Welcome! Ready to take some steps to create a more low-tox lifestyle? And, I am talking “Progress over Perfection”, DOABLE and maintainable action steps.
After all, the number one “push back” I get for starting this journey (ie: cleaning up our homes and products, and limiting the number of preventable exposures to toxins on a daily basis), is NOT KNOWING WHERE TO BEGIN. I often hear “I know I should be more careful, but I just feel overwhelmed with the process. What do I change first? How would I possibly do an overhaul of my house and all my products…and won’t that be super expensive?”
I get it! I’ve been there myself, so I have put together some tips of how a REAL people, on an ordinary budget, can make simple clean swaps towards a healthier home.
Yes, there is a lot of scary information out there. BUT, the encouraging thing to remember is we are actually in control of so much when it comes to what we buy and what we use in our home and in/on our bodies. Let this feel EMPOWERING to you! Each time you shop, you make a conscious decision for which products you let in your house, and the type of companies you support with your $. Furthermore, as the demand from consumers increases for healthier options, availability of items has increased (HELLO–have you seen my TJMaxx finds!), and prices have started to go down. There is hope! The future is looking brighter.
Below I have detailed some changes that will give you your biggest bang for your buck and categorized them as “Quick Fix” (ie: immediate, simple changes), and “Clean Sweep” (for a larger overhaul and a really awesome long-term health benefit!). You’ll find that many of these are also sustainable, money-saving, goodies, as well.
Perhaps you start off with a one-per-month goal! Are you an overachiever, than by all means, check them off quicker than that– Go, baby, go!
Also: You may find that the timing for some of these swaps is more natural for when you are running out of a product, or need to upgrade. This is certainly a low-waste way to go! Use up the old, and then opt for a healthier version. I also like to add items to my wish lists for special occasions like Birthdays, etc. which gives people some fun gifting ideas.
Month 1: Say “No” to Plastic!
Do a quick internet search and you will find tons of information on the health dangers tied to plastics–from cancers to thyroid, hormone and fertility issues, even BPA-free… plastics are no bueno.
“Quick Fix”: Switch to a reusable AND plastic-free waterbottle!
I kick off with this item because as we make health goals (particularly at the start of a new year), they usually include some mix of working out and drinking more water. While we are doing a GOOD thing for our bodies, let’s not negate it by placing that water in a plastic waterbottle. Bonus, your new stainless steel waterbottle will double as a hand weight to build strong muscles–because they aren’t light…but they do keep water fresh and cold, if you like it that way, and you won’t have harmful chemicals leaching into the liquids you consume.
MakeSimpleHappen-approved brands include: Klean Kanteen (which is a certified Bcorp doing good things for communities and the earth, so extra bonus!), Yeti and Hydroflask, are also great.
Snag 25% off your purchase on Klean Kanteen products using this link: https://www.talkable.com/x/KZdJ67
Clean Sweep: Eliminate plastic food storage all together.
My favorite brands pictured above include:
Plastic-Free Containers: (stainless steel and glass are the best options) Pyrex and Wean Green, and good ‘ole mason jars.
Food Wrap Substitutes: Etee, Bees Wrap, and Lily Bee Wrap, or food-grade silicone stretchy toppers, such as ModFamily.
On-the-go snack and sandwich bags: Stasher Bags (food-grade silicone–you can put them in the dishwasher, freezer, or even boil them!) and Lunch Skins, which have reusable cloth and recyclable options.
Bento Boxes–we are huge “Yum Box” fans! (All materials are food-safe, BPA-Free, Phthalates-free and are CPSIA and FDA compliant)
Snag a 20% discount using my MakeSimpleHappen link: https://www.yumboxlunch.com/ and code “TRY20”
Psss…You can even upgrade your skin care to more sustainable plastic-free options. My favorite Countertime line from Beautycounter, is all in beautiful sustainable glass bottles!
This means the products are better for your health–no yucky plastic chemicals leaching into the lotions you rub onto your skin–and better for the earth, as it makes the packaging much more sustainable. Beautycounter has been a certified B corp since its founding, with the larger picture of safety, advocacy, and sustainability in mind!
Month 2: Ditch the “Fragrance”
Quick Fix: CLEAR OUT THE SCENTED CANDLES AND AIR FRESHENERS
Yep, that’s right. The synthetic scents in these bad boys are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors, and can be super toxic for your health. In fact, scientists are beginning to refer to synthetic fragrance as the “new secondhand smoke” because it is just that bad for you. Opt instead for diffusing a pure essential oil (I personally love DoTerra for it’s purity, sourcing, and disclosure of ingredients), or adding some fresh flowers in your decor.
