Reject Consumerism: Become a 'Radical Homemaker'

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Every now and then I run across a book that has a profound impact on my life. Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, by Shannon Hayes is one of those books.

I hadn't even finished the introduction when I stopped reading and found a highlighter. I haven't highlighted a book in a long time. But I highlighted this one.

Initially I was worried that this would be another book that made me feel guilty for not doing enough to reduce waste, eat whole foods, support local, organic agriculture, reduce chemicals in our home, and so on. I do a lot but I know I could do more. I was worried it would make me feel not good enough. I was worried it would make me feel like a hypocrite because my actions do not always live up to my beliefs.   

I was wrong. It was inspiring.

The back cover blurb describes Radical Homemakers:

"About men and women...who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act; who center their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism; where domination and oppression are cast aside, where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude."

In light of the fact that I've been feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled by laundry and dish washing and trying to figure out who I am as a stay-at-home-mom, I came across this book at the perfect time.

Radical Homemakers reminded me that I'm not crazy. My husband and I are not alone in our desire to remove ourselves from the excessive consumer culture that is currently prevalent in the United States. We're not going to buy land and move off the grid tomorrow but there are so many other possibilities. With a little creativity just about anything can happen.

Perhaps someday we'll be living on a boat again, using solar energy, and producing a substantial amount of our own food in a community gardening space...

I can dream, right?

Every effort I make to learn new skills and make things at home instead of buying it in a store (i.e. bread, yogurt, sewing, vegetable gardening, laundry soap) is a step in the right direction--a step toward producing and not consuming. Everything we make at home is one less thing we have to buy in a store. And as I develop more contacts throughout our community we can increase the number of ingredients we get from alternative sources and further remove ourselves from mainstream consumerism.

But that is just a small part of it. Radical Homemakers helped me articulate the reasons I've been on an emotional roller coaster since I've been staying home. It helped me formulate a plan to get off that roller coaster, embrace the reasons I want to be home with my daughter, and to let go of other people's judgments. I know that sounds incredibly vague...but I think all that is best saved for another post. It's going to be a process. 

Like I said, I found Radical Homemakers inspiring. Instead of feeling bad because of what I'm not doing already, the book gave me that last bit of motivation I needed to take the next step. It made me feel like every little bit counts.

My first plan of action to embrace my inner radical homemaker is to replace all my beauty and cleaning products with natural, homemade alternatives.  

Here's what I'm going to be trying starting today...

Face wash/lotion: The Oil Cleansing Method. I was a little concerned about the castor oil making me gag (since I used it to induce labor when my daughter was born) but so far so good.

Body wash: Homemade Liquid Soap (it's made from a bar of castile soap and it's much less expensive than buying the liquid castile soap to begin with and it's a little thicker. I had an old Dr. Bronner's bottle I refilled).

Body scrub: Lemon-salt scrub. I've been using this one for a few months and I love it.
Shampoo/condition: Yes, I'm going to try the baking soda/water method with a vinegar rise. As a back-up, I'm planning to make this shampoo bar. I suspect my husband will prefer it over the rinse.

Hairspray: Sugar water in a spray bottle...She says it doesn't attract bees so I'm going to give it a try.

Emily Stash

Here is my stash. It took me about 15 minutes to make everything yesterday afternoon (not counting the time the liquid soap needed to sit). Do you like the ketchup and mustard bottles for my "shampoo" and "condition"? Squirt bottles were recommended and they were the only ones I could find at the store near our house. If nothing else it makes me laugh.

I'll let you know how I'm doing in a week or so. Next up, cleaning supplies.

Have you used homemade beauty products? What are your favorite recipes?


Originally posted at S.A.H.M. i AM.

Photos by Emily Sefcik.


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