We all know the importance of a healthy diet and exercise—modern healthy lifestyle recommendations usually focus on nutrition, exercise, and (thankfully) more on mental health these days but have you ever considered the impact on your health from the products you use every day?
We are constantly bombarded by toxins from vehicle emissions to the air fresheners and industrial cleaners used in our offices and schools. Most of these exposures are beyond our control, but a large portion of our chemical exposures come from our own cleaning and personal care supplies — things we bring into our homes voluntarily. Some of the most toxic dangers lurking in our homes include air fresheners, laundry detergent, fabric softener, candles, and household cleaners.
THE DEAL ON TOXINS
Maybe you’ve heard the buzz about toxins in your every day products and passed it off or maybe the information seemed too overwhelming. This area of your life is worth the time and energy! Choosing safer products is an easy first step to a healthier lifestyle, takes less will power than changing your diet (although we encourage that, too), and is an easy change to stick with. It’s time to take off the blind fold, learn about what’s lurking in your laundry room and cabinets, and take control of what you can.
We are exposed to a host of toxins every day . There are over 85,000 synthetic chemicals in the products we use and are exposed to daily—from preservatives to flavorings, fragrances, and pesticides, to vehicle emissions and plasticizers. Most of these substances have not been proven safe for human and environmental health, yet our bodies are bombarded with them everywhere we go.
In 1976, the Toxic Substance Abuse Act (TSCA) allowed 62,000 chemicals to remain on the market without assessing their toxic impact. Chemical companies have been so heavily protected by TSCA trade laws that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) couldn’t even ban asbestos, which still kills thousands of Americans . President Barack Obama passed the Lautenburg Act in 2016, a great stride in mandatory chemical testing, but it will take years until we see true change. Under the current laws, many chemicals and products have been deemed “safe” in low doses, but continuous minute exposure has been linked to a host of diseases, including cancer. Especially concerning are hormone-mimicking chemicals, since even small doses can have serious effects.
We may not be able to control what we’re exposed to in public or at work, but overwhelming scientific evidence shows that our homes and the items we use every day increase our toxic load and pose a serious risk to our health. According to the World Health Organization, more than ⅓ of diseases in children under five are linked to chemical exposure. What happens when the body is overloaded with toxins? Some may see it in something as catastrophic as cancer, but most of us feel it in other ways: fatigue, lack of focus, sleep problems, chronic inflammation, fertility issues, unexplained pain, skin issues, adult acne, hot flashes, stress and fear. Environmental specialist, Dr. Sherry Rogers, M.D. states in her book, “there is now no question that accumulated toxins are behind nearly every disease, symptom, and malfunction of the body. … If we get these ubiquitously unavoidable toxic chemicals out of the body, we can reverse and even cure the most hopeless diseases.”
The good news? YOU have a choice. You can control what you bring into your home, the products you use, and what you consume on a daily basis. Creating a toxic-free environment in your home can give your body a place to truly rest and recover, a place where it can use it’s energy for healing instead of detoxifying from more harmful chemicals. The human body is incredibly resilient, when we give it the chance to repair and recover, we open the door to a whole new level of health and wellness.
WHERE TO START
From hand soap to deodorant, kitchen cleaner to laundry detergent. It can be confusing, scary, infuriating … and overwhelming when you start to realize how many mainstream products in your home contain toxic chemicals that are detrimental to your health.
To start, identify some of the biggest toxic offenders in your home and ditch them immediately! Something as simple as ditching candles and air fresheners can have an instant, positive impact on your home environment and health—check the easy things off your list as you works towards creating better diet and lifestyle changes.
What about household cleaners and personal care supplies? If we can’t trust what’s on our local store shelves, we must educate ourselves and make mindful purchasing decisions in order to create a home where true renewal and healing can take place. The media is filled with buzz words—organic, sulfate-free, paraban-free, and the like. Don’t be fooled by savvy marketing and greenwashing terms. The only true way to know what’s in your products is to read the ingredients label. Work though each product in your home—read the ingredients label of each item you use and make a plan to find better alternatives. We recommend you start by prioritizing switching any products containing these top five toxins:
Possibly the worst and most common toxin in our home and personal care products. The word “fragrance” has become a catchall for nearly 4,000 different ingredients. Most of these are synthetic and range from mild irritants to full-on carcinogens (cancer-causing). More often than not, your “natural aroma” is a synthetic one created in a lab from dozens of chemicals. Short-term toxicity can include coughing, skin irritation, rash, wheezing, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and irritability. Long-term exposure threats include cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and reproductive disorders. Additional studies have linked fragrance with other negative emotional, mental, and physical symptoms.
Found in: scented candles, perfumes, lotions, and more —even your so-called green brands include this one. Eeek!
Used in many formulations as an antibacterial agent to prevent or reduce bacterial contamination and registered as a pesticide by the EPA. Topical absorption of triclosan has shown disturbances to the endocrine system, meaning it interferes with important hormone functions and can directly affect the brain, immune, and reproductive systems. Specifically, the chemical disturbs thyroid, testosterone, and estrogen regulation which can create a host of issues including early puberty, poor sperm quality, infertility, obesity, and cancer. It has is been linked to birth defects and uncontrollable cell growth, a.k.a. cancer. Overuse of this pesticide — yes, it’s a pesticide — contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria, also known as “super bugs.”
