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Sheree Spills It

March 14th, 2011

Soap nuts are just as fun to use as they are non-toxic! Photo courtesy of Lisa Brewster, Flickr

The following blog was written by Sarah H., a recent client of Fork in the Road. Sarah is a periodic guest blogger here on the site, and she has promised to document her progress—and setbacks—for the benefit of our followers. Sarah’s vital stats: 28 years-old, married to Stephen, who is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Two daughters, Avery (2 years) and Ainsley (18 weeks!). Previous eating style: 80-90% organic, high dairy and healthier than average (slightly…on some days). Health/lifestyle goals: Provide a well-balanced diet for a picky toddler, add variety to the family table, develop food preparation skills and improve the quality of meals consumed.

I’m doing all this work to make sure that what my family puts into their mouths is pure and healthy…but then I realized I’m allowing us to be exposed to all sorts of dangerous chemicals through our bodies! Prior to working with Sheree I did make several changes in our house to reduce exposure to potential carcinogens and toxic ingredients. We use cloth diapers (with cloth wipes) and organic/natural baby care products, and I have started the process of replacing dangerous items as they are used up with safer choices. The girls and I are actually about to move to North Carolina to be with my husband while he serves in the military, so I decided to get rid of all cleaning and personal care products that aren’t eco-friendly and are potentially hazardous before the move. In doing this I realized there are lots of products available that claim to be natural that aren’t, and there are some natural products that cost a lot but aren’t very effective. Sheree sends out daily tips (“Fork Lifts”) to her clients, and the tips sometimes suggest ways to reduce chemical exposure in our lives. I find the Fork Lift tips to be very helpful, but I am pretty OCD and I just wish I had a list of what to buy to replace everything I’m throwing out.   I asked Sheree for input and she said I could share it with you, so here are some of the questions I asked her and her answers.

What are the top items you know your clients use and wish they wouldn’t, or what changes do you wish you could have them embrace right away?

Number one is probably the microwave: I wish they were outlawed here like they are in some other countries. After that I would have everyone commit to organic, produce.  I also wish I could “sell” the idea of more dedicated family time to my clients with children at home.  After that I’d say I just would like to get everyone to read food labels (or buy food that doesn’t have a label!).  Oh, and I also wish people really understood the dangers inherent in GMO food.

I do not want to clean with baking soda and vinegar because that sounds messy but is that the best way to go? Can you share your top household products and tell why you like them?

Baking soda and vinegar are actually pretty easy to use and not messy. Buy baking soda in big (two to four pound) boxes and then just sprinkle it on counters, bathtub, toilet…and take a damp washcloth and scrub. It rinses off easily and doesn’t leave behind a lot of nasty residue. It will remove coffee stains, soap scum build up, etc. easier then most commercial cleaners.

For vinegar: again, buy a big bottle of white vinegar. You should also get an empty spray bottle and add one part vinegar to 20 parts water. It lasts a long time and can be used for cleaning kitchen counters, windows, tabletops, etc. For mopping the floors, just add a cup of the vinegar to your mop water and mop. You can add lemon juice and/or lavender oils for a more pleasant smell. It is really simple, easy and better for you then most commercial products. If you really don’t want to try it, look for a commercial product at your natural foods store.

I also use products such as thieves oil soap concentrate, and several natural products for things like stain removal. For the laundry I sometimes use Soap Nuts—they are amazing!

I suppose going make-up free is the safest thing but surely I have options that are healthy and effective? Tell me your top personal care products!

Coconut oil as a face and body moisturizer. I apply castor oil at night when my face feels like it needs a major dose of love. I use an organic shampoo, with apple cider vinegar as a rinse afterward.  In make-up: look for non-animal based, natural flower dye, organic products. I really only wear eye makeup, and I confess I don’t always buy natural stuff in this area (we’re all evolving!).  I don’t wear a lot of it anyway, and I justify my decision by saying that it has to work for me. More important to me is to use organic cotton feminine hygiene products, unbleached toilet paper, non-metal deodorant (or none at all: currently I am using a crystal spray that I like). For dental care, try a mix of sea salt and baking soda or a product called Tooth Soap.

Cologne and perfumes are known for being pretty toxic: Are there other options? What do we need to look for when selecting a fragrance?

Look for natural products at a health food store or make your own. Get used to not smelling like a department store. If you eat a green diet (lots of chlorophyll from plants), your own natural scent is not at all offensive and can be alluring. Sometimes I use a laundry soap with essential oils in it (or add my own) when I wash my clothes. You can also add fragrance to castile soap for a scented body wash—and you are in control the whole time!

I understand that home fragrance products are probably dangerous (like aerosol sprays and such), but what about the heated oil plug ins? Is it best to heat oils with a tea light?

Stay away from all of them!!!  Soy, natural scented candles are probably your best option if you have to have something!

Wow, Thank you, Sheree.  I hope you all found this as helpful as I did. I’m sure there are many of you who have done your own research too, so now it’s your turn to share: What sort of products have you tried and liked (or disliked?). What tips can you pass along to us for non-toxic cleaning and personal care?

{Stay tuned: my next blog will be about eating well while traveling…and I’ll talk about the trip/my move to North Carolina.  — Sarah}