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Moving Away From Household Toxins – an Update

Toxic Symbol

Toxic no more...

Our becoming crunchy family has made quite a few changes in the past few months when it comes to our personal care and cleaning products…I just wanted to do a quick share of what we’ve done along with some of the changes we’ve already begun to notice…

It all started with the laundry soap. I grew up using liquid Tide and those Bounce drier sheets…never thought much of it until the Bean came along. I switched to Tide Free for her clothes and diapers, eventually incorporating it for all our clothes, but I was still kind of looking for something different.

At the time we had a front loading HE washer and we’d been experiencing issues with that mildewy smell basically since we had the thing…if I didn’t take the clothes out to dry immediately after washing they would get stinky. I could not figure out what the problem was until I started to do a little research and found out that basically it’s a bad idea to use liquid detergents in front loaders…there are ingredients that basically get stuck to the outside of the drum and don’t go away, causing that icky mildewy smell.

Well that was sure nice to know!

So I looked around a bit and found Nellie’s Laundry Soda – an awesome all-natural powder detergent that only requires a tablespoonful for each load – even if it’s a load full of diapers. It’s quite affordable too because you use so little of it…a small-ish tin seems to last me forever (and I do a lot of laundry!).

As for the Bounce (fabric softener) I read that you should never use it with cloth diapers because it can affect the absorbency. That led me into reading that fabric softener really isn’t the best thing for you or your clothes anyway.

I wondered if it would be weird not to use it, or if our clothes would be all staticy.

Well, the short answer is no and no.

I’ve heard people comment that when you stop using fabric softener it becomes extremely noticeable from people who do; I was shocked to find a few months later when my MIL gave me a bag of baby clothes that I could hardly stand the scent…it is amazing what we get used to! (I also like the money I save…those Bounce sheets can be kind of pricey!)

What does my laundry smell like now? Well…it doesn’t. It doesn’t smell like anything.

I must admit I really like it.

As for other cleaning products, anything that could be labeled toxic is gone. I still have a stock of ‘green’ cleaning sprays and such, but as soon as they run out I’m switching to baking soda and vinegar. I’m also looking into how I might be able to use SoapNuts more effectively in different areas.

My personal care products have also gone through a drastic overhaul.

I’ve stopped wearing make-up and gotten rid of my massive stash. (I wasn’t ever really a big make-up person so it wasn’t hugely drastic for me…I somehow just ended up collecting a lot of it!).

One thing that I did used to apply every day was foundation…I hated the redness of my cheeks. Now I’ve kind of just gotten used to liking my natural face (imagine!). ;)

I can’t say I’ll swear off make-up forever, but I certainly will research before I buy again to find the most non-toxic products available.

As far as my hair goes, I’ve been over two weeks now going No Poo and I’m loving it. It’s certainly a transition – my hair is definitely more oily than it used to be and I occasionally see some flakes at the top. But I feel like it looks better; less dry and frizzy for sure. And I’m saving a TON of money from not buying shampoo and conditioner.

I am mainly using Druide bar soap to wash (I won some from a Job Description: Mommy giveaway :) ). I may stick with them (they have a lot of different options) and I may shop around…I do like a little variety when it comes to that type of thing.

I’ve also finally switched all our hand soaps from Bath & Body Works to NatureClean, and this is one area where I’ve noticed a huge difference.

I’ve had issues forever with super dry hands, to the point of being cracked and bleeding, constantly painful. Hmmm…maybe it had something to do with the highly scented (probably phalate filled, though I haven’t researched it so I can’t say for sure) soap I was using to wash them several times a day?

At any rate, I have absolutely no problems with them now. I can’t say I love the smell of the NatureClean (it just has a very faint what I imagine to be a vaseline-like scent), but it’s totally worth it for the affect it’s had on my hands, and it’s super affordable as well.

I’ve also stopped using conventional deodorant. I’ve been using just baking soda, but planning on making a less messy, more easily applicable option – homemade all natural deodorant as seen here.

In other areas, I’ve switched the majority of my baking pans to glass (found some great ones at Value Village) and intend to get rid of all the Teflon as soon as I can afford some cast iron skillets (I’ll be keeping an eye out at garage sales this summer).

We’ve also moved to glass storage containers over plastic, stopped eating canned food at all unless it’s beans from Eden Organics, and only occasionally buy food that contains preservatives. Because it’s still a stumbling block for us, we’ve determined this month not to go out to eat at all, and not to buy any junk food as well.

I’ve particularly noticed when it comes to bread – I’ve either been baking it at home or buying the super healthy bakery kind that doesn’t contain preservatives. The other day I picked up a loaf from the story as I was in a hurry, and noticed that it just really didn’t taste good. It was whole wheat and everything, but it just tasted…gross.