Found in: soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, toothpaste, shave gel, first aid spray, kitchenware, and children’s toys.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS)
Used as surfactants, emulsifying agents, and foaming agents. These enable water and oil to mix and create a slippery effect. Although SLS originates from coconuts, the chemical is anything but natural. The real problem with SLES/SLS is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic by-product. SLS is used industrially as an engine degreaser and is classified as a carcinogen. It’s a mouth and skin irritant — labs actually use this to irritate the skin on purpose so they can test the effectiveness of “healing” products. SLS can also cause canker sores, endocrine disruption, headaches, nausea, rashes, tooth damage, hair loss, and congestion.
Found in: 90% of personal care products, liquid hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, soaps, toothpaste, face wash, body wash, laundry detergent, dish soap, bath oils/salts, makeup foundations, scalp treatments, hair color, and bleaching agents.
A low cost endocrine-disrupting chemical that has been shown to interfere with hormone production in rats and mimic estrogen in human studies. Phthalates are used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials. You’re probably most familiar with one of its forms, BPA. Out of a sample of 1,029 people, every one of them tested positive for phthalates in their blood or urine. A 2014 study reported that 181 pregnant women tested had phthalates in their blood, and 50% of their babies had it in their umbilical cord blood.
Found in: plastic food packaging, cleaners, soap, shampoo, hair spray, nail polish, lotions, skin moisturizers, fragrance, cleaners, glues, nail polish, vinyl flooring, adhesives, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats)
This nasty chemical is a known carcinogen and recognized as such by the Cancer Institute. Exposure can cause eye irritation, asthmatic response, skin irritation, headaches and nausea. Long-term effects include cancer and even leukemia. Although most products generally contain only small amounts, overexposure is easy since formaldehyde is found in many common household items like wood, sheetrock, and furniture. To make things even more alarming, this isn’t an easy ingredient to find. Formaldehyde can be listed on a product label by other names such as: Formalin, Formic aldehyde, Methanediol, Methanal, Methyl aldehyde, Methylene glycol, or Methylene oxide.
Found in: baby shampoo, pet shampoo, shampoo and conditioner, body wash, sunblocks, cosmetics, baby wipes, toothpaste, and more.
Most products, on average, contain 13-14 harmful ingredients. If your home evaluation leaves you overwhelmed, don’t let it paralyze you. This process can be done quickly or in baby steps based on your time and budget. While switching to new, clean products may seem overwhelming, it is a vital step for you and your family’s health. Choose a room to ditch and switch completely, or replace your toxic products as they run out. Either way, make a plan and stick to it. If you identified any daily use products with the top five hidden toxins we’ve discussed, start by finding alternatives to those products first. The sooner you stop using and bringing toxic chemical-laden products into your home, the sooner your body can begin renewal.
Ditching your unsafe products may seem like the easy part—finding a company committed to creating products good for you and the earth can be a whole new challenge. Marketing and advertising is rampant with industry buzz words and greenwashing. Many companies hide unsafe ingredients, using savvy terms to get around labeling and combining ingredients into one catchall, like Fragrance.
This is where you’ll likely spend the most time, you really want to do your due diligence to be sure you trust that all ingredients are disclosed and that you’re comfortable with the effects of each ingredient. Sounds time consuming, right? That’s because it is …but it doesn’t have to be this hard. In fact, the easier this process is, the more likely you are to succeed. Look for a company that offers everything you need.
Fortunately there are safe alternatives to cleaners, personal care items, and the products you use every day. Young Living offers everything from plant-based cleaners to personal care items and even makeup. A company you can trust with an answer to what they use and don't use in every one of their products. Every product, every ingredient, is backed by their Seed to Seal guarantee. Young Living was practicing farming standards beyond organic before “organic” was even a thing. A company with over 30 years of experience, you can actually walk on any farm they own and see how the plants are grown and distilled. They’re completely transparent about where their ingredients for every product come from and ensure that sustainable and and fair labor (no child labor, ever) practices are upheld from each ingredient source. Backed by a community of over four million members, worldwide, there’s accountability on the line. This is a company that truly listens to its members, a company with integrity. A company you can trust with every product you need to switch over all those toxic products, plus a very generous monthly ordering program, making getting non-toxic, safe products into your hands both affordable and convenient. We’ve been using their products and a few simple DIY for over fours years. Together, our collaborative, has taken control of what we bring into our homes to create a truly restorative home and shared our tips and recipes along the way so you can do this, too!
We all want our homes to be a place of rest and true rejuvenation. We all want to know clean our homes without exposing ourselves and our families to all the toxic things in this world! It does not have to be complicated, expensive, or overwhelming. We urge you to just start—don’t let the fear of not doing enough or doing it perfectly stop you from taking better care of yourself and your loved ones! Follow along for all our ditch and switch tips, tricks, and recipes or reach out to one of our members to learn how to get started.