Natural Living Definition
There are a bunch of words surrounding a healthy or natural lifestyle. But what do they all mean? What is natural living, exactly? I’m going to show you what all those words mean, and how you can start a truly natural lifestyle today.
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What is Natural Living and What Are Its Advantages?
Natural living is defined as a lifestyle free of synthetic substances, and only uses things derived from nature to live our best life. Hence, “natural lifestyle.” This means that everything in our everyday life is free of toxic chemicals with as little processing as possible.
That’s why most DIY products I have here on Essential Moves to Wellness are only made of a few ingredients. You can check out some of my favorite one-ingredient products below. It’s one of my favorite natural living ideas to tell people!
There are so many advantages to switching to a natural lifestyle! For starters, you’ll be exposing yourself to the minimal amount of toxic chemicals on an everyday basis. Your body will thank you for that! I’ve lived a natural lifestyle for over seven years now, and I’ve never felt better!
Not only will your body feel better, but your mind will heal as well. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve seen of people overcoming anxiety or depression just by cleaning out their personal care routine!
*A disclaimer about that: I’m not claiming to have the cure for anxiety or depression. I’m not a professional in any way! Usually a mixture of clean products with a healthy diet does wonders for mental health.
What Toxic Ingredients are In My Personal Care and Cleaning Products?
Unfortunately for us as consumers, most big name companies don’t have our best interest at heart, i.e. our health. What they care about the most is that their products perform according to standards. And it has to be better than the competition!
This means that companies will do absolutely anything to get you to buy their products, so it has to do what it says it does (in most cases, anyway)! And if that means they use questionable ingredients to get desired results, then you bet they’ll do that until it becomes illegal to do so!
Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Home and Beauty Products
What exactly are these harmful ingredients companies throw into their products? A quick Google search will overwhelm you with all the results in a matter of seconds, so here’s a quick rundown of the basic ingredients you should avoid:
- Parabens—Primarily called “endocrine disruptors,” parabéns have a very similar chemical makeup to estrogen when absorbed into the body. Which means your lotions and shampoos are throwing your hormones out of whack. And we don’t want that!
- Fragrance (parfum)—A sneaky loophole companies use so they don’t have to disclose the secret formula behind why their product smells so good. “Fragrance” can consist of hundreds of toxic chemicals that I’m sure you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
- Phthalates—A substance found in plastics and beauty products like shampoos and lotions. They’re suspected to cause harm to the reproductive system as well, with birth defects to top it off.
- Mineral Oil—A colorless and odorless oil that’s a byproduct of petroleum. This stuff is also used in car engines! It doesn’t do anything healthy for your skin except help with moisture loss. But there are better options for that problem.
- Sulfates—Sodium laurel sulfate is the full name for this popular ingredient. Sulfates are foaming agents used in shampoos that are (you guessed it!) also used on car engines. It does not clean your hair in a gentle manner. What’s more, sulfates have been linked to scalp irritation and other allergies.
- Triclosan—An overly powerful antibacterial soap that was banned in healthcare settings because it was too strong. They’re still allowed in cleaning and cosmetic products. DO NOT buy a cleaning product with this ingredient! Using a powerful antibacterial agent for cleaning has been proven to create new, resistant strains of bacteria that can prove catastrophic (as I type this during the Corona virus pandemic).
The environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of the “Dirty Dozen” ingredients that are now the “Toxic Twenty” you should avoid in skin care.
How Much Power Does the FDA Have?
That’s another issue with our cleaning and personal care product market. You would think that organizations like the FDA or even the government would step in and properly evaluate all ingredients, but they don’t.
Getting a product evaluated by the FDA is completely optional!! The FDA itself has even written that they have very little power over what companies put into their products. And the (American) government is a whole other can of worms I’d rather not open.
We’ve been getting better, but we’ve still got a long way to go to only having natural living products on shelves. The U.K. and most of Europe has been actively studying and banning certain ingredients, but America has done very little. So my American readers (me included) should exercise extra caution.
That’s why it’s so important to switch out any products that have questionable ingredients with homemade or cleaner products. Don’t you worry, I’ve got you covered in that area! But first, let’s take a look at some commonly used natural living terminology.
