How I reduced the chemicals in my life and how you can too
I’m no expert on this topic but it certainly is something that I feel quite strongly about. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded (and bombarding ourselves!) with chemicals. We use chemicals for cleaning our house, washing our dishes and clothes, washing ourselves, our teeth and our hair; they are in beauty products like moisturizers and make up, deodorants and perfumes and things like air fresheners. There are chemicals in plastics that we use such as storage containers and reusing water bottles and chemicals in our non-stick cookware. The list is endless.
We are crazy to think that the chemicals that we breathe in and put on our bodies are harmless. We only have to look at the way nicotine patches work to know that products we put on our skin are directly absorbed into the blood stream. This is how essential oils work in a positive way too.
We have a choice whether we use a chemical laden product or go for a more natural option. You can certainly do your head in getting worried about every little thing but a few simple swaps will significantly decrease the chemical load in your life.
I’m sure there are thousands but here are some of the main ingredients to watch out for. Some of the most current research shows these chemicals to be endocrine disruptors (interferes with hormone function) and may contribute to thyroid dysfunction, infertility and even some cancers.
Parabens // Found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers.
Fragrance // The word ‘fragrance’ can be deceiving and has found to contain an average of 14 ‘secret’ chemicals not listed in the product. Fragrance is found in many products such as perfume, shampoo and conditioners, body wash, moisturisers, washing liquids and fabric softeners
Phthalates // A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products such as cosmetics, deodarants/colognes, hair spray, nail polish, moisturisers and perfumes. It is often one of the ‘secret’ ingredients in “fragrance” so it doesn’t have to be labeled on the product – a major loophole in labeling laws.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) // Found in majority of body and cleaning products. It’s what makes a lot of products foam up. Found in body wash, shampoos and cleaning products.
Formaldehyde // Found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments.
Toluene // may also be listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene - found in nail polish
Propylene Gylcol // In moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays.
Triclosan // Most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labelled “antibacterial.”
Sunscreen chemicals such as PABA
As I said, I’m no expert but these are some of the changes I have made to reduce my chemical exposure. Start gradually, replacing one product at a time as it runs out, so it’s not overwhelming. I’m still a work in a progress and find some things more difficult than others to change. I’m a sucker for nice perfume! Some may see this as hypocritical but if I can reduce the overall load I am exposed to then that’s a win for me.
Let me know if you have any other good tips or products that you love!
Home cleaners //
Kitchen surfaces - Tea tree oil with water in a spray bottle
Sink Drains – Bicarb soda, white vinegar and boiling water. I just put a cup of bicarb soda in each sink, pour a cup of vinegar in and let it fizz for a few minutes. I then pour boiling water down and leave them for a good hour or so.
Clothes, dishwashing powders and RinseAid– Eco Store products as well as eucalyptus oil for clothes. EcoStore is sold in Woolworths. Also, Mrs Meyers on iHerb is also good.
Body Products //
Body wash and hand soaps – Dr Bronner’s ( The Grown Alchemist for a splurge)
Toothpaste – Grants Toothpaste
Deodorant – this is the hardest!! I’ve tried many but still can’t find one I absolutely love. QV Aluminium free or Thursday Plantation is what I’m rolling with at the moment, it’s not completely natural but a good stepping stone. Any suggestions welcome for someone that trains a lot!
Make up – Bare Minerals Bronzer (other organic brands for make up are Inika, Ere Perez)
Moisturiser – coconut oil (mixed with a couple of drops of essential oil i.e lavendar oil at night, lime in the morning).
Shampoo and Conditioner - Qaba - Sulphate free
Kitchen and Food Products //
Organic food – Buy organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Check the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists here and here for more information. If this isn’t possible, wash non-organic veggies in a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in a sink of water to get rid of as many pesticides as possible.
Meat, chicken, eggs and dairy - Free range/grass fed/organic wherever possible
Avoid tins with BPA – limit tinned foods or buy BPA free tins where possible
Store food in glass containers – avoid plastic and NEVER reheat food in plastic containers!
Use glass water bottles and don’t reuse any plastic water bottles
Minimise packaged foods and anything that contains artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners
My next step is to get more involved in this whole essential oil thing for cleaning products, cooking and body care.
Good luck swapping some of the chemicals out of your life. Let me know how you go!