A newspaper reporter asked me today by email to confirm that, among other measures, we stopped using toothpaste and started using baking soda to brush our teeth. She also asked why. Here is what I said (in slightly improved words):
We're taking actions now that I'm pretty sure are sound but for which I don't yet have the science. Things are moving too fast to research everything as it happens, though of course I will fill in the blanks later. We’re making a virtual lifetime of changes in only one year.
But, yes, as of yesterday, baking soda entered the picture to brush teeth and use as deodorant and also as a major ingredient for a lot of our coming homemade cleaning products. No plastic and zinc tubes. No carcinogens (which there are in toothpaste). No petroleum products. No label saying "do not swallow and if you do call the national poisons hotline." No worrying about Isabella getting into it. And no being subject to a lot of marketing and advertising.
At this point, some changes we make are more philosophical than scientific. Remember, we're taking our lives apart to put back together again. It’s not that we’re necessarily doing this forever. No Impact Man is an experiment. All the same, toothpaste comes in a box and a tube and baking soda is just in a box, and it will last way longer than any toothpaste tube. Plus, the box is recyclable and the tube is not.
We're moving and changing so fast that I may be making mistakes that we'll have to correct later when some expert who knows a lot more than me tells me I'm an idiot, which of course I am because I'm just a schlub, like everyone else, trying to negotiate through spin and counter-spin to do the right thing.
One really important point I want to make is that the science is confusing about a lot of this stuff. There are studies and counter studies. It's easier just to consume less product than to try to figure out what is okay and what is not.
It is also sometimes easier to go by the gut instead of the head. Though the studies (paid for by Proctor and Gamble, I’m told) say that disposable diapers are no worse for the environment than cloth diapers, doesn't your gut tell you that millions and millions of plastic diapers in the landfill and produced from petroleum can't be right? Also, the study did not account for the fact that cloth diapers can be used for more than one child or that some people wash them and let them hang dry etc. So how do you negotiate when everybody is so enamored of science that is manipulated?
That is why I trust my gut in these things. That is why baking soda is the new toothpaste! And yes, I've hereby turned into a freaking nut!
Anybody out there want to contradict the bit about me being a nut by affirming the baking soda decision and saying why it’s the right move?
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.