9 Over-the-Counter Products I Stopped Buying for Wellness + Eco Lifestyle Reasons

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The number of products with ‘nasty chemicals’ in a normal shop might astound you. If you are about wellness, you’ll want to avoid exposure to these. But what are the alternatives? In this article, I’m sharing my list of what I use as part of my eco lifestyle and coincidentally, they’ll save you dollars and your health, as well.

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Like all those plastic things, everyday household and personal care products contain chemical additives that potentially affect our wellness as well as the planet’s.

Much evidence from decades of research into product additives suggests we need to seriously rethink what we apply on our skins, what we ingest and inhale, and what we spread in our surrounds if we want to keep this planet great.

This relates to cleaning products, foods, and beauty and cleansing formulas, including shampoos and toothpaste.

Regarding personal care products, the David Suzuki Foundation notes that 82,000 ingredients are used in these items, and one in eight of these additives are industrial chemicals.

This article focuses on everyday items in Part 2 of my series, #GetReal for wellness (of you and the planet). Read Part 1 about getting real about plastic things.

Don’t be unlucky with these 13

This list includes carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors, and in some instances plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants.

Imagine how they affect your cells and the environment.

The list of 13 nasties to avoid:

  1. BHA and BHT
  2. Coal tar dyes
  3. DEA-related
  4. Dibutyl phthalate
  5. Formaldehyde
  6. Parabens
  7. Parfum
  8. PEG compounds
  9. Petrolatum
  10. Siloxanes
  11. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)
  12. Triclosan
  13. Benzophenones

I have a shopper’s guide to the 13 chemical nasties, listing the products to watch and better options.

Download my shopper's guide to nasties in everyday products.

My eco style choices

Below are the categories of commercial products that I’ve stopped buying to lessen my exposure to the above toxic chemicals and more.

A note up front about something being natural, it doesn’t make it harmless, so when cleaning, take the usual necessary precautions, e.g. wearing gloves and wash hands afterward.

Even so, I believe the following options are less toxic and environmentally damaging than commonly sold commercial products.

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#1. Cleaners

I no longer buy commercial cleaners.

Instead, I use lemons, bicarb soda, salt, vinegar, eucalyptus oil, hydrogen peroxide, and clove oil.

  • Vinegar is an all-round cleaner. Use in a spray bottle for surfaces.
  • Lemons are great for cleaning stainless steel sinks and making them sparkle. I also use lemon to clean and remove stains from my kitchen laminated bench rather than bleach.
  • Bicarb is an all-rounder. It’s great for absorbing odors in the refrigerator or bathroom.
  • Eucalyptus oil is ideal for removing ink marks or sticky residue from labels. I use it for cleaning around door handles and light switches also. It is a natural antimicrobial.
  • Hydrogen peroxide can be used in place of household chlorine bleach. It is H2O2 and simply breaks down into water and oxygen compared to chlorine bleach which forms more toxic by-products, such as dioxins and furans.
  • A spray of a few drops of clove oil in water is a great mold inhibitor. I quite like its spicy earth smell as well. You can get more tips like this from Shannon Lush.


This recipe makes cleaning easy and shower screens sparkle.

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and dishwashing detergent.

Use a handy cleaning cloth. Pantyhose is a cleaning cloth recommended by Shannon Lush or Speed Cleaning and I find it is one of the best.

For limescale:

  • Make up a past of bicarb soda with 3% hydrogen peroxide and apply to taps (faucets) to remove stubborn water stains.


I use a vinegar in a microfiber spray mop, like this one.

Alternatively, you can use vinegar in a spray bottle with a popular bestseller microfiber mop, like this you see here.

#2. Insect repellent

Personal care

I live in at the coast in the tropics, so mosquitoes, flies, sandflies, and midges are common annoyances.

I no longer use commercial bug spray.

Instead, I use a recipe given to me some time ago by an army reserve volunteer and it works superbly.

My friends even remark how well this works compared to commercial brands, particular against sandflies.

The original recipe is equal parts Dettol and baby oil (which is typically mineral oil).

You can substitute another light oil base if you have concerns about using baby oil because it is mineral based.

The concerns I’ve read relate to baby oil sitting on the skin and not being absorbed.

In this case, as a bug spray, it’s best to sit on the skin, and though I try to limit my exposure to biting insects, physical avoidance is not always practical.

I’d much prefer to put baby oil on my skin than to be bitten or to apply commercial insect repellent that contains what seems to be much nastier stuff.

Annoying ants around the house?

