How Zero-Waste Living Forced me to be Healthy
At one point in my life, I lived like the average American. I ate fast food, I wore pungent perfumes and lotions, sprayed fragrance air fresheners, cleaned with bleach and Windex, the whole shabang. It wasn't until I started my own “Zero-Waste” journey that I begin to learn the harmful effects these products not only had on the environment but my body (see Health and Plastic ). This isn't going to be a rant drilling in why these products are harmful, rather I wish to share my experience on the benefits I found this lifestyle has transitioned into other aspects of my life and has improved my overall health. In short, Zero-Waste living has forced me to be healthy, and here's why:
I ate the standard American diet of processed foods, up until my early preteens when my amazing mother discovered “clean-eating” after that I was fortunate enough that she instilled good eating habits on to me. Considering this, when I began my journey I started to phase out more and more processed meals and snacks for more fresh veggies, fruit, and other bulked food items. Zero-Waste both encouraged and kept me on track, by basically forcing me to eat whole, real foods.
- Throughout the years I have made many swaps or ditched many items completely. When we think of health and wellness we jump to A) exercise or B) the foods we eat as I mentioned above. What we often forget is that our skin is our largest organ and absorbs EVERYTHING. Because a good majority of the products we slather, spray, and scrub ourselves with come in… you guessed it plastic packaging, Zero-Waste has forced me to eliminate these irritants and to replace them easily and affordably with natural alternatives. My medicine cabinet, shower, and makeup bag were once full of these products that I thought I needed, only to find that it was contributing to issues like dry skin, hair (that no amount of conditioner and scented lotions seemed to soothe) acne, and canker sores(from toothpaste). I found that when I replaced these with milder products these symptoms I thought were normal subsided. Most of my personal care items now come in glass, cardboard...or that I quickly homemake with cheap and basic ingredients.
Homes are our sanctuaries, a place we rest and recharge in, we fill it with our most prized possessions, create our desired atmosphere, and ensure that it is a clean space to eat and live in. It is quite common to burn scented candles, diffuse some air fresheners to get a cozy scent and spray Febreze to eliminate undesirable ones. Unfortunately, these products negatively influence our health ( just can't catch a break huh?) but what sprays and cleaners we use affects our health and not so much in the way we are lead to believe.
- The practice of reducing plastic waste wherever I can, helped me eliminate items like air fresheners. I have pet rats and oh man they could stink, so like any seemingly sane person I put a yummy smelling air freshener, problem solved! Well, these come in plastic packaging… after reading about how toxic they are in reality ( especially those with asthma) I gave them the boot and now use essential oils and pure beeswax candles ( I love candles and was devastated when I found that they are essentially petroleum and synthetic fragrances!) I'm getting too ranty, if you would like more information on the specifics and statistics, comment below and stay tuned!
- Cleaners, I don't know about you but cleaning is a love-hate relationship, hate to do it- but don't want to live in filth (also scary germs). I had all the ordinary cleaning supplies and harmful disinfectants that stunk up the whole bathroom and made my nose hurt. Now I worry no more if this cleaner is killing my brain cells, I make all my recipes at home with ingredients that I know (and save money too).
Lastly, I noticed I am more clear-minded since ditching these items. I have a sense of pride that I am able to do this for the health of my body, my home, and my environment. I feel as though I am more mindful of what I bring into and onto my body, and what I'm spending my money on.
There you have it! These are just some of the many benefits I have found with Zero-Waste and my health. I hope you find the same gain in your everyday life, let us know what benefits you find and what questions you have. As always, good luck my friends!