The first thing I can remember ever wanting to be when I grew up was an environmentalist. As a teenager my idols were David Suzuki, Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey (remember Gorillas in the Mist? The cruelty of the world was burned into my young, innocent brain). For some reason, I also had this small book how our daily choices affected the environment. It was full of tips on making your own cleaning products and eating organic food. That was circa 1992 and it had a profound affect on how grew up viewing the world. I was both a vegetarian and animal rights activist, I could be found putting up posters around highschool that quoted Ghandi – “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how well it treats it’s animals.”
I was never afraid to speak my mind, but sometimes that made me less than popular.
Fast forward to age of twenty-two and I had dropped out of my zoology program at UofT, overwhelmed by the class sizes and by chemistry and I went back to another passion of mine… fine art. I then spent a lot of time exploring my ideas in painting, printmaking and design and of course spending quite a bit of time around paint and chemicals.
When I was about twenty-three I got a short apprenticeship with a Toronto-based artist who needed some help with a project he was doing for the Toronto Sculpture Garden. I was so excited to be working with a real artist I did whatever he asked… including removing some label glue from hundreds of water bottles for his installation. He gave me some varsol and no gloves. A few days later the skin peeled off my hands.
And since then if a harsh chemical gets anywhere near my skin, the muscles in my hands ache. So for years I’ve constantly searched out the most non-toxic alternatives for every product imaginable, and sometimes even made a few of my own.
But I’ve been lazy. Or too busy. Building a career and raising a family has made me more harried but being a mom has made me more worried. From diapers to teethers to toys, from lotions to soap to snacks, from bedding to pyjamas… I want to know I’m making a good choice when buying a product. I want to support the companies who have a triple bottom line. I’m willing to buy less and pay more for companies that care for something more than just profit. I imagine there must be a lot of people like me trying to navigate the insanity of what is good, what is not so good… and where the heck can I buy it online and have it delivered!
And so… the blog.