Long gone are the days of carrying a cute little clutch or one of those wallet purses on a long strap that rests on your hip like a fashion accessory. Oh no, my purse is BIG and it’s a cross between a junk drawer and a CVS pharmacy. Things I can always find in my purse? Wadded up napkins, an empty package of Annie’s organic fruit snacks, and a Starbucks gift card that probably has about 17 cents left on it. Things I can never find in my purse? My keys, my military ID, or my tweezers. (I’m definitely of the age where I need tweezers nearby at all times … those rearview mirrors show all the ugly truths, don’t they? Just UGH.) Anyway, back to purses.
Oh, and if you’re a guy that stumbled upon this post, don’t run away just yet. You may not carry a purse, but there are helpful tips here for you, too. I promise.
What if I told you that by cleaning up your purse and replacing some items you could improve your health? It’s true. Just by completing the six tasks below, you can help your bodies in the following ways:
- Protect your body from harmful chemicals, toxins and carcinogens
- Strengthen your immune system
- Maintain healthier hormone levels
- Improve your dental care and health
- Regulate blood sugar levels
- Drastically reduce your electromagnetic radiation levels
All by detoxing and cleaning up your purse. So let’s get started!
1. Ditch the Receipts
So not only do receipts collect and clutter up your purse, but most of those little papers carry significant amounts of bisphenol-A (BPA). (Wait, what? Isn’t that the stuff we hear about in plastic and canned goods??? Yep, it sure is.) While BPA in water bottles and cans is attached to other molecules which our bodies must break down in order to absorb, the BPA in receipts is present in loose powder. This powder helps develop the dyes on thermal paper which most receipts are printed on, and it leaves a very high concentration of BPA on peoples’ fingers. Think about all the times you have grabbed a receipt and either held onto it while you walked to your car, maybe put it in your mouth while you tried to find your keys, shoved it into a bag with fresh food, or even handed it to your child while you did something else. And then if those receipts pile up in your purse, that BPA is going to coat everything else you keep in there. BPA makes its way into your skin in mere seconds, and studies have shown that this chemical is anywhere from 250-1000 times greater on receipts than in those cans and water bottles. BPA mimics human estrogen in the body, and therefore it is linked to significant disruption of hormones and the endocrine system. Studies show this chemical has been linked to breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility, and hormone abnormalities in children.
What you can do: If you have the option of getting your receipt emailed to you, do it. Much better to clutter up your email account than hold that receipt. If a paper receipt is the only option, then hold your shopping bag open for the salesperson to drop it in. (But not one with food in it!) Designate an area in your home such as a drawer or envelope and keep all your receipts in that one spot, and try not to handle them often. If you work somewhere which requires handling receipts, please protect yourself and wear gloves. Also, please don’t recycle receipts because the BPA will contaminate our recycled paper. And lastly, don’t freak out if you have to grab a receipt — just try to limit your exposure and you are doing better!
2. Get rid of hand sanitizer
Even though antibacterial hand sanitizers (and soaps) sound good in theory and used to be all the rage, more people are becoming aware of the dangers associated with them. (Remember when everyone had a bottle of hand sanitizer hanging from their purse straps? I think I had about five different scents of it from Bath & Body Works.) First of all, we really don’t want to get rid of ALL the bacteria! Wiping out so much bacteria has actually become detrimental to our immune systems and made our bodies more susceptible to bacterial infections such as staph and MRSA. Secondly, these antibacterial products carry triclosan, a widely used antimicrobial chemical which can be found in antibacterial soaps, as well as toothpastes and deodorants. Triclosan is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, is a known endocrine disruptor which is especially harmful to thyroid and reproductive hormones, and has been identified as a skin irritant. In addition, triclosan is thought to encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. The purpose of antibacterial hand sanitizers is to kill bacteria, but they do not prevent the transfer of toxic chemicals from your hands to your mouth. This is because they do not remove the dust and dirt which can harbor chemicals. Also, when washing with water, potentially harmful product ingredients are partially washed off, whereas all ingredients in hand sanitizers are left to absorb into your skin.
