Switching to a more “green and clean” lifestyle is not something I did overnight. In fact, it started years ago and in many cases, I feel like I have a long way to go still. Also “going green” can mean so many different things to different people. So what does “going green” mean? Many people take it to mean pursuing a lifestyle that is good for the environment. While that’s one definition, for me it means living a sustainable lifestyle free of chemicals or substances that could be harmful to my health or surrounding environment. And because I’ve chosen this lifestyle here are at least 10 things I no longer buy since going green.
In college I cleaned bathrooms at a campground and although I didn’t think it was possible, my skin got even worse. I didn’t connect it to the chemicals in our cleaning products until after I left the job and my skin started to improve. It was then that I started researching the connection between chemicals in products and how it could affect one’s health and in my case, definitely my face.
But I still didn’t know enough to make decisions that actually improved my skin. I would buy “clean” face lotions but still pair it with chemical-laden face washes. I couldn’t figure out why my skin wasn’t improving. It’s only when I learned that I had to make a complete and total switch to green and clean products if I wanted to see results that I actually began to see them.
While I admit I’m still on this green journey, here are…
8 Things I No Longer Buy Since Going Green
1.|| Shampoos with SLS + Conditioners with Silicones
In a nutshell, SLS is the chemical agent that scrubs your scalp of product, leaving you with that oh-so-clean feeling. However, it ALSO strips your hair of natural oils, causing it to become more dry over time. In order to combat the dryness companies created a similar chemical called SLES which is softer on the scalp but contains a known carcinogen. My point here is not to scare anyone but yes, carcinogens can cause cancer. Since so many things seems to cause it these days why not at least avoid it in our shampoo?
For more information I wrote all about the BENEFITS of switching away from an SLS or SLES shampoo.
Though they seem safe, regular scented candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution and they put off chemicals that are considered just as dangerous as second-hand smoke. Paraffin is a petroleum waste product and has to be deodorized and chemically bleached before it can be made in to wax. (source)Most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned (both are known carcinogens). In fact, the toxins released from paraffin candles are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes.On top of that, many scented candles also have wicks that contain heavy metals like lead, and even a few hours of burning them can create levels of airborne heavy metals that are much higher than the acceptable limits. In the US, candle wicks are supposed to be made of cotton or paper, but studies have found that as much as 30% of candles contain heavy metals in the wicks.“A candle with a lead-core wick releases five times the amount of lead considered hazardous for children and exceeds EPA pollution standards for outdoor air, says the CPSC, which is why they banned lead wicks in 2003. Exposure to high amounts of lead has been linked to hormone disruption, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and numerous health problems.” (source)Don’t worry – there are great alternatives though. Either you can diffuse essential oils in the air ( but double check the quality) OR many companies now make soy based candles with all natural ingredients.
3.|| Chemical-Filled Cleaners
Harmful chemicals are no joke. Scientists at the University of Bergen found that cleaning the “house is as bad for women’s lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
”Wait, for real? For real.
According to the article, after studying the lungs of over 6,000 women and men the researchers found that a, “variety of potential irritants to the lungs are found in domestic products – including bleach and ammonia. ”The researchers themselves added, “Women cleaning at home or working as occupational cleaners had accelerated decline in lung function, suggesting that exposures related to cleaning activities may constitute a risk to long-term respiratory health.”
What do I do instead?
I use green cleaning products. Thankfully more entrepreneurs are starting up “green” companies and large companies are simplifying their ingredients. If you’d like my personal recommendations just shoot me an email and I’d be happy to share, depending on what’s most important to you in a product. Otherwise, I’ve been known to use soap nuts as detergent and even make my own DIY all-purpose cleaner. (Spoiler: it’s the best!)
4.|| Plastic Tupperware
As easy fix is to buy glass. That way you are guaranteed that no chemicals will be released into your feed. Costco usually has a good price on Pyrex ones, too.
5.|| Hormone-Filled or Processed Meat
Similarly, I try to buy my eggs and meat in the organic section whenever possible. Meat is not something I want to mess around with. I am more lenient with my fruits and vegetables although will snatch up the organic ones if they are on sale. Aldi’s has an awesome selection of organic meat, eggs and fruit and vegetables.
6.|| Dryer Sheets
You only have to smell and touch dryer sheets to know they are full of chemicals. Yes, the smell might be nice but it’s fake. I’m going to let you do your own research on whether the claims are true or not but since it’s SO easy to switch away from them why not?
Instead I use wool dryer balls. You can buy them just about anywhere now including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and even Marshalls. And if you’re looking for a fun DIY you can also make your own!
7.|| Drug-Store Face Washes & Lotions
So much to say here so little space. Now, I am not against drug stores. But it’s just that most of them are not going to carry clean brands. Why? Well, because green beauty is a little pricey and that’s not their shtick.
I wrote a whole post on why you should switch to a cleaner version of skincare so I won’t try to repeat myself here but in my opinion, this is one of the most important switches to make. Why? Because unlike your body which has a digestion system, our skin can’t filter out the bad stuff so it gets absorbed right into our bodies and blood stream.
Truly clean skincare does tend to be more expensive so I understand why people don’t want to splurge. I’ve had numerous requests to write a blog post on green products found at drugstores but to be honest, we’re just not there yet. There is some good news though, Target and Walmart have started to carry some truly green and affordable brands I love including Juice Organics, Andalou Naturals, and Nourish Organics. (Yes, all three are organic!) Otherwise, the expensive stuff is just worth it.
And this probably won’t come as a shock, but I also make my own face lotion.
8.|| Acne-Causing Makeup
Last, but not least our makeup. If you struggle with acne I’m willing to bet it is one of three things: your cleanser, dairy or your makeup.
I’ve already talked so much about chemicals found in our products so I won’t repeat myself but you understand. Thankfully, again, just in the last few years companies have been sprouting up left and right offering truly green makeup. If you want suggestions just hit me up and I’d be glad to share my favorite!
Also, here is a guide on switching to green beauty products if interested.
I’d like to close by saying that I am not here to strike fear into you about what products you use. Or for you to think you have to throw out everything in your home. My motto in life is just to “do better” than the day before and that includes what I eat, what I clean with and what I put on my skin. So maybe today you could make one small change in going green and feel proud that you are doing one thing better for your health and those around you.