360 Detox : Environmental Detox

Last week’s article Start the New Year with a 360 Degree Detox discussed the what, why, and how of detoxing. The focus was on cleansing the body but a 360 Degree Detox is not complete without “coming clean” with the products we use on the body, in our environment and within our inner landscape. Let’s do an environmental detox by looking at our personal care and cleaning products plus the energy level in our environment.

Personal Care Revisited

Sometimes called the “third kidney”, the skin is the largest organ and also part of the elimination system. Rashes, breakouts, and other skin eruptions are signs of this.

Sweating it out and regular dry brushing can boost the body’s natural detox processes.

Not only is the skin the body’s interface with the environment, lots of products go on the skin from antiperspirants and soaps to lotions and make up. New technology is making products “more effective and efficient”, with claims of whitening and anti-aging to longer lasting. But many ingredients give pause for thought.

One in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors.


Minimizing chemicals in products on the skin is therefore important. The top ingredients to avoid are parabens (think words starting with ethyl, methyl, butyl or propyl), dyes like Yellow 5 & 6, fragrances and perfumes, petroleum, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Sodium Laureth Sulphate, and triclosan. Or check out the “Dirty Dozen” from the David Suzuki Foundation.

Want to know how your personal care products stack up? Check them out on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database.

Organic and non-toxic personal care products and cosmetics have come a long way. Not only are the lipstick and polish colours vibrant, functional products like facial cleansers and deodorants work. There is no longer a need to compromise between looking good and feeling good about it.

Some of the brands we like include rms, Tara Harper, 100% Pure, Ilia, and ila for cosmetics and skincare. You can start with this list or this one from Allure which goes to show natural, non-toxic, and even certified organic skincare is going mainstream.

We also like the under-the-radar but still cult-status brands such as Harlow Skin Co, Helena Lane Skincare, and Boreal Folk Apothecary.

Or learn to make your own.

Environmental Detox

Considering the amount of time people spend in offices or their homes, it is important to minimize the use of chemical cleaners. This is especially true as more and more people live in apartment buildings and spend more time in office towers. A lack of proper air circulation traps the vapours from chemical cleaners and building materials. This increases sensitivity and health issues, especially in the elderly and children.

The availability of green options has scaled up. Seventh Generation, Ecover, Earth Friendly Products, Mrs Meyers, and Eco Store are just some of the growing brands of human- and environmentally-friendly ranges. Not all product are equal so be sure to read the ingredients list.

For the price-conscious, DIY mavens, or anyone who wants the absolutely cleanest products, try home-made your cleaning solutions. The most basic and effective can be made from just lemon, vinegar, and baking soda. Check out Cleaning Products 101 from America’s Goddess of Domestic Perfection, Martha Stewart.

The use of essential oils which are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal is another way to go. Young Living’s Thieves Essential Oil and Thieves Household Cleaner are effective alternatives to mainstream commercial cleaners. Studies show that Thieves Essential Oil can purify the air of a variety of bacteria, including mould.

Other considerations include boosting air quality with plants such as Peace Lily, Lady Palm, and Bamboo Palm. Plants help control humidity and purify the air of chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and others common in indoor synthetic materials. Studies by NASA show that plants can reduce up to 85% of indoor air pollutants. This is good for both the home and workplace.

Inner + Outer Detox

A full detox is not complete without releasing unhealthy and toxic thoughts and beliefs, or at least bringing them into the sphere of awareness, as a start.

Self-deprecating thoughts, conscious or otherwise, are as unhealthy as having a 24/7 diet of only cheeseburgers and coke. (Remember the film “Super Size Me”?) Holding onto emotions and attitudes can disturb the meridians and organ functions. Depression can compromise immunity. The body-mind-spirit connection shows that imbalance in one spills over into other areas.

For some people, this means spending less time with those who drain their energy or who are simply negative. This can be helpful in setting boundaries, and re-aligning to one’s inner being. Once in balance, the positive effect is that the energy of others has less impact and you can more easily maintain your own centre.

Whether it is at the workplace, or with family, it is not always possible to distance yourself from certain situations. Try coming back to balance with meditation, or looking at the situation in a different light. The books by Byron Katie focus on creating a different relationship between a person and his/her thoughts. Information on The Work by Byron Katie is freely available on her website.

While the body is perfect (at least the blueprint!), lifestyle choices aren’t always so. Lightening the load on the elimination organs by making simple changes can tip the scale back to wellness. Doing an inner and outer environmental detox is a time that can give us pause to rethink our most basic habits. Eat clean, move daily, choose wisely, and have a positive mindset – the mantra for everyday health.

After all, according to Claude Bernard, “The terrain is everything; the germ is nothing.”