Starting a yoga practice changed my relationship with basically everything – family, friends, food, myself. By deepening my connection on the mat, yoga brought about a greater awareness. A few months into my yoga journey, I distinctly remember starting to look at the labels on the food, beauty products, and household items I purchased. I was overwhelmed reading all the ingredients; I could hardly pronounce them and had no idea what the heck they were.
And so I began to ask the questions, google, and educate myself. Through the process I learned just how many harmful chemicals I was coming in contact with each day and I also realized all the waste I was creating. It is rather shocking. And so, I made it my intent to find mindful upgrades and alternatives to the items I used the daily. The amount of information and products out there is bountiful. Where do you start? Below is a short list, along with some interesting information I found to support my decision of mindful upgrading.
I am obsessed with clean countertops. I wipe down coffee stains, vacuum up crumbs, and remove oils from kitchen surfaces multiple times a day. Maybe it is a bit of an compulsion, but it just is so satisfying to see shiny surfaces. What I did not realize is that every time I sprayed the counters, I was inhaling chemicals. And every time I used those countertops to set my fruit upon or chop vegetables on, I was absorbing the chemicals from those sprays straight into my blood stream. Here are some “ingredients” that are found in some of the most popular cleaning sprays. Ethanolamine, mipa borate, ammonium hydroxide, alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides, and fragrance. According the EWG, these ingredients pose potentially significant hazards to health or the environment inclusive of respiratory effects, general systemic/organ effects, development effects, and skin irritation/allergens. Not to name names but Lysol was classified as a pesticide by the FDA. You use this to clean areas were you consume food!
Let me upgrade you with some options for toxic-free cleaning.
- Baking Soda for cleaning and deodorizing.
- Castile soap made from 100 percent plant oils. Used as a main ingredient for all of Dr. Bronner’s products.
- Vinegar to eliminates grease, soap scum, and grime. Yes, the smell is strong, you can dilute it with some fresh lemon.
- Natural lemon juice for mildew and mold.
- Olive Oil for polishing and cleaning.
- Essential Oils such as tea tree to fight bacteria, wild orange to cut through grease, rosemary as an antiseptic, and thyme to fight germs. Thyme is one of the most powerful essential oils and can effective fight against salmonella.
- Borax, a boron mineral and salt derived from the earth. Great to use to get fleas out of fabrics and carpet. Non-toxic to our furry loved ones.
- Vodka to disinfect and remove odors. (And fix a cocktail to help you pass the time cleaning.)
Try this recipe for an all natural marble, granite or stone countertop cleaning spray.
- Mix together 6 ounces of vodka and 6 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Add as many drops of your favorite essential oil for scent. I suggest tea tree or wild orange to fight bacteria and cut through grease.
It’s cold and flu season, so one of the items I carry with me at all times is hand sanitizer. Ingredients in popular hand sanitizers include: Tocopherol Acetate, Glycerin,Propylene glycol, Triclosan. There is strong evidence that show tocopherol acetate can be toxic to human skin and create allergens. It is also toxic to the environment. One or more animal studies have shown tumor formation at high doses. Propylene glycol was classified to have a moderate risk of toxicity and harmful to organs, according to the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List. It can also irritate skin. Triclosan is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, even in low levels. Triclosan can also have an adverse effect on our environment.
Let me upgrade you. Try this recipe for an all natural hand-sanitizer that is super easy to make. You can re-purpose a hair spray bottle or glass jar to store and carry with you wherever you go.
- 6 oz. of water
- 2 Tbsp of Aloe Vera Gel
- 10 drops each: rosemary, cinnamon, eucalyptus and clove bud or thyme essential oil
- 20 drops of either lemon or wild orange essential oil
One easy way to become more eco-friendly and mindful is switching your light bulbs from incandescent to LED. Traditional light bulbs consume a lot of energy and emit carbon, as the filaments that help light the bulbs are made with carbon. If every American replaced one conventional light bulb with an LED, the energy savings could light an estimated 2.5 million homes. Switching to an LED bulbs can cut energy consumption by over 80% when compared to conventional light bulbs and they are known to last years longer.
So why have we not switched? Well mainly due to the cost. LED bulbs can cost up to 3x what an incandescent light bulb costs. I also don’t think many people know how much energy is used using the traditional form of bulbs. By making the switch to using LEDs, you can reduce overall CO2 emissions and reduce your carbon footprint. The EU and many other countries have moved to banning incandescent bulbs, but it has not happened yet. But you can make the switch now.
Straws. Unless you are a toddler or need them for a medical purpose, i.e. recovery from dental surgery or have a physical ailment, you do not need them. Do the children of this Earth a favor and request your iced almond milk latte sans straw. If you absolutely cannot survive without one, let me upgrade you. Purchase a bamboo or sustainable option. They are available on-line or at any grocery store.
Newsweek recently reported that fast fashion is becoming an environmental crisis. Ready for some fast facts?
- 84 percent of those unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landfill or an incinerator. That is 10.5 M tons each year!
- Because most fast fashion fabric are synthetic they do not biodegrade. And the chemical compounds in the garments leak into the ground.
- Fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world. Oil is the first.
- Making 2.2 pounds of fabric generates an average of 50 pounds of greenhouse gases.
So what is a fashionista to do when less clothing is not an option? Let me upgrade you.
- Shop recycled fashion. I personally love My Sister’s Closet. It is a designer thrift shop where I have picked up Tory Burch tunics and Joie silk blouses. And when I no longer have a use for gently used dresses, jewelry or jeans, I can take them into be sold. For each garment sold, I get a percentage of the amount sold and can use the credit to purchase other things.
- Clothing swaps are a thing. My local yoga studio, Black Sheep Yoga, holds a yoga clothing swap each month. Yogis come together to trade Lululemons for Teekis and get to know one another better.
- Rent the Runway or Le Tote. You can now update your wardrobe every month. Through these subscription services, you can stay on trend without breaking the bank or damaging the environment. How amazing is that?! You choose the frequency and you can pay month to month.
I understand this is a lot of information. And it takes intent to change existing habits. So I encourage you to take on one of these upgrades per month. And keep it simple. Commitment to leaving this world a better place than you found it should not be laborious and really is not. All you need is intent and a shift to more mindful habits.
Ready to upgrade and live more mindfully? A BuddhiBox subscription can help you find more mindful products through a delivery of eco-friendly, toxic-free, and organic items deliver to you door each month. Not ready to commit? Shop our store for items featured in the box, as well as other products all selected with mindful intent.