About a year and a half ago I began reading and learning about becoming more "green." We began eating more organic foods. We try and eat more natural foods and more whole foods. We eat less processed foods. We eat out less.
I would never commit to eating ONLY foods that are grown naturally, raised naturally and are healthy for us because I don't feel that occasionally indulging in these foods will do much damage to our health. We like to eat out once in a while and would never make a fuss when eating at someone else's home because we "don't eat" what they are serving us. I also haven't found good replacements for some of the things we eat at home.
I try as much as possible to make our meals and snacks from scratch. With 2 little ones, I also can't commit to making everything from scratch, but I do what I can. There are some things I don't even want to make from scratch (at least on a regular basis) like crackers and potato chips. I got a bread machine for Christmas and have been making wonderful breads and just recently made a simple bread that will work perfectly for sandwiches. I have also been making homemade granola (I will post my recipe soon) that we now eat as our morning cereal, sprinkle it on yogurt or eat it as a snack, as well as homemade granola bars.
We have simplified the toiletries and cosmetics we use. In the shower and bath tub, Dan and the girls only use Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap for both their hair and bodies. I use it also, but still feel a need for a conditioner and a clarifying shampoo once a week. But I may try to phase this out in the future. I use the castile soap for shaving too. We have a couple different types of organic lotions that the 4 of us use, but sparingly. Natural toothpaste (Tom's of Maine), natural makeup (I like Physician's Formula Organic brand from the drugstore, there are more expensive brands of safe and natural cosmetics, but this works fine for me), natural nailpolish and remover (PiggyPaint), natural deodorant, natural shaving cream and natural lip balm (Bert's Bees or 100% shea butter). If you want to check out how safe the products you use are try the Skin Deep.
As far as changing my cleaning to non-toxic, I decided to go 100% natural and have completely stopped cleaning my house...haha just kidding. I did remove all bleach and chemicals from my home. I now use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, castile soap and a couple of store bought natural cleansers. There are some nasty things in your usual cleaners. I found it odd that I was bringing into my home cleaners containing chemicals, that could kill my child if accidentally consumed, to remove things like soap scum, grass stains and dirt that are completely harmless. About a year ago I made my own powder laundry detergent. It cost me about 12.50 to make and I have used about 2/3 of it. That means my homemade, non-toxic detergent is saving me about $15/month. It works great. Here is the recipe in case you would like to try it. I made a large amount because I wanted it to last awhile, which obviously it has, but you can always make a smaller amount...
8 cups Borax
4 cups Washing Soda
4 cups Baking Soda
4 cups grated soap (I used Fels Naptha)
Mix together and you're done. It took me about 3 bars of soap to get just over 4 cups.
Vinegar is my new fabric softener and dryer balls have replaced my dryer sheets.
No more chemical hand sanitizers for us. Clean Well is all natural and still kills 99% of germs like your usual alcohol or triclosan based sanitizers. We also use the Clean Well hand soap, but Target stopped carrying it so we are out and I need to probably order some more online.
All natural loofah dish scrubber. They are kind of expensive for a sponge but they last a long time and it just falls apart and biodegrades so I'm not adding anything to our trash pile. I found about 10 at Tuesday Morning at about 75% off retail recently!
There is SO much more in-depth information about any of these topics online and in books. If you want to learn more I can recommend a couple of good books I have read. The library was my best friend when I was reading up on all of this.
I hope to post again soon on the effect these changes have had on me.