my “ditch and switch” experience

If you haven’t heard about the whole “ditch and switch” movement, it refers to “ditching” toxic products and “switching” to clean/non-toxic/natural products. a few months ago, I decided to start slowly switching our products, but it definitely didn’t all happen at once (I mean, I’m not rolling in money here 😂).

This all started with essential oils.

The original curiosity came from my husband’s horrible seasonal allergies. Once Spring starts, he’s sneezing and rubbing his eyes and sniffling until the cool weather brings relief. I was determined to find him an alternative to taking a pill every day.

I first heard about oils on Instagram (as one does). I was intrigued, so I started to research them. I was curious how/if they could actually help my husband’s allergies. I bought an Essential Oils book, followed more people on Instagram who used essential oils on a daily basis, and saved every piece of helpful information I found.

This was all I did with essential oils for about 6 months. I wanted to build a foundational knowledge so I wasn’t completely lost when I got them.

When I finally did get them, I was still very overwhelmed with all the things I wanted to use them for! I had to leave them in a room and walk away after unpacking them because it was too much. I slowly started using them and eventually they became a constant in every part of my day – from morning to night!

I was able to learn which things in my home these oils could enhance and which they could replace. This was how I was introduced to the idea of “ditching and switching”.

It’s fairly simple, and to me, the most important part of the process has been doing it frugally.

This took patience. I couldn’t just go out and buy all new products when I already had something to use – even though it was toxic. I continued to use the existing product and when it was gone, I chose a new, clean product instead. Some people get rid of every toxic product in sight and then buy all natural products all at once – if you’re financially able to do this, more power to you. I, however, am not.

how do I pick a new product?

The Think Dirty app – the idea behind this app is to scan products, learn the ingredients in them and their effects, then make cleaner choices. Or as they say:

“We empower ingredient-conscious consumers to choose the safest beauty, personal + household products. Think Dirty® app is the easiest way to learn ingredients in your beauty, personal care and household products. Just scan the product barcode and Think Dirty will give you easy-to-understand info on the product, its ingredients, and shop cleaner options!”

from thinkdirty.com

I use this app to scan everything in sight – especially the products whose labels claim natural or organic. Marketing has been “green washed” by companies who want to sell more product as “natural” or “clean” but avoid having to pay for these natural ingredients. It’s a scary, untrustworthy world out there, people. Think Dirty is our weapon of knowledge!

I originally thought it was very annoying to be the girl in the shampoo aisle picking up every product, scanning it and putting it back. Then I recall the EFFECTS of not being diligent, and I no longer care if people are annoyed. My health is worth that extra 5 minutes – yours is too!

When I’m searching for a new product, if it’s above a 3 on the Think Dirty scale, I put it back on the shelf. If it has fragrance/parfum in it, it will automatically be an 8 on Think Dirty. So if you look for only one ingredient, let that be it.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also has an app called Healthy Living you can use to search products and learn more about the ingredients.

other ingredients to watch out for:

  • Phthalates – a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or make fragrances stick to skin
    • EXAMPLES: DBP, DEHP, DEP, etc.
    • EFFECTS: disrupts the endocrine system and may cause birth defects
    • FOUND IN: synthetic fragrances, nail polish, hairspray, plastic materials
  • Parabens – a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold
    • EXAMPLES: methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl-, etc.
    • EFFECTS: endocrine disruptors
    • FOUND IN: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation
  • Fragrance/Parfum – can have nearly 4,000 different meanings, a manufacturer can use this term and decline to disclose what’s in their “fragrance” and simply hide under the defense that the information is proprietary
    • EFFECTS: linked to allergies, asthma, cancer, dermatitis, depression, dizziness and nausea, headaches and migraines, upper respiratory problems
    • FOUND IN: candles, perfume, air fresheners, dish soap, laundry detergent, hand/body soap, shampoo, fabric softener, sunscreen, lotion, makeup, nail polish remover, medication and more!!

What does it mean that something is an endocrine disruptor?

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.

National Institute of Environmental Health Science

All of the above products that these chemicals are found in can effect our developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune systems. WHAT!? Candles can be the cause of my migraines? My nail polish can effect my fertility? Yep. Terrifying, right? After I learned this, I was determined to switch, but I worried about my budget.

is switching expensive?

Not necessarily! Companies want you to believe that only their product is natural and to be trusted. Recently though, plenty of companies have popped up (or just came onto my radar) with products that do not have toxins and are sold at Target or any other grocery store.

I mostly shop for my hygiene products at Target and I scan everything I buy.

Things I’ve switched thus far + my favorite brands and average prices:

  1. Haircare – Shea Moisture, ~$10
  2. Skincare – essential oils from Young Living ~$30
  3. Face wash – Shea Moisture $8
  4. Deodorant – Native $12
  5. Body wash – Native $8
  6. Household cleaners – Young Living Thieves blend
  7. Laundry detergent – Seventh Generation $12
  8. Dishwasher detergent – Seventh Generation $12
  9. Dryer sheets – wool dryer balls + drops of essential oil
  10. Hand soap – Young Living Thieves blend
  11. Body lotion – Trader Joe’s lemongrass oil blend

Note: be sure to scan each product – some of these brands have safe products while other products have synthetic fragrances in them. If you want a scented laundry detergent for example, I recommend adding a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil to your detergent instead of buying a scented one.

Other things I used to use daily that I’ve switched:

  1. Headache relief (Advil) – Peppermint oil (roll on temples)
  2. Acne spot treatment – Frankincense (roll directly on acne)
  3. Relief for aches/pains/soreness (Advil) – Panaway oil blend (roll on muscle directly)
  4. Relief for indigestion (Gas X/Tums) – Digize oil blend (roll on stomach)

After all this – I do NOT miss any of the products I’ve switched from.

Not one bit.

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