Frugally Rooted
Health & Wellness

A Beginner’s Guide to Cleaner Living

Maybe it was your New Year’s resolution, maybe you’ve heard the buzz in the media, or maybe you are facing some health challenges and want to make real change toward cleaner living and take control of your own body. No matter how you arrived in this place, I am happy you are here. It can be a scary thing; change. It can be overwhelming and often a lot of work.

But, I am here to hold your hand, give you a firm thumbs up and tell you you can do it. Transitioning to cleaner living doesn’t have to clear out your bank account, send you into a major purge-fest, or leave you feeling more confused than informed.

Ah, here lies the question. WTF does “cleaner living” mean anyway? That’s a solid question. There are billions of interpretations of the meaning of “clean living.”

There are a few things that represent what cleaner living means to me:

-Spending my money on products and getting behind companies that are conscious of conserving this beautiful rock we live on

-Avoiding chemicals and toxic additives to anything that touches my skin or mouth

-Avoiding foods and brands with ingredients I don’t recognize as food

-Doing my part to reduce my own waste and carbon footprint

The change will happen slow at first. Whether you notice your cleaning supplies have some scary ingredients or you decide drinking soda just has to go, the first step is the most important one. For me, that first change, or the catalyst that launched me into a non-GMO eating, non-toxic face washin’, filtered water drinking fool was the Whole30. Sure, I am a huge cheerleader for the Whole30 because it caused real change for me. But, it won’t necessarily have the same effect on everyone. Regardless where it comes from or if you’ll even know it is happening, there will be something that happens that flips a switch in your brain. If you’re reading this, maybe that switch has been flipped, or maybe by the end of this post you’ll be feeling the need for change.

Here are a few simple ideas and steps you can take to live a cleaner lifestyle today:

Purchase with a Purpose

Everytime you make a purchase you are voting. The cup of iced coffee you snagged on your way to work, the laundry detergent you picked up this weekend and the shirt on your back is a vote. We get to choose which brands and companies make it in this market. By purchasing items from certain brands, (or avoiding specifics items) you are sending a direct message to businesses about what is important to you and what you choose to spend your money on. Even though choosing a non-toxic laundry detergent is a small drop in the bucket, if many consumers make the same choice, it becomes a flood. Those floods are what changes what’s available to us as consumers.

For example, think about LaCroix- an insanely popular carbonated water beverage that is a staple in millions of households. Ten years ago had you heard of LaCroix? Were there several brands readily available at every gas station and grocery store you encounter? Nope. The people have spokenCleaner living - reading ingredients and we want our damn sparkle drink (that’s what it’s called in my household) and we want it NOW!

Small Shifts Lead to Big Changes

Unless you have disposable income or gift cards burning a hole in your pocket, I don’t suggest you go ransack your own house and start over with every product you own. When you run out of all-purpose cleaner, dryer sheets, makeup, face wash or sunscreen (to name a few of the repeat offenders), take a look at what you’ve been using and see if there’s a better option out there. More than likely there is! Making these simple cleaner living swaps will quickly lead to a healthier home without breaking the bank.

Look for products with ingredients you can pronounce. When it comes to skin care, look for options that don’t contain parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. These common additives are used to preserve products but may or may not cause cancer- no thanks. Skip anything that contains a dye unless it’s derived from something like beets or carrots. You really don’t need your dish soap to be pink, do you?

Reduce Waste

If you aren’t already convinced that this planet is being taken over by human waste, I encourage you to watch this video (and also donate to The Ocean Cleanup). Next time you go to the grocery store, skip the plastic produce bags and bring your on or plop your tomatoes into your basket commando style.

If you read my post about glass straws you also know I’m passionate about skipping plastic straws in my drinks these days. Purchase a set of glass straws for under $10 for home and when you’re out and about, drink directly from the cup like the real badass earth-saver you are.

I also like to make my own cleaning products by combining a super complicated and secret combination of 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar and a few drops of essential oils to clean everything from my bathroom counter to my laminate floors. Doing this not only guarantees that I know exactly what is going onto the surfaces in my home, but I am also reusing the same squirt bottle of cleaner that I have had for five years. Adios waste.

Even though not always avoidable, try to pass on disposable products. If you use a plastic fork everyday at lunch, consider purchasing some superfly bamboo utensils that you can use over and over again.

Eat Better, Not Less

This one is huge. This tip may be the single biggest shift in my mind that has occured since I adopted the #cleanlife.

Foods that do not contain nutrition labels like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and locally raised animal proteins are the best things we can put in our bodies. Foods that contain packaging and are shelf-stable are things to avoid as much as possible. A simple rule of thumb here is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Most of highly-processed foods are in the center of the store.

When you do buy products that come in boxes, cans, or jars (as you will need to), look for the best options of those products. I have a rotation of shopping at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and Thrive Market to get the best deals on items that contribute to my health and well-being.

I do my best to avoid foods with added sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors, and dyes. A good rule here is the fewer items on an ingredient list, the better the product. Stock up on items you’ll use everyday like organic spices, oils and cooking fats, clean ingredient sauces, and other staples, and you’ll find yourself moving in a positive direction in no time!

The Big Picture

I hope that you’ve found these tips for cleaner living to be helpful and ones that you can implement today! As soon as you get the ball rolling and start to pay attention to the choices you make each day, the sooner you’ll find yourself living a clean lifestyle. I will say that it is sometimes a moving target and that when you get immersed in the research like I do you can feel like nothing is safe anymore. Take recommendations with a grain of salt and make changes that you can sustain. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to make these changes as long as they are meaningful to your own life and your own goals.

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