How To Start Living Toxic Free
My non-toxic journey happened accidentally; I set out looking for eco-friendly products and quickly realized that the ingredients in my products where not only harmful to the environment, but humans too! It was a hard pill to swallow that the many assumptions I had made about product safety regulations were not at all true - I often feel like a conspiracy theorist, except that peer reviewed scientific studies and product databases state in black and white how harmful many household chemicals can be.
When I realized that most of the products in my home needed to change, I felt overwhelmed! What was worse was I found different bloggers had different opinions on what was non-toxic, so after being tossed back and forth I learned some important principles regarding how to make decisions for myself and form a strategy that worked for me.
As I see it, there are two main approaches to non-toxic living:
1. Replace As You Go:
You will naturally run out of products (like laundry detergent, face cream etc.) and you can simply focus on choosing a better option to replace them with when they run out. This saves time, money and the waste. This approach also saves your spouse/partner/family from thinking you've completely lost your mind!
2. Replace By Greatest Exposure:
Some people prefer to focus their attention and money on eliminating their greatest exposure to toxics first. Here is how you determine greatest exposure:
Generally speaking, we have a greater exposure to chemicals that we put directly in and on our body than ones we use on surfaces and in machines. For example, someone using the greatest exposure approach would place higher value on removing toxins from their drinking water first, before upgrading their laundry detergent (as the detergent goes into a machine & is rinsed off, where as we drink & bathe in our household water). Another consideration is the applicant, children are often more susceptible to the damaging effects of certain chemicals than adults (even if we don't see the damage until later in life).
A side note- Its worth noting that application plays a huge role when evaluating ingredients. There are many chemicals not considered to be safe in cosmetics (ex. irritating to skin), but are very acceptable in cleaners. Different application, different rules.
What products do you use every day or week? You may prioritize non-toxic makeup if you apply makeup every day. You may not choose to spend your time researching a better version for a cleaning product you rarely use, knowing that can be figured out much later (this is a matter of prioritizing, not ignoring toxins).
What products do use in large quantities? You apply a greater dosage of body lotion or sunscreen to your body than you would an eyebrow pencil. This is helpful at narrowing down priorities within a category (like cosmetics, cleaners etc.). As shown above, we use thinkbaby sunscreen now!
Personally I use a combo approach! I replace with non-toxic products as I run out regardless of what they are, but if I'm struggling to find a perfect alternative I will consider exactly how great my family's exposure to that product is. This process helps me evaluate if I need to double down on my research, or if a "better, but not perfect" option will work for the time being.
Please know that you will not be perfect, you will probably buy something and later realize it was a mistake, you will buy a "clean" product and realize it doesn't do a good job at its task, you will probably face criticism or eye rolls from others, but it really truly is WORTH IT.
If you are a parent, you can likely relate that when it comes to our children's safety, nothing is more important.
I hope these tips help you feel more level headed when making non-toxic decisions.
Please feel free to comment if you have any questions!