3 Simple Strategies to go Natural| Non-Toxic | Green without Going Broke

A few years ago, I had a very large ovarian cyst on top of my left ovary.  Most cysts disappear without any fanfare, but some morph into the size of a golf ball or larger. 

I’d had a large cyst on my right ovary too, except I didn’t know about until my ovary twisted underneath its weight. Doctors had to remove that cyst and my right ovary. I wanted to keep my left one, so I begged my doctor to give me some kind of medication to nuke the cystic enemy. He wouldn’t. The plan was to watch and wait.

While waiting for the next appointment, I consulted my friend, “The Internet”, which is usually a bad idea after seeing the doctor. But among the articles about how I was probably going to die soon, I came across several tips for naturally shrinking ovarian cysts. Until that point, I’d only dabbled in the natural/organic lifestyle, buying a few things here and there.  And since I have a chronic illness that I take 15 pills a day for I’ve never believed in the magical healing powers of chemical-free anything. With another large cyst threatening my remaining ovary, I was willing to try anything.

My cyst-reducing regimen required that I eat only organic meat and dairy. I had to stop using soap and lotions containing parabens and phthalates. I started adding something called maca to my smoothies. Then every night, I rubbed castor oil on my stomach, covered it with a towel and a heating pad, and sat on the couch for an hour sipping organic liver detox tea.

I had my follow-up ultrasound appointment six weeks after starting the regimen. I had hoped my efforts would lead to something positive, but I also wanted the doctor to give me medication for my peace of mind. I was worried he wouldn’t do that even if the cyst was still there. But surprisingly, the cyst WASN’T there. It evaporated. As he predicted, the cyst went away on its own…or did it…??

I’ll never know if anything I did had an effect on that cyst. But I realized something in all of this: I like being more intentional about what I eat and use on my body. I can make the one choice or take the small step in doing what I feel is right, and it can feel pretty damn good to have that kind of power. I’ve slowly added more natural and organic products, along with some more  “green and reusable items, to my life. I say slowly because these thangs ain’t cheap! If you’re considering a move toward a greener lifestyle, here’s what I recommend:

Prioritize. Consider why you want to bring more natural products into your life, and let that guide your actions.  Maybe you’re hoping to see a change in your skin or hair.  Maybe you want to conserve energy or support small organic farmers. Setting your “green” priorities will help you focus on finding something you really like using and help you manage your budget early.

If you want to eat more organic foods, for example, but are put off by high price tag, start by buying the organic versions of foods known to absorb more pesticides. Eventually, you can add on more. Nowadays, three quarters of the stuff I buy at the grocery store is organic or natural. Except for potato chips. No amount of organic labeling will make me feel better about spending more on a deep fried potato.

Use it then replace it.  From quitting a bad habit cold-turkey to diving into a seven-day exercise regimen after years of being a professional couch-potato, it’s hard to resist going all in on a new routine. It makes for a great “sports movie training montage. But that mentality is also why I have a bag filled with yarn and several knitting books that I will never use again.

Resist the urge to do a massive dump of all your non-natural stuff and then blindly order $500 worth of new products.  I don’t want you to end up with a pantry or medicine cabinet filled with EXPENSIVE things that you don’t like.

Unless you really can’t stand what you’re using/eating right now, use it up, then replace it with its natural/organic or “green” alternative. I finally did this with my body lotion, toothpaste and plastic snack baggies.

This method prevents you from letting something you already purchased go to waste and gives you time to research potential replacement items.

Remember why you’re doing this. Greening up your lifestyle isn’t easy. The biggest challenges for me have been financial and mental. The mental hurdle was the most difficult to get over. If your family members or friends are like some of mine, then you’ll hear many versions of “Why do you bother spending all that money on that organic stuff? It won’t make a difference!” And at the start of this journey, I told myself that I shouldn’t bother doing anything if I wasn’t planning to throw EVERYTHING out.

The criticisms will come and you’ll have to rearrange some areas of your budget. Just remind yourself of why you took this on. I want to feel better about the food I’m eating and products I’m using. I want to support companies that care about improving the environment and public health.

I’ll never be a “natural nazi.” I still eat handfuls of non-organic candy every day. I still use paper towels. I also haven’t given up my conventional deodorant. After finally finding something to put my years of being the “funky pre-teen” behind me, I have no immediate plans to venture into the natural deodorant world.  But I believe that if more of us show a small amount of interest and put just one dollar toward natural/organic and reusable products, one day it will be easier and more affordable for everyone to make these types of choices.

Jewel Edwards-Ashman is a writer, editor and aspiring YouTube hip-hop dancing sensation. She’s an INFJ who loves getting into deep conversations about health care, money and the best ways to prepare the perfect roast chicken.

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