There are, most likely without you even realizing it, hundreds of toxins that you consume, inhale, or come into contact with on a daily basis. Our modern world is infiltrated with them and there is seemingly no escape. Just gaining enough knowledge and understanding to know what to do to avoid them is a painstaking task. At times I am overwhelmed as I learn more about the toxins that have made their way into our everyday lives, including our containers, household cleaners, and personal products. There is so much information, so many different levels of contamination, that I didn’t even know where to start. Instead of just throwing my hands up and saying, “Well, there’s nothing I can do about it”, I decided to tackle the toxins in baby steps. Trying to reduce the toxins in my life in small, manageable chunks makes it feel like I am doing enough to make a difference without it being paralyzing. I would like to share what I’ve done so far and what my next steps need to be.
De-plasticizing my life
We were once a plastic water bottle family. We went through a case a week, minimum. I was completely oblivious to the dangers of plastics, let alone the detrimental effects on the environment. Then, my sister-in-law Amy, while on a visit to our home, politely declined my offer of a cold bottle of water. At first I couldn’t understand how she wouldn’t want the clean, fresh-tasting water I was offering her. Then she gently explained her view on plastics and set my mind in motion. Shortly after that conversation, I ditched the plastic water bottles and bought a Brita water filter and some stainless steel water bottles to use on-the-go. Yes, the Brita water pitcher is plastic, but I think it is safer because it is a harder plastic and the water is only in the pitcher for a short time compared to the plastic water bottles.
For a while I was content with the fact that Meghan had BPA-free plastic sippy cups. Then, I took a few swigs of her water one day and realized it tasted exactly like….PLASTIC. You should not taste the container you are drinking from! Even if it is BPA-free, I don’t trust whatever I was tasting to be safe. Meghan now drinks from a stainless-steel sippy cup. The water tastes so much better and I feel better, too.
I now store much of the food that I buy in bulk in glass containers.
As you can see, I have a hodgepodge of different containers. I couldn’t afford to go out and buy all new glass containers at once, so I’ve collected them slowly. Some I’ve bought in different stores, others are re-used glass food containers. I still have a ways to go in completing the transition, but feel good about the progress I’ve made.
I need to continue to add to my collection of glass storage containers. I have a number of glass storage bowls, but need even more as I still find myself reaching for the plastic tupperware when my glass ones are all being used or dirty. When shopping for food, I need to seek out more food that is available in glass containers, even if it is more expensive. So many foods, especially condiments, come in plastic containers. My goal is to have as few as possible in my life.
Using Natural Cleaners
My goal of this post is not to educate on the toxic chemicals you can find in certain products, but rather to show the steps you can take towards a more natural, less toxic life. So I will speak broadly and not get into specific chemicals or in which cleaners you find them, but will just say that many of the chemicals you find in everyday cleaners are toxic, have been shown to contribute to cancer, respiratory problems, reproductive abnormalities, behavior disorders, and more. Learning that was enough to make me want to go au natural in the household cleaner department. Again, I didn’t switch all at once. I started with the cleaners I used the most and then slowly switched over to all natural products in other areas. I have to go to the health food store to get most of these products, and in general they do cost more. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I don’t tend to put a price on my health and especially not on my family’s.
No, Biokleen is not paying me to post this picture! 🙂 This brand just happened to be 40% off at my local health food store last month, so I stocked up.
I’m not 100% natural in the cleaning department yet. I still have a bottle of Pledge wood polish under my kitchen sink. Although I use Biokleen laundry detergent, I still have a bottle of Shout Advanced in my laundry room. (I have a toddler, remember?!) I am getting there. I will continue to seek out natural cleaning products that are safe, but still effective.
Switching to Natural Personal Care Products
I was absolutely floored when I learned that most regular toothpaste brands contain saccharin. Seriously?! Artificial sweetener in toothpaste?! I am 100% against all artificial sweeteners, so switching to natural toothpaste was my first, quickest switch. Even though it isn’t pictured above, Meghan also uses Tom’s toothpaste. Then I heard about aluminium in deodorant and its dangers. This switch was not as easy. I need a good deodorant. The first brand I tried was Tom’s and I stuck with it for a while. I was constantly worried that it wasn’t working, though, it was so sticky and I just didn’t like it. So I reluctantly went back to my old brand. Then I went to a store with more variety (most regular stores will generally only carry one natural deodorant-Tom’s) and tried the brand you see above. I love it and haven’t gone back. We also switched to a more natural sunscreen this year, Jason’s, and feel good about that switch.
I have such a long way to go in this category. I’ve recently started reading about the dangers of parabens-and they are in everything! Cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, you name it. It will be a process to transition all of my products to more natural and safe, but I think it is worth it.
Sometimes I feel like I must have been living under a rock for many years; how did I not realize my world was so full of these toxins? But then I realize that I was no different than the majority of Americans. We tend to trust our government to keep unsafe products off of store shelves and if they are on the shelf, they must be safe. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I know that the steps I’ve taken are only baby steps and I still need to make changes towards reducing toxins in my life. This is a journey, though, and know that with each step I take I am creating a healthier environment for my family.
What steps have you taken towards reducing toxins in your life? Any great tips you’d like to share?