Reducing Chemicals

First, a clarification for the “science police” among my readers: everything is comprised of chemicals.  It is neither desirable nor even possible to avoid all “chemicals.”  What we have in view here is reducing toxins, the majority of which are man-made toxic chemicals.

Toxins are a reality of life.  They are found in the natural world, as byproducts of the food we eat and of the metabolic processes of our own bodies, etc.  Our bodies are designed to filter these out, through the liver, the urinary system, the skin, and even the lungs.  However, modern lifestyles produce an increasingly greater toxic burden.  Over the past handful of decades, we have been synthesizing chemicals previously unknown, at alarming rates — and these chemicals surround us daily.  A body can only process so much, and the results of a “backlog” in detoxification can be disastrous.

Some of these toxins we can’t do anything about; there’s only so much we have control over.  This is all the more reason to be mindful of taking responsibility for what we can control.  Some areas where you might be exposing yourself unnecessarily to toxins include:

  • household cleaning products
  • personal care products (body wash, shampoo, etc.)
  • cosmetics & manicures
  • food storage and preparation (plastics, aluminum, and “nonstick” chemicals)
  • the food itself (processed “food-like products,” toxic packaging, and/or pesticide/herbicide/hormone contamination)
  • lawn & garden products (like weed killer, which is often the very same glyphosate-based stuff we want to avoid in our food supply!)
  • furnishings (paint, carpeting, fake-wood furniture, etc.)
  • children’s & baby products (flame retardants, plastics, etc.)

Now, before you look at that list and get completely overwhelmed, try not to think of it as a list of “all the stuff in my life that’s awful,” but as a list of “all the opportunities I have to improve the health of my environment.”  Unless you really want to (or perhaps if you have a massive, acute health crisis), don’t try to change everything at once.  Look at what you can easily change, do that, and then tackle the rest one small step at a time.

Are there things you can eliminate altogether with relative ease?  For instance, are you spraying toxic weed killer on your lawn to eliminate dandelions?  Is that something you really have to do, or could you simply embrace the dandelions?  (Who decided we need pristine, “sterile” green lawns of grass and that dandelions are bad, anyway?  They’re actually a nutritive food and very useful herb!)

On the other hand, you probably don’t want to stop washing your dishes or cooking your food, so it might take you some time to find viable replacements for your dish soap and griddle, that work well but are less toxic.  (I’ve listed a lot of our favorite products here, in case you need some help getting started.)  Just choose one or two things at a time that you’re going to seek out a replacement for.  Every little bit will reduce the burden on your body, and the changes will add up over time.  You can start with whatever’s easiest, or with what will make the biggest difference.

And where you have to make a choice, go with “possible” over “perfect.”  If your current shampoo is full of toxic chemicals, and you haven’t found one that’s completely “clean” (no pun intended!) and works, but you’ve found one that’s cleaner, use it.  It’s still better for you than sticking with the old one because you’re waiting to find the “perfect” alternative.

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