Ease Into the Crunchy Life (And Tips to Make It Last)

Ease Into the Crunchy Life (And Tips to Make It Last)

Throwing yourself head first into the clean living lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. I should know, since that’s the exact mistake I made when I decided to go “clean” cold turkey. 

I went all in at lightning speed, but suddenly, everything surrounding me seemed to be masking some sort of poison or toxin. I was scouring the Internet for organic products, ordering certified organic seeds AND soil for the garden, tossing out product after product while scrutinizing labels…I changed my food, my clothes, my makeup, my soaps. The list goes on (and even includes an unhinged attempt to block any bugs from my entire backyard…a losing battle.)

Within just a few weeks, an immense sense of dread started to creep into my daily thoughts, and looking back, this phase is not unique to me. I’ve witnessed friends move through this stress-filled stage of the non-toxic lifestyle journey where it feels like there’s nothing around us in our world that’s safe anymore, and that’s a scary - and exhausting - place to be. 

There was a steep learning curve, but I can confidently say I live a mostly clean lifestyle without any shame that I’m not perfectly non-toxic 100% of the time. (And pssst, unfortunate secret - nobody can!)  

I wish I’d had someone more experienced to help me adjust to the non-toxic lifestyle, but the least I can do is pay-it-forward by helping to show you how to live a clean lifestyle and develop long lasting healthy habits (without feeling like the sky is falling).

The key to maintaining the clean, natural lifestyle is this: take it one step at a time.

Here’s how I would get started if I had to do it all over again! 

Prioritize which non-toxic products are most important 

Once I realized I couldn’t keep up the same momentum I started with, I came up with a rule to prioritize the products my family and I were using: In or On the Body. 

It’s easy to get caught up thinking of alternatives for every product we use. Instead, a good place to start is by making changes to anything that you put directly in your body (like food and beverages) or directly onto your body (like makeup and skincare products). 

It’s much easier to approach a non-toxic or limited-toxin lifestyle when we narrow the focus. Instead of scrapping everything we own and starting from scratch, it’s easier to list out these In-Or-On-Body products and start searching for replacements a little bit at a time. Here are some of the products I opted to swap first: 

  • Meat and produce
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Hair styling cream / gel 
  • Foundation (I was initially less concerned with mascara and eyeliner as I use it less frequently, but the organic skincare and clean makeup market continues to grow)

Is it an extensive list? No. Is it a good starting place? Absolutely, especially if you want to make a lasting habit.  

Swap out one product at a time until you find a healthy product alternative, or try out a bundle of items like the ones we offer here to test a variety of products in one shot. 

Take your non-toxic swaps to the next level

Once you’re able to make small but impactful changes in what you put in and on your body, it becomes less stressful to add more nuanced swaps to the list. The logical next step is to limit or eliminate toxins that we come into less direct contact with.

This might mean swapping existing products for ones that use natural materials such as wood, glass, loofah, plant fibers, stone, or other organic materials

Indirect contact items that may expose us to toxins are

  • Toothbrushes
  • Sponges 
  • Soap dishes
  • Clothing fabric materials
  • Storage containers
  • Laundry detergents 
  • Paper towels and toilet paper

This list may take a bit more thought since these secondary products can be difficult to identify. 

Make peace with the 80-20 approach (or at least ease up)

One of the biggest breakthroughs (and a major contributor to the success of non-toxic lifestyles) is remembering that there’s no such thing as perfection. In the clean living community, the 80-20 rule refers to living a non-toxic, healthy lifestyle for 80% of the time while accepting that we will inevitably face situations where we won’t use or consume 100% clean food or products. The key is limiting these interactions to 20% of the time. 

There’s nothing to say that 80-20 is the best or only way to live a healthy lifestyle - I myself teeter somewhere closer to 90-10 - but it’s this idea that’s particularly helpful for anyone just starting out or experiencing clean-living-burnout. 

At first, it felt like giving up, but I soon realized that if I wanted to be able to maintain this newfound toxin-free lifestyle, I had to accept that I couldn’t control every aspect of my life. 

And that was a GOOD thing.  

Because it meant I didn’t have to feel guilty about the occasional non-organic restaurant dinner with an old friend, or the once-a-month application of a semi-natural eyeliner. 

Part of living a clean, healthy lifestyle means having a healthy mind too, which is difficult to do if we’re drowning in stress thinking about all the products around us.

If I could do it all over again, I’d start with small, impactful changes until they turned into long term habits. And while I’d always opt for something like my favorite 100% natural Goat Milk Lotion, I’d make an allowance for a chocolate chip cookie if I’m out on a coffee date. Guilt free, of course. 

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1 comment

Thank you SO much for sharing your experience in changing to clean living! It is a tremendous help to me. The goat milk lotion for sensitive skin is the cornerstone of my skin care since I have eczema. It’s truly wonderful for helping me to stay flare-up free. I love the soaps too, especially the soap for sensitive skin and the eucalyptus/spearmint soap. Thank you for the sample bar included in my lotion order. It allows me to try the soap. I hadn’t used soap thirty years because my skin is SO sensitive. It’s nice to shower with a bar of soap again. And it really helps my legs (where the eczema lurks) feel soft and not itchy instead of tight and dry. I wash my hair with the eucalyptus/spearmint bar and am very pleased with the result.

Linda Chudej

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