It all started with coconut oil. One morning, last summer, while I was practically bathing myself in coconut oil, I had a thought; what am I actually putting on my body every single day that is seeping into my skin? As my day went on, the thought became more and more prevalent. Toothpaste full of artificial flavors and fluoride, shampoo and conditioner with sulfates and parabens, lotion with synthetic colors, deodorant with aluminum, and countless other potentially (and proven) harmful ingredients.
After a conversation with Jerry, during which we discussed the famous aluminum-deodorant-causing-breast-cancer debacle, we decided why not use gentler, more natural alternatives to our current hygiene products. And thus, our New Year’s resolutions were created. Starting January 1, 2017, we used up what we had left of our conventional toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner, and replaced them with organic, all-natural varieties. While the adjustment was slow and gradual, it was a change nonetheless.
Recently we figured why stop there? Why not convert our cleaning supplies too? And while we’re already being viewed as new-age Whole Foods hippies by our families, let’s cut out Ziploc bags and paper towels while we’re at it. Below are some of the things we have learned (and been made fun of for) along the way.
We learned the hard way, and quickly, that not all-natural deodorants are created equally. However, after Jerry fell victim to Old Spice peeling all his armpit skin off, anything was an improvement. First, we tried an Arm and Hammer brand that didn’t contain aluminum. Not the most natural, but better than the previous. Since there is no aluminum, it does not keep you from sweating, but it will keep you from smelling! Since Jerry and I aren’t too worried about the sweating part, we liked this product. It is still our go-to in a pinch. The second brand we tried was Crystal. This promised a year’s worth of deodorant out of one stick- too good to be true? For Jerry, it worked well. The only downside is that it is a solid bar of salt, it has to be moistened before application. I did not like this brand, as I didn’t think it kept me smelling good after the gym. Good thing though, because Jerry dropped mine off the counter and it shattered into a million pieces. Next, I bought an aluminum free Tom’s stick. Smells great after five minutes, but not after an hour. I am still waiting for my favorite deodorant to come along, but Jerry has fallen in love with Every Man Jack.
To be honest, switching from regular toothpaste to an all-natural, fluoride free version is a bit disappointing. If you enjoy the burst of mint that blasts the morning-breath out of your mouth, you’re not going to find it. Or at least we haven’t found it. I have sensitive teeth, which dictates our toothpaste choice. First, we picked Toms. It is cheap and helps with my sensitivity, but is not very minty. Our second brand is Hello, which sparks an Adele joke almost every morning. It also helps with sensitivity, but lacks the cool mint flavor of normal toothpaste.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Choosing shampoo and conditioner has been an adventure for us since we became randomly concerned about harsh chemicals. We are still switching around and trying new brands, but we have found some favorites, like Andalou Naturals Rich Moisture and Jason Natural Biotin. I do not recommend buying whatever Walmart has in their natural section, as it did not work out well for us! Pro tip- Whole Foods will let you return any beauty product you don’t like, even after you’ve used it.
The day I decided to make my own laundry detergent was the day I realized my inner hippie could not be silenced. In my defense, I can argue that while it is helpful to the planet and my health, it is even more helpful to my wallet. I used a recipe from Wellness Mama comprised of washing soda, borax, and bar soap. It gets our clothes, towels, and whatever else we throw in there fresh and clean. We had fun making it, but keep in mind, we can find fun in anything.
Earlier today, as I was cleaning the countertops, Jerry turned his attention away from football (big deal!) and toward me to ask what the hell I was spraying in the kitchen. There is your indication on how my new all-natural, all-purpose cleaner is doing. However, it is the simplest of recipes (equal parts vinegar and water), so there is room for a less-stinky improvement. As far as I’m concerned, it gets the counters clean, doesn’t leave a residue, and I don’t have to worry if I accidently spray any produce that is sitting out. I’ll keep you posted on how long he puts up with the smell.
The discontinuation of paper towels was somewhat of an accident. We ran out, so I brought the microfiber cloths (intended for the cars but sadly underused) inside to clean the kitchen. I ended up enjoying the fact that I could use as many as I wanted and it wouldn’t cost any money. Thus, our paper towel free lifestyle was born. When we had our nieces for the summer and spills on the carpet were a twice-daily (at least!) event, we found that the cloths did much better that paper towels for scrubbing carpet. We keep the stack of cloths in the pantry and they go straight into the washer after they’re used.
This change came about similarly to the paper towels. One day, we ran out and I never bought more. Instead, I went to Five Below (my happy place) and I bought two $5 sets of reusable storage containers. This has been one of the easiest changes of all. Instead of using a plastic bag one time and throwing it away, we use a container that goes in the dishwasher when we are done. Saves landfill space, and saves our wallets!
As we continue to descent more and more into a lifestyle that we once made fun of, we will keep you updated on our journey. We hope to inspire you to make some changes to better your health and budget. If you have questions or find something you’d like to share with us, please do!