“Creating a non toxic lifestyle is way too hard.” “There’s so much confusing information.” “I may as well give up.” Does this sound familiar? If so, don’t worry–you’re not alone! Many people feel this way at the beginning of their non-toxic living journey. And honestly, it’s not their fault. The blame lies with a handful of sneaky and harmful myths circulating in the non toxic living and low-tox communities.
In this post, we will examine the 7 of the most sneaky non toxic living myths and debunk them. So you can get past the overwhelm and know that the perfect place to begin is right where you are.
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What is Non Toxic Living?
Before we jump into debunking the non toxic living myths, let’s start at the beginning.
You may hear this lifestyle referred to as non-toxic living, toxin-free living, low-tox living, or even chemical-free living (more on that one later).
Non-toxic living simply means that you aim to reduce the number of toxins you encounter each day. It doesn’t mean your environment or diet will be 100% toxin-free or nontoxic. Because we all realize that’s not possible.
How Can I Live A Non Toxic Lifestyle?
Have you ever wondered, “How can I live a non toxic lifestyle?” It’s a great question.
The answer is to minimize toxic chemical exposure in all areas of your life. This includes cleaning products, personal care products, the food you eat, and the quality of your indoor air, to name just a few.
And debunking these 7 sneaky non toxic living myths that might be endangering your health is a great place to start. So…let’s get started!
Myth #1: If It’s on the Store Shelves It Must Be Safe
This myth says that anything on our store shelves MUST be safe. It implies that products must go through rigorous testing before they’re allowed to be sold.
This is a dangerous myth for those starting their non-toxic living journey. It makes people think products sold in the US are closely regulated and tested for safety.
Non Toxic Living Myth #1 Busted!
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The vast majority of personal care and cleaning products in the US are not regulated.
For example, did you know that the federal law created to assure the safety of personal care products has not changed significantly since 1938?
Or that the FDA doesn’t require ingredients to be tested for safety before they’re used in personal care products?
The reality is that companies can legally sell products loaded with known hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and carcinogens.
Ok, so now that you know that you can’t blindly trust that a product is safe because it’s on a store shelf, what can you do?
The best place to start is by reading the ingredients on the labels. Focus on avoiding the products that include the worst offenders first.
In a previous post, I shared 14 easy tips to help ditch and switch household toxins. That’s a good place to start. You can also get my new Quick Start Guide and infographic to help when you’re shopping.
Myth #2: Indoor Air Is Much Cleaner Than Outdoor Air
This sneaky myth implies that the air inside our homes is cleaner than the air outside. Believing this myth has the potential to steer you toward poor decisions.
For example, it can cause you to believe that you should only pay attention to outdoor air counts. So you might keep your windows closed all the time to protect your home from the pollutants in the outdoor air.
Or it may keep you from being mindful of the importance of the ingredients you use and spray in your home.
Non Toxic Living Myth #2 Busted!
This myth about non toxic living is completely false. Studies show that the level of air pollutants in indoor air can be 2-5 times that of outdoor air, according to the EPA. It can even be over 1,000 times higher during high VOC usage.
The truth is that a lot of the products you may be using daily can have a negative impact on your indoor air quality.
Products with fragrances or VOCs can increase the air pollution in your home. And this is a big problem because the average person spends 90% of their time indoors.
The good news is that you can easily begin to improve your indoor air quality. A great place to start is by reducing the number of toxic products you’re using.
Stop using air fresheners, plug-ins, scented candles, wax burners, and dryer sheets. Check out the ingredients in your personal care and cleaning products.
Read my previous post, Ditch and Switch to Reduce Household Toxins, for more guidance.
Myth #3: My Products Must Be Safe–They’re “Green” or “100% Natural”
This myth is cunning because it lulls you into thinking that the products are safe (even healthy!) because of the terminology used.
Due to this myth, shoppers put their trust in marketing terms such as green, clean, safe, and natural.
Non Toxic Living Myth #3 Busted!
This non toxic living myth is completely false! Unfortunately, these words are essentially meaningless because there’s no regulation of the terms on personal care or cleaning products.
I was using products for years that claimed to be “All Natural” and “Organic.” I only found out they were full of toxic ingredients when I had a health scare that caused me to open my eyes!
That’s when I began looking closely into the ingredients in those products. To my surprise, there were several toxins in my “clean” products! It’s a type of greenwashing (and yep, I fell for it. For years).
How can you protect yourself from this myth? Wait for it…..read the ingredients on the labels!
I know, I know. I sound like a broken record.
But it’s so important to familiarize yourself with the toxins and then, avoid them by reading labels.
