Thoughtful Consumerism

Posted by Elise Muller on

I’ve always loved nature. I value its beauty and nourishment and depend on the natural world for my personal well-being and my ability to offer an organic, pure plant based skincare line.   As we witness the corporate and chemical pollution of our natural resources, the extinction of wildlife and the exploitation of Indigenous lands, I'm surprised and also saddened when I hear someone say "organic is expensive".   To understand the opinions “organic is expensive (vs.) organic practices are inexpensive” I researched the impact both opinions have on our resources and communities and the following facts reveal our opinions.   Although I'm in the organic personal care industry and adhere to organic, sustainable and fair trade practices, I've included the food and clothing industries in my research.  

Corporate (GMO) farming - considered "inexpensive"

Food produced by large corporations (factory farms) is at times tainted causing severe illness and death. Although tainted food is vile, the conditions in which factory farms are maintained are horrific. (Although I choose not to detail the conditions of animals living in factory farms, if you have the stomach to view their conditions provides explicit examples). Due to consumer demand for inexpensive meat (think McDonalds) the rainforest has been continually clear cut so their "meat" can graze. In clear cutting the rainforest Indigenous people have lost their ancestral lands, traditional way of life and bear witness to the destruction of their resources on a daily basis. Perhaps one of the most informative insights regarding Indigenous cultures & the Rainforest is the following Ted Talk given by Mark Plotkin. Please take time to view, it’s truly exceptional and as Mark notes “once we’ve lost the Rainforest, its medicinal plants & traditional knowledge held by its people, it’s gone forever”. Science has yet to catch up with the Shamans and their knowledge of medicinal plants and healing.



Supporting local farms (not produced in China) - considered "expensive"


Organic food & farming practices: many years ago I vended at a farm market and the farmer across from me had a 6‘ sign on which he wrote ""You think it's expensive" and then listed the yearlong endeavors and costs requiring him to offer organic produce to his local community and sustain local resources. I've never forgotten him and as a fellow organic purveyor, gardener and producer, unless one has planted a seed and cultivated land for many years until its vital enough to produce food while bearing its hardships and expense to ultimately witness its beauty and ability to feed a community, please reconsider "organic is expensive". An organic farmer anywhere in the world could easily post a 6' board of their labors and costs to provide non-toxic food and plant based ingredients to those considering their heart-felt endeavors "expensive".  

Walmart = China = “inexpensive” food


China has an unusually troubling record when it comes to food safety and specific instances include: dangerously high levels of mercury found in baby formula, more than 16,000 diseased pig carcasses dumped in a river to rot, more than $1 million worth of rat and other small mammal meat sold to consumers as lamb, and more than 300,000 children sickened (with several dying) from melamine-tainted milk powder. (Am I the only one considering it odd that most everything consumers now purchase is made in China because it’s “inexpensive”)?  

Fair Trade / Ethical practices – considered “expensive”


Organic businesses support the health and well-being of all people, never engage in practices that exploit and hold everyone’s homeland in the highest regard. Our footprints are gentle, we plant and craft with care and believe all people should have safe working conditions with a price point they deem appropriate (we don’t decide their price, they do). As an example, my suppliers and I are pleased to pay women’s co-operatives their fee which enables them to send their children to school. Ethical businesses don’t consider protecting natural resources or children’s lives to be expensive. Personally speaking, many of the ingredients that I procure are cultivated and harvested in various countries by women's cooperatives and small organic family farms; I believe anyone cultivating their resources on the world's behalf deserves our respect and our support ~ they are up against Monsanto, the Oil industry and multi-national corporations and we've witnessed the heartache and destruction they leave in their wake.  

Inexpensive items are “inexpensive” due to outsourcing, chemical interventions, political corruption, indigenous exploitation & the pollution of air, water and land



Out-Sourced Manufacturing of Clothing


Lord knows we love fashion but unfortunately the countries actually producing fashion (think sweat shops) have their rivers and drinking water polluted along with the destruction of wildlife habitats and the health of its people. Fact: “from China to Bangladesh, rivers run purple, blue and black with waste from garment factories. Locals say they can tell what colors are in fashion by looking at the river. Meanwhile, the air is so thick with toxic fumes it causes regular nosebleeds, fainting, and retching- especially in children”. If you would like to see a river in full chemical color and read the article:  

Inexpensive Personal Care Products

Manufactured by machines, laced with chemicals (some of which) are found in tumors of Breast Cancer; other ingredients are employed by the automotive industry (poly-fill, plastic and preservatives). If you want “inexpensive” personal care products and a complexion resembling a restored '57 Chevy with a side of Breast cancer, shop inexpensive. If you want a soft, nourished and radiant complexion for less the .05/cents a day (considered expensive) here’s another option  

The Good News


As our purchasing power is extremely powerful below are numerous organizations working to heighten awareness to ethical trade and manufacturing practices, organic and sustainable farming practices and human rights issues. Although these companies care deeply about our world it’s difficult for them to go up against corporations, lobbyists and a corrupt congress without our support. If you’d like to make your purchasing power extremely powerful or delve more deeply into these issues, here’s some goodness going 'round …   Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to local communities and the environment   Edible Magazine one of my favorite resources - enter your zip code for the publication featuring your region   Find local farm markets   Toxic ingredients corporations are hiding in food   Our impact on other cultures   Clothing and Fair Trade:   Non-toxic personal care: and   Cool Earth a charity that works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction (a donation of $11.00 saves a tree).  

Elise Muller, Proprietor / Artisan / Gardener / Lover of Wildlife

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