As consumers, we're becoming increasingly concerned with the chemicals in our everyday products like sunscreen, hand cream, and even our food. One startling fact is that of the 84,000 chemicals on shelves today, only about 1% have been studied for safety, and even those have not been studied for how they react together.
The good news is, many of these products marketed to us by big business are actually very easy to forgo, or to make ourselves – safely.
Here are five easy ways to reduce your toxic load, starting today:
1. Stop using so much sunscreen!
Avoid having to use as much sunscreen by using long sleeve, loose cotton shirts, broad brim hats, and generally avoiding being the in sun between 10am and 3pm during the warmer months.
And when you do opt for SPF, use safer sunscreens without nano-particles, oxybenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate or retinyl palmitate. Generally use mineral sunscreens (look for ingredients like "zinc cream") over chemical ones.
Remember that you actually need Vitamin D, so spend some time outside with short sleeves and no sunscreen before 10am. Dr Sarah Lanzt, author of Chemical Free Kids, says her family motto is "Get sun, not too much, don't get red."
Check out her article The Burning Facts: Sun, Nanoparticles and Sunscreens for more on which chemicals to avoid. See the EWG's Guide to Sunscreens, or this article from Sarah Wilson, for some of the better options.
2. Start making your own non-toxic cosmetics, in order to avoid these eight deadly chemicals.
An easy place to start is lip balm: the basic recipe is one part bees wax to one part liquid oil, such as jojoba or olive oil, by weight. Place together in a glass jar, and put the jar in a saucepan of water over a low heat. Beeswax is a beast to clean off afterwards, so I prefer the jar to using a double boiler.
You can experiment by adding more or less oil, depending upon how firm you like your balm, and by using a mix of coconut oil, shea or cacao butter. If your balm comes out too hard or soft for your liking, remelt it and start again!
3. Make your own non-toxic cleaners.
You can make just about anything you need to clean your house from a few simple household ingredients, like baking soda, vinegar, super washing soda and soap.
Laundry: Make your own laundry powder by mixing equal parts super washing soda and grated soap, and using about ¼ cup per load of laundry. Add some borax or oxi-clean for heavy duty loads. Use ½ cup white vinegar in the rinse for a fabric softener, especially if you have hard water.
Kitchen: Make this all purpose spray cleaner by soaking your left over citrus peel in white vinegar for a couple of weeks, then decanting into a spray bottle (strain well first). Dilute with 50% distilled water, and add a tsp of dish soap for extra power.
Download my free non-toxic cleaning printables, for more easy recipes.
4. Only eat real food.
So much of our food is now processed and full of additives, that it can be overwhelming to know what to eat and what to avoid.
If you are new to eating "real" foods, start by reading food labels in the supermarket and just avoid ingredients you can't pronounce or that are identified only by numbers. Try to move towards eating more "real" foods, but don't be discouraged by set backs. Just make one change at a time until you get there.
Tip: Don't deprive yourself of treats, or you're doomed to failure. Here's a delicious but simple "real food" recipe of mine for chocolate balls you will love.
5. Add some plants to clean the air at home.
Add some pot plants to your home. These will clean formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air.
Any plants will help, as long as they are potted in soil, as studies have found that it is the soil, combined with the root system of the plant, that does a lot of the filtration. However, some plants which seem to be particularly effective include the peace lily, bamboo palm, rubber plant and green spider plant.
Over to you: Leave a comment and tell me, what are you going to change today, or what is your best tip for moving to a less toxic lifestyle?