Deodorant. Shampoo. Conditioner. Hair spray. Makeup. Moisturizer. Perfume. Shaving cream. All staples in the average adolescent girl’s life.
Fitting into this category, of course, I have become well acquainted with each and every one of these products. Unlike your average teenage girl, however, I have not spent my afternoons at the mall spraying myself with tester perfumes and surveying the hair care aisle for the magical shampoo that can turn my straight lifeless hair into a thick, lush ‘do.
No, throughout high school I was never able to indulge in such an afternoon. You see, I grew up in a chemical-free zone; my mother, Care2′s executive editor Annie B. Bond, is chemically sensitive and a world expert on green living.
If I walked into the house after being in the presence of someone wearing strong perfume, I immediately had to change my clothes and throw the old ones outside to air off. I shopped at the health food store; all of my body care products were fragrance free, chemical free, and made from purely natural ingredients.
Sounds not so fun, right? But “normal” products simply could not be in the house, or they would make my mom sick. As I got older, I began to understand more about this way of life, realizing that perhaps it was not a curse but rather a blessing. However, I was (and still am) a normal teenager. I would live for vacations with friends when I could use Herbal Essences shampoo for a week and wear deodorant that was not purchased at Mother Earth. It’s not that I resented having to live without these things, but more so that I felt almost out of place among my friends, who relied so intrinsically upon commercial products.
Now, 19 and a freshman in college, I’m on my own. No more natural shampoo! Finally, the chance to live that commercially influenced life that I have so envied.
Ironically, I’ve found that I simply can’t do it, not when I know what I do about its dangers. My friends, new and old, don’t understand why I would choose to continue using natural products. They look at green living and see tree-huggers, eccentric people who live in the woods and don’t shower, crazy activists, fortunetellers—they see the stereotype.
How am I supposed to take that? I shower. I don’t tell your fortune. I don’t wear hemp. If you didn’t know me very well, you wouldn’t have any idea that I use green products. I’m not here to be an activist. I’m here to show that the natural lifestyle does not mean you have to fit its stereotype.
That’s why my friends don’t understand my choices, I think: because I am not the stereotype. The more I let them see that, the more they understand. Green living simply means letting go of commercial products and instead choosing ones that will not give you cancer or disrupt your endocrine system.
If you don’t smoke because you don’t want the diseases that go along with it, take a minute and decide if you want to keep using shampoo that can give you cancer anyway.
Green is not something to fear; it’s simply self-respect. So don’t shy away because you fear the unknown; respect your future, respect your life. It’s time to defy the stereotype.
Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a freshman at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.
MORE ADVENTURES OF GREEN GIRL
The Adventures of Green Girl
The Adventures of Green Girl home page.