No doubt, you wouldn’t consciously expose yourself to harmful chemicals. But, you may not know the number of ‘nasty chemicals’ in everyday products that you normally shop for. The good news is that there are the alternatives. 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.
Like the plastics I mentioned in my previous post to #getreal about things, everyday household and personal-care products contain chemical additives that potentially affect our health and that of the wild around us.
Much evidence from decades of research suggests we need to seriously rethink what we apply on our skins. This also applies to what we ingest and inhale.
As well as what we spread in our surrounds – if we want to keep this planet great.
Cleaning products, foods, and beauty and cleansing formulas, including shampoos and toothpaste, are included.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, 82,000 ingredients are used in personal-care products, with one in eight being industrial chemicals.
This article covers everyday items in Part 2 of my series, #GetReal for wellness.
13 chemicals to avoid in the home and personal care products
The list includes carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors, and in some instances plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants. It worries me to think of the effect of these on my health long term, not to mention the impact on the environment.
If you are interested to know how to avoid these, I have listed these 13 nasties in my guide of products to watch and some better choices to consider.
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Better eco style choices
Below, I list the types of commercial products I’ve ditched to lessen my exposure to potentially toxic chemicals, including the nasty 13 mentioned above.
I believe the following options are less toxic and environmentally damaging than commonly sold commercial products.
A note up front about something being natural: it doesn’t make it harmless, so when cleaning, take the usual necessary precautions, like wearing gloves and washing hands afterward.
#1. Cleaning products
I no longer buy commercial cleaning products.
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 of Speed Cleaning, see it here, and I find it is one of the best.
For limescale, I make up a past of bicarb soda with 3% hydrogen peroxide and apply to taps (faucets) and this will 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 one here.
#2. Personal insect repellent
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.
#5. Eye care
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 make mine using an iron, as follows:
- I grated enough beeswax to cover the (size and shape of the) chosen cloth in melted wax.
- 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.
- 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, check them out.
Life Without Plastic has many Earth-friendly alternatives to plastic products for everyday life, just like these, check it out here.
#5. Hair moisturizing treatment
For hair that is soft and lustrous, 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.
#6. Ant repellant
Annoying ants around the house?
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.
#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. Conventional toothpaste
I don’t use the conventional toothpaste, which contains triclosan, SLS, and other nasties.
I practice oil pulling every few weeks. You can use coconut oil for this, but I much prefer to use cold pressed virgin sesame oil, similar to this one.
This Ayurvedic blend of coconut, sesame, sunflower, and peppermint oils is also available and has a refreshing taste that you might like to try when starting out, see it here.
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.
The toothpaste that I use and recommend, available in the four flavors, is this one.
#9. Big Brand name skin moisturizers
I’ve given away buying the anti-aging creams and expensive moisturizers.
I now almost solely use cold pressed virgin sesame oil, check it out here. It helps with sun protection as well.
What are some of your eco lifestyle options?
These are but a few. Not only do they save your health, but they save you dollars as well. Are there some you’d like to share with us? 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 guide to the 13 chemical nasties, listing the products to watch and some better options.
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