Clean Sweep: GO FRAGRANCE-FREE EVERYWHERE!
Whether it is the hand soap in your guest bath, the dryer sheets in your laundry room, or your favorite body lotion, ditching the synthetic scents (i.e. “flavors” created in a lab, versus naturally occurring in mother nature) can save you from exposure to HUNDREDS of potentially dangerous chemicals, and endocrine-disruptors.
Where do you start? When reading labels, check for the ingredient listed “fragrance” or “Parfume” or “Perfume”. (A really helpful app is “Healthy Living” by the Environmental Working Group–scan your products and they will let you know the toxicity rating and also if it contains Fragrance, or check out the EWG’s full online database.
Because of a loophole in our personal care laws, companies are not required to disclose the ingredients they use for fragrance. The average scent consists of 12 separate chemicals, with little safety data, and what data we do have, shows that these chemicals are endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic. Oh ya, and back to plastic, manufacturers add tiny plasticizers called “phthalates” to the fragrance to help the scents stick to your skin and clothes longer, which adds even more hormone-disrupting chemicals in the mix. Yuck.
Some of my favorite, truly honest brands, when it comes to safety of ingredients and transparency for consumers are Beautycounter,* Everyone (EO) products and Alaffia, which all use pure essential oils and plant-based scents for their products, and disclose the ingredients fully on their labels. The photo above is what’s in my kids’ bathtub right now.
PSSS: Maybe you still love a traditional body spray/eau de parfume. These can be REALLY scary, but there are some safer brands popping up like PHLUR and HENRY ROSE!
Save $5 on Henry Rose Transparent Eau De Parfume when you spend $20 by using my link. I recommend the Discovery set! http://fbuy.me/v/makesimplehappen
Month 3: Pay Attention to your Personal Care Products
I could really write a novel about this area. For now, PLEASE do yourself a big favor, and check out my post on Why you need to be your own Personal Care Product Advocate
Quick Fix: Out with the Old & Expired!
It’s an easy way to start slimming down products that no longer serve you. Typically makeup and skin care have a shelf life of 2-years or less. So if you have items in your makeup bag or bathroom cabinet you KNOW have been there longer than that (or anything has separated or changed texture or color) put them in the trash!
Many products have a PAO stamp (Period after opening), with a time frame listed. This is how long the product will stay fresh after you have broken the seal. You might find it on the packaging itself, or the original packaging box.
Clean Sweep: All that Toxic Crap Must Go. Start with what you use EVERY Day.
The average adult uses 12 personal care products per day. Make a list of everything you use, starting with your shower in the morning, all the way to when you turn off the light for bedtime (think shampoo, soap, toothpaste, face lotion, body lotion, chapstick, hairspray, deodorant… Wear makeup? I bet you have even more than the 12 items—I do, too!).
12 products–12 months. Start with making a clean swap for 1 product per month. I began with my body lotion and my face lotion, because they covered the largest surface area and stayed on the longest, as well as my mascara and lipgloss, because I used them everyday and they were near my eyes and mouth, in addition to the absorption factor! Then, as I ran out of something, I replaced it with a much safer alternative.
Major Toxic Ingredients to Avoid: It’s hard to narrow it down, but these are the items most often linked to cancers, autoimmune diseases, and infertility: “Fragrance”, Parabens, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, and Triclosan.
Resources–because there is a lot of false marketing out there, and “natural”, “organic”, “plant-based” are slogans that sometimes don’t match up to what is in the bottle.
- Use the EWG Skin Deep Website or “Healthy Living” app for a nonprofit third-party rating of personal care products. Green means GO (safe), yellow means use with caution, and red means avoid completely!
- Beautycounter’s Never List. Use this a resource for what really means “Safer” and “Cleaner”. Beautycounter has set the standard for intentional ingredient selection (they ban 1,500 dangerous toxins, chemicals and irritants), along with continual screening for contaminants such as heavy metals, which are quite prominent in pressed powder makeup like eyeshadows, blush, bronzer, etc. This is a great place to shop if you don’t want to worry about having to decipher labels, because they have done the work for you. Message me if I can help. I advocate for this brand because I love the transparency, the advocacy in DC for better laws, and amazing performance that doesn’t make me miss my conventional stuff one bit!
