5 Steps to a Non-Toxic Lifestyle



Being pregnant (twice now) has caused me to reflect on how I’ve limited my daily exposure to chemicals and toxins to protect my growing baby.  Before becoming pregnant, I had made a serious effort to limit my exposure to chemicals for my own long term health.  A side benefit to this was knowing that my body would be more toxin-free the day I became an expectant mother. These are 5 Steps to becoming non toxic.  It is everything I have learned over the last 5 years of striving for a non toxic lifestyle.

STEP 1: BATHROOM COSMETICS Among the lifestyle changes I made were to throw out all my lead and mercury makeup and replace them with organic, non toxic essentials from HoneyBeeGardens.  I purged my bathroom of all products with SLS, parabens or PEGs.  This ended up being a lot of product thrown away, but after learning the harm these chemicals were doing to my body, I was happy throwing these poisons in the trash. I replaced them with only what was necessary to cleanliness and basic beauty by finding chemical-free products from organic stores like Whole Foods.  I took with me my “forbidden list” of toxins commonly found in products (even some natural products) when I went shopping.  I scoured the ingredients lists on each product and if it appeared at all, I did not buy. I landed on great brands like Hugo NaturalsBeeCeuticalsHoneybeeGardens, Giovanni Organics, and Dr. Bronners Soaps.

Armpits was a conundrum for me, as every smear-on deodorant was high in metals like Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GLY that actually work by irritating the skin to close the sweat pores so that you are unable to sweat from your armpits.  Aluminum Zirconium is a metal that is a human nervous system toxicant.  This metal is the most common ingredient in antiperspirants like Axe, Dove, Secret, etc.  These products often also contain fillers like PROPYLENE GLYCOL, BHT, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE , and PPG-14 BUTYL ETHER.

My goal was to avoid these harsh chemicals, so we experimented with brands like Toms of Maine and others, but those sticks just served to mask the stinky smell, not get rid of it.  FINALLY, we discovered Crystal! It is a salt stick that you apply when your armpit is damp, just out of the shower.  It works by creating a salty environment where armpit bacteria cannot survive.  The cause of armpit stink is not sweat, but rather it is the odor given off by bacteria living in your armpit that feast on your sweat.  Crystal got to the root of the problem by killing the bacteria with nature’s most basic antibiotic: salt.  You may still perspire, but it will not smell like anything.  Best of all, you can share a Crystal stick with your husband (or wife) without worry.  It also lasts forever. 


Fragrance “parfum”

All Parabens (SLS “Sodium Laurel Sulfate”) methylparaben (E number E218), ethylparaben (E214), propylparaben (E216) and butylparaben. Less common parabens include isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, benzylparaben and their sodium salts

Polyethylene glycol, better known by its acronym, PEG (say PEG-4 or PEG-100; the lower the number, the more easily the compound is absorbed into the skin)





Titanium Dioxide

Zinc Oxide

do nothing method to healthy skin nothing worksSTEP 2: NOTHING WORKS The next step was to experiment with a facial cleansing system that did not require lots of product or chemicals like benzene to deal with the occasional blemish.  My “Nothing Works” method has proved flawless for over four years now, and has actually helped to clear up all of my adult acne issues.  The revelation for this method came when I recognized that I wasn’t letting my body naturally heal and protect the skin on my face.  Only in the last 60 years have so many products been marketed to women as being a “necessary” part of having beautiful skin.  You have a system in place already that gets you the most beautiful skin, you just need to stay out of it’s way.

STEP 3: CLEANERS After dealing with the basics of my bathroom, I moved on to the kitchen and cleaning supplies closet.  This was the easiest to throw out, as most household cleaners use very harsh chemicals, lots of bleach and some toxins they don’t even have to disclose because the solution is considered a “trade secret”.  Everything but plain Vinegar went in the trash (NOT DOWN THE DRAIN).  We replaced all our household cleaners with 6 simple solutions: J.R. Watkins Lemon Cleaner, Vinegar for toilet cleaning, Better Life’s “Dish It Out” Dish Soap, Mrs. Myers Dishwasher detergent, SSeventh Generation Laundry Detergent, and common white Vinegar mixed with water for really tough surface grease and floor cleaning.  We went through many brands and trials to find products that passed the Forbidden List, but also did the job well.  JR Watkins is a very basic recipe that always smells fresh.  Mrs. Myers Dishwasher detergent was THE ONLY brand we could find that successfully washed the dishes without leaving that white scratchy look on the clear glass wear.

