I love setting resolutions. Simple but solid, practical but pack-a-punch. So each year I grab a piece of paper and write down some key goals or resolutions and then break them down into smaller actions. I find when they’re small actions, I’m more inclined to do them and of course, all of the small actions add up to a big outcome.
A few years back, I decided to slowly turn my home into a low tox sanctuary; a place with as few harmful products as (sanely) possible. But I didn’t want the process to be overwhelming or to become scrupulous if something happened to slip through.
I committed to changing just one thing each month.
Some things were big and expensive and needed saving for, like an under-sink water filtration system. Others were really small and easy, like purchasing aluminium-free deodorant instead of the previous brand we’d purchased. But each month it was something. And it’s all added up to a relatively low tox home that I love and am proud of.
If going low tox has been on your brain for some time, this blog post is for you. Here are 12 monthly ideas for making the switch this year.
Stop cleaning with bleach.
Research has found that bleach is associated with a higher chance of illness. “Passive exposure to cleaning bleach in the home may have adverse effects on school-age children’s health by increasing the risk of respiratory and other infections. The high frequency of use of disinfecting irritant cleaning products may be of public health concern, also when exposure occurs during childhood.” Here’s what you can use instead.
If you switch nothing else around your home, make it perfume. It’s a cocktail of ingredients that we spray onto our skin, often near our face, every single day. We’re breathing it in, absorbing it through our skin and pumping it into the air.
Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that’s used in perfumes (and other cosmetics) to make them last longer and is the reason you can spray some on in the morning and still detect it in the afternoon. Among other concerns, phenoxyethanol is linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity, skin irritation and headache. While it’s generally considered safe for most adults, there are serious concerns about its use with newborns and while we might not spray perfume on our infants, we do tend to hold them close for substantial amounts of time. Babies can be exposed through skin to skin contact or inhalation.
In addition to the above preservative, perfumes often contain “fragrance”. Fragrance isn’t actually a thing. It’s not a specific product or single chemical. It’s a cover term for any number of hundreds (thousands, even!) of products and the fact of the matter is, we usually don’t know which ones. Manufacturers don’t have to share the exact products used to scent their range and often this has to do with trade secrets.
As consumers, it’s important to know what’s in the products we’re buying. Because maybe we’re fine with the “fragrance” ingredients of one company but not of another: the point is, how can we possibly know?
If your perfume brand doesn’t reveal the ingredients in that pretty little bottle, it’s time to make the switch and it’s going to be one of the most fun things you change in your home. In addition to smelling incredible, essential oil perfume blends have wild benefits – think: stress relief, lowering of blood pressure, improved immune function, calming, mood boosting and head clearing. Here’s some more information about blending perfumes and some beautiful recipes to try.
If space allows, it’s a great idea to keep chickens. You’ll have access to fresh, hormone-free eggs and a place for all your food scraps to go.
It is so beneficial to have access to fresh, organically grown produce and one of the easiest things to grow – even in a small space – is herbs. Here are 10 reasons why growing herbs instead of buying them from the supermarket should be high on the list of actions.
Cut back on alcohol and/or caffeine.
If these are things you like to enjoy a lot of, it might be something you can cut out or at least cut back on. Whenever you’re depriving yourself of something you enjoy, it’s important to swap it for something fabulous, so find a healthy alternative that you can sip on instead. This will make sticking with your resolution a whole lot easier. I went completely alcohol-free in 2019 and document that journey here.
Make your own skin care.
Love a good DIY? You might like to try making some of your own skin care products using items you probably already have in the pantry. Here’s a facial scrub that I make and my daily moisturiser recipe. The great thing about small batch handmade is that if you don’t love it or you want to mix it up a little, you haven’t made 3 litres of it, or invested hundreds of dollars in a skin care line that doesn’t work for you.
Train yourself to read the ingredients.
You might think this is an easy month, but it’s actually one of the hardest for busy parents. We’re often in a rush and neglect to check the ingredients, and if we don’t know what some of the ingredients are, it won’t make a difference whether or not we read them anyway. Invest in a good app, like Chemical Maze, that will help you identify the ingredients to avoid when making product purchases and use it. Here’s what happened when I neglected to do that.
Switch to reusable menstrual products.
Back in 2014, Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned testing for a variety of menstrual pads produced by Proctor & Gamble. The testing analysed the products for volatile organic compounds and indicated that both scented and unscented pads emit toxic chemicals, including chemicals identified as carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins.
Under pressure from the group, P&G (as well as other pad manufacturers) now disclose some ingredients on their website (not on the product packaging) but many in vague terms, such as the infamous “fragrance”.
There are some great clean, organic disposable menstrual products on the market but if you want to stop feeding the billion-dollar a year industry which is dominated by just a handful of companies and opt for next-level self-sufficiency, you really want to be going reusable (pads or a cup).
Lower your stress levels.
I know it’s easier said than done, but stress can be really toxic and lead us to toxic behaviours. Not all stress is bad, and we definitely need some amount of stress in our lives in order to function optimally, but if it’s something that’s problematic for you, you’ll want to check out these tips for managing stress and create a plan to actively eliminate dangerous sources of stress and anxiety. It’s also a really delightful resolution to make and work towards keeping.
If you’re a gardener, one of your monthly actions could be to find and use low tox pest control on your veggies and flowers. Here’s the recipe for my low tox plant spray which, together with beer traps, helps to keep pests away without harming other plants or wildlife.
Like, actual books. The light emitted by screens has been shown to obstruct the body’s production of melatonin (the hormone that regulates your sleep–wake cycle). If you want to improve the quality of your sleep (and in turn, every facet of your existence!), resist the urge to read on your device and invest in or borrow real books.
Make your own fertiliser.
Keen to do some gardening this year? Here are some ways you can keep it homemade or at least local and improve the quality of your soil and your food.
Make your own Aloe vera fertiliser
Learn to compost – a great way to reduce your waste and recycle it back into the garden
Learn which poo is the best for your garden
Keen to make the start or continue the low tox journey in 2022? We’d love to know what you’re working on at the moment.