You people like to send me things that fall into two categories:
1. Things I cannot afford.
2. Things to demonstrate the extent to which my life is sad.
This 1884, Italianate mansion in Savannah, has a listing price of $3.5 million dollars… and if you look through the house tour, at some point you will ask yourself this: WHAT did they do to their floors to make them so shiny?
Is it paint?
Is it lacquer?
Is it the general patina of the physical manifestation of privilege?
You might also ask yourself: why is there a Vuitton valise displayed coyly at the end of the bed? Doesn’t this seem a little gauche and try-hard?
Do these people not understand that anyone viewing the photos knows YOU HAVE SEVEN BATHROOMS… we can see that you have already won life and can definitely afford to over-pay for a suitcase.
Molding envy aside, I was able to take a small amount of comfort that their furniture is mysteriously generic… I mean, tasteful and all, but like they bought everything from the Horchow catalog.
This is unfathomable to me, because if I could afford a $3 million home… I could also afford to fill it with the most magnificent antiques in the entire world. (Also, I could pay people to live my life for me so that I was not required to leave my house.)
A Season of Splendor: The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York: I’ve read this book at least 5 times, and it’s still my favorite of the Gilded Age genre; it’s an amazing slice of American (and architectural) history.
Some 500 workers from Europe had labored for seven years crafting the cavernous rooms from rare marbles, mosaics, and imported woods. The ceilings –even in the bedrooms– were an astonishing 19 feet high.
26 bedrooms, 31 bathrooms, 5 art galleries… and below the basement’s Turkish baths and swimming pool, a railroad spur brought in coal for the furnace which burned 7 tons on a typical day not only for heat but also to power two elevators, the cold storage plant, the air filtration plant, and the 4,200 light bulbs.
I recently finished Empty Mansions, which was great. (I had already read The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark which is essentially the same story as Empty Mansions, but I liked both of them.)
If this is your thing, I also recommended The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home I wrote a whole post about it, back when I was still figuring out what my blog would look like.
Now. Please enjoy this photo of Elvis while I assemble my soapbox.
Products WITHOUT toxic chemicals are BETTER for you.
What we think of as fragrances, or suds, or staying-power, or stain-remover; in everything from lotion, hair products, cosmetics, deodorant, candles, detergent, perfume, all-purpose cleaners… are ACTUALLY chemicals; industrial chemicals.
- U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors.
- Dioxin, Formaldehyde, Triclosan, cocamide DEA, phthalates, parabens… the list is endless.
- And they are present in everything from BABY shampoo, to cosmetics, to laundry products, to perfume.
Just one example is the Washington University analysis of leading laundry products (detergents, dryer sheets, fabric softeners) which found MORE than 25 volatile compounds… including acetaldehyde and benzene; which are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens with no safe level of exposure.
Is this reasonable?
Because it does not SEEM reasonable.
If a product causes cancer, WHY do we want it in our homes, worn on our bodies, rubbed into our skin? I DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWER TO THESE QUESTIONS.
I’m not sure why no one has come up with a solution yet, but I have one: how about we JUST NOT USE TOXIC SLUDGE?
That toxic sludge has a secondary impact: in the United States, it’s tested on animals.
“Consumers are largely unaware that sentient creatures are still poisoned for the sake of new shampoo and lipstick.”– The Humane Society of the United States
Did you know that EVERY country in the European Union OUTLAWS cosmetic and household-product testing on animals as cruel and unnecessary? Yet the United States continues to allow corporations to dictate our values.
- Animals in US laboratories are exempt from animal cruelty laws.
- Legal tests include burning, poisoning, starving, forced inhalation, mutilating, blinding, electrocuting, drowning, and dissecting/amputation/surgery without painkillers.
- There are over 80,000 ingredients that companies can choose from to formulate their products– ingredients that don’t need to be tested on animals, because they’ve already been proven to be safe.
- Animal testing is funded with tax dollars, and it is a very lucrative business: delivering grants to universities, huge profits to pharmaceutical and chemical corporations, and funding for government agencies.
You can make a difference:
- VOTE WITH YOUR PURCHASES… even though your current shampoo/laundry soap/bodywash is past the animal-testing phase, it STILL contains toxins, AND you’re still supporting a company who is in the business of testing NEW products on animals… Instead, choose to support companies whose values align with yours!
- TELL OTHER PEOPLE! Educate your family and friends on the cruelty of animal-testing AND the lunacy of buying products that are toxic!
- SIGN PETITIONS… support the Humane Society’s efforts to pass the Federal Bill to End Cosmetics Testing on Animals… This is incredibly important, and YOUR VOICE MATTERS! (The Humane Society International was responsible for creating the change that resulted in an EU-wide ban!) Calling and writing to your representatives will make a difference… Here is a PETA petition.
Let’s say Unilever wants to create a new oven cleaner, shampoo, or laundry detergent… NOT because the world needs more of those things, but because sales and marketing are driven by new products, advertising, and increasing market share.
For fun, Unilever decides to use some new toxic substance because they are owned by Dow chemical (which just merged with DuPont chemical)… because chemical companies are in the business of making new chemicals!
***veers into conspiracy theorist lunatic ranting***arrives at shouting about how Monsanto’s board of directors includes CO’s of Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble***shakes fists***pulls own hair***redirects***
Almost every brand sold in America is owned by one of a few BIG corporations.
- THEY ALL TEST ON ANIMALS.
- They all sell you stuff with toxins.
- Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Unilever, and Dial/Henkel.
Instead! CHOOSE COMPANIES WHO ARE NOT EVIL SCOURGE OF THE EARTH, (as proven by my own strong opinions and also their willingness to put carcinogens in baby shampoo.)
Educate yourself! Big corporations are in the business of SELLING YOU STUFF. They have great marketing, huge budgets for lobbying, and a core interest in profit… they have figured out that a shampoo named Herbal Essence will sell WAY BETTER than a shampoo named Chemical Solvent Also In Pesticides.
This is called “green washing.” AND IT WORKS… Until you become aware of it.
- Greenwashing is the appropriation of environmental virtue by a company or industry, to create a pro-environmental image, to sell a product.
- The phenomena of socially and environmentally destructive corporations, attempting to preserve and expand their markets or power by posing as friends of the environment.
You can look for the leaping bunny certification… the one on the left is the most common and they also have an app (same as above I linked… NOTE: companies who are owned by parent companies who are NOT cruelty-free are annotated with a colored square.)
- Seventh generation dish soap & laundry, (I buy it at the grocery store.)
- Alba Botanica body lotion (that’s a giant bottle, it’s cheapest online, but also avaliable at the grocery store)
- Whole Foods brand shampoo/conditioner comes in a big bottle and is super cheap, (I stock up during their 4x annual 25% off body products.)
- Crazy/delightful Dr. Bronners. I like almond for bathsoap/handsoap, (I cannot find a good price online… it should be about $12 for a 32oz bottle, which goes a LONG way… weirdly, the best price near me is at Bed Bath Beyond with a coupon; I go there every few months and buy all they have.)
Alright. I know you are sad this post isn’t longer with more links. But I still have one more thing to say:
Transitioning your home to a cruelty-free place, where you reduce your exposure to toxins, will take a little bit of time and research, but the benefits are huge. For you, for your family, for the animals, for the environment.