It happens to the frogs first!

Just as I sat down to write on using non-chemical alternatives to chemical-based body and hair care and cleaning products I came across this simple and moving image on my FB feed reminded me why we do what we do ( not only for ourselves but all creatures great and small) and reassured me that we have to continue to do what we do, despite the glacial pace, convincing one person at a time.

                                                        Life and love in the rain

The beautiful image reminded me of the fact that these wonderful beings ( let us not forget that it was the humble frog that turned into a prince:-* ) that survived for 250 million years are now facing unprecedented extinction. One-third of frog species are on the verge of extinction, with chemicals being one of the major reasons. Frogs are one of the most studied creatures by scientists as they are considered accurate indicators of environmental stress/pollution; their permeable skin absorbs toxic chemicals. They are called bio-indicators because what happens to them today will happen to the rest of the species/environment tomorrow.

 ( Illustration of Frog King from the Grimms fairy tales, sourced from Brainpickings:

In the recent past, it has been revealed unambiguously that a stupendous amount of chemicals is being dumped into our soil, air, rivers, and oceans, leaving nothing untouched. Yesterday a Guardian article revealed that a class of systemic pesticides called neonicotinoids ( named after their effect on the nervous system similar to nicotine) could be one of the major reasons for population decline and deformities in frogs near the Queensland coast.

The culprit is not only agriculture but also the increasingly chemicalized products we use for personal care, cleaning, washing, fragrances, softening clothes, doing dishes, washing the car and so on…So the leap from frogs to non-chemicals products is a short one!

Many of us struggle to use non-chemical/organic/ natural soaps, body wash and hair wash powders, shampoos, laundry and dish wash powders, despite their many advantages for us, our health, environment. I personally continue to struggle on this count. Moving to eating organic, whole, local and seasonal, which we did a decade back, was simple and straightforward.

We have been so conditioned to the fragrances, lathering, seduced by the ads, smooth feel, ease of storing, using and throwing away, so much so that we forget that an array of chemicals and other ingredients like synthetic additives, colours, fragrances, fillers, surfactants, emulsifiers, preservatives etc. have been added to the products we expose our fragile skin, hair, and breathing to.

In the hierarchy of these alternatives, the liquid shampoos, washes are easiest to adopt but will definitely have to contain a preservative to maintain their liquid form. Next, come the cakes of soap which use all natural ingredients and lye for lathering and then come to the non-chemical herbal powders which are normally all-natural. However, these are the hardest to use as we have lost the habit and patience to keep a small dish to mix the powder in water, store the powder in airtight containers and use a dry dispenser etc.

I have been trying valiantly to move to an all powder regime at least when not traveling. I am not one of those disciplined souls and sometimes let some of these products sit on my bathroom shelves for too long. Recently I found that outdated personal wash powders are fairly good /non-toxic cleaning agents, the discoveries of laziness J. Despite initial hiccups I have adopted a pure herbal powder for the hair and a face-wash powder. I have been using the laundry and dish wash powder for a couple of years after many trials and errors. I find them to be effective and am fairly comfortable despite an unfortunate tendency to sneeze if I am not careful handling the powders ???? Still, there are times I just fall back on an organic shampoo or a chemical detergent, even though increasingly I find myself stopping short before dispensing it.

Initially, it is difficult with the powders spilling, causing sneeze attacks for some of us, us mixing too much or too less , dishes looking duller than we expect ( with our expectation of that shiny look which we appreciate on wax coated vegetables as well) and the clothes having powder residues ( due to tying up the natural powder bag imperfectly). Yet, this is also like cycling and driving, once we get the hang of it we can master it and it doesn’t leave us.

The long and short of it is that we cant afford to give up; it is too important for our health, environment, and future. We have to make this work, by engaging with the small groups that research, innovate and produce these products; through our willingness to try new things and with the perseverance to persist!

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