In a word... NO!!!
Honestly, I don't think it has to come down to that. I believe that frugality includes the ability to be creative, to think outside of the box, to cheerfully go without certain things or substitute items for others. It includes carefully weighing quality and cost and determining what is the best value.
Allow me to share a thought process that I often go through. "Hmmm, that's more than I wanted to pay for that natural shampoo (or fill in the blank). I could just get it cheaper if I bought a regular shampoo on sale. Would that be the best use of my money, though? In the big scheme of things, it's an extra couple of dollars, but it means that I have to compromise my standards and use something that I consider to be dangerous for my family. Isn't frugality also about careful management of my resources- determining what is the best value for my husband's hard earned dollar, rather than just buying something because it is the cheapest?"
My mother-in-law has a wise saying that I have adopted as my own. When it comes to your health, either you pay now, or you pay later. It's as simple as that.
We can focus on the pennies, and buy cheap items that are not beneficial to our health, thus compromising our stewardship of our bodies, or we can determine what a balanced approach would look like, keeping in mind that the dollar should not always be the bottom line.
That said, let me discuss what a balanced approach looks like in our home.
1) It is simple. My counter is not overflowing with lotions, makeup, hair styling goop, and the like. I do still have a few items that I am slowly phasing out, but honestly, I barely even use them anymore. We have our basics- deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, body lotion. I have some simple makeup that I wear occasionally, and a few perfumes that I am using up. I don't regularly wear nail polish, except a bit on my toes in the summer.
2) It is a process. As I've just mentioned, we have not changed over everything. We have been doing it slowly, over the last 3 years. We've been gradually weeding out our toxic cleaning supplies and toiletries, and bit by bit, replacing them with better alternatives. Don't expect to do it overnight. Make a list of priorities, and start this month with perhaps 2 items on your list. Then next month, add one more. And one more the next. And so on, until you have completely switched over.
3) It is balanced. Currently, we are purchasing a natural brand toothpaste, which has one ingredient that I do not love. However, through my co-op it is hands down cheaper than any other natural toothpaste I can get. So at the moment, it will have to do. Ultimately, I will find something else, but as Fly Lady always says, baby steps.
4) It is thrifty. I do not just go the the health food store and buy whatever is on the shelf. I research, I scour different stores, I use my co-op (excellent prices!), I look online, I stock up when items are on sale. I find the best product for the best price.
So what do we use and what kind of prices do I pay?
Here's a basic list of what we have in the house right now:
- J/A/S/O/N shampoo and conditioner- $5 each, Walmart
- Nature's Gate toothpaste- $2.35, Azure (Co-op)
- Dr. Bronner's Hemp Liquid Soaps (body soap)- $3, very concentrated, Azure
- J/A/S/O/N body lotion- $7 (local grocery store)
- Weleda diaper care cream- $2.5, Azure
- Burt's Bees hand cream- gift (lucky me)
- Ombra Mild Chamomile Dedorant- $3 (local grocery store)- it's not perfectly natural, but no aluminum, and one of the few that works for me in summer. In winter I switch to a more natural brand, like J/A/S/O/N or Avalon, around $4 each, Azure (and my husband is still using a regular deodorant, because we stocked up at one point and want to finish using those ones first)
The next areas that I am looking to improve in are a tear-free children's shampoo (currently I just use a few drops of the hemp soap), and some natural foundation for myself, then deodorant for my hubby. As I said, baby steps. We can't do it all at once, and my guess is that neither can you.
But, our family's health is so very worth it! We have been given the responsibility to steward our bodies, and to care for our children, to the glory of God! Let us use our resources wisely, remembering that frugality is about wise stewardship and management, and not always buying the cheapest of the cheap.