This is about my tireless pursuit of vetting every product before it enters my house. I have three criteria for anything we buy, borrow or receive: needed, non-toxic, and aesthetically pleasing. Believe it or not, it is really hard to meet all three, especially in regards to baby and child products. While these standards create more effort on the front end, the result is a higher quality product, not to mention the vast reduction in impulse buys.
Needed is my first priority because if it isn’t truly needed, it should not be in our house anyway. This plays into our family goal of leading a life that leans toward minimalism. We want to be sure we are spending our time and our money on what means most to us in life: family and friends, learning and experiences … not things.
Non-toxic is my second priority. Health has always been a central part of my life, but before I became pregnant with our first child, I kicked it up a notch and focused greater attention on eliminating the toxins in our “personal environment” (that’s the phrase I came up with to describe the food, personal care products, furniture, cleaners, etc that are most prevalent in our homes, workplaces and daily lives). It takes time and research, and unfortunately these items are often more expensive, but to me it is a blessing to be so selective.
Aesthetics, while third, are no less important to me. Anything we bring into our lives is an opportunity for beauty (or so practical that there is beauty in that, as well). This doesn’t mean expensive. Some of our most treasured things are hand-me-downs or from estate sales. The famous William Morris quote is something I hold dear: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
There are times we must compromise on these ideals, and there are certainly plenty of exceptions (cut flowers are not needed but that won’t stop me from buying them for our family to enjoy!). We appreciate leading a life with fewer, but better, things—better meaning healthier, locally produced, attractive and/or well made, and to us the extra effort is worth it.