4 ways to reduce exposure to nasty chemicals

4 ways to reduce exposure to nasty chemicals

I am thrilled to have a very special guest post on the blog today from Malcolm Rands. Malcolm Rands and his wife Melanie co-founded ecostore (my lovely blog sponsor!) and the Fairground Foundation in 1993. Well known as ‘ecoman’, he’s sought after as a speaker and consultant on the health of people and the planet; innovation, and new models for sustainable business. You can follow him at @nzecoman.

What I love about this post is how it takes something very real and very big and breaks its down into key areas to focus on. I have been very conscious about the food I put into my body and the cleaning products I use, but not so aware of what I am putting on to my body in terms of things like deodorant, make up, etc. This post inspired me to become observant about these products and try out new ones. I will share my results with you over the coming weeks.


We’re exposed to nasty chemicals in so many different ways, like food and water, home furnishings, the air we breathe and everyday products we put on our skin and clean our houses with.

Our body has ways to deal with the nasty chemicals we’re exposed to, but we can be overloaded with toxins. So if we can reduce our exposure, that’s always a good thing for our health.

I have four key pieces of advice for helping our bodies keep well each day and help defend ourselves against chemicals that might be harmful.

1. Watch what you buy

Many of the chemicals used in the products we buy every day for clean ourselves and our homes aren’t proven to be safe for our health. An important part of being healthy is checking what’s in these products and avoiding anything that might be harmful to our endocrine system, might irritate our skin and lungs, or worsen conditions like asthma.

Why not check labels and choose those that don’t use ingredients like sodium lauryl sulphate, triclosan and parabens?

2. Eat for health

We can choose from so many foods on supermarket shelves these days, and so many are processed. Whole or unrefined food is the healthiest option – these are the kinds of things your grandparents used to eat like fresh produce, whole grains, seafood and dairy. You’ll find them in the outer aisles of the supermarket, while more processed and packaged food is found in the centre aisles.

Eating organic is a great way to reduce your exposure to any pesticides that might be used by growers. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen Plus and Clean Fifteen for more information on which produce gives us the greatest risk of pesticide exposure.

Because organic produce can be more expensive to buy, growing this produce in your own garden can be a less expensive option and still lets you ensure you’re not exposed to pesticides.

3. Drink filtered water

A home water filter is a great step for reducing chemicals that might be introduced to our bodies – it doesn’t have to be an expensive model, a basic filter is fine. City water systems are chlorinated to get rid of micro-organisms that might cause disease, but there have been links between chlorine in tap water and a lack of beneficial gut bacteria and conditions like autoimmune disease, diabetes and asthma.

Staying hydrated has lots of other benefits, including higher energy levels, boosted concentration power, appetite management and healthy skin.

4. Exercising and managing stress

To manage stress in every day life, try building regular exercise, yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques into your day. Remember these things don’t need to take a huge amount of time away from your work or home life.

There are many more things that keep us well every day, so do share your ideas and advice with us!


Malcolm Rands is also well known as ‘ecoman’, he’s sought after as a speaker and consultant on the health of people and the planet; innovation, and new models for sustainable business. If you would like to read more about Malcolm, his book Ecoman: From a Garage in Northland to a Pioneering Global Brand is a great read (it would make a great Christmas gift!).

The book tells the story of the beginnings of ecostore in New Zealand’s first permaculture eco-village and how he and his wife Melanie sourced local manufacturers to make a range of organic gardening, home cleaning and body care products for the then mail-order business in the dug-out basement of their home. Twenty years on, Malcolm has developed ecostore into a multi-million dollar business.

The book also includes his tips on how to green up your home and office, his thoughts on New Zealand’s ‘pure’ image and lessons in sustainability.


  1. Anne At Home says

    It’s a fascinating topic. 2 years ago I chanced upon the book “Slow Death By Rubber Duck” by Rick Smith & Brian Lourie and so began my journey to reducing our family’s exposure to chemicals in every day items. Of the greatest concern to me as both a GP and a mother of girls, is the potential for the endocrine disrupting chemicals in personal care products to increase the risk of breast cancer, especially exposure to these substances around puberty (which is occurring earlier and earlier, possibly also due to these chemicals). I highly recommend this book to get you further along your journey as well as checking out the website of the Breast Cancer Fund which has great tips and links. It’s also affiliated with the Environmental Working Group that Malcolm mentions above, as is Healthy Child, Healthy World, another great site. Best of luck!

  2. Graeme Heap says

    Hi Nicole, I am a great follower of your simple systems that make life easier.


    My simple mind says, ” If things have been around us for 1000 years or so, they are probably safe to live with”.

    Obviously , I am prepared to live with some risks. But RISK ITSELF has also been around as long as us. Here am I, still doing exercises, playing tennis ( and occasionally falling ), cycling ( and occasionally falling ),hip-hopping,yoga-ing ,gardening, snow skiing, and eating food like my mother cooked. In fact, my cooking is definitely dangerous , but less so thanks to microwave and refrigerator.

    Most of the fun things are slightly dangerous. Isn’t that part of the fun ? –Graeme.

    • says

      Hi Graeme,

      The problem is that the way we manufacture products now means they look nothing like “things have been around us for 1000 years or so”. Everything now has so much added to it and is so processed.

      If you do keep things simple, you tend not to have to worry to much about this stuff. If you clean your house using products that have been around for 1000s of year like vinegar, lemon juice etc there isn’t a need to worry.

      I see these differently to fun things that have some risk associated to them like my running and CrossFit which I love and do daily but can and have injured me :) .