Clean living is a process, but it starts with choices! When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I quickly decided to eliminate questionable chemicals and toxins from our home. Oh Boy. Naturally, I had no idea where to begin. And, between law school and the bar exam, I had very little time to do so.
Over the years, I’ve employed an “80-20” mentality. About 80% of the time I do my best to select safer alternatives, but I give myself grace. Yes, my son uses regular crayons, eats pizza at parties, and plays in the dirt. I remain vigilant, however, about the products we use to clean our home and bodies.
As I continue to navigate clean living, I’m excited to share a few things I’ve learned with you.
Become an Ingredient Detective—Environmental Working Group
With the help of the EWG’s convenient App, Healthy Cleaning Guide, and Skindeep Website, I can easily research brands and learn more about ingredients to avoid. This non-profit has researched and rated over 120,000 cleaning, food, and personal care products. Seriously, it’s life changing!
Another trick is to shop Certified Benefit Corporations—B Corps. Though no company is perfect, B Corps meet the highest standards of environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. When you see a B Corp logo on the back of a product, you’re likely in good company!
Getting started is the hardest part. Here are 6 steps to take toward clean living to create a healthier home:
1) Avoid Heating Food in Plastic
“Microwave-safe” and “BPA-free” labels do not mean that heating in plastic is good for you. Given the high heat settings on conventional microwaves, the materials used in plastics leach into foods. It’s inevitable. So, we try to avoid heating foods in plastic altogether.
80-20 Rule: We’re slowly switching over to glass storage, but we still store food in Tupperware.
2) Cleaning with Care
I remember the day that my husband tediously installed magnetic locks on our kitchen cabinets. As it turns out, my son wasn’t into cabinet-raiding or chemical-exploring, but I was certain he’d swallow a cleaning product someday. As I grew in my understanding of what to avoid, I realized that there are gentle products that clean just as well—if not better—than the harsher ones. To start, vinegar and water solutions can eliminate bacteria and baking soda is a great alternative to air fresheners to eliminate odors.
A fellow B-Corp, Seventh Generation also has a line of effective and readily-available cleaning products. Over Black Friday, I treated myself to a Branch Basics Starter Kit, and I’m loving it so far. With ONE concentrate, you can create safer solutions for all-purpose cleaning, bathrooms, hands, laundry, and windows. I also love my Norwex window and microfiber cloths.
3) Loads of Laundry
As moms, we do a lot of laundry. Given that many detergents fail to fully disclose ingredients and contain harmful ingredients like 1,4-dioxane and phthalates (labeled under the catch-all phrase “fragrance”), I choose safer options like Seventh Generation Free and Clear and Molly’s Suds. The EWG’s Guide to Clean Living also has an extensive list of “A” rated options.
4) Lose the Shoes
Your shoes may be made for walking, but they also collect things like bacteria, car grease, dirt, lead, oil, and pesticides with every step you take outside. At home, our routine includes lining up our shoes by the door.
80-20 Rule: We don’t ask our guests to remove shoes.
5) Mask Monday . . . without the PEGs Please
80 years. That’s how long it has been since Congress took a hard look at the cosmetics portion of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. For this reason, Beautycounter—and companies like it—are working hard to change the personal industry through advocacy and health-protective legislation. For now, I protect our bodies and vote with my wallet by purchasing safer products from companies that are committed to human health. Detoxifying facial masks, for example, can contain PEGs (Polyethylene Glycols) which are used to thicken cosmetics but have been linked to questionable chemicals. I became hooked on safer beauty after trying this amazing balancing charcoal mask.
6) Say No to Non-stick Cookware
Hot off the press—Teflon (with PFOA) is out. When I started this process, I swapped our old non-stick frying pans for ceramic and stainless steel options. We now cook regularly with cast iron and stainless steel. Remember to replace ceramic pans once they become heavily discolored because traces of the material will stick to food once that barrier breaks down.
80-20 Rule: Efforts have been made to eliminate PFOA exposure even in Teflon cookware. If you really love using a non-stick pan, look for brands that are committed to human health like GreenPan and Xtrema.
For more clean living tips, check out the Event Recap from our New Year, New You Workshop.