Sunday, March 20, 2016


Dupe (transitive verb)
trick someone; to persuade or induce somebody to do something by trickery or deception

How many things – products, electronics, drugs…things – do we own that we can probably live without? What things to we use, take, eat that we could eliminate and be healthier for the effort?

Every time we turn on the television or the radio, we are inundated with advertisements. Same with the computer. Companies exist to sell stuff – and they want to sell it to as many people as possible, especially YOU.

There are cleaning products especially designed for the face, for the hair, for the body, for teeth, for glass products, wood products, the car, the floors, the dog, leather, vinyl, jewelry, our sturdy clothes, our delicate clothes, the baby, the carpet, the vegetables, the drain, the bathtub, the toilet.

There are products that promise to get rid of wrinkles, help us lose weight, build our muscles or teach us a new language in only ten minutes a day, boost memory, or heal toenail fungus.

Most of them don’t perform as promised.

And then there are the drug companies, pushing their wares on television and radio with happy, soft spoken people, all the while listing off a litany of dreadful side effects, many of which are worse than the ailment their product is claiming to relieve. “Ask your doctor if Drug ABC is right for you.”

We are being duped!

I just purchased a product called “Everyone Soap” – 3 in 1 for hair, body, and bath (as in bubble bath), made from organic plant extracts. I asked myself, “Why not?” Why did I ever think I needed three different soaps to clean my body? Duped, that’s why. Now I have one bottle in my shower caddy instead of three.

Imagine the money you can save by not caving into the marketing hype. Do you think it’s possible that one cleaning solution would work as well for walls and floors and toilets and sinks? What about clothes? (How did our ancestors manage?)

Just last month I discovered how to stop underarm odor with baking soda! Seriously, did you know that such a universal problem had such a simple solution? And one that costs pennies?

I’m really grateful to the Primal Pit Paste people for making an organic deodorant, because a couple years ago when I made the decision to stop using the standard mix of toxic products available on the market, their product was the best organic alternative I could find for odor stopping power. It really works! But the other day when I looked at their active ingredient, I found that it is, in fact, baking soda. So, thank you, Pit Paste…but if that’s all there is to it, why would I not want to just make my own?

And so I did. My version is in powder form, because it’s simpler to make, but it is every bit as effective as the store-bought alternative. Here is the recipe:
·         1 part aluminum-free baking soda
·         2 parts corn starch or arrowroot powder (full-strength soda will irritate the skin, so always dilute with a neutral powder)
·         1/8 part Epsom salts (magnesium also has odor-fighting)
·         A few drops of your favorite essential oil
·         Sift together, work in the essential oil droplets with your fingers, and put into a shaker bottle (an empty spice jar works great).

It takes five minutes to make, and lasts a couple months unless you’re sharing it with someone. You actually CAN share it with someone, because the deodorant is being shaken out of the container onto one’s hand for application to the armpit – not applied directly to the body. (Caviat: It doesn’t stop perspiration, but then sweating is an important bodily function and perhaps shouldn’t be stopped anyway.)

Americans are being duped on a daily basis into believing they need things they don’t need. Of course companies have the Constitutional free-speech right to try to get you to buy their stuff. But there are two things that bother me.
1.    Most of the time the advertising claims are just plain false. Sometimes the deception is easy to see, but oftentimes it isn’t. How many processed food products can you think of that claim to be “healthy” or “all natural?” The very fact that they come in a cardboard box is enough to negate that claim.
2.    More often than we realize, the product is loaded with harmful ingredients such as toxic chemicals or hidden allergens.

The language of marketing is designed to deceive. If they told you the truth about their products, you would never buy them. And don’t depend on the government to keep businesses honest. Regulations give marketers plenty of leeway to make their false claims. As long as there are Washington lobbyists, laws will always tilt in favor of those who pay the most. (Hint:  It isn’t you and me.)

At the end of last year I began the project, once again, of simplifying my home and, in many ways, my life. It’s been an ongoing goal of mine for many years, and one in which I’ve had little success until recently. What changed?

I ran across a book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. Being the book junkie that I am, I thought, what the heck – I’ll check it out. I didn’t really expect to read anything new or different from all the other organizing books I’ve ever read. But I was surprised by a whole new way of thinking. The author’s methods were based not on how to organize what you have, but on learning how to know what to have and what to get rid of. I discovered that the clutter in my home was caused by junk I didn’t need. Who knew?

By the time I was done with the “tidying” project, I had learned something else along the way – how to think a little more critically when shopping.

“Do I really need this?”
“Are the claims on this product believable?”
“Can I accomplish the same thing with something I already have?”
“Will it simplify my life or just clutter it up?”
“Will it spark joy?”

These are some of the questions I now ask myself before I add another thing to my collection of things-- after reading labels of course. No doubt I’m still going to be duped from time to time. I am human, after all, and ever on the lookout for ways to make my life better, or easier, or more interesting.

But I’m onto them now. I’m wising up. I’m reading the fine print and between the lines. I will no longer be easily duped.

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