For simple hand washing, we chose to use Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soaps for awhile, because the bar soap lasted much longer than the liquid soap.  However, we soon decided to make our own soap and did so for pennies per bar.  We whipped up a batch of soap that lasted about 10 months.  It cost about $1/pound to make vegan soap with orange oil for scent.

STEP 4: TEETH Moving from things that contact our skin to things that go in our mouth… toothpaste.  After some research on how harmful flouride is to your system, and all the PEGs and parabens in most toothpastes, we hunted around for an alternative.  After much trial and error, we fell in love with Periobrite toothpaste and mouthwash.  It is the glamorous version of clay toothpaste and has natural mint and other herbs that really feel and taste great.  Our household has been using it for almost 4 years and everyone has been to the dentist twice a year with no cavities.  The true key to no cavities is to cut out simple sugars and to brush right after eating acidic foods like grapes.  For floss and toothbrushes, we found the Radius brand to be the most environmental and mouth friendly option.

STEP 5: PBDEs Lastly, we discovered that our bedding, furniture and carpet was likely coated in Flame Retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).  After 1970, PBDE’s have been commonly used in mattresses, furniture, foam items, carpeting and bedding.  It is not clear how PBDEs interfer with fertility, but reserach has suggested they effect hormone levels. Household dust from foam, couches, curtains, sheets, and mattresses is the main culprit for human absorbtion of PBDEs.  Tempurpedic beds, most IKEA foam products and Naturepedic baby mattresses do not contain PBDEs.  We switched from a traditional spring mattress to a PVC-free Aerobed until we could afford a Tempurpedic bed.  We also swapped out our Polyester pillows for organic cotton, down filled pillows and wool filled pillows.  We switched to organic bedsheets and a wool duvet from Shepherd’s Dream.

FOR WOMEN ONLY: So first of all, we have that monthly visitor to conted with.  But how do we approach periods with a sustainable, chemical free method?  For those who prefer tampons, there is a reusable menstral cup option called the Diva Cup.  The Diva Cup is a flexible insert made from surgery grade silicone and does not leach any BPAs or chemicals.  After each period, you can sterilize your cup in boiling water.  It costs under $40, comes in different sizes and will ultimately save you hundreds of dollars each year on disposable tampons.  You’ll be saving some trees and your own green with this little cup.  Best of all, you don’t have to carry loads of supplies with you when you are on your period.  You simply empty the cup, wash it and re-insert.

Another aspect of the period to examine is what pads you use.  Some women switch to reusable cotton, and wash the reusable pads much like you would wash a load of cloth baby diapers.  Most name brand pads and tampons use chlorine and other chemicals in their product to make the pads look white.  These chemicals may contribute to irritation and yeast infections. Some women use Seventh Generation pantiliners for extra protection while wearing the Diva Cup (and for those light days at the end of each period).  SG uses organic cottons that do no have chemicals or chlorine in them.  Your vagina is a very private, sensitive area that easily absorbs chemicals.  Treat it like you would treat your mouth: don’t put harsh chemicals in or near your vagina.

Finally, consider that Parabens in Pap Smears May Cause Cell Mutation and Irritation.  When you have your Pap, you know how the doc smears goo all over her glove and scope before inserting it into your vagina?  It turns out the main ingredient in that goop is Methylparaben.  Methylparaben, which is currently banned in the EU is also a skin irritant and is known to cause allergic reaction in humans.  The EWG states that “one or more animal studies show brain and nervous system effects at moderate doses.”  Methylparaben is also known to cause cancer, endocrine disruption, and interference with gene expression.  Consider the delicate balance within your vaginal walls.  It keeps yeast infections away and protects your lady organs from infections like HIV.  Putting a large dose of anti-fungal Methylparaben into your vagina can’t be good for that delicate balance.  Next time a doc needs to insert a hand or a tool into your vagina, you have every right to request they leave out the toxic goop.  If they insist on lubrication, suggest they use water.  If they are very persistent, you can simply state that you are allergic to Methylparaben.  They will check their bottle of goop and there it will be listed, and you will have your way.  It is your body, you decide what goes into it.