Myth #4: I Have to Do This Perfectly to Get Any Results
When you start moving toward a more non toxic way of living, it’s common to feel a little overwhelmed.
You might even believe the myth I can’t do this perfectly, so I may as well not even try.
Or another version goes like this: I’ve been making so many poor decisions for all these years. It’s too late to start now. What’s the point?
The biggest problem with this myth is that it can make you feel like a failure before you even start. And that can also stop you right in your tracks.
The belief that you need to do it perfectly can trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response to kick in. And we don’t want any of that.
Non Toxic Living Myth #4 Busted!
The good news is that this myth about non-toxic living is not true. The truth is that it’s absolutely impossible to do this non-toxic, clean lifestyle perfectly.
There really is no way to be completely non toxic. And that is perfectly OK! The important thing to remember is that the goal is to begin to reduce your cumulative toxic load.
By toxic load, we mean the accumulation of toxins and chemicals in the body from sources such as air, food, personal care products, cleaning products, and water.
There is growing evidence linking environmental toxins to autoimmune illnesses. According to Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, “The research is very clear–huge, huge, strong correlations between toxic load and most of your autoimmune diseases.”
So taking even small steps each day toward reducing your cumulative toxic load is a great start! Don’t strive for perfection…strive for progress and consistency.
*This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my full disclosure for more information.
Myth #5: This Company Raises Money for Cancer, so Their Products Must Be Safe
This myth says that a company that raises money or awareness for cancer must only sell products that are safe and non-toxic.
This myth leads consumers to purchase their products without a second thought, especially to raise money or awareness for a good cause.
The concern is more than impulse buying, it’s that the products themselves may be toxic.
Non Toxic Living Myth #5 Busted!
Sadly, this myth is false. There have been many companies over the years that have promoted breast cancer fundraising or awareness while selling products with cancer-causing ingredients.
There is a term for this: pinkwashing. Coined by Breast Cancer Action, a pinkwasher is “a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products containing chemicals that are linked to the disease.” Sad, but true.
The truth is that the best way to be sure your products are safe is to check the ingredients on the labels.
Are you sick of hearing that? Sorry, not sorry. It’s so important, that I’m willing to keep repeating it. For you, and for myself.
Please know that I’m not advocating stopping donations to worthy causes such as a cure for breast cancer. I just don’t want you to buy and use products that can cause health issues in an attempt to donate to a worthy cause.
Funding research for curing breast cancer IS important. I asked my friend Lisa Russell what foundation she recommends. Lisa is a metastatic breast cancer warrior and one of the most inspiring women I know.
And she knows A LOT about this subject. She recommends donating to www.metavivor.org. According to their website, 100% of donations go into their research grants.
Myth #6: All Chemicals Are Bad–I Need to Buy Products That Are “Chemical-Free”
Sometimes people will tell you that non toxic living, or a move toward a more lower-toxic lifestyle, means that you need to find “chemical-free” products.
This can lead to several problems. First, it can foster an unhealthy fear of all chemicals. Second, it can cause you to fall victim to greenwashing tactics.
Non Toxic Living Myth #6 Busted!
This is another of those non toxic living myths that are false. First of all, everything that has matter is made up of chemicals.
Matter is anything that takes up space. So, basically, everything that takes up space is made of chemicals. Literally.
Allow me to share a few examples. The chemical elements hydrogen and oxygen make up water. The chemicals Sodium chloride (NaCl) makes up the salt you sprinkle on your food. The chair you are sitting on. The device you’re using to read this. The planet earth is made of chemicals. You are made of chemicals. And so am I.
So to say you need to find chemical-free products is not only incorrect, it is quite literally impossible.
Here’s the thing though. I’m pretty sure that when someone says you should only use “chemical-free products,” what they are really suggesting is that you use products that are synthetic-chemical-free, harsh-chemical-free, or free from dangerous chemicals.
It’s likely just a misnomer. However, keep in mind that the term “chemical-free” is not regulated, so please don’t look for products with that claim.
But, yes, finding products that are toxic-chemical-free IS really important. Again, the best way to attain that is to familiarize yourself with the toxins. Then, avoid them by reading the ingredients on the labels of your products.
Myth #7: My Products Have to Smell “Clean” to Really Work
This is another of those really common non-toxic living myths.
It’s the belief that your home needs to smell like your “Spring-Fresh” cleaner. Or that your “Clean Linen” air freshener or ‘Febreeze’ product is cleaning your air.
Or believing that your clothes need to smell like laundry detergent and fabric softener sheets to truly be clean. Ugh.
