Overcoming My Body/Garden Hypocrisy…

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. ~ Anon

The sun sets over my freshly planted lettuce, leek, celery & cornflower bed...
The sun sets over my freshly planted lettuce, leek, celery & cornflower bed…

As you know, I don’t like to use chemicals in the garden, preferring instead to use natural remedies, traps and preventative measures. I don’t like to use any synthetic fertilisers either.

Because I know that in order for my garden to flourish, there is a whole cast of insects, microbes and worms that need to be there, doing their bit.  Using harsh chemicals and pesticides compromises the whole gardens health.  It’s a bit like attempting to kill a mosquito with napalm. The pest may be gone, but the “cure” introduces a new (often bigger) problem into the mix.

Needless to say, an organic garden is fantastically dirty work.  After digging, planting, potting, seeding, mulching  and splashing about home brewed worm tea I get pretty sweaty and filthy. It’s a glorious feeling.

I love to come in and have a good shower, rinse off and feel fresh.

But, as I was lathering up a few weeks ago,  I realised I have been living an unsettling hypocrisy.

I am more considerate of the dirt in my garden than I am of my own body.

Believe it or not, your body isn’t all that different to your garden.  While reading the January 2013 National Geographic, I had my mind blown……

“All told, the microbes in your body outnumber your own cells by ten to one and can weigh as much as or more than your brain—about three pounds in an average adult. Each of us is thus both an organism and a densely populated ecosystem, with habitats harboring species as different from one another as the animals in a jungle and a desert. Even the resident microbes in the gum pockets around your teeth can vary greatly, suggesting, as David Relman of Stanford University puts it, that “each of our teeth is essentially an island, rocks in an intertidal pool.”

For the most part, the microbes inhabiting our bodies are either beneficial ones or unobtrusive freeloaders. They help us digest our food and absorb nutrients. They manufacture vital vitamins and anti-inflammatory proteins that our own genes cannot produce, and they train our immune systems to combat infectious intruders. Resident bacteria on our skin secrete a sort of natural moisturizer, preventing cracks that could allow pathogens to penetrate.”


This realisation has prompted a change in how I treat myself (or Myselves? My Melissagarden? Eco-Mel? Mel & Colony? This could get weird…)

Treat my body as thoughtfully as I do my garden.

So, no more chemical hair dye.  No more anti-bacterial handsoap.  Soap, not detergent.  Cut down on the nasty stuff in my cosmetics and skincare.  Go ShamPHree!

Thanks to the internet, (and a wash of people having the same realisation waayyy before I did) this is a surprisingly easy thing to accomplish.  Mineral and plant based skin care.  It is all so much more freely available than it used to be!  It’s absolutely possible to look as good on the outside as I feel on the inside.

As I write, I have my hair soaking up a Henna treatment from Lush.  I am having a bit of an Anne of Green Gables moment as I hope the green-baby-poo-paste on my head will transform my greyish-tresses into a beautiful chestnut brown colour.  It seems that just swapping out one chemical-laden product for another, simpler one will be pretty straightforward.

In the coming weeks, I’ll examine my home and my diet much the same way, and for the same reason.  In the meantime, I will enjoy our cooler weather and celebrate as my autumn/winter planting is almost complete!

Do you have a favourite natural beauty practice you follow?  I would love to hear all about it.  Please leave a comment below…


  1. Sharon says

    There are a plethora of fantastic organic natural products out there as you will find out Mel! one website I particularly like is nourishedlife which is an aussie site. They have great products on there at reasonable prices. The owner really does her homework too. I am thinking of getting some of the natural nail polishes.

    I find the less ingredients on a product the better too. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want it on my skin!

    Sharon x

    • says

      I’ll check it out, thanks Sharon!

      The Henna worked out beautifully, really happy with the colour. Sure it was stinky, messy and took longer, but would rather have that over a dose of god-knows-what anyday. Apparently your scalp absorbs chemicals more readily than other parts of the body, so another good reason to go herbal!

  2. says

    I use henna and love it! (although my husband greyed prematurely and just turns his hair bright orange!) Almond oil as a moisturiser (surprisingly non greasy) Vinegar as a hair rinse, oh so many more I cannot think of right at this minute, but I got a couple of great books from the library and they were great for inspiration!

    • says

      I did Henna once when I was teenager and it turned my hair a beautiful shade of flame red. Being (ahem) a little older, I just wanted something to cover my grays and the Caca Brun from Lush did a great job. A really natural, shiny warm brown. I will give the almond oil a try, thanks Nat.

      I love the ShamPHree method, I have infused my vinegar with fresh rosemary and mint which smells great. I have had Nery’s Purchon’s Bodycraft in my bookshelf for many years, (Sharon has it on loan!) although its probably time I examined it again…. if you can’t find it at the library you can buy it online http://www.neryspurchon.com/bodycraft.html

    • says

      It’s pretty mind blowing isn’t it? It’s Science week at kids school and that little fact was my son’s news item. Lots of 6 year old boys delighted to discover they are more bug than boy…

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