Definitions of Other Words Associated with a Natural and Healthy Lifestyle
If you think of other words that have little to no meaning in the natural living community, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to add to this list as things change and evolve.
Having a “green” product means that it was made with materials that have a lower impact on the Earth. Or the process to make that product has a lower carbon footprint. Green products can simply have recyclable or no packaging, ingredients that won’t damage the environment, or just a claim on the label that it was made more ethically.
While the ingredients in a green product usually look much better compared to others, this does not mean it’s completely natural! They could still sneak in a little fragrance, which could be a whole cocktail of nasty chemicals.
The bottom line: Products with “green” on the label may be better for the environment, but that doesn’t mean they are free of toxic chemicals.
Oh, greenwashing, how I loathe thee. I wrote an entire blog post on this word alone. The definition of greenwashing is a product claiming that it is completely natural when, in fact, it is not. Companies are catching on to the fact that we know about their toxic ingredients, so they’re hoping to catch onto the trend by slapping a few buzzwords into their labels.
This one is more associated with food, but you can see it on beauty products too. Organic is one of the broadest definitions in this post, because people automatically think of healthy (and expensive) food when they hear the word “organic.”
Organic is defined as being free of genetically modified organisms and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, like glyphosate. Only one ingredient can be organic, or the entire ingredient list! Of course, this means nothing if you don’t see a USDA label. Companies can actually get in big trouble if they claim to be organic in some way and don’t have a label.
While this is great, just double check to make sure that all the ingredients are organic or natural. Companies just love to sneak in some fragrance!
This term is such a huge buzzword in marketing that I’m sure even the copywriters don’t know what it means anymore! Eco-friendly has a similar definition to green, meaning that some ingredient, packaging, or manufacturing process is better for the environment.
Again, this term has absolutely no regulation, so it’s not something I would use as a determining factor when buying a product. Definitely do some research on the company to see if they actually stand for sustainability.
You see this term absolutely everywhere, even on products that aren’t “natural,” like paint for children. So what does non-toxic actually mean? The literal definition of non-toxic is “not poisonous or toxic.” Duh.
What’s interesting about this term is there’s actually some regulation in place. Companies have the option to be evaluated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to officially be declared “non-toxic.”
However, the evaluation process is questionable at best. A product is labeled toxic if it causes injury or illness to humans if ingested or absorbed through the skin. How they test for this is if half of the lab rats in a test group die from the substance! If it’s 49%, it’s good!
What’s more, the exposure time and dosage amounts are very unclear when it comes to defining a “toxic amount” of a substance. So because the evaluation process is incredibly sketchy, I see non-toxic as more of a buzzword that shouldn’t be taken seriously.
If I could pick a favorite of any of these buzzword terms, I think it would be “clean.” This is a relatively new term that seems to have been coined by the natural living community itself. “Clean” means that the product is free of toxic chemicals and uses only the best, most natural ingredients. “Clean beauty blogger” is a term that I’m seeing more and more lately, and that’s fantastic!
The term clean seems to be more of a beauty-related buzzword. But it’s a buzzword that most resources and companies take seriously. Most. A buzzword is still a buzzword, and not all companies have our best interest at heart. So still do your research on EWG’s skin deep resource page!
How do I Start Living a Natural Lifestyle?
Now that your vocabulary is a little bigger, let’s get into the fun stuff! Making and testing natural living ideas is seriously my favorite part of running Essential Moves to Wellness.
I’m going to touch on the major categories of natural living, and you can feel free to dive in and start your own journey to natural living! It will take time and patience, but the payoff is absolutely priceless.
Eat Whole, Unprocessed Foods
If your diet looks a little like takeout every other night or so, followed by skipping breakfast and packing a ham sandwich for lunch, I highly recommend you start your food journey NOW.
You can pick any other area to start alongside food, but if clean eating isn’t a part of your diet, it’s better you start this journey now instead of putting it off until everything else is checked off the list. That’s exactly what I did, and I wasted so much time!
