Living Chemical-Free Part 1: Do your own research

To start off, what do I mean by living “chemical-free“? There are a lot of words/phrases out there that basically mean the same thing. Living green, eco-conscious/eco-friendly, etc. I’m using the phrase “chemical-free” because to me, that is the most obvious and explicit way to describe how I’m making a choice about my life. These other terms are more generic and includes things like alternative energy, recycling, etc.

I’m purposely using the phrase “chemical-free” so that I can focus on ways that we can eliminate common, toxic chemicals from our every products such as face, body, and cleaning products.

I’m not saying that I don’t believe in alternative energy, recycling, or eating “clean” food as a way to be healthier or help the environment. But right now, what I can do in my capacity, is to rethink the products we use everyday cleaning and make conscious efforts to replace them with safe and chemical-free options.

Now that we’re on the same page about what living chemical-free means, I’d like to provide an overview and some practical steps so that you can also live chemical-free. I understand that there will be some things that are just impossible to give up. But the more I learn about how the chemicals in our everyday products are affecting the environment and our health, I’m convinced that I need to start making these changes, and help others do the same.

If you’ve been confused or overwhelmed about living chemical-free, do not worry! I have gone through the stages of fear, denial, apathy, and overzealousness until I finally sat down and took some baby steps to achieve this new lifestyle. I am not at the point where I am living 100% chemical-free, but taking these small steps is giving me the confidence that living chemical-free is achievable!

My goal through this topic is to empower and encourage you to take actionable steps to living chemical-free.

This topic will be split up into five parts so that you can take time to absorb and process each step and have time to actually do them. I don’t think it’s effective to share information like a fire hydrant and overwhelm you. Sometimes you’re good with just a drinking fountain, and only need as much information as you can process.

If you do have specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I don’t claim to be an expert, but I will do my best to answer your questions using the sources I have. And who knows, you might ask a question to which I don’t know the answer, but will turn out to be a research opportunity for me, too!

Here are the five parts that will be discussed in this series. 

  1. Do your own research (you are here)
  2. Track your budget and product usage
  3. Analyze and prioritize
  4. Research chemical-free products
  5. Make your first product, and start living chemical-free!

1. Do your own research.

Before I even started to think about making this change, there was a lot of research that was done ahead of time. I will warn you that it is easy to feel overwhelmed, and feel hopeless, helpless, and eventually give up. Netflix documentaries (The Human Experiment) and online articles are very convincing. But don’t let it convince you to the point that all your life has been a lie and that you need to dramatically change your life RIGHT NOW. Some of us might need that kick in the butt to make this life change, but I’ve found that it is easier to take it one step at a time.

Here are some resources to get you started:

  • The Environmental Working Group: Their “Consumer Guides” are especially helpful. They cover a variety of topics such as GMOs, skincare, lifestyle tips, etc.
    • While you’re there, might as well get their app “Healthy Living” available on Android and Apple.
  • Green Guide: This site covers more topics such as gardening and green living which is helpful. Check out the “buying guide” for more practical tips.
  • Live Simply: I stumbled upon this blog as I was starting this journey, and have tried many of her DIY recipes. I highly recommend Kristin’s blog because she does thorough research, and really cares about helping people truly “live simply”.
  • The Body Unburdened: Nadia is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and has great DIY recipes, but also explains the science and reasoning behind the chemicals in our lives.
  • Healthfully Hannah: Hannah has studied Public Health and has personal experiences about how chemicals have affected her life. She has great resources and insight on living a chemical-free lifestyle.

I’m sure there are myriad more resources. But I’ll stop the list with these so that you have a starting point.

I’d like to warn you again to not feel overwhelmedSimply read, take notes, and feel free to explore on your own. Resist the temptation to suddenly buy chemical-free products or start making the DIY recipes! A lifestyle change like this requires preparation and patience. After all, there are still four more parts to this series!

Do a self-examination

As you are researching the effects of chemicals in our lives, it’s just as important to look introspectively. Going chemical-free isn’t easy. It takes a lot more time to make homemade products. It might be more costly. It’s definitely inconvenient at times.

I had to take a good, hard look at myself and ask if this was something that I really wanted to do. This decision wouldn’t just affect me. But it would affect my husband. Our cat. And our future children. It could even affect our friends and other family members. I could still live a comfortable and convenient lifestyle without going chemical-free. Why bother making my own stuff? Especially when store-bought cleaning products seem to “work better” than homemade products. Why sacrifice convenience and effectiveness? Do I have the patience to make this lifestyle change? Do I have the tenacity to live differently?

After examining myself and talking to my husband about it, we were both still convinced that this was something that we had to at least try. We were convinced of the effects of chemicals in our lives. And if there was something practical that we could do to prevent further damage to our health and the environment, then we had to give it a shot.

I encourage you to do the same self-examination at this point especially if this decision affects more than just yourself. Make sure to talk it over with you family members or anyone else you live with. Share the research that you’ve done without overwhelming them. Be honest that making this change isn’t easy and that there will be bumps in the road. But once everyone is on the same page, you can all work together to make this lifestyle possible.

Take this week to conduct some research and self-examination. This is even a good topic for conversation. Start open dialogues with your family and friends. You might be surprised at how many people are aware (or not aware) of this topic. They may even be living chemical-free. And if that’s the case, you have one more advocate in your corner!

The next step is to track your budget and product usage of certain body/bath/cleaning products. This is a time-consuming, but necessary step to determine your priorities for going chemical-free. Happy researching and stay tuned!

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