The day I decided to live a healthier lifestyle was the day I started purging my house of chemical-filled cleaners, detergents, and food. I took one look in my pantry (which was filled to the point where something would fall out every time I opened it) and for a second, I became incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of junk that was in it. I couldn’t believe I had been feeding my family most of the garbage that I had found. So I grabbed a box and started with the top shelf – canned foods, name brand peanut butters, seasoning packets, and old candy were the first to go. On the next shelf was chips (my husband was a Dorito addict so there were tons of old bags!), more candy, old boxed crackers, old cookies, and things I couldn’t even recognize. It was unreal the amount of old processed food alone (mostly open!) that I ended up throwing away. My pantry, on the other hand, is incredibly neat and organized, and I can see most of what’s in it now compared to before, when I had to dig to look for what I needed. If I had to put a pricetag on the amount of food I threw away from my pantry alone, I would estimate I threw out about $350 worth of junk food (/puke).
My fridge was also a nightmare. Everything was out of place, and to top it off, most of the condiments that I had (aside from mayo and ketchup, which I had already switched by this time) were full of artificial garbage. I threw away jelly, barbeque sauce, old jarred jalapenos, mustard, dressings, even old artificially flavored yogurts and processed american cheese. What I was left with were some juices, my Izze sparkling juices (I’m a huge Izze addict!), my Trader Joes ketchup, Trader Joes mayonnaise, and a few leftover food items I had made for dinner the previous night. Not a lot, but I threw out maybe $100 worth of junk.
Here is what my fridge and pantry look like now, after cleaning and organizing:
Next were my cleaners and detergents. This wasn’t so hard since I had been using mostly Seventh Generation products since I found out about my pregnancy with my daughter. I’ve only really had to switch my dish soap, dishwashing detergent, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and laundry detergent. That doesn’t seem like a lot when you think about it, and the entire process cost me around $40, which isn’t too harsh on my wallet. Websites like http://www.eco-me.com/ and http://www.honest.com/ make the switch both affordable and incredibly easy.
Since I have a baby, I was looking for an alternative to my daughter’s Pampers diapers. My husband and I didn’t agree on cloth diapering (I was for and he was against), so I looked for a way to diaper my daughter in safe, nontoxic materials that were also disposable. I stumbled upon the Honest comapny (see link in above paragraph) and saw that they had a diaper bundle that automatically shipped once a month to your home, included wipes, and allowed me to pick cute little designs for them. They’re website advertises that this bundle costs around $75/month; I end up paying around $92/month with shipping and tax for 216 diapers and 280 wipes, which isn’t bad compared to the around $150/month that I was spending!
Finally, beauty products. When I was a teenager, I remember thinking that I had to own every single product – fresh-scented lotions, perfumes, makeup, hair products, deoderant, you name it – and no one ever told you about all of the harsh, unsafe chemicals that were in them! I compare it to back when cigarettes were first introduced to the general public, how no one knew that they were horrible for you until years later when smokers ended up with cancer of the lungs, throat, and many other health complications. I really believe there should be warning labels on beauty products that contain chemicals and preservatives such as parabens, phlatates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and dyes. Anyway, through the Honest Company (see link above once again) I switched mine and my husband’s shampoo, body wash, and lotion. My son uses a brand of all natural shampoo called Jason Kids, and my daughter uses Natures Baby Shampoo and Wash and Earth Mama Angel Baby Mandarin Vanilla Lotion (makes her smell like an orange creamsicle ^_^). I stumbled upon and became an independent consultant for a company called Verefina (details on that later!) for the rest of my products (lotion, deoderant, lip balm, first aid, etc.).
We are still well on the way to living healthier; it will take time to adjust and we have to remember that we cannot allow ourselves to feel deprived. We have designated one day a week (Thursdays) to be our “junk night” – we can choose to eat whatever we want for one day without feeling guilty and without the feeling that we are depriving ourselves. My own weakness is Oreos, or anything chocolate for that matter. In the long haul, this is supposed to do us good, not make us suffer, and our goal is to live a balanced, healthy life. This is going to be one hell of a journey!