More on keeping the insects at bay…

The recipe I use that works fabulously for your ant problem in the home is a mixture of half borax and half treacle (or molasses).

Place the mixture in a container drilled with holes so the ants can access it. Warning: keep it out of reach of pets and children. This is no different to any insecticide.

Borax is a natural mineral and has no known hazard issues, though it is advised to limit its exposure to children (learn more here).

The ants take to it. The scouts taking it back to the nest. Because the colony gets sick on the borax, the Queen ant directs the scouts elsewhere.

No joking.

#5. Eye drops

I no longer buy over the counter eye drops.

When I suffer from dry eyes or an eye infection, I use cooled boiled water with salt added to bath my eyes (twice daily till cleared).

Works really well. I find my eye infection clears within two to three days of twice daily bathing.

#4. Plastic food wrap

No more cling wrap for me, I’ve made a couple of sets of beeswax wraps and I just love them.

You can make them yourself. You will need to buy beeswax and 100% cotton cloth.

This video uses the oven method:

I made mine using an iron, as follows:

  1. I grated enough beeswax to cover the (size and shape of the) chosen cloth in melted wax.
  2. I then ironed the beeswax into the cloth making sure to completely coat the cloth, but beforehand, making sure to place the wax and cloth between layers of baking paper to avoid ruining the iron and ironing board.
  3. Then, I hung the waxed cloths to dry. Once dry they are ready to use. They get better with age.

There are a number of ways of doing the wraps, including using a sandwich toaster and oven. I prefer the ironing method. Some people like to add coconut or other oil with the wax, but I found that did not work so well for me. Possibly because living in the tropics means the wraps stay pliable without adding the oils. And, the warm temperatures seemed to make the wraps sticky with the oil added. The oil may be something you need to add if you live in colder climates.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to try making these yourself, you can buy the beeswax wraps ready-made at reasonable prices. In Australia, you can get these at both Shop Naturally and Biome. And, Amazon stocks them also.

#5. Hair moisturizing treatment

Virgin olive oil from the pantry is what I use.

Pour enough to coat your hair (about a tablespoon or two) and let it soak in. Leave for a few hours, or overnight. Wash as normal.

In the final rinse, use cool or cold water to close the cuticle and seal in moisture. This simple action amazingly helps and will save you lots of dollars at the hairdressers or on commercial products.

Hair is soft and lustrous.

#6. Deodorant

I’ve chosen to use an alum stick for shavers instead.

I like the Osma Alum Block because it is not packed in plastic but rather eco-friendly cardboard. This product is an all-natural astringent that closes razor nicks but it is virtually the same as an alum deodorant, just minus the plastic container, which suits my eco lifestyle.

#7. Fabric softener

To keep towels soft, just add vinegar to the final rinse.

Not only is it a green option, but also a much cheaper version than using commercial fabric softeners. It is also a safer option for you and the environment.

It is also a safer option for you and the environment.

#8. Dental care

I don’t use the conventional toothpaste, which contains triclosan, SLS, and other nasties.

I practice oil pulling every few weeks. Although many recommend coconut oil for this, I much prefer to use cold pressed virgin sesame oil.

There is also an Ayurvedic blend of coconut, sesame, sunflower, and peppermint oils available with its refreshing taste that you might like to try when starting out.

There is much written about oil pulling that goes beyond dental care and further for wellness.

I found it did wonders. Threatened with the expense of spending 1000s of dollars with a periodontist, I took up oil pulling for six weeks.

The next oral hygienist visit saw me clear of any periodontal issues. So I can’t recommend it enough.

I have also fallen in love with clay-based toothpaste.

Here’s the toothpaste that I use and recommend, available in the four flavors.

#9. Skin moisturiser

I’ve given away buying the anti-aging creams and expensive moisturizers.

I now almost solely use cold pressed virgin sesame oil. It doubles as a sun protection as well.

What are some of your eco lifestyle options?

Feel free to comment below.

This is part 2 of my #GetReal for wellness series. See Part 1 for getting real about plastic things.

Don’t forget you can download my shopper’s guide to the 13 chemical nasties, listing the products to watch and some better options.

Download my shopper's guide to nasties in everyday products.



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Mary-Anne J.

About Mary-Anne J.

Hi, I'm Mary-Anne. Welcome to my site about 'wellness through wildness'. Wildness is not just about nature, it's about being free to be who you need to be for your wellness. I believe that connecting with the wild is the simplest and most in tune way to achieve and maintain wellness. It's not only the wild outside that counts but the wild within that needs acknowledging. That's where this mindset begins.

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