As much as we try to instil healthy habits into our families, there are still loads of nasties that we're exposed to all the time; and often we don't even notice them. Perhaps you haven't thought much about it before. Or perhaps you have, but the idea of making changes is all a bit overwhelming. Alexx Stuart is the author of Low Tox Life: A Handbook For a Healthy You and a Happy Planet, and she says the best way to make a change it to be curious about what certain products you consume actually do to your body.
What is a ‘low tox life’?
“What it means for me on a really personal level, and why I came up with that term, is a life where I’m minimising environmental toxin exposure,” Alexx explains. She’s made a change in the clothes, furniture, cleaning products and foods that she purchases in order to reduce the unavoidable toxins we’re around every day.
There are four pillars that she’s defined for this sort of lifestyle; food, body, home and mind. The last one is particularly important, and Alexx assures you that making these changes is nothing to stress over.
Listen to Alexx on Kinderling Conversation:
“You can be stressed out to the nines about whether you're doing it right … I just think stress will kill us faster than anything,” she says. Over time, become a bit more conscious, curious and aware of what’s going into the four pillars in your life, and we can all really understand what we’re using.
So, what sort of things can we easily change in the busyness of life with small kids? Alexx shares a few easy swaps that could help you on your way.
1. One thing at a time
Try swapping out one thing per month, that way you don't get too overwhelmed and just give up. Maybe there’s one packaged food that you could simplify, or one cleaning product to switch to something more natural.
“We're so busy that half the time we just don't even stop to think about what actually makes sense,” Alexx says. “Really the key is that you actually think about how this matters to you.”
Think about what matters to you first. If you’re changing based on what someone else says you ‘have’ to do, it won’t stick. Consider what aspect of reducing toxins and waste strikes a chord with you most, and start there. That’s where you're going to have the most traction. After all, if we're enthusiastic about something, we approach it with motivation: This increases the chances of actually making positive changes and sticking to them.
When it comes to food, you should go back to basics. Alexx suggests that instead of purchasing a spreadable cheese snack with crackers (which are only made with 50 percent cheese for some reason, and have over 20 ingredients!), go back to buying a block of cheese and a box of crackers. Often purchasing real, non-packaged food is not only cheaper, but also has less additives too.
A lot of the time we give food to kids in plastic containers, bowls or plates. There's nothing wrong with that right?
Without sounding too alarmist Alexx has some news to share about using these.
“The issue with [plastic dinnerware] is quite often it's hot things going into them and there's a lot of research around leeching,” Alexx says. She suggests not using plastic in the microwave, as toxins from the plastics leeches into the food.
Instead, Alexx suggests heading to a local camping shop and purchasing good enamelware that’s not going to break when it’s dumped on the floor.
“It's cheap as well but it gets a child used to something that feels like a crockery plate,” Alexx says. “We dumb kids down and that can be a disservice to their own development.”
4. Birthday parties
Something we're all prone to is a plastic overload when it comes to kids' birthday parties! From the cups and plates, to the balloons as decorations, there are lots of things that could be avoided for our health - and the health of the environment.
“The key is over the next couple of years, give yourself a couple of different aspects of a party to focus on. If you're having the party at home you can just do an easy switch to paper plates,” Alexx suggests. “Or you could actually just not have plates. So often the type food that you serve doesn't even require a plate. Just let people pick from the table and put it in their mouths.”
Instead of using balloons, use some paper or material bunting, which are just as colourful and last for years.
Another nice idea for reducing the amount of food you buy in bulk, ask a few of your parent friends to bring a plate to the party.
“Plus there's a community spirit in that, there's opportunity for you not to have to be the martyr doing everything for the party and people really enjoy being involved and feeling like they helped,” Alexx says.
5. Cleaning products
When it comes to keeping our homes clean, while our floors are clean we spare little thought for what those products are doing to the rest of our immediate environment. Alexx says this is one of the biggest problems people face when they’re trying to reduce the toxins around them.
“As a cleaning company you don't even need to disclose what ingredients are in your products by law because of trade secret marketing,” Alexx reveals. “I'm a big believer in just emailing companies just saying can I see your safety data sheet? Can I see a full listing of ingredients? But if you don't want to do that then there are a couple that are great.”
Alexx says Ecostore and Aware by Planet Ark are easy-to-find alternatives to the toxic chemicals in normal cleaning products. She also warns against companies that claim to be organic, but are not certified. You can find a full list of Planet Ark endorsed cleaning products on their website.
“You can say the word organic on your front packaging but only need to have 10 percent organic ingredients,” she explains. “So certification really does count for something in these situations.”
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