Are you a tree hugger? I am! In fact, I’ll proudly tell anyone who asks. While some people find it embarrassing to be labeled as such, I relish in my role as a bunny-loving, carrot munching, tree-hugging gal. I must admit, though, that I got sucked into the organic trend without giving it much thought.
Look in my bathroom and you’ll find organic shampoo, organic soap and even organic mascara. Open my fridge and it’s full of organic apples, organic oranges and even organic salad mix. Marketing execs love people like me! Slap an organic label on a product and I’ll buy it over the competitor’s non-organic version every time.
However, I say this as I hang my head in shame: I’ve been duped. Through a bit of self-induced research, I have found that just because a product is labeled organic, doesn’t mean that it is. I’m one of the gullible that believes whole-heartedly in the term “truth in advertising.” To those of you like me I say live and learn.To those of you who have yet to fall victim to the organic trend: good for you!
To buy or not to buy organic, that is the question. And here is the answer: buying organic can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing; the key is in knowing the difference.
Brace yourselves, dear readers: there is no such thing as organic furniture. There is recycled, reclaimed and sustainable furniture, but there is no piece of furniture on this earth that can claim to be organic. When looking at furniture that is labeled as being organic, what you are looking at is furniture that has been finished, stuffed and covered with materials that are organic. While it is often a more non-toxic option, you may be doing the planet a favor by purchasing reclaimed or recycled furniture instead.
There are some foods that you should purchase organically and some that don’t make a whole heck of a lot of difference. Organic foods that should be on your shopping list include fruits and vegetables with thin skins, milk and meat. In addition, look for fair trade coffees and chocolates. Fruits and vegetables with thick skins or layers can be safely purchased whether they are organic or not.
If you have a few extra dollars in your wallet, buying organic clothing makes good sense. Cotton is a crop that is heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. In addition, chlorine bleach and formaldehyde are used to treat the finished garment. Both of these chemicals are incredibly harmful to the environment. Organic, untreated, cotton clothing allows the skin to breathe and, the good news is, the untreated clothing often lasts longer than its counterparts.
Don’t be a dummy, like me, when it comes to cosmetics. There is no standard in the industry when it comes to labeling. The most chemically laden products can be labeled organic, natural and hypoallergenic at the producer’s whim. A shampoo may contain a single organic ingredient and be filled to the brim with harmful chemicals, yet still labeled as “organic.” Don’t mistake me: there’s nothing wrong with buying cosmetics that are labeled organic; just know what it is that you’re spending your money on.
Part of being a responsible tree hugger is making smart purchases. Do some research and find out the differences between organic, green, natural and hypoallergenic. Once you understand how they can be different, and how they can be the same, you’ll be able to make smarter choices with your money. There’s dignity in helping the planet; just make sure you’re actually helping it!
Lindsey Harris is an Eco-interior decorator and blogs for erikorganic.com, from bed frames to dining room tables, if you’re looking for custom hand-made furniture you’re sure to find what you want at Erik Organic.