For the past few years I’ve been consciously trying to get rid of as many chemicals from mine and my family life. There are quite a number of habits you can change and adjust in order to reduce this chemical toxicity. When I started doing some changes many people told me that chemicals are all around us and we can’t do anything about it so why even try. Well, it is true that we are surrounded with lots of environmental and chemical pollution and because of that we should at least try to get rid of those in our household as we spend lots of time at home.
How to start?
It can be overwhelming at first as you start learning what is not only in the cleaning products we use, but also in our make up, food, baby products, air fresheners, shampoos etc. Don’t get scared though, once you start eliminating few it gets easier and you start looking out for other options when you shop. Due to the ingredients and the way it is made, somethings do require a higher budget. At the same time, there are plenty of things you can make yourself from natural ingredients.
For me, it was important to focus on those areas which we are exposed to every day. I started with floor and dishes detergents, especially with the kids crawling and walking on those floors every day it was important not to use chemicals. Since I use make up on most days, I decided to substitute some of the products with those that don’t use harmful ingredients. Specifically those that I apply on my skin as it penetrates through the pores. For kids I’ve always used organic or chemical free soap and shampoo, so decided to do the same thing for myself as well. Another very important product I replaced was the toothpaste which we unconsciously swallow on daily basis. Especially with my 3 year old who doesn’t quite understand the concept of spitting the toothpaste or rather she prefers to swallow it.
After joining Shuang Hor, I learnt more about what is inside our every day cleaning products and how harmful they really are. Not only are they bad for our lungs as we inhale the fumes, but they also alter our hormones. Of course not to mention how bad they are for the environment as they enter our rivers and oceans. For more detailed information about the cleaning products please refer to my post “What is in your detergents”.
I replaced my floor and dishes detergent with GoEco All Purpose Cleaner which uses bio enzymes to clean the dirt instead of chemicals. It gets diluted a lot so in the end the price was not much different from those common detergents which you don’t dilute. Our clothes are washed with GoEco Liquid Detergent and I don’t have to buy separate baby detergent. Imagine, GoEco is made of such natural materials that you can even use it as a natural fertiliser and it makes crops grow really fast. Amazing right?!
Tile Grout Cleaner– Mix 1 part water and 3 parts baking soda mixed into a paste. Apply to grout and let sit, scrub with toothbrush, remove with sponge.
Cookware– Use sea salt or course salt mixed with a little lemon juice and scrub. Also, try baking soda and water made into a paste.
Fabric Softener– Mix 1 part vinegar, and 2 parts water together. Use 1/4 to 1/3 cup during the final rinse cycle.
Toilet Cleaner-Use undiluted white vinegar, pour around the top of the toilet bowl, scrub until clean.
How to use products which you have at home:
- Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
- Soap – unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
- Lemon – one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
- Borax – (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
- White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
- Washing Soda – or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
- Isopropyl Alcohol – is an excellent disinfectant. (It has been suggested to replace this with ethanol or 100 proof alcohol in solution with water. There is some indication that isopropyl alcohol buildup contributes to illness in the body. See http://drclark.ch/g)
- Cornstarch – can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.
- Citrus Solvent – cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, some stains. (Citrus solvent may cause skin, lung or eye irritations for people with multiple chemical sensitivities.)
As you can see you don’t need to spend lots of money on organic and natural cleaning detergents as most of these ingredients you would have readily available in your house.
Skin Care and Make up
Skin care and make up is something I use on a daily basis and I felt if I didn’t substitute those, I wouldn’t be eliminating enough toxins from my life. I was rather nervous about this since I was so used to my popular cosmetic brands and I wasn’t sure if I could find good natural alternatives. Being constantly bombarded by all the anti wrinkle and anti ageing creams, I wasn’t sure if the alternative ones could do the job. Since joining Shuang How I decided to give the face creams and cleansing lotions a try. Their skin care line has no harsh chemicals and it is top of the line so it still has deep moisturising and anti ageing properties. I must say I was pretty impressed as my two big wrinkles I had on my forehead between my eyes almost completely disappeared after a few months of using the cream. I was more then thrilled with the products and never looked back.