What you can do: On a positive note, the FDA recently banned triclosan and 18 other antibacterial ingredients in hand soaps, effective September 2016. However, companies have a year to remove these banned ingredients so it is best to be vigilant starting now. The good news is that good old soap and water kills bacteria and microbes, too. Washing with soap and water not only kills bacteria but it also removes dust and dirt from hands to reduce toxic exposure. So skip the antibacterial stuff and go for safer soap and water. Chances are the soap in public bathrooms is bought in bulk and full of these antibacterial chemicals, so I try to avoid them completely. Carrying a little bottle of soap is just as easy as carrying antibacterial gel! I use this Citrus Mimosa Hand Wash at home and keep the trial size of this Wild Ginger Hand Wash in my purse.
I also carry a tube of Nature’s Sunshine Silver Shield Gel which is known to have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal properties. Most people’s knowledge of silver traces back to that guy who made colloidal silver in his backyard and turned blue. The problem with this and earlier versions is that high amounts of silver were needed to be effective, and this possibly led to toxic levels in the body. Advances in silver technology have resulted in a silver solution that can be used in an effective daily regimen to prevent against bacteria, viruses, mold and food poisoning, as well as helping improve wound healing.* It takes approximately 2 to 6 minutes for silver to destroy 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, mold and other pathogens it contacts. It can be purchased in liquid or gel form, and I ALWAYS have a tube of the gel in my purse. I use it when we can’t wash our hands with soap and water, in place of hand sanitizer, or on cuts/burns/bites/stings. The gel comes in two sizes, both of which are approved for airline travel. I love it and it’s so great to have on hand for kids!
*Also, please note that not all hand sanitizers contain triclosan, so make sure to check the labels. You also want to avoid hand sanitizers with fragrance because that’s a sneaky word that disguises lots of chemicals. I personally do not use hand sanitizers in general because I prefer using soap or silver.
3. Buy lead-free lipsticks and lip glosses.
I would guess that most females over the age of 13 carry lipstick or lip gloss in their handbags. If you haven’t given much thought to the safety of your lipstick or lip gloss, it’s time to give it some attention. More than 60 percent of all lipsticks and lip glosses on the market contain lead, which is a known neurotoxin. Neurotoxins are toxins that are poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue. Women will use up to 9 pounds of lipstick in a lifetime, and 30 percent of that lipstick and lip gloss ends up in our stomachs thanks to eating and licking our lips. Most of us apply lipstick multiple times a day, and this leads to significant exposure over time. Lead exposure is extremely dangerous as it has been linked to many negative issues which are becoming more and more common, such as learning disabilities, behavior issues, menstrual irregularities, and infertility. Ladies, we are eating lead! I mean, I totally think I look better with a little color on my lips, but I’m not doing it at the expense of my health by consuming a known neurotoxin.
What you can do: Luckily, there are companies which have taken it upon themselves to produce beautiful lip products (as well as full makeup lines) that are free of lead and other harmful chemicals and ingredients. Check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to find the safety ratings your favorites as well as research safer options if needed. (My goal is to keep my products at a rating of 1 or 2, with the occasional 3 from time to time.) I use the Beautycounter lip sheers and lip glosses, which are free of any questionable ingredients and batch tested for heavy metals. Beautycounter’s mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone, and the company has chosen to exclude over 1500 ingredients which are questionable or possibly harmful to our health. Click here to see all the lip products by Beautycounter … and check out all of their makeup while you’re at it! I literally use ALL of it and it has improved my skin and overall health.
4. Pick a safer hand lotion.
I will admit right now that I am a hand lotion junkie. I’ve got dry skin AND I live in Alaska, so I am always digging in my purse for more hand lotion. Before I started paying attention to the products I was putting on my skin, I used any cheap lotion I could find — you could always find two or three hotel lotion freebies at the bottom of my handbag. Unfortunately, many lotions contain an alarming amount of parabens, phthalates, BHA, and fragrances … all toxic chemicals which are linked to numerous health issues which include hormone imbalances, endocrine disruption, infertility, cancer, respiratory issues, and skin irritations. It only takes 26 seconds for the chemicals in any product you put on your skin to be absorbed into the body, and I do not want any of that stuff floating around in my bloodstream.
What you can do: Just pick a safer hand lotion! Once again, head over to the EWG’s Skin Deep Database and check out some healthier options. I use this Citrus Mimosa Hand Cream which has an EWG rating of 1 and smells delicious!
