While we each may define natural living slightly differently, in general, we likely all agree that a natural lifestyle is one that focuses on reducing the chemicals in your home and food, eating healthier, becoming a better steward for our planet, and focusing less on consumerism, when possible. Natural living is about seeking natural, not conventional or commercial, solutions to your everyday needs, thereby reducing your impact on the earth and living a healthier life.
It can be easy to over-complicate a natural lifestyle, so remembering to keep things simple is a good rule of thumb when taking steps toward a more natural way of living. This guide shares with you some helpful tips on leading a more natural life as well as our very best natural living solutions that you can start using today to lead a healthier life.
Tips For Starting Your Natural Lifestyle
It can be daunting to know where to start when you want to make changes in your life that are better for your health. The following tips can help you create a more natural, healthy lifestyle, one step at a time.
Learning to live more naturally is a process that can last a lifetime, so do not be upset when your entire home and routine does not change overnight. Start with small changes, then build on these over time. This is the only way to truly make lasting change in your life. Begin simply, and as you learn more about your needs and wants, you can make additional changes.
Pick One Focus
An easy way to start small is to select one aspect of your life to focus your natural living efforts. It could be that you first focus on reducing the waste you create in your home, or perhaps you want to start with your diet. Focus on one aspect, and you will soon see how other changes are making their way into your life. Living naturally is a mindset, one that is probably very different than how you were raised, so incremental changes add up and make a big difference.
Small Changes Matter
Speaking of incremental changes, when you make the switch to more natural choices in your home and diet, you are making a large difference for our planet, your health, and your family. Every change you make adds up to a healthier, more natural life, and each of those changes is important. Do not sell yourself short if you can’t do it all at once. Eliminating chemicals in your food, reducing the toxins you bring into your home, and reducing your impact on the Earth are each significant.
You can make so many cleaning and personal care products today, everything from cleaners to shampoo. You do not need to expose yourself to harsh chemicals to be clean, so why are you? Make as many of your own products as you can, using natural ingredients, and you will reduce the number of chemicals to which you are exposed very quickly.
Do-it-yourself also applies to food. Prepared and packaged foods are inherently laden with chemicals to keep them shelf-stable and avoid spoilage. Even many natural foods sold commercially still contain chemicals. Cook for yourself as much as possible, and you will avoid a great many unnecessary chemicals in your life. We will discuss food more in-depth below.
Now that you have learned a few of the basics toward natural living, we will investigate more specific steps and strategies for accomplishing these goals.
Reducing Your Waste
There are many reasons you may want to reduce how much waste you create in life. First, when you buy less, you spend less, which saves you money. Second, when you purchase fewer things and instead make them yourself or go without, you are reducing your impact on the planet’s natural resources. Finally, when you actually stop to consider what you are buying, it helps you develop an appreciation for the “needs” and the “wants” in your life.
Think about your daily routines. What products do you use each day, and how necessary are each of them? Does that face cream really make a difference for your skin? How much does that conditioner really make a difference for your hair? What prepared or packaged foods do you regularly buy, and how many of those could you make yourself? Does cleaning your home really require a cabinet full of different cleansers?
Adopting a “less is more” stance to what you buy is an excellent step toward more natural living. Look at everything in your home and consider how important it is to you, if there are alternatives that contain fewer chemicals, and how you could simplify your routines to use fewer products.
Stop Using Disposables
From napkins to paper plates, tampons to diapers, there are many things we use daily or at least weekly that are met to be used once, then thrown away. Identify all of these products in your home and determine which you can live without, which need non-disposable alternatives, and which you can’t stop using.
Carry a reusable water bottle and/or coffee cup with you so you do not have to purchase disposable cups. Carry reusable produce bags along with your grocery bags. Create your own reusable wipes.
Bring Less Waste Into Your Home
Always consider recycling to be a last resort, as your main goal should be to bring in the smallest amount of material that will end up as waste. When you have the option, select items with minimal packaging. Buy second-hand housewares and clothing, whenever possible. Use your own grocery bags, say no to plastic bags when they are offered, and always be on the lookout for ways to reduce how much you will need to throw away or recycle later.
