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Is Health For The Wealthy?


I once posted this question on our Instagram feed: “What do you want to learn about natural skincare, aromatherapy, and living your happiest, healthiest life?” We got loads of great responses, but one that really got my wheels turning was from a customer who asked why natural and organic products cost so much. She said:

“I know it’s not glamorous to say this, but sometimes it just feels like health is for the wealthy.”

I made myself stop and think about this question from a more neutral position than that of a physician and a green beauty brand owner. What if I were a single parent, struggling to support my family? What if I were a young person having a tough time in the job market? What if I were nearing retirement, and had to plan for life on a diminishing income? What if I had grown up in an environment that did not emphasize “natural” or “organic” and these labels had little meaning to me, other than a higher price tag? Considering all these angles, I’ll try to answer the question.

Organic food and products cost more because they’re harder to grow and more expensive to make. It’s really that simple! There’s a significant cost for a grower or farmer to become certified organic, but that’s not the biggest hurdle. Organic farmers have lower crop yields and smaller crops, and have to manage pests with time-consuming, natural methods like crop rotation, interplanting, and the use of ladybugs, rather than simply spraying a plant with toxic pesticides. Animals raised by organic standards are fed higher quality food, handled more humanely, and grow more slowly without growth hormones—a vastly more expensive way to raise animals.

As for the products you use on your skin and at home, I can tell you that my jaw sometimes drops when I see the cost of our raw materials. Don’t believe me? Google “organic rose otto essential oil” and check out the price for one little ounce. (When you’ve recovered from fainting, you can keep reading.) In order to run our company without compromising quality, we have to pass some of that cost to our customers, or we will end up as a failed business with a huge heart that did not make meaningful change for people and the planet. We don’t want that.

So, that’s an overview of why organic products cost more. But let’s move on to how you can still make healthier choices, even if your budget doesn’t allow a fully organic lifestyle.

There are so many ways to choose health—diet, exercise, cleaning products, personal care, meditation—and there’s a cost spectrum in each category. Here are some less expensive ways to maximize wellness.

AFFORDABLE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR DIET

  • Cook more, eat out less. When you start with real ingredients, you end up with real food in your belly, and you can use the leftovers for other meals later in the week.
  • Michael Pollan says it perfectly: “Eat food, less of it, mostly plants.”
  • Even if you can’t afford organic produce, you can still eat more produce, and cook it with healthier methods (steamed, not fried). Frozen produce is a great option; the vitamins and minerals are preserved and it's often relatively inexpensive. Brown rice, whole grains, and healthy fats can often be fairly affordable!
  • Make your own kefir or kombucha—it's not super expensive, and cultured foods are amazing for your digestion and your skin.

AFFORDABLE WAYS TO EXERCISE MORE

  • Invest 30 minutes a day in walking briskly. You don’t have to join a gym. Got kids? Walk with a stroller. Got a dog? They'll join you every time!
  • Try something like glo.com. It's relatively inexpensive with endless options, from pilates to yoga to breathing exercises, even if you’re a total beginner.
  • Strengthen your core. It costs $0, and so many problems (like back pain) stem from a weak core.
  • Sit in a chair without arms and, with your arms crossed over your chest, sit and stand as many times as you can in thirty seconds. Practice this whenever you can—studies have shown that a higher number points toward better health!

AFFORDABLE, HEALTHIER CLEANING PRODUCTS

  • Make your own! Baking soda, lemon juice, and white vinegar will clean your whole house, and are fairly inexpensive, especially if you purchase them in bulk.
  • Branch Basics makes a concentrate that you can use to make all sorts of products, from cleaning sprays to laundry detergent. I add a few drops of essential oil for some natural, fresh scents. 
  • At the very least, use unscented laundry detergent. You’d be wise to get rid of sodium laureth sulfate, as well, since it causes terrible skin problems (like perioral dermatitis and eczema) for so many folks. But if a natural brand feels too expensive, at least stop using the hormone-disrupting, fragranced ones—they likely contain phthalates, which are getting linked to more and more serious health problems. 

AFFORDABLE HEALTHIER PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS

  • Simplify your routines and stick with what works—you don't need 7 different cleansers, 8 lotions, 9 serums, and 10 face creams. Your skin will thank you for simplicity and consistency.
  • One bar of our Black Clay Facial Soap, made of the highest quality ingredients but packaged simply, is a powerhouse product that lasts for three to six months. For your body, a bar of our Naked Body Soap gets your skin clean and soft, and lasts months as well.
  • Make a lovely DIY body oil from sunflower (50%), olive (30%), almond (19%), and vitamin E (1%) oils. Use it on wet skin—you’ll never need lotion again!
  • Grow a pot of your own lavender, and infuse it in oil for some natural, gentle aromatherapy in your products. 
  • Make your own deodorant with coconut oil and baking soda.
  • Subscribe to our emails so you don't miss our sales—we have one for every season, and the savings can help!

AFFORDABLE MINDFULNESS PRACTICES

  • All you need is a chair or a pillow, and 5-30 minutes. Try a free app like Insight Timer if you need a jump start! Here's how I got started with meditation a few years ago, after resisting it for ages!
  • Slow down when you can, and multitask less. When we're multitasking, we're actually practicing distraction, which is more mindless than mindful. Even a few moments of focus when you're out for a walk, making a cup of tea, or taking a bath can tune you into your body and mind in a gentle way.
  • Start shifting how you speak to yourself in the mirror. We're all pretty tough on ourselves, and catching yourself in the act and replacing a critical thought with a loving one is a habit worth building!

I know there are TONS of expensive ways to live a healthy life, but I hope this list is a good reminder of all the beautifully simple ways to do it. And, while health is not just for the wealthy, it does require an investment of your time and intention. I'm not saying it's easy. But, if it's important to you, then it's within your reach, no matter what's in your bank account.

With love and (affordable) healthy habits,