Organic vs. Chemistry: a tale of not-so-dramatic duplicity

My ongoing journey on the “Organic Mommy” trail is a long and winding road littered with countless magazine articles, blogs, and industry propaganda.  To put it honestly: I’m pretty conflicted as to where I’m going to draw my personal line between organic/natural/non-toxic and convenient/cheap/easy.  Beacause really, while the former may eventually improve my family’s quality of life, the latter will help me maintain my sanity. 
 
But what makes me feel the need to choose?  Can I be All-Natural with a side of Better Living Through Chemistry?
 
When I was a kid, in the eighties, living with Mom and Dad – our city started a recycling program when I was in the fourth grade.  I clearly remember having an assembly in school about recycling, and learning about the little triangle with the arrows telling us to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”.  Our family was HUGE into recycling, following all of the rules, rinsing out all the cans and bottles, crushing large plastic bottles to save space in the bin, folding and tying all the cardboard, etc.  It became a habit, and after a while, the burden of the practice didn’t really impact our lives (unless you were the one who had to run the cans and bottles out to the bin in the February sleet).
  
When I went to college, I majored in engineering, chemical engineering to be specific, because I wanted to work with something called a fuel cell.  I think I read about them in National Geographic or something.  Don’t ask.  As a “ChemE” major, I had to take more classes in chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and laboratory chemistry than I even want to remember.  And classes on bioengineering and plastics engineering and fuel engineering.  My head swims just thinking about it. 
 
And now I’m a Mom.  And every time I scrub the heck out of the bathtub with some abrasive bleach cleaner, I try not to think of my baby’s bum sitting on that scrubbed, bleached surface.  And what if I didn’t rinse it as well as I thought I did?  Eeek. 

But are natural and/or homemade cleaners as effective?  Will things get clean enough?  And what should I use?  And, after all the research and pondering, will switching to more natural products save me money?  How much time will this cost? 
 
So, Readers, I present to you my first Big Sister challenge: I will (not so) slowly and selectively change my ways and introduce natural cleaning products into my family’s life and document my successes and failures with you.  I’ll be sure to include my products of choice and how much they cost (both time and materials, of course).   Stay tuned: first up, the kitchen!

In the meantime, check out some of my research and the links in this post, let me know what you think – any ideas?

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