For those that follow me on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you will have noticed my plethora of pictures from the ShiftCon Conference I attended recently. ShiftCon was the very first international social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. I decided to attend last Spring when I began changing our food habits to a more clean eating approach. You can read about my journey here and here.
To be honest I was a little nervous about the conference. I am new to the green space and certainly don’t know a whole lot about green living or the science behind it. What would these people be like? Would they be elitist and judgmental? Would I get disapproving looks if I admitted that I still use dryer sheets or *gasp* eat conventional food and not strictly Organic? I decided the only way to learn is to throw yourself in and just be bold with who you are, stupid questions and all. Everyone starts somewhere right?
So let’s start with a few facts I learned:
- If a product has been “Certified Organic”, it has been grown according to strict standards set by the USDA. Farmers that have been “Certified Organic” raise crops and livestock without toxic pesticides, most synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones or genetically engineered seeds.
- By some estimates genetically-modified food (GMO’s) makes up 80% of the average person’s food consumption. Genetic modification of food is still experimental and the long term health effects have not been researched.
- Research at the Harvard School of Public Health found a 70% increase in Parkinson’s disease among people exposed to pesticides.
- The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of insecticides potentially cancer-causing. Many of these pesticides are still used in conventional farming.
- Your SKIN is the largest organ of your body and since it is porous, it absorbs whatever you put on it. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked into the skin’s absorption rates of chemicals found in drinking water. It showed that the skin absorbed an average of 64% of total contaminant dosage.1 Other studies found the face to be several times more permeable than broad body surfaces and an absorption rate of 100% for underarms and genitalia.2 And another peer-reviewed study showed 100% absorption for fragrance ingredients.3
After learning all this plus SO much more how could I not want to act upon this new found information? But where to even begin? How do I even know what’s safe and what’s not? How can I trust brands when they are allowed to use the term “Natural” as a marketing tactic? Thankfully the sponsored brands at ShiftCon had all gone through a very strict vetting process and reading the guidelines they had to abide by just to get in the door I knew I could trust their claims.
Obviously I couldn’t ‘greenify’ my entire life but I did identify three areas where I could make immediate changes: FOOD, CLEANING PRODUCTS and PERSONAL CARE. So without further a due here’s where I have made changes and the brands that are helping me lower my exposure and that of my family to chemicals and toxins. To visit these brands’ websites just click on their logos.
Obviously Organic is the way to go. I never realized why it was so important to buy Organic but after hearing how many chemicals are on and IN conventional food I decided to make the switch. Yes it can be more expensive at times but there are ways to make this more doable. I attended a panel that provided some awesome tips on Real Food On a Budget and I will be writing a post on this so subscribe to my blog and stay tuned! Some of my favorite brands from the conference are below.
No time to go to the Farmers Market or don’t have one nearby? No problem. If you live in the Los Angeles or surrounding areas then try out FarmBoxLA. Fresh local produce and more delivered right to your doorstep. Their website even lets you customize your box so you only get exactly what you want. I have used these farm boxes last Fall and LOVED them.
Being pregnant means I am supposed to avoid Nitrates. Frankly I don’t know why you have to be pregnant to want to avoid these but at least it was the impetus for my switching to Applegate Farms meats. Their hot dogs are a staple in my kids diet and I am LOVING their morning sausages and turkey meat.
I’ve always heard about Silk but never realized the yumminess of Almond Milk. I now am a huge fan of their vanilla flavored almond milk and use it as my coffee creamer each morning.
I have loved their yogurt for awhile now so when I got to actually meet the Chairman Gary Hirshberg I was thrilled to find him as passionate about Organic living as his brand claims to be on their labels. He is also Chairman and a founding Partner of “Just Label It, We Have the Right to Know,” the national campaign to label genetically engineered foods, and is co-author of Label It Now – What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods.
I am always a little leary about protein drinks but Organic Valley’s dark chocolate shake is AMAZING! It’s perfect for drinking on the go while I drive the kids to playdates. Organic Valley also boasts a great line of dairy products such as butter and cheeses. I was also pleasantly surprised to find a lactose free milk at my local Sprouts!
It only takes a few ingredients to make bread and yet I was finding every loaf of whole wheat bread in my grocery store had a million ingredients in them, most of which I had no idea what they were for. Thankfully Rudi’s gives me healthy natural bread for my kids PB&J’s without all the other chemicals. Just remember to keep it in the fridge to maintain ultimate freshness. 😉
I have been a fan of Nature’s Path for awhile. Their cereals and bars are a staple in my house. Knowing that they have made such a commitment to organic farming just makes me love them more.
This was one area I knew I could change over easily. It’s amazing what a little white vinegar will do for pretty much ANYTHING you want to clean. My girlfriend, and ShiftCon roomie, Karianna did a post and shared her recipe for making your own natural Lemon Vinegar cleaner. Here’s a few brands I have switched to since the conference and am loving.
This was a personal favorite find. I had no idea how many chemicals and toxins were in my current laundry soap. When I admitted to the creator of Molly’s Suds that I was still using Bounce dryer sheets I for sure thought she would turn her nose up at me. Instead she educated me on exactly what dryer sheets were doing to my clothes. I found an interesting article called 7 Toxic Reasons to Ditch Dryer Sheets in case you want more background. The best part was that she gifted me a bag of her Wool Dryer Balls which I have been using ever since. These things are AMAZING! If you don’t have some BUY THEM!
Another fantastic company. Their cleaning formula is so safe they will even demonstrate it by spraying it into their mouth! Yet the cleaning power is fabulous! You can use it on your counters, stove, high chair, and even as a hand sanitizer! They were so wonderful as to offer 20% to my readers. Just enter the code TRYBB1 when checking out.
Also known as ECOS, Earth Friendly Products has a TON of cleaning solutions to choose from. I have been using their laundry stain remover to great success for years. Now that they have launched their BabyECOS line I am loving their Bottle and Dish Washing detergent. It is great at cutting grease and I wash all my dishes by hand with it.
When it comes to living a healthy and natural lifestyle, what you put on your body is just as significant as what you put in your body. One of the most shocking things I learned was how under regulated our cosmetics and personal care items are. A great article to read is Decoding Cosmetic Labels from Naturally Savvy. It wasn’t soon after I returned home that I ditched my Secret deodorant, Dove body wash and some of my cosmetics in favor of more natural alternatives. Here are my top brands that I am using instead.
I was scared I would smell but surprisingly I don’t! Primal Pit Paste works amazingly well and although it does not have antiperspirant to keep me dry I don’t sweat to the point of making pit stains on my clothes.
Earth Mama Angel Baby boasts an incredible product line filled with lotions, body washes, pre and post natal care, teas and lip balms. I was having issues with dermatitis but since switching to their lavender body wash and lip balm the skin irritation has disappeared. My kids are also being washed exclusively in their baby wash.
Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are my own. I have not been compensated by ShiftCon or any of the sponsors to write this post. I did however receive free products to test.
- Brown et al. The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. Am J Public Health. 1984 May; 74(5): 479–484.
- Kasting and Kretsos.Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2005;18:55-74
- Robinson et al. The Importance of Exposure Estimation in the Assessment of Skin Sensitization risk. Contact Dermatitis 2000; 42:251-259.