Last Sunday while visiting with my Father my wife mentioned that we were making our own laundry soap instead of buying Tide. She also mentioned that we have begun exploring natural hygiene products and alternatives to our current regime of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, and of course my wife's special high dollar foot callous soap. (Which doesn't work, but she swears by it.) He sneered at all these people thinking that natural means better. In his mind, the only difference between "natural" and store bought is that the big name stuff is made with pure chemicals derived straight from nature so it is actually better because you know exactly what is in it. All this "natural" stuff, in his opinion, has the same chemicals in it but you don't know the concentration or strength because natural isn't as "pure" as the stuff from the big names. And he is convinced that the natural stuff isn't as safe because it hasn't been tested like the stuff from the big names. It's all a Democratic conspiracy to bring about socialism. (Still trying to figure that one out.)
So, as we go further down the rabbit hole of weaning ourselves off all the big name stuff and simplifying our hygiene regimen it is no doubt going to bring about more interesting conversations. There is no having a conversation once, he will bring the subject up every subsequent visit. I am amazed at how resistant people are to moving away from all the hygiene products we are brainwashed into dumping hundreds of dollars a year. People really don't like it when you step out of the mainstream. Is it because they feel that your decision to step away from the mainstream is a condemnation of them and their lifestyle? Is it the herd mentality? The quest for uniformity? Regardless, I'm more interested in doing what I feel is right than I am in pleasing others and making them feel comfortable by confirming their choices.
Learn to dance in the rain.
Some people will always be harder to sway... My friend was shopping with his wife and the store was out of carrots. He suggested they just get the organic carrots and she felt very uncomfortable - not by the cost, but just because they are not 'organic' people.
I think the conversation with your father needs to steer more toward things like "What is magnesium stearate?" and "Why did Johnson and Johnson have to pay out 6 billion in cancer claims if their testing is so good?"
I think it is rarely worthwhile trying to convince someone who is resistant to an idea, whether it relates to politics, religion, or yes, even natural personal hygiene items. And why do we try? Usually because we think ours is the “right” way, and whether we intend to or not, and whether we are even aware of it, I think we often telegraph that our position/interpretation/practice is the superior one, and if only people would open their minds and do as we say, all would be well in the world.
Maybe one approach would be to not raise the issue in front of him again and quietly go about what you are doing. You both already know what the other thinks, and that it will not be a productive conversation. If he asks, have a breezy answer at the ready, like “yes, and I saved $300 over the last 6 months making my own deodorant” or whatever might resonate. It often takes time for an idea to take root and begin to grow, and having that debate at every family gathering is the equivalent of compacting the soil and spraying with roundup. We already know he has a “position” on the issue of chemicals - he may never change it. Or, maybe the thought of saving $600 per year on personal care items will be the compost tea that feeds the roots of change?
I find myself doing it all the time, sorting, categorizing, judging, wanting to convince others, show them the light, convince them to change. Very human - we are very tribal creatures. We want people on our team, and having an “opposing” team can be energizing and unifying. But each of us are on our own journey, and have arrived where we are due to a million different tiny influences and nudges, and yes, maybe a few really big influences - Mollison, Holzer, Lawton, Wheaton. Their ideas fell on receptive soil - nobody debated us into becoming Permies. We were receptive to it for whatever collection of reasons we accumulated along our journey.
“All good things are wild, and free.” Henry David Thoreau