Jun 14, 2010

Small Beginnings: Where Do I Start?

Every Monday we have a guest blogger for Small Beginnings: Where Do I Start? It is a series intended to give courage for those wanting to launch into a real food journey. This week our author is Erin, whose journey to real food didn't actually start with food. Other authors include: Lisa LipeRita O'Kelley,  Laura Fiser, and HB and Robin Maguire.


My journey to a healthier lifestyle actually began with household products.  Cleaners, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, lotion, etc.--all got a major overhaul.  At that point in my life, household products seemed to be a less daunting task than changing our eating habits.

So I started reading labels.  This was the very first baby step for me.  I wanted to know exactly what all that unpronouncable stuff was.  Basically, it's all chemicals and code names for chemicals.    
For example, on Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo you will find the ingredient Quaternium-15.  Quaternium-15 is also known as formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen.  Keep in mind that formaldehyde is used in tons of stuff we're exposed to every day including furniture, clothing, and carpet.  Other exposures include cigarette smoke and vaccines.  If you see an ingredient with “-eth” in the name, then you can be sure that product contains formaldehyde.

The most common pronouncable word on the ingredient list is a huge loophole for whatever they want to put in there: Fragrance.  Companies are not required to disclose the ingredients in their scents, and most fragrances contain pthalates.
Here’s an informative video on phtalates:
So we started buying products without fragrance.  I stopped using dryer sheets and started making my own laundry detergent.  And I began looking up ingredients on the Skin Deep website.
Two safe options we now use, that can be purchased at Kroger, are coconut oil for moisturizing and Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soaps for bathing and hand washing.  Dr. Bronner’s is also an ingredient in my laundry detergent.
Then I moved on to cleaning products.  I got rid of items with chlorine bleach and those that had a scary warning label (e.g. “Warning: If ingested, call poison control immediately!”).  I basically clean everything with baking soda and/or vinegar.  I am still using a few cleaners from Melaleuca that have lasted me 4 years and counting.  There are tons of resources on the internet that tell you how to make your own cleaners.  Use the money you save to buy some grass-fed meat!

It's strange to me that people think their health isn't affected by what they put on their skin.  Our skin is our largest organ.  We use birth control patches and nicotine patches expecting the desired results, but don't think about the effects of other chemicals placed directly on our skin.

I try not to stress out about the exposures I can't control—we have to breathe, ya know!  But I CAN control what products I purchase and put in our home.  A healthy diet, a traditional one like the Weston A. Price Foundation promotes, will also help mitigate the effects of environmental toxins.

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  1. Hi Erin,
    What shampoo brand do you use? --or do you make your own? I have tried several recipes with dr. bronners but haven't been completely happy with any of them due to our hard water. I be interested in learning what works for you...

  2. Laura,
    I used Dr. Bronner's in a foam pump dispenser (3:1 water to soap ratio) for about a year before my hair decided it didn't like it anymore. :) Now I use Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit and Sugar Beet Shampoo. It lists fragrance as an ingredient, but they specify that the shampoo does NOT include phthalates (or sulfates, parabens, or petrochemicals). I'd eventually like to return to Dr. Bronner's - it still works for my kids. One key we've found is to leave the soap on the hair for a little bit after lathering before washing it out.

    There is also the option of going "no poo." Here is a link explaining how to do it: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Go-No-Poo/

    Our water is not hard, so I'm unable to give recommendations specifically for hard water users. I'm confident you'll be able to find a workable solution with the persistence and determination you've already shown by trying multiple recipes. Blessings!



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