So you’ve decided you want to get rid of toxic chemicals from your home. But where do you start?
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed. There are lists, resources, articles, videos… so much information that is supposed to help you; but in reality, we are drowning in it. Today, I’m going to be your life raft. If you know you want to reduce toxins in your home, but can’t quite seem to go from that want into action, this post is for you my friend.
This is the same process I used to get out of my head and into a healthier home nearly five years ago. Even though I have been practicing various green living strategies for over 15 years, there are times where overwhelm creeps back in. But when I go back to my system, that feeling doesn’t stick around for long. So I wanted to share my system with you, so you can get out of overwhelm faster, too.
1. Know Your Why
The problem with a lot of the “10 Ways to Be Green” type lists out there is that they don’t take into account your actual goals. Before you even start thinking about the changes you want to make, you have to decide why you want to make them.
It could be (and often is) a combination of things. But what’s important is that your list is yours. If you’re trying to follow someone else’s definition of a green home, you won’t be as invested in the process and probably won’t keep up with it long enough to form new habits.
Most people start this process at “I want to detox my home to be healthy”. But that isn’t specific enough. Your why needs to be a few layers deeper than that and I like to use the layered why approach. Ask yourself why on each of your answers, until you can’t answer anymore.
Here are some examples of specific Why statements from some of my clients:
“I want to reduce our exposure to toxins to reduce our risk of developing disease, and so that if something happens I won’t look back and wonder what if I had done something differently.”
“I want to reduce my body burden of hormone-disrupting chemicals so I can support a healthy pregnancy and know I’m doing everything I can to help my baby be healthy.”
“I want to get rid of allergy and asthma triggers so my daughter can sleep better and hopefully reduce her meds.”
“I want to reduce chemicals linked with disease. I’ve had several friends develop cancer in their 30s in the last couple of years, so I want to do what I can to create a healthier home environment knowing that there are some things that can contribute to cancer and other diseases. I don’t want to add to my toxic load further, and want to know that I’m taking care of me and my family.”
2. Stay Focused
There are thousands of different paths you could take to get you to your goal. And thousands more you can take that won’t, for a variety of reasons.
The key here is to stay focused. I like to look at 3 key aspects to help you figure out what to focus on:
i) Get clear on what exposures or areas of your home offer the biggest bang for your buck (or time, or energy, or effort) to clean up, while getting you closer to your goals.
ii) Look at what sources of toxins are most likely linked with any existing health issues or risk factors. If you’re pregnant or have small children, for example. Or if you want to avoid hormone disruptors vs allergens to start.
iii) And, most importantly, recognize your limitations and understand what you’re really willing and able to do. This isn’t a free pass to make excuses, but if you’re clear on your boundaries, you’ll be able to pivot to new strategies more quickly. Not all strategies are going to work for everyone, and that’s OK. But the sooner you recognize what you’ll be able to stick with or not, the easier the decision-making becomes.
3. Make a Plan
Once you know why you want to make some changes and you understand what to focus on to make it happen, it’s time to actually make it happen! And that requires a plan.
Make sure your plan is specific so you know exactly what you have to do or where you have to go to accomplish your goal. Also, try to have some measurable target if you can. This applies to any change you want to make in life. If you don’t have something to work towards or measure against, you’re less likely to be successful.
Your plan might be focused on a particular product type – like, how you’re going to clean up your personal care products or cleaners – or your whole home. But make sure you break down the big goals into steps.
For example, “replacing products as they run out” isn’t a plan. It’s a good strategy that I often recommend, but there are steps you need to take to do that effectively. You need to figure out if you need to replace the product, what you’re going to replace it with, where you’re going to get it, and then actually get it before you run out of what you want to stop using.
See the difference between a strategy and a plan?
By breaking down your overall goal into manageable and specific tasks, you can break the cycle of confusion and overwhelm. And I’ve found the process to be like a snowball – once you get started, it gets easier to make progress.
But it’s a heckuva lot easier if you get started heading in the right direction.
If you’re looking for more guidance and support to help you get on the fast-track to a healthier home with less stress, check out my courses, programs, and free resources here.