Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Psychology of Using Baking Soda and Vinegar for Everything

Baking soda and vinegar pretty much summarizes what we use for everything cleaning-related. There's also oil for face washing, washing soda and soap for laundry, and we use regular dishwashing soap (sunlight) for dishes and the wooden floor. But for cleaning the bathroom, or the sink, or my hair, and as deodorant there's baking soda and/or vinegar. Which I wanted to explain, to myself, as much as anything.

Our move to South Africa made this more certain, because we're starting over without our old stash of wood cleaner, Fantastic, Window Cleaner, makeup for wedding emergencies, moisturizer and so on. I like the certainty of it. Although I kept my tweezers through the cross-continental move, as though in some future life I'll care about my unibrow again (I cared only during the three weeks that Eug and I spent dating).

I was thinking what the point of this was, beyond not wanting to expose my family or myself to random, often toxic chemicals. There's not having to store dangerous chemicals with a one year old in the house. There's not having to store much at all. Except I just bought 25L of vinegar, which is a lot. There's control over our budget. I'm convinced that one key to saving or giving financially is getting rid of as many recurring expenses as possible, so that your income is free to go wherever it needs to. There's the satisfying superiority complex I've developed. Sorry. But I think overall, the key is the sense that I can buy one thing for many uses, and I pretty much know what that one thing is.

If you're thinking of trying out baking soda and vinegar, or some other simpler way of cleaning clothes or yourself, I just want to encourage you. It adds up to something, over many years. And we pick our battles- my best example is the following:

Home Made Paint

After 4 failed attempts at whitewash paint and milk paint, we raised the white flag of surrender and are using store-bought polyurethane paint for our house. There just wasn't enough on the internet to get us to the point where we could troubleshoot what was going wrong. And the house is just too run down not to paint at least some parts immediately. With the home made paints, the paint either went on well but was too much like whitewash to actually stick (it became powdery and rubbed off too easily to use indoors), or it didn't seem to show up at all. If you've made wall paint with success, we'd love to learn from you one day. The only remaining paint that I'm keen on attempting is egg tempura, for very small surface areas. I know I could have looked up environmentally friendly paints, but after four days of failed paints, I was desperate to get started and I'm generally a bit skeptical of stuff that markets itself as "eco-friendly". Cynicism, go away.

The good news is that this is the very first time an attempt has failed so spectacularly. Everything else I've tried has been both doable and effective. Even the semi-successes have had good implications: for example, I don't always wash my face with oil, but when I don't, I actually don't need to wash my face with anything at all. I advocate the attempt.

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