“Aspirational candles” make me wanna puke. And I light a candle every day.

My husband just shared this article with me, so we could trade snarky remarks with each other about the general state of the world. My response was pretty much, “this is why we can’t have nice things. I like candles. And this has ruined it.”

Because, honestly: “The pandemic has been kindling for the aspirational candle market, which has been growing for years. In addition high-end, status brands like Diptyque and Jo Malone, an ever-widening array of more affordable candles – in the $30 to $40 range – can now be found in stores, and increasingly, on Instagram.”

Since my kid reached the age where we can have a candle burning without concern that he’ll burn himself or somehow set the entire house on fire, we often have a candle burning at the dinner table. And when I sit down to an evening zoom chat or meditation, I’ll light a candle. It feels a little bit ceremonial and a way to both honour and push back the dark of deep winter.

But having this little habit packaged up as a lifestyle trend and sold back to me as “aspirational” makes me want to throw them all in the garbage. What a bunch of toxic garbage. And speaking of toxic, scented candles could be just that. In the US, at least, according to mindbodygreen, cosmetics companies can list “fragrance” as an ingredient, with no more detail, to protect their secret recipes – which means you have no idea what chemicals or endocrine disrupters might have been used to craft that artificial scent.

Mindbodygreen recommends seeking products that use 100% naturally derived essential oils, are phthalate-free or specify the source of the fragrance.

But, to create a fresh smell in your house, you could also try steaming some cedar – fill a saucepan with water, pick up some wind-blown cedar (needles and twigs) from the ground on your next walk, put it in the pan, and simmer, so the “essential” oils infuse the air. Say thank you to the cedar. (Keep an eye on your pot so the entirety of the water doesn’t evaporate.) You really don’t need to drop $40 on a scented candle. (Here’s a whole article about your options.)

Look, no judgment if that’s what you decide to do – if that’s the source of your little pleasure this week. Pleasure is important.

And honestly, there’s nothing I am coveting more right now than a lovely beeswax pillar candle.

I just feel as though we should be on our guard, when a simple accessible ritual gets repackaged to us as a must-have aspirational lifestyle accessory – as if at every step we take to return to our power and wholeness as human beings, we’re being tripped up by the tripwires of hyper capitalism run amok…

As you were.

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