Black Girls Blogging: Karama of Savvy Brown

As we begin to learn more and more about the harmful effects of chemicals and toxins in the produc...

As we begin to learn more and more about the harmful effects of chemicals and toxins in the products we use everyday, a switch to a "green" lifestyle seems like the best choice. Many Black women want to embrace green living, but simply don't know where to start. Enter Karama of Savvy Brown. Her blog documents herquest to live a healthier, natural lifestyle on a budget. She talked with us about her blogging journey. 
What made you decide to start Savvy Brown Blog?

I've had natural hair for a long time, but it was always worn really short. when I grew it out and started using more products on it, I realized that I wasn't too happy with the products available. I should clarify, that my definition of "natural" is a little bit different. My hair is attached to my body, so it doesn't make sense to me to use natural products only on my hair, but eat and clean and bathe with toxins. So I approach things from more of a holistic perspective. 

I started the blog because I realized that most of the ingredients in the things we use and eat everyday are bad for us. In my search for more natural hair products (and trying to figure out what to do with my hair) I also realized that most of the store-bought beauty products that we use on our bodies are filled with chemicals that are really harmful. Then I started looking at food labels and I was on a roll after that. I also care about the environment and was getting tired of cleaning products that were labeled as "green" always being so much more expensive. Thus began my journey to live a greener healthier life on a budget. 

I kinda figured I might not be the only one, and the blog was born.

How long have you been living "green"?

Well first I think you have to define what "living green" means. It seems to be different things to everyone. For me, living green means that I consciously try to consume and waste less, but reuse and recycle more. I try to make and use products that are the least harmful to me and the environment, and I try to eat "clean" as much as I can. For me, I would say I made the conscious decision to live this way about 6 years ago. But I've been doing it in one way or another most of my life.

Why do you think African Americans are hesitant to adopt green/healthier lifestyles?

To be honest. I think most African-Americans think it's a "white" or "rich" thing. What's crazy about that is if you look at our history as African-Americans, who has had to learn to do more with less most often but our people? We all know one mother or grandmother that can "make a dollar outta 15 cents" right? How do you think she did it? By not wasting food, by mending clothes instead of giving them away, by using the bathwater to water the plants, by hanging the clothes dry out in the yard, by knitting hats and socks and sewing dishcloths, and by making sure everyone's lunch was made before school. My mother often laughs at things I label as "green" on the blog. She grew up poor in Bermuda, and she said her grandmother had 2 bars of castle soap, one washed the house, the dishes, the laundry and the windows. The other washed all of them! (There were always between 7-10 people in the house at any one time). We forget, because mainstream media has taught us to be such a wasteful society. You're not a "success" unless you have a sizable "disposable" income. We're even being taught to throw money away!  We forget, but our grandparents remember that this is how we all lived once. 

There's a perception that living environmentally friendly is inconvenient and expensive. Is that true? 

Yes and no. Once again, it's how you define it and how you do it. If you decide to leave mainstream society and live off of the grid and grow all your own food and make all of your own clothes and milk cows and raise organic chickens  yes…your life will be a bit more difficult and much more inconvenient. But I don't think we have to be that extreme. And yes, if you decide to stay in a city like New York and only eat organic food and buy all store-bought products labeled as green or eco-friendly things will get VERY expensive quite quickly. I think living that way is extreme as well. If you can afford it, then great, but I don't think that it's necessary either.

I like to think I live somewhere in the middle.

I think the learning curve is what throws most people. When you first start to learn what the harmful ingredients are, and that they're in practically everything, you can feel pretty daunted rather quickly. But I tell everyone do things a little at a time. You wouldn't go on a diet, try to stop smoking and stop drinking all at the same time would you? Going "green" is more about making small changes with the things you do everyday. Like reusing a water bottle, or saving cooking scraps for compost, or bringing your own bags to the grocery store, or packing your children's lunch in reusable containers or taking public transportation on days that you really don't need to drive. Coincidentally, the more things that you do for yourself, like cooking dinner instead of ordering out, making your own laundry detergent, or body scrub instead of buying them, all are not only environmentally friendly, but they also save you money as well!

What has living green taught you about yourself?

Going green has taught me that I can be really wasteful when I get lazy! LOL. I think we get into a day-in-day-out routine where we're used to just throwing things away, or buying something new when something old breaks. There's a quick fix for everything and I think what going green has done for me is slowed things down a bit and made me shift and realize that although there's nothing wrong with admiring the "new, bright and shiny" when I stop and think about it, I don't always need or want whatever item I'm usually ogling at. In this way, it's taught me to appreciate quality more. I'm not saying that I don't buy anything anymore. But by not giving in to impulse buying, I have found that I have more money to spend on things that will last longer and are less harmful to the environment.  It's also taught me that what I put ON my body is just as important as what I put IN it. It makes so sense, to work out every day and count calories and try to eat really healthy, but then turn right around and put harmful products on my skin. (Your skin is the largest organ on your body by the way). So in a nutshell, this journey has made me more conscious of who I am and how it's all connected. 

For more tips and tricks to living healthier and greener visit Savvy Brown

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