Buy in bulk whenever possible, and bring your own containers when stores allow it. This is a great way to also buy only the amount you need. Many stores today have bulk spices, teas, and other specialty foods that you sometimes do not need a full bottle or container of, so use your own small containers to buy just what you need.
Say “No” To Plastic
Plastic has become so ubiquitous that you probably do not even realize how much you use each day. Plastics, unfortunately, contain many harmful chemicals, such BPA, polyvinyl chloride, and other carcinogenic compounds. Plastic also does not last as long as other materials, which means it will wear out or break and end up in the trash faster.
Glass jars are great for storing food and as drinking containers. Stainless steel and glass make excellent drinking containers, and bamboo and ceramic are good options for dishes. Opt for wooden cooking utensils, fabric storage bags, and other, non-plastic materials whenever you possibly can.
Eating More Naturally
Grow Your Food
When you buy all your food from others, you lose connection to where it comes from, how it is produced, and what chemicals might be used in the process. Learning to grow your own food is one effective way to gain more control over your food and eat more organically. Growing your own food is not only nourishing and satisfying, it also helps you be creative and empowers you to take control of your life.
Starting a garden, even if it is just an herb garden, in the beginning, is an excellent way to start eating healthier and to produce less waste in your natural lifestyle.
If you have a garden, it is highly likely you will produce more than you need. Share your bounty with others, spreading the word about how your efforts are creating a healthier life for you and your family. This will help you lead by example and also provide fresh produce to others in your community.
Buy Whole Foods
When you can’t grow what you need, be sure what you are purchasing and bringing home is whole foods, not processed or packaged products. Food is life, and when you feed yourself and your family processed nutrition, their health will not be optimal.
Real food, made from whole ingredients, provides you with all the nutrition you need, and you will be eliminating a significant source of chemicals and preservatives from your life when you stop buying these products.
Choose Organic When Possible
While organic products can be harder to find and more expensive, it can be worth it for those foods you eat regularly. If you eat apples every day, maybe those are the produce items you choose organic options for. If you have a food co-op near you, talk with them about their frozen, organic produce options, which may be priced more reasonably. Buying in bulk from this type of retailer can often save you money.
If you eat meat, look for local producers to purchase from directly, or buy in bulk and freeze. Start with one type of meat you eat regularly and switch to an organic, antibiotic-free, free-range variety for some time, then add in another meat option. Talk with your butcher or meat manager to learn about who supplies your meat and investigate their practices.
Cook For Yourself
Limiting the use of convenience foods means more scratch cooking. If you are not so comfortable in the kitchen, take a few cooking classes or read some organic-cooking food blogs to learn some basic cooking skills. Videos are also an excellent learning tool. But, learn how to make the staples that you and your family regularly eat, instead of buying them already made (and laden with chemicals) from the store.
A Natural Approach To Health And Wellbeing
Taking care of the occasional illness and pain does not have to mean reaching for medications or chemicals. For centuries, we have been healing wounds and treating sickness using natural solutions, and these will work well.
Once you embrace a more natural lifestyle, you may also notice that you feel better and get sick less, as well, since you are no longer polluting your body with so many unnecessary chemicals. Here are some other ways you can take a natural approach to your health and well-being.
Embrace Holistic Medicine
Holistic medicine incorporates exercise, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, hypnosis, naturopathy, aromatherapy, acupressure, reflexology, massage and other remedies for overall wellness.
Start Using Essential Oils
If essential oils are not already a part of your life, start investigating their power and uses. Essential oils, which are derived from the natural compounds in plants, can be used to promote better health, treat illnesses, clean your home, and even help your mental health. Always select essential oils for their purity and quality, and you will find you will not be buying as many chemicals anymore.
Focus On Natural Remedies
Getting sick is a natural part of life, no matter how healthfully you eat or how natural your life is. When you become ill, with a cold, the flu, a stomach virus, or whatever else may affect you, look to natural treatments first. Nutrition is a great way to cure what ails you, especially bad bacteria, and there are many plants that have restorative and medicinal powers that can treat various symptoms.
The internet is crammed with advice on natural remedies for nearly all that ails you but be cautious. Look for advice that is backed by science, and use your common sense, too. If you have tried natural treatments for a while and you are not feeling better or are getting worse, talk with your doctor. But even then, stress that you are interested in natural ways to help you feel better over chemical intervention.
