I started getting interested in health because I began caring about me. I realized a lot of what was in my life wasn’t healthy for me. So I changed. I began buying organic food so that I wouldn’t be eating food grown with pesticides. I started buying shampoo and conditioner that was made without chemicals so that I wasn’t exposing my skin to things that weren’t good for me. I switched to an all rubber mattress because I didn’t want to be breathing in fumes each night that could hurt my body. All of these are great reasons for wanting to change. I care about me, and I care about my family. Of course, I want all of us to be as healthy as possible. But as I started down this path to exploring all the ways I could make my life healthier, I realized I started asking new questions as well. Over time, I began to realize I had to start taking responsibility.
I do care about me. I care about my family too. But I also care about other people. And I also care about animals and nature and our environment. I care about all those things a lot. I don’t want people to suffer harm or be unhealthy. I don’t want animals to be abused and mistreated. I don’t want our planet and environment ruined. I realized my decisions are responsible for the welfare of other people and the world.
It’s very easy to simply ignore what we don’t want to know. You probably don’t want to know that the ice cream you just ate was from a cow that has been extremely mistreated its entire life and has suffered not only terrible living conditions but has been injected with hormones to force her body to produce more milk than she was naturally born to produce. Or you probably don’t want to know that the H&M shirt you bought yesterday was made in a sweatshop where a mom works all day sewing clothes but doesn’t make enough to even send her daughter to school.
It’s very easy to simply ignore what we don’t want to know.
Not only is the truth very sad, it’s also very overwhelming. We all think to ourselves if I knew the truth about everything I wouldn’t be able to do anything without hurting someone or something somewhere in the world. You are right. It’s very overwhelming to try to live a life that is having a completely positive impact on our planet and the people here.
But we can start to take responsibility one step at a time. It’s scary to educate ourselves. Sometimes, I find myself not wanting to research a subject, because it’s simply easier to not know. But that’s not how I want to live life. I don’t want to live in ignorance simply so I can feel good about myself. Because, in reality, I still won’t feel good about myself.
Stepping Over the Fear Barrier
One example of this is clothing. I’ve always had this nagging feeling about clothes. I did some research a while back on textiles. I knew I wanted to steer clear of synthetic materials such as polyester and rayon. So I mostly buy only cotton clothing. But I still had this feeling inside that there was more to this story of clothes than I was allowing myself to realize. I knew that cotton had to be grown somewhere. Was it organic? Or was it conventional and actually having a negative effect, not the earth? What about the dye? Is it made from vegetables or chemicals? And the workers? How were they treated? What are their working conditions and wages like?
I had a fear that if I opened this can of worms I’d be overwhelmed. Truth is, I might be. But feeling overwhelmed is no excuse for avoiding the truth. So I wanted a documentary called “The True Cost.” It talked about a lot of which I knew but just hadn’t acknowledged. But instead of me walking away from the film feeling overwhelmed, I felt inspired.
I’m no longer “in the dark.” I have knowledge now so the next step is what am I going to do with it. I can tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to simplify my wardrobe so that I can afford to buy clothing made in an ethical way. I’m going to spend more money on less clothing so that I can take responsibility for the impact I’m having on the earth. I care enough to take responsibility for my actions… including the kind of clothes I wear.
Change Takes Work
One thing I get a lot of emails about is how people appreciate how I make change simple. It is overwhelming to think about all the ways we’d like to change. I could list off hundreds of things (literally) I’d like to change in my life to not only make myself and my family healthier but also so we could have a more positive impact on the environment instead of a negative one. But I know if I focus on everything I’m not doing, then I’ll just quit. It will be too much. I have to focus on what I am doing well, and the one thing I want to change next.
I always take it one step at a time, and often, I change what is most inspiring to me at this point. Since I recently watched the documentary on clothing, and it’s a topic that has nagged at me for years, I’m going to tackle that next. I’ve already started making changes with my children’s shoes and my newborn’s clothing. But now it’s time to tackle my wardrobe. I’ll probably have to take it slow. Clothing that is made ethically isn’t cheap, but luckily I don’t have a need for a lot of clothes. I love a simple and minimal wardrobe.
I want to encourage you to stop ignoring what you don’t know about. It is easy to ignore, but it’s not right. If something has been nagging at you, look into it. If you are wondering about GMO crops, but continue to buy them at the store… research it. Don’t just assume you are okay simply because you don’t know. Ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is wisdom. Be wise. Learn. And from what you learn, change. But take it one step at a time.