If you’re anything like me you’re becoming increasingly aware of the unavoidable toxins that we deal with in our everyday lives. From our products, to our food, to the air we breathe, chemicals are all around us. As much as I’d like to control this and protect myself and my family from harmful chemicals, it’s just not 100% possible. BUT you can become more aware and make choices (like starting with attainable kitchen swaps!) to help reduce the toxins we come in contact with every day.
Making the switch to a safer, non-toxic lifestyle can be daunting.
There is SO much information out there and it seems like there’s an alternative product for just about everything. But where does one start? Why are these chemicals harmful and why should we be avoiding them? That seems to be the biggest question: WHY should we start removing toxins from our home?
Unfortunately there is little no regulation on products and many chemicals are under-researched. People are beginning to wake up and demand change by voting with their dollars and holding companies more accountable by advocating for safer health protective laws.
I started this clean life journey just about 3 years ago when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I started to pay attention to what I was eating and the products I was putting on my body.
Now it’s evolved to the products that surround us, what surrounds the food we eat, and really my kitchen space in general.
1. Start at the Store
Let’s start the journey at the grocery store. First make sure to remember your reusable grocery bags. If you do forget opt for paper bags at check-out instead of plastic.
I recently purchased a set of 12 reusable mesh bags for my produce. We eat a lot of fruits and veggies and typically would be bringing home over 10 plastic produce bags each time I went to the store. Although great for picking up doggy poop, plastic never biodegrades and just ends up in the landfills. These mesh bags are reusable and transparent enough to scan the produce barcodes.
I’m a firm believer in buying organic foods. Why? Because there have been numerous studies done confirming pesticides (most specifically glyphosate, the main ingredient found in Round Up) are a known carcinogen. Carcinogens are considered cancer-causing.
It’s great to see the cost of organic foods are becoming more affordable. The more we support organic farming the more affordable the products become. If you’re on a budget them make sure to at least buy organic produce, and even more so, pay attention to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen Annual Report. This report is a guide to pesticides in produce.
I would also recommend cooking from scratch as it reduces your exposure to chemicals as well. Remember, when you buy food in a box it’s most likely been processed. Do your best to avoid boxed and packaged foods and stick to whole, real, fresh foods. That way you know EXACTLY what you’re putting into your meals.
Now I’m a total realist and a mom on the go. I don’t always have time to make home cooked meals but I try to cook and bake from scratch as much as a I can. Or make sure to read those labels and if you can actually read and understand all the ingredients it’s a go. If you have to try and decipher scientific wording, that’s a good sign it’s highly processed with preservatives, artificial coloring, flavoring and you should throw it out. Remember fresh is best. Keep food simple and go back to the basics.
2. Switch out Plastics for Other Non-Toxic Options
This is a quick and easy clean swap. Instead of continuing to use your stained plastic set of Tupperware go out and buy a new set of glass containers. You can also switch out any plastic cups for glass. Why? Because plastics contain a chemicals like BPA and phthalates which will leach into your food. Studies have shown major health concerns with both chemicals including cancer, birth defects and hormone disruption. And especially NEVER microwave or heat up food in plastic containers. This expedites phthalates moving into your food quicker.
Now I know what you’re thinking: what about the kiddos? You don’t want them dropping glass cups on the ground. So instead opt for BPA free/non-toxic plate wears or better yet choose from a sustainable material like bamboo or wheat straw. I find great options at Costco or on Amazon.
Another way to switch out plastics is to pick up a case of mason jars. I use these for EVERYTHING! You can use for ground up coffee, salad toppings, nuts, trail mix, cereal… really anything! The more you can transfer food away from plastic to glass the less likely more plastic chemicals will move into your food.
3. Think the 3 R’s
Reduce, re-use and recycle. Start with reducing. Start to eliminate single use plastics like plastic straws, plastic utensils, paper plates (unless if you’re having a BBQ because let’s be real here), saran wrap, plastic baggies and really anything that can’t be recycled.
Instead purchase reusable containers/products. Purchase a glass or metal water bottle and stop by those single use plastic bottled waters. Also consider purchasing a metal reusable straw (make sure it comes with a cleaner) and use whenever in need. Another clean swap for baggies or Saran wrap are re-usable beeswax wraps.
Remember many plastics can’t be recycled, and if they are recyclable it varies from city to city so make sure to check with your city’s guidelines. If you can’t reuse it, or recycle it, it will end up in the trash, then to the landfill and into our planet.
4. Time to Cook & Clean
Alright so now you have all of your food home from the store, everything has been put away and switched out to glass containers (where possible) and you’re ready to cook some nutritious meals at home!
Another quick and easy clean swap is to get rid of those non-stick Teflon pans. The chemicals uses are called PFSA’s and have been linked to numerous health concerns. Opt for a stainless steel or cast iron skillet. They are heavier and take longer to clean, but remember they are keeping you and your family safer.
Ready for clean up? Ok let’s talk green cleaning products. There is essentially no regulation on products and these are in fact filled with harmful chemicals. A few great brands to use are Seventh Generation, Simple Truth, Thieves or you can even make your own cleaning solution with water, lemon juice and white vinegar. Make sure to steer away from anything that has a synthetic fragrance. Fragrance along is a whole group of chemicals that don’t need to be exposed.
5. Remember, it’s a Journey
Now that we’ve gone over some clean swaps, don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s a journey and it takes time to kick the chemicals. Start with what is attainable for you and your family. This is also a financial investment but remember to think long term for your health. It doesn’t happen overnight but even the smallest swaps can lead to major impacts.
Remember all we have is our health. Protect yourself and help educate the younger generations to make greener, cleaner lifestyle choices.
If you want to learn more follow me at @laurenbrit on Instagram. I’m constantly sharing green living ideas!