By contributing writer Alexandra Maul
You’ve probably heard more and more recently about how some of the products we use everyday contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to our pets, ourselves, and the environment.
But for newbies to going green, it can be difficult to navigate the various ingredients, what kind of alternatives exist, and how to reduce one’s exposure.
I’ve spent the past few years slowly switching over to products with safer ingredients, and have gathered a lot of tips along the way.
When I first started to experience chronic health issues, and realized the importance of reducing the toxic burden on my body, I was shocked at how harsh the products are that we use in and around our bodies every day!
I started reading labels, doing my own research, and becoming more aware of how harsh chemicals were affecting my health. I also found that my super sensitive skin cleared up, and I felt better all around after getting rid of a lot of the chemicals around me.
After cutting out the toxic chemicals in many areas of my life these past few years, I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I feel.
I’m nowhere near perfect with the products I do use, but I believe every little bit of safer alternatives helps.
Here are 20 ways that you can get started!
1. Cleaning supplies
Get rid of your toxic cleaning supplies, and try using non-toxic cleaning products to avoid bleach, ammonia, and synthetic fragrances and dyes. There are some good, natural options on the market (here’s one of my favorite brands), or it’s also super easy to make your own.
Filter your tap water for drinking and cooking. I’ve used the Environmental Working Group’s water filter guide to figure out which filter is best for my home.
3. Food storage containers
Ditch the plastic food containers and use glass storage containers instead – my favorite is Pyrex – you can find affordable sets online or at most grocery stores.
4. Reusable water bottles
Switch your plastic water bottle to one made of glass or stainless steel. Lifefactory is my favorite brand! (Get it here.)
5. Reusable straws
6. Smoothies or salads in glass jars
Reuse old jars to hold salads or smoothies – they’re perfect for keeping smoothies fresh (just shake up and drink!)
7. Pantry goods in glass jars
Reuse old jars or glass containers to hold flours, nuts, and seeds.
8. Less processed food
Eat real food, and try to stay away from overly processed, artificial ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
9. Be mindful of pesticides
Prioritize buying organic produce on the Dirty Dozen list (see the newest release here), if you can afford it at all.
10. Home gardening
Growing your own produce at home saves money, and is another way to avoid exposures to toxic pesticides.
11. Fresh instead of canned
Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned to stay away from BPA – and look for products that are packaged in glass or lined in cardboard. (This applies to commercially processed tin cans, not home canned goods.)
12. Store receipts
Don’t take paper receipts unless you really need them (BPA hides in that paper).
13. House paint
Use low or no-VOC paint, and air out the room you’re painting before spending a lot of time in there.
14. Pest control
Avoid pesticide sprays, and try using baits or traps, or search Pinterest for natural pest control ideas.
15. Vacuum filters
Use a HEPA-filter vacuum and wet cloth to regularly get rid of dust where contaminants and chemicals can build up.
16. Door mat
Use a door mat at your front door to catch pollutants from the street.
17. Hand soap
Ditch the triclosan and anti-bacterial soaps to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
18. Bath & body products
How about switching your beauty and body products over to eco-friendly versions… here are my 8 tips to make the switch!
My Experience with Natural Mineral Makeup
How (and Why) to Find a Natural Deodorant that Actually Works
The Science of Soap: Why Not All Bars are Created Equal
What Exactly are Natural Skincare Products (and How do You Spot the Imposters?)
Simple and Effective Eye Makeup Remover (One Natural Ingredient You Probably Already Own)
Use EWG’s Skin Deep website or app to see how your cosmetics rate, and find better alternatives if needed.
And check out this awesome review post that compares multiple natural brands of non-toxic nail polish.
And, most importantly… don’t stress! Long-term stress can have damaging effects on your health.
If you’re just starting on this path, choose one area of your life (i.e. your cleaning supplies, your body products, etc.) that you’d like to change, and go for it. Every little bit helps!