Why Switch to Non-toxic Household Items?
Updated: Jun 16
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Why should you switch to non-toxic household items?
The benefits of using non-toxic household items are pretty clear. They’re better for your health and better for the environment, and in many cases, they work just as well (if not better) than their toxic counterparts. But making the switch to nontoxic products can feel daunting, especially if you’re not sure where to start.
What are some common toxins found in standard household items?
We're all pretty aware of the big toxins out there: cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, etc. But there are a lot of everyday household items that contain toxins, too.
Many common household items contain ingredients that are actually harmful to our health! Most artificial fragrances disrupt our endocrine system, and non-stick pots pans, and plastics contain forever chemicals. Many of the chemicals in cleaning products can be toxic if inhaled or ingested. Some common cleaning products that contain toxins are bleach, oven cleaners, and drain cleaners. Many of the chemicals in personal care products (such as lotions or makeup) can be absorbed through the skin.
These toxins are things like heavy metals, fragrances, and chemicals such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, Phthalates, and Triclosan. These harmful ingredients can cause irritation, and allergies, but they can also contribute to cancers, and many are “Forever chemicals”, otherwise known as PFAS (resistant to water, grease, and heat). Forever chemicals or PFAS do not break down in the environment or our bodies, and are known to be harmful to both! They are found in common household items such as fabrics, plastic packaging, and many cosmetics.
Toxins are not just in household items. Tap water, foods, and even birth control contain ingredients that can be toxic to the human body. See my post here for 6 Ways I Avoid Common Toxins. And see my post here for Why Buy Organic Food?
The Environmental Impact:
Natural, non-toxic products are better for the environment for two reasons:
Because many household items can actually be made at home using simple ingredients, it reduces single-use plastic containers! If you can make a 5-gallon bucket of laundry detergent, you will save at least a few dozen plastic laundry detergent containers from the landfill! Laundry detergent, multipurpose cleaner, and even deodorant can be made easily at home!
Bonus: Making your own household items at home also saves a LOT of money to make your own products at home!
As previously mentioned, many common household items contain PFAS or forever chemicals which do not break down in the body or the environment. Clean, natural products are PFAS-free and much better for the earth!
Don’t be Overwhelmed
If you’re anything like me, learning about toxins in the home can be very overwhelming! Our household is nowhere near perfect, and I’m always learning something new!
For example, just last week I learned that aluminum foil can leave traces of aluminum in your food when it’s heated. Aluminum is a toxic metal to the human body. It’s a neurotoxicant (contributes to cognitive dysfunction) and some studies have indicated it can contribute to Alzheimer's disease. So why are we cooking our food in it? It’s also in many deodorants! And that’s just one example! I switched to an all-natural deodorant a few years ago, but I just recently stopped buying and using aluminum foil. And that’s how it goes. I learn something new every once in a while and make healthier decisions for my family. That’s all anyone can do. So don’t be overwhelmed, and don’t stress that you’re poisoning yourself and your loved ones because you bought scented hand soap.
So here’s my advice:
When making the switches to natural, clean products, take it slow. Don’t go through your house and throw out all of your cleaners and personal care items all at once. As you use one item up, replace it with something better. Do a bit of research, and make a better decision. And know that it will never be perfect. Unless you move out into the woods and live in a hut, you’ll most likely have some unknown toxin lurking in the flame-retardant fabric of your sofa or the green-washed "non-toxic" shampoo you bought last week. BUT your decisions to switch out your chemical cleaners and regular toothpaste make a huge difference, so remember that! A household free of 80% of toxins is a much healthier place to be than a house steeped in toxins!
Watch out for greenwashing!
Greenwashing literally makes me furious. It’s hard enough to make all the switches without false marketing. Oftentimes a product will claim to be “green”, “non-toxic” or “clean”, but you really can’t tell unless you look at the ingredients.
Here are some of the most common ingredients in household items to look for and avoid:
Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Phthalates, Triclosan and Triclocarban, Fragrance, Aluminum, Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol, Mineral Oil, Formaldehyde
My motto is to look for products with very simple ingredient lists. The shorter the better. And many products can actually be made yourself for much much cheaper!
Here is my list of Non-toxic Home Switches if you’re looking for a place to start.
There is so much to learn here, so if you’re brand new to this conversation, don’t be overwhelmed! See my posts here on 6 Ways I Avoid Common Toxins, and Why Buy Organic Food. Both posts are good places to start. If you’re an old pro, let me know in the comments why you switched to clean and natural products!