Month 4: Clean Up your Indoor Pollution
Quick Fix: ADD MORE INDOOR PLANTS
Not only do plants look gorgeous for decorating, but there are several varieties that have been linked to detoxing the air! My favorites are Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, Ferns, and Aloe Vera plants. (and lucky for me, they are also easy to keep alive!).
“So, how do houseplants clean the air? Plants absorb some of the particulates from the air at the same time that they take in carbon dioxide, which is then processed into oxygen through photosynthesis. But that’s not all—microorganisms associated with the plants are present in the potting soil, and these microbes are also responsible for much of the cleaning effect.” Read more…
Clean Sweep: BECOME A SHOE-FREE HOUSEHOLD
Why? In a nutshell, your shoes tract in a ridiculous amount of BACTERIA: (421,000 units and 9 different strands, to be exact). In a study by the University of Arizona, researchers found 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe, including E. coli, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract 🤢.
Additionally, herbicides/pesticides, heavy metals–like lead–and feces, all get tracked in by shoes. SO, leaving them at the front door, instead of bringing all of that crap into your kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms, is a much better plan! (Plus, it means less sweeping and vacuuming!).
We have a designated shoe zone by each entrance. It makes it easy to keep the shoes organized and kicked off right away, instead of walking through the house to the place you store them.
Month 5: Make the Switch to Safer Cleaning Products
Quick Fix: Get rid of anything that is “Antibacterial:
Why: They have been proven to NOT work better than plain soap and warm water, or plant-based cleaning agents, and they are linked to creating antibiotic-resistant superbugs, along with exposing you to nasty chemicals. TRICLOSAN is often found in antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, and cosmetics–it’s an antimicrobial agent to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Triclosan’s chemical structure has striking similarities to thyroid hormones and to several known endocrine disruptors including diethylstilbestrol (DES) and bisphenol A (BPA). Triclosan will be listed as an active ingredient on any product label, since it is considered a pesticide.(3) BCPP.org Avoid “anti-microbial” soaps, toothpastes and other products claiming to be antimicrobial and containing triclosan or 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol.
Clean Sweep: Switch Over to all Safer Cleaning Products for the full house!
Along with the personal care industry, there is a huge lack of regulation for the Cleaning Supply market in the U.S. Companies aren’t required to disclose full ingredients, products don’t need to be tested before bringing them to the marketplace, and there are a whole lot of scary toxins, irritants and chemicals. Learn more here.
Make Simple Happen approved products:
Seventh Generation–this is a great place if you are just starting off with safer cleaning products, laundry detergents, dish soap, etc. because they will be “greener” and safer than MANY other options (they aren’t perfect, some products still contain a few irritants like SLS, but it is still a safe option!), and you can find them at your neighborhood grocery or Target store. They are also a great business model and certified BCorp.
Branch Basics–snag a starter kit of everything you need to clean your full house (bathrooms, kitchens, mirrors, etc), without any dangerous ingredients. Their starter set also makes an amazing gift. Add it to your wish list for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day!
Grab $10 off your purchase using my link: http://branchbasics.refr.cc/makesimplehappen
Humble Suds–Colorado friends, this local company is amazing and offers delivery, and refil stations around town. I am loving the All Purpose Cleaner.
Make your own cleaners! So many safe ingredient recipes on the web, using baking soda and white vinegar. I love to use DoTerra’s OnGuard Concentrate and Dr. Bronner’s Castle Soap, and make cleaners for around the house, with glass spray bottles found on Amazon.
- Limit Plastic (especially plastic that touches your food and water)
- Add Purifying Plants into your home (Ferns, Aloe, Snake plants, Fiddle Leaf Figs, and Peace Lilies)
- Ditch the Air Fresheners and Candles, and Opt for an Pure Essential Oil Diffuser instead (note, these are not oils you buy over the counter. DoTerra or Young Living would be much safer for purity and disclosure of ingredients and sourcing).
- Swap out dangerous cleaning products for safe and effective plant-based options.
- Ditch the toxic makeup and skin care, and choose companies who screen for dangerous ingredients (including contaminants like heavy metals), and have a safe rating through the Environmental Working Group.
*Affiliate links are included, and when you shop those items, I may receive a small commission, which helps support this blog. Thank you.