Ditch Processed Vegetable Oils
Highly-processed vegetable oils are known to raise inflammation, cause an imbalance in your healthy fatty acid ratios, contribute to cardiovascular disease, and lead to other unhealthy conditions. Instead of using canola, soybean, or other highly-processed oils, opt for ghee, extra virgin olive, or avocado oils, among others. These have a better percentage of healthy fats, they are less likely to cause oxidative stress when exposed to high heat, and they are healthier for your heart. Be sure to look at the ingredients in any packaged foods to see if processed vegetable oils are used and make different choices for these whenever possible.
Say “No” to Refined Grains and Sugar
If you are interested in making changes to your diet that help you eat a more natural diet as well as improve your health, getting rid of processed flours, grains, and sugars is an excellent starting point. These foods are known to lead to heart disease, insulin resistance, and obesity, and they also contribute to inflammation. Many products that are refined in these ways also contain chemical additives, and the processes used for refining create an additional burden on our environment.
Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are good options as we whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat. Health food stores today have more options than ever for minimally processed, organic grains and sweeteners.
Get Enough Exercise
Regular exercise is vital to your overall health and should be included in any natural-living plan. In addition to regular workouts that involve cardiovascular as well as strength training, you should also incorporate movement throughout your day, to keep your muscles fit and healthy.
Walking whenever possible, standing instead of sitting, stretching regularly when you are forced to sit for any length of time, and focusing on general activity level will benefit your health in numerous ways.
Use Non-Toxic Cookware
Non-stick cookware may seem like a good idea, but these pots and pans are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which can cause many different problems. PTFE is applied to the base material metal utilizing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which bonds the non-stick coating to cookware.
Both of these are poly- or perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), which have been studied a great deal for their impact on health. PFAs are resistant to biodegradation, meaning they stick around, both in the environment and your body, for a very long time.
When heated to high temperatures, these chemicals produce toxic fumes that can be dangerous to humans and can even kill birds and other small pets. The PFA coating on cookware does not last forever, and when it starts to flake or scrape off, the materials ends up in your food, and thus your body. Also, any untreated metals underneath are then exposed, presenting an additional health hazard.
A Natural Approach To Personal And Home Care
Create Your Own Cleaning Products
Natural cleaning products are combinations of just a few simple ingredients. Once you know what these are, you will not even remember why you needed four different types of cleaners for your kitchen or bathroom. One good, all-purpose cleaner, plus a few simple ingredients can clean your entire home for a fraction of the cost and without generating any new waste. Not only will this keep many unnecessary chemicals out of your home, you also will not be throwing away so many containers.
If you decide not to go the DIY route, opt for natural cleaners that contain ingredients you would let your preschooler touch or your toddler lick from the freshly-cleaned counter. Select products with ingredients you can pronounce and whose focus is on non-toxic cleaning.
Say No To Fragrance
While air fresheners, room sprays, scented candles, and plug-ins may make your home smell like a tropical rain forest, those strong aromas come with a heavy price. The chemicals used to make them contain chemicals that are not good for your health.
If you still want the scent without the toxic compounds, get a good diffuser and use essential oils. These natural products yield quality scents for a fraction of the cost and will not expose you and your family to harmful fragrance-inducing chemicals.
Go Natural With Your Laundry
The use of chemicals to clean your clothes properly is just not necessary, and you are likely spending way more than you need to on this practice. Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are full of chemicals, as are many laundry detergents. Select a natural, chemical-free laundry detergent first, then say no to all the rest. If you want to naturally soften your clothes, add white vinegar to your rinse water. Wool dryer balls are reusable and help soften clothes as well as prevent static cling. You do not need all these unnecessary products to have clean, fresh-smelling, static-free clothes.
Evaluate Your Beauty Products
If you have ever read the ingredient list on some of your favorite cosmetics or hair care products, you may be shocked. Any product that touches your skin, from sunscreen to makeup, shaving cream to shampoo, should be examined with a critical eye to determine if it contains harmful chemicals that can affect your health.