With make up I mix and match different brands which don’t use harsh chemicals and there are more and more in the market now. It is important to select chemically free foundation, eyeliner and mascara as those stay on entire day and can easily penetrate into your body.
Shampoos and conditioners are another very important item you need to check and replace if necessary. We use it almost on a daily basis and through the pores in our scalp it can easily penetrate into our body. There are lots of organic and chemical free alternatives out there and it is becoming more accessible. As with the skin care these are the usually bad chemicals to look out for when you read the label.
1. BHA and BHT
Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
2. Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number
3. DEA-related ingredients
Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife. Look also for related chemicals MEA and TEA.
4. Dibutyl phthalate
Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics — even in some products marketed as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.
8. PEG compounds
Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).
Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. A petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
11. Sodium laureth sulfate
Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate).
Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
As you can see they all have few common causing traits; endocrine disrupters (cause thyroid issues), cancer causing and damage the reproductive organs. These three issues are are more and more common, especially among women. I have replaced the family shampoo and body wash with Shuang Hor’s VCare series which is free from chemicals and made with natural extracts such as Aloe vera and Cucumber. My 3 year old uses the same so I don’t have to spend extra on those crazy expensive children shampoos.
Like I said you can always find an alternative which works best for you as long as it is free of chemicals. Find a brand which you trust, do the research and then stick with it.
This was number 1 on my list to replace as I’ve heard so much negative things about all the commercial toothpaste brands. Let’s face it we usually swallow some amount of toothpaste every time we brush our teeth and therefore it is very important to choose the right toothpaste. Especially for the kids, my daughter still swallows most of the toothpaste when brushing her teeth, but I don’t worry about it as she uses chemically free toothpaste.
We use Greenzhi tooth gel which is again made of natural ingredients and besides being the healthy alternative it also gives other added benefits. The usually feedback from my friends who use it is that their mouth feels a lot fresher for a longer time. It can also be used to treat sore throat as it has the neem extract which reduces inflammation. I used to get bleeding gums all the time prior to using Greenzhi. Now I can brush without worrying about any bleeding and my daughter uses it too.
Plastic (bottles, containers)
I’ve completely minimised the use of plastic bottles as well as containers which store the food. I’ve replaced my son’s and daughter’s water bottle with a metal one which is a lot cleaner and healthier. And you have to replace the straw part often as that collects a lot of bacteria. I bought food containers from IKEA which are glass with a plastic lid and they work perfectly. Not only that they don’t omit chemicals from the plastic, but they also keep the food fresher in the fridge.
Food of course is a topic I could write a lot about so I’m not going to go into so many details in this entry. I’ll share with you more about my meal plan later. However, the most important thing is to avoid as much as possible food which is preserved, pre-paket and full of MSG. I pretty much don’t eat many things from a packet (unless they are raw) so whatever I can I make from scratch.
Unfortunately, even most of the vegetables are now covered with lots of pesticide so it is important to buy organic when possible. My dream of course would be to have my own little vegetable patch, but a bit difficult at the moment while living in a condominium. I do buy organic though whenever I can, especially for leafy vegetables or anything which is not covered with thick skin. I get so excited when I find worms and snails on my veggie as this is not possible with the commercial, pesticide covered vegetables.
Of course I learnt quickly that it will be impossible to keep my kids from having chocolates and sweets so I just have to limit it to a few a day. I make sure they get their probiotics and bee pollen, my daughter also take lingzhi now that she is able to swallow the capsules. And also I make sure fruits and vegetables are on the daily meal plan.
In the end of the day it is all about give and take, but I do think it is important to start somewhere instead of thinking that chemicals are all around us and we can’t do anything about them. You can start with some of the steps I mentioned above and you will eventually remove more and more of the chemicals which are in your vicinity.
It is also important to visit the nature and get some good oxygen from the forests and jungles. I make it a habit to bring my kids to the big parks at least once a week. Living in a big city doesn’t give you many opportunities with nature, you yourself must make it a conscious decision.
Another great tip I received from a doctor was to open windows on your car once a day to let all the chemicals which the plastic on the dashboard releases. Especially when you leave your car under the hot sun and also when your car is brand new.
I hope that my tips help you to relief your body from some of the chemical burdens which surround our daily life.