Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Baths and showers

A long while back I mentioned the idea that it's better not to wash too much. The thought is two-fold.

First, washing too much is unhealthy, and undermines the natural ways in which our skin and hair keep themselves protected against wear and tear and germs and things.

The second thought is that washing too much destroys our natural attractiveness to each other and prevents us from maintaining healthy relationships.

This is damaged partly by washing off the natural smells that make us attractive to other human beings, especially to bodies of the opposite sex and to our mothers and brothers and sisters and things. It's also damaged by putting on other non-human smells, especially the smells of soaps and shampoos and deodorants and other potions, which may seem pretty to us when we choose them in the shops but aren't actually very sexy as the smell of another person (as opposed to being delightful as the smell of a rose or a lily of the valley or a honeysuckle or a lavender flower; actually most of them don't seem to be any of those but some much worse artificial perfume which would be most distressing to find in a hedgerow). Hence the increasingly high divorce rate and frequent break down of intimate relationships. That's the thought.

And of course it's damaged in rather insidious ways by the clinging smells imparted to our clothes and linen by artificial perfumes in washing powders and fabric conditioners (about which I've written before). I have had several very miserable experiences recently of having to partake of a first rate meal, or even just a good homely meal, while sitting next to, or opposite, someone who smells like the vent from a college launderette. You anticipate a lovely meal of asparagus with garlic butter, with the delightful bouquet of a good wine under your nose. Instead you're constantly and repeatedly transported to that terrible aisle in the supermarket where they sell "laundry products": things that are obviously designed to appeal to people who naturally smell disgusting (I suppose. After all you wouldn't use those products if you smelled nice by nature, would you?)

The longer it is since we last used such artificially scented products ourselves the more intrusive it seems to become when one sits near someone who uses them, or when we have such a person in the house, and the more intolerable it seems. I suppose if you wear such clothes and sleep in such bedlinen you don't realise that the smell is coming from you, and that it's terrible to those who notice it. And I suppose you go around the world not realising that there are parts of the world that smell just lovely, by nature. Indeed there are some real people who have really nice smells too. Maybe some of those people under the horrible smelly clothes also would smell lovely, if you could only find out. And then you would like them and want to spend time with them, instead of longing to get away. I'm wondering whether to start a campaign to change all this by actually telling people that they smell horrid.

A third thought is that washing one's body too much and taking too many showers is wasteful. I'll come back to that.


Jim Jepps said...

I wash my clothes without powder and that seems to work fine (although I might make an exception if something was very grubby I suppose) and once I got in the habit I thought well hold on I'm saving money and not polluting the environment as much.

Perhaps this makes me a terrible person...

Catherine Rowett said...

No on the contrary, that makes you a wonderful person, surely!