What do you think living a nontoxic lifestyle is like? What type of person do you think lives a nontoxic lifestyle? Do you think of someone who eats bland food? Doesn’t eat meat? Doesn’t wear makeup? Doesn’t shower, shave or wear deodorant? Wears boring clothes? Lives off the land or off the grid?
Many images of the people who believe in nontoxic living come to mind for many different reasons. Sometimes these images are due to what we’ve seen on TV. Many characters on TV and movies have portrayed the type of person many of us associate with living nontoxic lives: vegan, does yoga, and believes in peace, zen, and natural healing. They are often portrayed as overbearing, weird and wear strange clothes. While these types of characters are the extreme of this lifestyle, someone who is unfamiliar with nontoxic living has nothing else to compare it to. This can cause someone to completely discount switching to a nontoxic lifestyle because they don’t want to become like a character they’ve seen on the screen. Other times a specific type of person comes to mind because of past experiences. For example, I went to middle school with a guy who didn’t shower or wear deodorant because he said soap and deodorant were bad for you. He stunk and he was a little creepy, so I immediately discounted what he said about both soap and deodorant. I was too busy trying to fit in with the “cool kids” to listen to the “hippy”. Most kids just want to fit in, and I was no different.
Even as adults we want to fit in. It may be with a different group of people than it was when we were kids, but none the less we still want to fit in. While we may have a smaller circle, it’s human nature to want to feel a sense of belonging. If we couple that need for belonging with the preconceived notions in our minds that people who live nontoxic lifestyles are outcasts, then it’s understandable that someone might discount adopting that way of living.
Now that we have those visions in our head, let’s talk about what a nontoxic lifestyle looks like. Realistically speaking, it won’t look the same for everyone. So that I don’t mislead you or speculate about other people’s lives, I’ll discuss what my nontoxic lifestyle is like. I still eat delicious meals, I just have to use different ingredients. I still eat meat, it just happens to be free of hormones, antibiotics and was fed a proper diet (as opposed to being fed GMOs & shot up with hormones & antibiotics). I still eat bread and pasta, it just has to be gluten free. I still eat cheese, but it has to be soy free vegan cheese because I’m sensitive to the casein protein in cow’s milk. I still wear makeup, but I use mineral makeup that’s free of things like parabens and I still wear perfume, just not those made with synthetic fragrance (I use essential oils instead). I still bathe, shave and wear deodorant, I just use products that don’t contain toxic chemcials (like synthetic fragrance, sodium laurel sulfate, parabens, etc.). I clean my house with plant based cleaners instead of harsh chemicals (they work better and don’t give me a headache!). In a nutshell, I’m the same person with the same likes and interests; I simply use different products. The bottom line is really that simple.
It didn’t happen over night, though. It took months of research, replacing things in phases, lots of trial and error trying new things, and managing expectations. Information on toxic chemicals in everyday products and even on safer products is readily available (a great resource is http://www.ewg.org/). While product reviews are available, they are subjective, so no matter how much research you do there’s still the trial and error factor.
Expectation management is one of the most important factors when switching to less toxic products (often made with only natural ingredients). Once I realized both of these things, buying nontoxic products got much easier. Not because the available products changed, but because my mindset did. Being open minded to trying new brands (like these) is the key. It’s kind of like taking a different route home from work that may be a bit longer in distance but is less stressful and takes less time. Now that I know to head straight for the alternative section I don’t waste my time reading labels of brands that I know use toxic chemicals in their products.
Here are two important things to know when making the switch to nontoxic products:
- Natural products often don’t work the same way as traditional ones. For example, I took the nontoxic water based nail polish that I use with me to a nail salon when a group of friends went for a pedicure. The nail technician used an oil based lotion on my feet (I forgot to bring my own), the water based polish didn’t go on evenly since oil & water don’t mix. After cleaning my nails off with polish remover, the polish went on evenly. Water based polishes also require more coats to achieve the color that’s in the bottle. But it’s absolutely worth not being exposed to endocrine disruptors! If you know that going in, it makes for a much less frustrating experience.
- Most mainstream brands don’t make nontoxic products. As a general rule this applies to personal care, cosmetics, household cleaners and food. This may seem restrictive, but it was actually liberating! When I first began to look for products without toxic chemicals, I started reading ingredient lists of brands I had used my entire life. It was extremely frustrating and quite overwhelming. When I took a step back and decided to look at alternative brands, I had much better luck finding nontoxic products. Bonus: I don’t get sucked in by beauty product ads anymore, which saves me $$. I simply assume they are made with toxic chemicals so I disregard them.
Have you noticed my use of the term nontoxic as opposed to saying “chemical free”? This is a popular way to describe nontoxic, but it’s actually a misnomer. Nothing is chemical free – everything in nature is made of a chemical. Remember the periodic table? Those are chemicals! Air, water, earth, etc. are all made of chemicals. Lotion made of natural substances and nothing synthetic still contains chemicals. Hence my use of the term nontoxic throughout my blog!
If you’ve read my bio, then you know why I switched to a nontoxic lifestyle. If not, here’s the condensed version: I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2009, put on synthetic thyroid hormone, felt worse and worse until I couldn’t take it anymore. I researched lifestyle changes and implemented them. Since doing that, my symptoms have cleared up and I’m no longer on medication.
I hope you found this article to be helpful and thought-provoking. If you’ve read this far, I appreciate you taking the time! Thank you!