8 Things Health-Conscious People Avoid Buying

The way you shop and stock your home reflects your lifestyle. Consumer choices can enhance and reinforce a commitment to healthy living, or undermine it. Here is a list of several items that you typically won’t find in the homes of truly health-conscious people; if you do, then perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why!

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Conventional skin and body care products

credit: 5 Gyres Institute

Soaps, body washes, shampoos, and skin care products contain countless chemicals that are known to be toxic, carcinogenic, and hormonally disruptive, but are not tested or monitored by the U.S. FDA or Health Canada. Many exfoliating scrubs contain plastic microbeads, which pass through water treatment plants and end up in lakes and rivers. These are best avoided completely, as there are plenty of natural alternatives that do just as good a job at cleaning.

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Junk food

credit: Moyan Brenn

It has been said that there’s no such thing as junk food: there is junk, and there is food. The plethora of chips, candy, soda, and sugary, palm oil-laden prepackaged snacks that dominate grocery stores and children's lunch boxes have little nutritional substance. It's best to avoid foods with artificial colouring and sweeteners, added sugars, or other ingredients that sound like they come from a chemistry lab and not a farm. Aside from the occasional treat, which everyone enjoys once in a while, junk food should not be a pantry staple.

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Plastic food storage containers

credit: Orin Zebest

Plastic contains hormone-disrupting compounds, even those that claim to be BPA-free. When heated, plastic can leach into food and be ingested, which is hardly healthy. It’s best to avoid plastic altogether and replace it with reusable metal and glass alternatives.

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Non-stick cookware

credit: Jean Pierre

The debate over non-stick cookware continues to rage, but it’s a good idea simply to avoid the possibility of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) releasing irritating and poisonous fumes, especially considering all the good, non-toxic alternatives that are out there. A cast iron pan, if seasoned and cared for properly, can work just as well as a Teflon pan – and you won’t notice the non-stick coating disappearing and wonder where it’s ending up.

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Harsh household cleansers

credit: Kevin McShane

The household cleaning products industry is largely unregulated, and most contain horribly toxic chemicals that require users to keep gloves on and keep them well out of kids’ reach. It stands to reason that a house cleaned with these products isn’t nearly as ‘clean’ as one might think. There is the added problem of antibacterial products that lead to increased microbial resistance. Use vinegar and baking soda instead to create a healthy environment at home.

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Factory-farmed meat

credit: Robert Couse-Baker

Nearly all meat produced and sold in North America comes from factory farms, where animals are kept in horrific conditions, injected with vast quantities of antibiotics, given feed that contains questionable ingredients, and arrives in supermarkets contaminated by bacteria and feces. This kind of meat is best avoided for health, ecological, and ethical reasons.

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Nail polish, cologne, and perfume

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These commonly used products contain petroleum- and coal-derived synthetic chemicals that cause central nervous system damage and countless allergic reactions. Those nasty fumes that come with opening a bottle of nail polish should not be ignored; they fill your lungs with formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, and acetone, which damage the respiratory system. Consider ditching the nail polish altogether, and use sweet almond oil scented with your favourite essential oil as a good perfume substitute.

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‘Fast fashion’ clothes and denim

credit: Robert Sheie

Many new, factory-made clothes contain toxic chemicals that are left over from the manufacturing process. According to a study by Greenpeace, these include perfluorated chemicals, phthalates, nonylphenol, nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), and cadmium. When washed, the chemicals pass into waterways. Instead of exposing yourself and your kids (who are most vulnerable) to these chemicals, it’s healthiest to seek out organic, chemical-free clothing, most likely made domestically, or stick with used items from a local thrift shop.