This myth is dangerous because clean doesn’t actually have a smell! The truth about the “clean scents” in those products is that they are fake and typically harmful. More than likely that they were created in a laboratory.
I did a quick search for this post and found tons of cleaning products with advertising terms such as Original Clean, Spring Fresh, Fresh Paradise (I’m not kidding!), Clean & Fresh, Wind Fresh, Clean Linen, Lavender Scent, and Lemon Scent.
Despite their refreshing and clean-sounding names, they ALL contained fragrance to create that “fresh scent,” according to their ingredient labels.
In fact, some products even listed multiple “fragrances” in the ingredients! Some of them were labeled phthalate-free, however, it’s important to know that there is no guarantee that phthalates weren’t used in the fragrance. Yet another marketing ploy.
Non Toxic Living Myth #7 Busted!
Good news–this myth is BUSTED! Clean doesn’t have a smell. We’ve just been conditioned to believe this myth by sneaky marketing tactics.
Full disclosure, I once believed this myth. I thought that a “fresh, clean smell” was….well, clean. I even bought a spray of “That New Car Smell” to spray in my first used car in the ’80s! I shudder to think of what I was breathing in every day. And I’ll confess that I’m embarrassed to admit that (on so many levels). But hey, we can only do better when we know better, right? And at that time, I just didn’t know. No shame.
But then I learned about the toxins that are used to create those fragrance scents in laboratories. And about the “Trade secret” clause that allows companies to keep their toxic soup of fragrance recipes secret. It’s downright scandalous.
If you’ve believed this myth and need help starting, I’ve got your back.
A good first step would be to ditch your products with fragrance: skincare products, makeup, cleaners, laundry detergents, air fresheners, candles, plug-ins, and dryer sheets, to name just a few.
Use products that disclose every ingredient on their label–instead of those that are hiding behind the word “fragrance.” You can clean your home with a DIY vinegar cleaner spray. Additionally, you can replace your dryer sheets with reusable dryer balls. Put some pure essential oils on them if you happen to enjoy a light (totally non-toxic) scent on your clothes.
If you’d like to add some safe, beneficial scents to your home, try some fresh flowers, growing fresh herbs, or diffusing pure essential oils. These can add a lovely aroma to your home that is completely free of fragrances and can help purify the air at the same time. Bonus.
It’s Time to Break Past Those Non Toxic Living Myths and Confidently Begin Your Low-Tox Lifestyle!
Congrats! Now that we’ve busted these 7 non toxic living myths, you’re no longer under their harmful spell! <insert sigh of relief>
Now you can begin your non-toxic lifestyle of wellness with ease and confidence! Are you wondering where to start?
There are many ways to start, and none of them are wrong! I created an infographic with some of the top hidden toxins, and I used that to start removing harmful ingredients.
For me, the best way to get started was to first look for any products that had the word FRAGRANCE in the ingredients. “Fragrance” on the ingredient list is such a huge red flag, so I threw away everything with that ingredient (or the word “parfum”).
It was hard to believe, but “fragrance” was in my makeup, skincare, facial washes, moisturizers, shampoos, baby wipes, and household cleaners. It was in just about everything! I tossed every single one. No joke.
Then, I went down the list of dangerous ingredients and got rid of the products that had the ingredients that I considered to be the worst offenders.
The next thing I did was find a safe and effective household cleaner that I could use to replace all of those toxic cleaners. I continued researching and found a makeup and skincare brand that is safe, and absolutely free of these (and many, many more!) harmful or dangerous chemicals. I’ve been slowly changing out all of my skincare and personal care products to this line, because I know it is safer (and they’re amazing products! Win-Win!).
Remember Myth #4–Strive For Progress, Not Perfection!
Here’s my biggest tip when getting started: try really hard NOT to get caught up in perfection. This non-toxic journey will never be perfect. And that’s OK. And honestly, you can make yourself sick striving for that perfection. So try to let that go (recovering perfectionist here, so I get that it might not feel easy to do!).
But truly, just try to make one small change, and then add another and another and another as you’re comfortable. Choose what feels sustainable to you. Maybe swap out 2-3 products this month, and then add on another 2-3 products next month.
A good place to start is with the products you are putting ON and IN your body. This includes skincare, makeup, moisturizers, shampoo, and conditioner. It also includes household cleaners and how you wash your laundry (you breathe those chemicals in all day and all night long).
This is how I got started once I began consciously choosing products that would allow me to create a more toxin-free home and lifestyle.
Need more help finding the best safer options for you and your family? No problem!
Reach out to me using this form and I’ll be in touch. We can work together to determine the best choices for you.