Wellness by Design: How to Start Creating an Organic Way of Life
If you have decided to commit to living a more organic lifestyle (for personal health and for the preservation of the environment), the transition is one that does not happen overnight. Every step you take that transforms your daily habits to healthy ones will have an impact on your wellness.
The hard part is not deciding whether or not an organic lifestyle will benefit you and your family, but rather knowing where to begin. The conscious choice to use organic products in your home is a positive step, but finding a way to make organic living fit with your budget can be a challenge.
Organic products are harder to find and typically more expensive than mass produced products. To the average consumer, this makes buying organic “extra work” compared to shopping for other brands and products. But you will need to decide if the benefits outweigh the financial cost of living an organic lifestyle.
Organic Product and Groceries: How to Spot Fake “Organic” Labeling
If you visit your local grocery store, the first thing you will notice is that organic produce (fruits and vegetables) and dry goods tend to be higher priced. It is unfortunate that making a healthier choice costs more money, but understanding why organic products are more expensive is important to support your purchase decision.
The impulse to save money is a good one, and natural. Mass produced foods have an advantage over foods that are manufactured, grown, and harvested in a more conscientious way. Certified organic food is limited in quantity because it is produced without the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
Know your labels and your suppliers. Eager to capitalize on consumers who want truly organic products that are devoid of harmful pesticides or preservatives and other chemicals, many food manufacturers like to use the term “organic” on their packaging. This makes differentiating between truly organic foods and imposter brands, which are permitted to mislead consumers with vague and inaccurate advertising.
In the United States, the problem begins with the USDA which allows manufacturers some leeway in the way they advertise and package their foods.
- Organic can refer to products that contain at least 90% organic ingredients. These products may have pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and other chemical agents in them that have shown to be harmful to human health. They can still be labeled ‘Organic’ according to the USDA guidelines.
- Labels that read ‘Made from Organic Products’ are required to have 75% organic ingredients. Again, there are no guidelines about the other 25% of the ingredients, which can pose a health risk if used or consumed.
- Some products are advertised as ‘natural’ or “grass fed” with regards to meat products. The USDA does not recognize these terms, and no guidelines are provided for manufacturers. A “natural”product can contain unlimited unnatural and harmful ingredients, and still inaccurately represent itself as a “natural” brand.
When a product is 100% Certified Organic, you can be certain that you are purchasing a quality, naturally grown, chemical free product, fruit, vegetable, or consumer good. In order for a manufacturer or producer to advertise as 100% Certified Organic, they must use organic ingredients only and follow very strict guidelines from the USDA.
Read your labels carefully and wherever possible, purchase only products that are 100% Certified Organic for peace of mind and healthy living. Other types of products which contain “mostly” organic materials or food ingredients are better than choosing brands that are not organic at all.
Ultimately, the higher the percentage of organic food and products you consume, the lower your intake and exposure to harmful carcinogens, antibiotics, hormones, and other compounds that have been clinically shown to increase rates of cancer and chronic disease in human beings. Avoid processed foods for higher quality nutrition and reduced toxins in your food.
Going Organic in Your Home
Did you know that you spend approximately 2,300 hours per year sleeping? During that time you are exposed to a variety of chemicals that are discharged from the type of bedding you choose, the detergents you use, and other elements within your bedroom that are inhaled with toxic effects.
Everyone loves a scented oil burner and they are a convenient way to add a pleasing fragrance to your bedroom. Did you know that scented burners (whether melted wax or plug-in heated oil diffusers) contribute to increased levels of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) in your home? At night, you could be spending as much as eight hours inhaling a cocktail of chemicals that can create a significant health risk over time. The bedroom is the most hazardous place to add artificial scents simply because of the amount of time you spend there.
Scented air fresheners (including spray bottles used in bathrooms) can contain phthalates and terpene. Both compounds when combined with ozone and oxygen create formaldehyde indoors, similar to the toxicity levels of sleeping beside a photocopier or laser printer. The particles in the air (formaldehyde) are classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization. They are also reported to increase rates of respiratory disorders including the formation of asthma; some studies have linked the increased cultural acceptance of indoor air fresheners with pandemic levels of new asthma cases around the world.
There are a number of resources online that can help you make the switch and reduce the chemical load in your home by suggesting 100% Certified Organic cleaning products. Many consumers have researched homemade cleaning solutions that can be affordably made at home, which include natural antibacterial agents in lemon and oranges, and white vinegar. Your health (and home) will thank you for making the switch.
Other sources of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) include:
- Artificial and non-organic bedding and linens.
- Stain-resistant coatings and treatments on furnishings and carpets.
- Commercial versus organic mattresses and bedding.
- Scent-boosting laundry products and anti-static sheets.
- Perfumes and scented body products.
- Flea and tick medications (pesticides applied to pets).
- Mold from houseplants.
- Cat litter.
- Carpet powders and cleaning supplies.
It is never too early or too late to begin making the change to organic products and groceries. To save even more money and prevent waste, shop for smaller amounts of fresh produce more regularly. Eating fruits and vegetables at their peak in freshness helps optimize the amount of nutrients you receive (and health benefits) from your produce. Support organic brands and manufacturers and feel good about a new lifestyle that protects your health and the environment.