If you do not think your beauty products are that big of a deal when it comes to your health, consider that everything you put on your skin is designed to penetrate below the surface, which means its ingredients will be coursing through your bloodstream at some point. This is also true of all the things you rub on your children’s skin, too. Do you really know what you are feeding your body when you use these products?
Some ingredients to be on the lookout for are parabens and phthalates, which are both endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These compounds interfere with your endocrine system, which regulates hormone production and release as well as your reproductive, developmental, immune system, and neurological health.
Research is currently underway to determine the long-term impact of this category of chemical on human health, and there is strong evidence to suggest that these chemicals can cause endometriosis, reduced fertility, and even cancer.
These chemicals go by many different names, so it is not always clear if your product contains these or any of the other hazardous chemicals you should be looking for.
The most notorious culprits to be on the lookout for in your beauty products include:
- Propylene glycol
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Heavy metals
Opting for homemade versions of some of your favorite products, or selecting natural, toxin-free products is a much better choice. If you only change a few products, here are the top three you can change to make the biggest difference and create healthier, more natural lifestyle.
The hormone-disrupting chemicals in many commercial sunscreens are notorious, and many of these chemicals can actually be measured in your urine, blood, and breast milk. Since too much sun causes damage to your skin and ages you faster, avoiding the sun is an excellent option after you have received your daily dose of Vitamin D. When you need to be outdoors, wear long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin.
When you do need sunscreen, select a natural option that is free of these dangerous chemicals or make your own from a few simple, organic ingredients.
Use All-Natural Deodorant, Not Antiperspirant
Your antiperspirant may be doing you more harm than good. Sweat is your body’s natural mechanism for cooling you down and ridding your body of excess toxins. Eliminating these things is actually a good thing, so preventing sweat is not really great for your health.
Most antiperspirants work by using aluminum, which is known to block sweat, but this element has been linked to increased rates of Alzheimer’s and can cause other problems. Plus, this ingredient is what cause those yellow stains on your clothes.
If you want to still sweat naturally but prevent the build-up of odors, try a natural deodorant, instead. There are many options available today for natural deodorants, or you can make your own using coconut oil, arrowroot powder, and essential oils.
Avoid Heavily-Fragranced Products
The fragrances that make your moisturizer and shampoo smell so strongly are created using those same hormone disruptors we mentioned earlier. Not only are these chemicals entering through your skin when you apply them, but you are also inhaling them as the molecules vaporize.
If you enjoy the scent but do not want the chemicals, try using essential oils instead. These natural oils are made from plant compounds and will not wreak havoc on your system the way chemical fragrances can.
More Ways To Natural Living
- Clean with castile soap
- Manage stress and its physical manifestations naturally with yoga and meditation
- Drink water or natural tea and coffee and avoid packaged or commercially made drinks
- Bring fresh plants into your home, which naturally increase clean oxygen and provide for a natural environment
- Filter your own fresh water
- Make your own beauty products with essential oils, natural salts and sugars and carrier oils, like jojoba, olive or almond oils
- Prevent emotional toxicity build up with self-care practices, including mindfulness, emotional release, meditation, journaling
- Only buy GMO free foods
- Buy naturally made linens, furniture, flooring and décor that is free of fabric protectant chemicals, flame-retardants and other toxins that are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors
Creating The Natural Lifestyle You Desire
Creating a more natural lifestyle that is healthier for you and your family is a process but one that is well worth the effort. When you make an effort to reduce the toxic ingredient and chemicals in your food and home, you will start to notice improvements in your health and well-being, and when you reduce your impact on the planet, you will hopefully feel good about the difference you are able to make.
Once you start to make these healthy changes, others may want to know more about your choices and efforts. Spread the word and share with your loved ones how you are making changes to help you lead a healthier, more natural life, so they can see how easy it is, too.
Making changes to your lifestyle can seem difficult and daunting, but when you start slowly, take small steps, and make little changes, you will soon see what a big difference this can make you for you and your family.
Remember that living a more natural life is not “all or nothing.” Small changes make a large difference to your health and your community, as well as your quality of life. Choose one way to make a more natural choice in your life today, and get your new lifestyle headed in the right direction.
Stay well and live naturally!