SERIOUS NON-TOXIC: For those who are really serious about going non toxic, here are some further resources and ideas.  When new car buying, consult with HealthyCar.org to see how a new car rates for PVC leaking and fire retardant levels.  Want the best water filter on the market?  The Berkey Water Filters “removes viruses to purification standards, pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites to non detectable levels, harmful or unwanted chemicals to below detectable levels, and reduces toxic heavy metals such as lead and mercury without removing the healthful and nutritional minerals needed to support a healthy body.”  They also sell a filter add on that removes flouride and arsenic from the water.  Make your own hand and body soap, vegan style: Soap Making Fun or DIY Video on Soap Making. If you have a cat, switch to a non toxic litter like Swheat Scoup or Feline Pine or consider potty training her.  Your kitty steps on everything (even the counter tops when you aren’t looking).  Best to have her paws as natural as possible, not only for her, but for you too!  Lastly, you can check all your cosmetics ingredients on the EWG site that rates products and discloses their toxic ingredients.


Love that new car smell?  Find out how many PVC’s are in your car’s interior.

Prenatal cosmetic use may determine if a child has behavior issues

Hundreds of Toxic Chemicals found in Babies’ Umbilical Chords

NonStick Pans Wreak Havock on Your Thryoid

Spray on Suncreen may cause Lung Cancer

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11 thoughts on “5 Steps to a Non-Toxic Lifestyle”

  • I had NO IDEA that some cosmetics contain heavy metals!

    Regarding the facial cleansers (solvents) that most women use to remove makeup: an acquaintance of mine (years ago) who sold Clinique makeup, told me that many customers would return to the sales counter, complaining of skin irritation after using the product. Their advice was to continue using it, and that their skin would adapt, and clear up in the process. She, herself, did not use the product that she sold, even though she was supplied with it for free.

  • Yikes! The reason they put all those nasty chemicals in beauty products is because people think “it’s not working” unless they feel different immediately after using it. That could mean their skin feels softer (chemically) or like all the dead skin cells are removed (via chemicals) or appears different instantly. People like instant results. Generally, natural remedies that will work permanently in the long term do not produce instant results.

    People like quick fixes, but just like with nutrition and exercising, there is no quick fix replacement pill for a routinely healthy lifestyle. The same applies to your skin and beauty regimen 🙂 That is an interesting story!

  • I use Dr. Bronner’s PURE-CASTILE SOAP for bathing, for getting stains out of clothes, cleanning my bathroom tub, sink, toilet, etc
    I am hooked on this soap.
    For about three years I had trouble with red blotches on my face. I tried creams that Doctors prescribed, but they didn’t work. I went to a health foor store and found Dr. Bronner’s PURE-CASTILE SOAP, and tried it on my face that night before going to bed, in the morning my face was free of most of the red blotches,which of course was completly gone within a week. And after a few years I still use it, and still am comeing up with more uses for this great stuff.

  • That’s wonderful! Soap is soap is soap. And the best kind of soap is the stuff that has simple, natural ingredients. It’s very possible you were allergic to a common ingredient in many of the drugstore cleansers: SLS. Look up SLS on http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ You can also use this website to look up ingredients in products you have around the house or things you might be considering to try. Cheers!

  • Great features i really like this post and also the products and also the functioning of that products is awesome i want to try this….
    Thanks for sharing

  • Crystal deodorant is also toxic.
    There is a great nontoxic deodorant putty one from bumblee and bee organics

  • Great article! But I’m confused about one thing – I’ve read so much about how toxic tempurpedic mattresses are – from the foam material and fire retardants but you’re saying it’s nontoxic? Do you mind giving me more information? I would love to buy a tempurpedic but have been turned off by all that I’ve read…

  • Great question! Consumer reports have found toxic chemicals in Tempurpedic material (and more in most off brand memory foam products). My point was simply that Temperpedic and IKEA foam products do not contain PBDEs. Upon further research (and when buying a mattress for my baby’s crib and my toddler’s new bed) I have decided that latex is less toxic than Tempurpedic and some organic crib mattresses are a better option. Next time I buy a mattress I plan on buying from http://www.myessentia.com/

    I should also note that we purchased our Tempurpedic bed used, so it had already “aired out” and had no VOC smell or unpleasant odors. It is difficult to find out what is really in many products as they are often protected from full disclosure of trade secrets. Use your best judgment and if you have a large budget, I recommend taking a look at the Essentia brand mattresses.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Have you ever found a deoderant that isn’t toxic that actually works to prevent sweating? I use crystal too but don’t like that I still sweat…

  • No, I haven’t. I’m not sure there is even a product or ingredient out there that isn’t toxic than can create the reaction (skin pore closure) that aluminum and other deodorant antiperspirant ingredients use. I would say it is a matter of personal choice to decide if using crystal is enough (sweating without any bad smell) or if you need to make sure your armpits are not damp in a business meeting (which I would think is very important).

  • What a great compilation of information! There are some ideas and things in here I have not thought about before.

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