Monday, July 4, 2011
When Home is... Living with Environmentally-Friendly Solutions
When Paula Cowan first started buying the Solution Living brand (environmentally-friendly household, personal care and baby products) four years ago, it wasn’t just about helping the environment.
‘I did like the fact I was buying an environmentally-friendly choice that worked, but more than that I liked the way the products looked and smelled!’
After her daughter arrived nearly two years ago, Paula realised how much more waste you can easily create having children and began to think of ways to reduce, recycle and reuse at home. Combined with the opportunity to buy the Solution Living business in December last year, she was forced to clarify even further her thoughts about consumerism.
‘Owning the business has made me research more environmentally-friendly ways to live and question the choices I make. What really are the benefits of using these household products? I needed to understand the science behind it which has led to a re-education.’
This re-education has also led to learning more about the manufacture of products before we even buy them.
‘I like to think of it as upstream and downstream,’ says Paula, ‘We’re all well-educated to what happens downstream; we know what certain chemicals do to our skin and we know how to recycle plastic and paper packaging, as well as the consequences of washing these products down the sink.’
‘Slowly we’re becoming better educated on what happens upstream: what actually goes into our products. We already understand more about what really happens to our food before we eat it and now we are learning about what goes into our laundry, dishwashing, cleaning and personal care products.’
What goes into the Solution Living products are plant extracts and renewable sources so the overall impact on the planet is small in manufacture, use and disposal.
Today, Paula thinks we are all on a path of understanding our environmental impact and is always interested in listening to the range of understanding her customers have. Some have specific reasons for wanting to buy the products – perhaps they have sensitive skin or have a family member with allergies – while other customers are actively looking for as many environmentally-friendly alternatives as they can find.
In her own house, aside from using any environmentally-friendly alternative for cleaning, personal hygiene and nappies, she and her husband have also made the choice to buy a diesel car. They compost and recycle and plan to get solar panels and a water tank installed.
They have recently moved to a larger fixer-upper house and these changes will all be made slowly. As Paula says, ‘trying to live completely environmentally-friendly is overwhelming whereas incremental changes are more sustainable.’
Paula and I both grew up during a time when environmentally-friendly products were expensive, didn’t work as well or smell as good. Recycling was only just starting to be considered important and I don’t even remember the word ‘organic’ being used in relation to food or cotton or anything.
Today our children are growing up with separate bins for waste, paper and glass at home as well as in their parks and other public spaces. They know which food scraps go into the compost bin and despite living in the middle of a city understand the concepts of worm farms and vege patches.
But, unlike Paula, I hadn’t really become a conscious consumer when it came to household products. Ned and I recently visited her Solution Living stall at Sunday’s Frenchs Forest Organic Market and he spotted the bubble bath. At home we were still using Johnson & Johnson soap free and I hadn’t really thought about changing over.
Ned insisted we try the lavender bubble bath and that night the kids enjoyed more bubbles from one squirt than I would have thought possible. They were happy, clean and smelled good too.
The J&J bottle still sits half full on the side of the bath because every night the children ask for the ‘really bubbly bubble bath’. No wonder it is Paula’s biggest seller.
Yes, incremental changes are happening in this house too... one bottle of bubble bath at a time.
For more information about Solution Living, visit the website here.
To read about how Paula and her family live in an environmentally-friendly way at home, visit her blog here.
All photos © Paula Cowan