As we’ve made these changes in the kitchen, I have been getting a little shocked at how much fake food we’ve consumed without question…it’s becoming quite disturbing to me. It’s definitely something you really don’t notice until you’ve started consuming real food…it’s then that the difference becomes glaring.

Aside from the changes I’ve noticed in my skin and hair, I want you ladies to know – I’ve really noticed a change in my period the past few months!

It’s gotten shorter, lighter and more manageable as far as cramps and PMS symptoms.

Let me explain – I have always had the worst periods…they lasted for at least 7 days (sometimes 8 or 9), were heavy to the point of needing super plus tampons AND high absorbency pads, and gave me terrible cramps, headaches, bloating and tiredness. They resumed very shortly after I had the baby, and have basically been a huge hassle my entire adult life – and I thought it was normal.

Now I’m really thinking how much the toxins that were a regular part of my daily life may have been causing that.

I’m not sure which ones they were – could have been any on this list recently published by the EPA. But it’s pretty crazy to me – I never thought that would be a result I would see in moving away from toxins!

It might get even better this month as I am switching to cloth pads and natural tampon options…(I’ll be blogging about the experience with several reviews and a giveaway, so stay tuned :) )

We’re still not perfect. I need to find better options for facial cleansers, lotions, and shaving cream. We’ll eventually be looking into organic mattress possibilities and ensuring clothing for the Bean that doesn’t contain flame retardents. There are probably other areas we may need to look into as well.

But it’s a good start, and I am truly surprised and gratified by the changes we’ve been seeing already. One of the best parts is that it’s actually saving, rather than costing us money in many instances! But whatever the cost, it’s totally worth it…I’m seeing that more every day.

What changes have you made to move away from toxins? Do you find it easy or hard? Expensive or cheaper? What results have you seen from taking these actions?


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11 Responses to “Moving Away From Household Toxins – an Update”

  • Hey Kelly….

    I love hearing about your new discoveries!! We do not use fabric softener at all. Its highly toxic…imagine your little baby snuggled into you shirt full of "fragrance"…ie: chemicals! I don't let my relatives use it anymore either….I gave them an earful….
    Jessica | cloth diap recently posted..Wordless Wednesday- Beach Season has commenced!

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks Jessica! It's terrible what we can just become used to, isn't it? Awesome that the family's coming around though :) I don't know if I can convince my mom to give up her bounce…maybe I should just buy her some wool dryer balls :)

  • Thank you for sharing all of these changes you've been making. You have made huge shifts in your life and it's amazing.

    I forget how uber-crunchy I am when I read posts like this. I forget that most people haven't even heard of these things that seem commonplace to me now. I've been asked to write some posts about how we manage our household and personal care without plastics and store bought premade products. After reading your experiences, I may work that in when I have a chance

    • Kelly says:

      Thank you Zoie! We're still got a ways to go, but it's nice to see a progress update once in awhile. :)

      I would love to see a post from you on that topic…it is crazy how different peoples' worlds are. While some of these are things I always thought would be a good idea but just never did until now, many of them I never even considered or heard of before…it's really a total shift. But I'm sure happy to be working at it. :)

  • rebecca says:

    Hey! I'm on practically the same page as you! Neat! thanks for the continued inspiration!
    rebecca recently posted..Slut Walk

    • Kelly says:

      That is awesome Rebecca! :D And you're so fortunate to be taking all these steps even before you are preggers! :)

  • April says:

    Please, please, please keep us up-to-date on going poo free. I've always had horrid problems with dandruff and oil even though I only shampoo every 2-3 days as it is. I'm scrrrrrd to go without it! lol!

    • Kelly says:

      lol April :)

      I think it has been about 3 weeks now. I'll be honest – I usually wear my hair up anyway (7 months olds like to grab and pull hard!) so I'm not too fussed about what it looks like, but I really haven't had any serious problems with No Poo. The main thing I've noticed so far is that my hair is rather oily (but it was super dry and frizzy before, so I actually think of it as an improvement – it doesn't feel that nice, but it looks a lot better). I think I'll still need more time for everything to balance out (I've read it can take up to 2 months or more), but I'm totally OK with that (especially as I'm saving a TON of money from not buying shampoo and conditioner!). I also don't wash my hair every day – probably more like 3-4 times/week, so I don't know if that makes a difference at all.

      I'll be sure to update more as time goes on. :)

  • Beka says:

    Kelly – speaking of non-toxic, do you use Norwex products? I have been using their cloths to clean all areas of our house for about a year now – with no cleaning products, just water! I love them! Anyway, maybe you already know all about it – but they are awesome!

    • Kelly says:

      Hey Beka! I would love to get me some Norwex products :) I am thinking about hosting a party…just met a rep at the Toronto Green Living show. Now I just need to find at least 10 people to come to my house…

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