What makes us buy so many things we can make easily?

Disclosure: I may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

One of my professors told me that when he was a little kid in Pakistan, his mother would grab the olive oil out of the pantry, rub it on his dry skin and send him off to play.

That makes complete sense. Olive oil works well on dry skin, even the cheapest olive oil. Actually, cheap oil would be better because the scent is weaker and won’t leave you smelling like a pressed olive. What does a teaspoon of cheap olive oil cost? So little I can’t do the math in my head. You probably already have it in your pantry, too.

Olive oil as a body lotion:
1) works great
2) convenient
3) inexpensive

And yet, like me, you probably also have a bunch of store-bought moisturizers scattered around your house, car and office. If you’re anything like me, you might pull out your winter coat this year and find hand cream you put in the pocket a year ago. I have so many hand creams, I lose them.

I do buy lots of natural skincare products…and pay through the nose for them. When my kids were born, I spent $20 on a bottle of all-natural baby lotion. It was a pretty big bottle but still. After every bath, I would take a couple of squirts of some insanely expensive tangerine and calendula baby lotion and give the kids a little baby massage before bedtime.

In case it sounded like I was exaggerating about the price…

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Lovely stuff, but really pricey.

Here’s a jar of calendula-infused olive oil I made myself for about a penny. All it took was time because I grew the calendula flowers in my organic garden, but at least I know what’s in the oil.

Healing calendula herb infused olive oil in a mason jar

US consumer spending

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest measure of economic activity. In 2017, real GDP in the US increased by 2.2%; of that, 1.7% came from growth in consumer spending (source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis). In other words, people in the US buy a ton of stuff. Buying all that stuff, even if we don’t need it or just because the ad looked good, is like espresso to our economy.

Two main reasons we buy stuff we should make:
1) We didn’t realize we could
2) The ad looked good.

1) We didn’t realize we could

Until someone stumbles across a blog like mine or gets a friend like me to open up to them, it probably won’t occur to him or her to look around the kitchen or garden or farm stand before going to the convenience store. Plus, you know where the convenience store is. Until a few months ago, you probably didn’t know where this blog was.

Most people would be really confused to get a Secret Santa gift basket labeled, “Experience Spa-like Pampering”, and it’s a bottle of olive oil, a bag of cheap sugar and some vanilla. Are you going to bake me? How is this a spa experience?

Then, you read the Directions, “mix thoroughly and shower together”. Now, that’s really confusing. That’s like stunned-into-silence confusing. (Unless you spend a lot of time on Pintrest, in which case, you immediately envisioned a clear glass jar tied with twine and a little cardboard tag that read “DIY Sugar Scrub”.)

In just a few short generations, modern cultures forgot the uses for common herbs and oils. I did, too. It’s been 20 years of part-time study to learn the stuff I write about in this blog, and I will continue learning as long as I’m able.

What’s worse? We use some really gross stuff because we don’t know much about it. None of this was not covered in eighth grade science. You really don’t want to rub synthetic hormone disruptors on your bare hands. Oh but you have, me too. There are usually several of them in inexpensive lotions to extend the shelf-life (many are banned or restricted in the EU) so you can, I don’t know…find a hand cream in your coat pocket a year later, and it still looks the same.

2) The ad looked good

And here’s why we forgot about all this useful stuff. Marketing.

Most of the time, I think marketing is amazing and powerful. Who am I kidding? Without marketing, there would be zero eyeballs on this blog.

It can get out of hand though. Like anything, as a project explodes and makes big time money (i.e. economic profit), more people are attracted to it. The more competition there is, the more humans will feel pressure to compete, including stretching the truth and cutting costs.

There are only two ways to be successful as a business:
1) differentiate your product
2) compete on cost

I’m going to lump, “someone told me it was amazing” into this category. The ad got them to buy it; therefore, indirectly the ad got you to buy it, too.

Once you’ve used it, if there’s no immediate and obvious negative reaction. You assume it’s fine to keep using. It’s not your fault, you have no way of knowing what’s in that stuff. I’ve done the same thing so many times

How does this relate to farmstand culture?

My hope with this blog is to fill you in on all of these simple, quick tricks I’ve learned to make natural living easier. It is exactly what I do for free for all of my friends.

DIY dry shampoo for brown or auburn hair
DIY dry shampoo for blonde hair
Natural skin and hair care

As you keep up with this blog, you will find more uses and benefits for oils, spices and herbs you probably already have in your pantry or…the ones you can find at the end of your neighbor’s driveway available at a quaint, rustic farm stand.

Anyway, it’s Cyber Monday. Go have a guilt-free blast spending within your means.

Here’s a quick link back to a marketing machine, in case you wanted to see those principles of effective marketing in action.  The only thing I’ve done differently here, is highlighted their handcrafted marketplace, which features small batch crafters:

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