Do some research and dive into clean eating! It’s one of the most sustainable “fad diets” I’ve come across that I still go by today. This book on clean eating really helped me start.
And don’t you dare overcommit and change everything at once! You’ll get burned out and revert back to your old eating habits even worse than before. Just start small. That can mean incorporating more vegetables in your dinners, or even eating out less.
Work your way up when you’re ready to move onto something else. Before you know it, you’ll be eating whole, unprocessed foods in your sleep. And your outlook on life will be so much better!
Switch to DIY or Natural Cleaning Products
Cleaning products are some of the easiest things you’ll make! You most likely already have the ingredients you need lying around the house.
Believe it or not, buying cleaning products from the store is a relatively new thing. People made their own cleaning products for hundreds of years and did totally fine! Here are all the recipes for the cleaning products I use below:
- Stop Poisoning the Air with this DIY Air Freshener!
- DIY Glass Cleaner Without Vinegar
- Homemade Mop Solution for Any Floor Type with Essential Oils
- Easy DIY Toilet Cleaner with No Harsh Chemicals!
- DIY All-Purpose Cleaner You Can Make Right Now
And if you just can’t handle making anything right now, no worries! There are plenty of natural cleaners out there that you can order online or find at your grocery store. You can check out my Natural Living Resources page to find all of the products I use and love, including cleaning!
Detox Your Beauty and Personal Products
The very first thing I did when I started my natural lifestyle was make my own shampoo using baking soda, and later castile soap. They both failed miserably, but I did learn how to use castile soap properly! It’s a staple in my household now.
You can totally DIY all of your beauty and personal care products if you want to, but I like to give myself some leeway because some of them are too hard to make when there are very accessible options out there.
Take mascara for example. The Physician’s Formula Organic Wear mascara line is a great starting point for those looking to switch to clean makeup. It’s cheap, works well, and is a whole lot easier than making your own mascara.
But because the quality of our water tends to vary so much, I recommend you buy your hair care products instead of make them. I love anything by Accure Organics!
As for the rest of my beauty products, I have a fabulous DIY lotion recipe, I use pure rose water for toner, and use a Norwex cloth as facial cleanser and makeup remover. I also have a great list of clean makeup products for my makeup bag.
Reduce Your Impact on the Planet
Sustainability and natural living go hand in hand! I got more in-depth on this idea when I talked about how to switch to natural living on a budget in another post. Just start small and replace things in your kitchen and bathroom when your budget allows.
This includes things like switching to glass Tupperware instead of plastic because the plastic leeches chemicals into your food. The same goes for plastic baggies! Try switching to reusable silicone bags when you’re able.
There are entire blogs dedicated to sustainability, so do some digging and find some easy ways to be more sustainable. The key here is to start small! Luckily, you’ve already got a pretty good start with a natural lifestyle.
Final Thoughts on the Definition of Natural Living
What is natural living doing to me now that I’ve lived it for several years? I’ve never felt better! I was able to grow my hair out super long before deciding long hair was annoying and chopped it off, I’m able to eat to nourish my body, and my skin has never been so clear!
But I didn’t get this way over night. Heck no! In fact, I didn’t start expanding my natural product range from my bathroom until about four or five years ago. You’ve just got to go at your own pace. Sometimes you stop for a little bit and give yourself time to breathe. And that’s okay! It’s a simple and natural lifestyle. Make it that way!
The last thing you want to do is over commit and get overwhelmed. That’s why I’m here for you. If you ever have any questions about products, ingredients, or anything else. I’m just an email away for easy natural living tips!
Have you ever tried natural products? Let me know in the comments below!
Related to Simple and Natural Living:
- How to Make Hand Sanitizer Spray in Under 5 Minutes!
- 30 Easy Lunches to Pack Instead of a Sandwhich
- Natural Preservatives in Skin Care—Do We Really Need Them?
- How to Remove Toxic Chemicals from Your Household Products
- 10 Natural Skin Care Tips for Athletes Pre and Post-Workout
- 4 Ways the Power of Gratitude Can Make Your Life Suck Less
- How to Get Healthy Hair with Minimal Effort Using Just Nutritive