5. Get a protective case for your smart phone.
This is a topic that has really been weighing on me lately. Everywhere you look, there are electronic devices emitting Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF). We use them, our children use them, and they just continue to grow in use and popularity. Computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets and WiFi networks all emit forms of EMR. They are in our homes, schools, workplaces, cafés, and public areas. I know that the most logical and responsible way to avoid electromagnetic radiation is to avoid all of our electronic devices, but let’s be honest … that’s just not going to happen. Unfortunately, most of us know very little about the impact of electronics devices on our health, how they work or what research has been done on the subject. “By virtue of the way they work, electronic devices emit forms of radiation which can have a profound body impact. Some types of radiation can adversely influence the biology of the cells, modifying their behavior. Radiation known as “thermal radiation” has the ability of heating up our cells. And finally, our bodies use electricity within to properly function and external signals from electronic devices can interrupt or confuse living tissue.”(1) It is important to educate ourselves about electronic device emissions, and we should make the effort to protect ourselves by limiting use as well as investing in ways to protect our bodies from EMF.
What you can do: Purchase an EMF protector case for your phone. Companies are starting to catch on to this issue and are creating products to limit our EMF exposure while using our devices. I recently purchased this DefenderShield protective cell phone case to reduce my EMF exposure. Let’s face it — I have my phone with me ALL THE TIME. It’s not as good as getting rid of it or severely limiting my use, but it’s definitely better. My next purchases will be protective cases for our laptops and tablets.
6. Replace your breath mints with toothpaste & healthy snacks.
I have a definite sweet tooth, and in the past I used to have loads of restaurant candy in my purse. You know, all the mints and fruit flavored candies in big bowls when you exit a restaurant after a meal. (I really love those mint chocolate ones!) Anyway, the problem is many of us grab a piece of Purse Candy when we are hungry … and that is not a very nice thing to do to your blood sugar levels. Empty stomach + low blood sugar + big piece of sugary candy = insulin surge and pancreas exhaustion, which can be a nasty cycle. (The process of blood sugar management is way more complex than that, but we’ll chat about that in another blogpost.) Just know that eating candy on an empty stomach (or really even on a full stomach) is not doing your blood sugar levels any favors. Blood sugar issues are quite common these days due to the high amounts of sugar, carbohydrates, and processed foods consumed by people in this country, and they include everything from energy crashes to hypoglycemia, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance.
What you can do: Stop taking handfuls of candy from those bowls, ok? I actually keep a tube of toothpaste in my purse to both freshen my breath and kill any sugar cravings. (Keep a travel toothbrush in your purse and your dentist will be super happy!) Now this is going to be weird for you Crest and Colgate users, but I recommend a toothpaste that is free of fluoride, glycerin, and SLS. Fluoride is a neurotoxin, glycerin is a controversial ingredient which can impede remineralization, and SLS is a toxic chemical. So I use this natural toothpaste … and cinnamon is my favorite flavor. (But the choice to use fluoride and glycerin is a personal one … do the research and make the best decision for YOU.) And if you keep candy in your purse for when you’re hungry, make sure to switch them out for healthy snacks that are full of good quality fats to maintain your blood sugar levels and keep you satisfied until your next meal. I keep little bags of trail mix, Larabars, and Epic jerky bites in my purse at all times in case I find myself in a hangry state jonesing for some fast food!
There you go. Not only are you going to be healthier, but I’ve given you reasons to buy new makeup and hand lotion, great soap and toothpaste, a cute new case for your phone, and yummy snacks. And tweezers. Now our purses can be less junk drawer, more natural health market with that nice patchouli smell.
While you’re at it, you should buy a new purse. You know, clean slate and all that. You’re welcome.
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*Silver Shield with Aqua Sol Technology from Nature’s Sunshine provides 20 ppm of silver that stays suspended in purified deionized water to guard you from the microscopic foreign invaders that surround us. Recent studies by major universities have shown Silver Shield with Aqua Sol Technology to be effective against a wide array of body invaders. This product has a patented technology not available anywhere else. The FDA has recently reviewed this silver and found it to be safe with no possibility of build up in the body.
(1) EMF statistics found at www.defendershield.com