroom, laundry cleaners like Surf.
I just took it as her quirk and only much later realized what a favor she did us by not exposing us to aluminum and chemicals.Thirty years later I have come full circle, after going through non stick pans (very briefly as somehow I didn’t trust them much), dish wash liquids that claim to make your glassware shiny, dish wash machines, I am using herb based laundry cleaners & dish wash powder and cook only in steel, mud, stone vessels (kalchatti) and cast iron vessels and pans.
My biggest challenge here has been to convince our old help (who thinks she runs my life) to adopt it. I took her hands and showed how the skin had worn off and looked peeled and told her that these powders will stop it, she looked at me thoughtfully and is reluctantly using it ( to indulge me).
The same with clothes washing, after using fancy, strong cleaning fluids and softeners in industrial power machines ( many a time which shrunk our clothes beyond recognition, a few nice sweaters that belonged to my better half now fit me ) we have come to pouring out a soap berry based, coarsely ground powder into a small bag and putting it into our washing machine. Psychologically it took some time to accept that this brown powder could clean clothes. Sometimes the bag would open scattering brown confetti on our clothes, all it needed is a vigorous shake( after the clothes dry) and that would be gone. Anyway, I haven’t tried terribly soiled children’s clothes in this, so can’t really say if this will work for those!
It took me longer and more self-convincing to shift to these Laundry cleaners & Dish wash powders than even shifting to organic food; there is a feeling it is not that important and too much trouble. It does take some effort, yet it is worth it. I have started with powders for three years (we had moved to organic liquid cleaners before that) I still lapse, but I get back on again. It is important when we feed our families organic food, why cook and serve the food in vessels which have been cleaned with chemicals and have a chemical residue? Why ruin our skin using these toxic chemicals? Especially the modern dish wash fluids have more chemicals ( than the old bar soap and powders); those used to clean brass are also extremely toxic. Why let our skin be exposed to chemicals and breathe in these chemicals constantly? ( new studies show that fabric softeners are a big culprit in terms of toxin load). Why contaminate our water with chemicals? Now, with the northeast monsoon failing all of us will be preparing to use water carefully and these powders will allow us to reuse the wash water for our gardens & pots safely.
We currently carry these Laundry cleaners & Dish wash powders produced by Wild Ideas, a group of rural women from Tiruvannamalai guided by M. They are very open to feedback; if you have suggestions or problems they only happen to listen, give suggestions on better ways to use the products, and make changes to products. Wild Ideas also produce a wonderful range of soaps in six different fragrances which many of you use and a lovely laundry soap. It takes a lot of courage and conviction for these women to earn a living through sustainable options rather than choose to produce unsustainable products. I guess that can only be matched with conviction and willingness on our part to use these products to help ourselves, nature and them!