Toxins and Chemicals and Carcinogens, Oh My! – 5 Ways to Stay Sane When Your Green Lifestyle Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Whether you’ve taken your very first step to living a green lifestyle or whether you’ve fully embraced one, I think everyone who has made a green effort has had at least one moment where they feel so overwhelmed and frustrated with the state of our world that they’re almost paralyzed with anger or doubt. I’m sure we all feel thankful that we are aware parents and doing our best to keep our families healthy, but how can you not sometimes feel upset when you learn that there are dangerous toxins in your child’s toys, dangerous chemicals in your baby’s pajamas, or toxins in our furniture?

As I find more and more disturbing information about the products our families use and about the air that we breathe, here are five ways that I stay positive and focused on living a green and healthy lifestyle – without getting overwhelmed:

1. Staying Positive for Health Purposes:
We choose to live green lifestyles, in part, to ensure good health for ourselves and our families. As aware parents, we also know that stress and negativity can actually have a detrimental effect on our health. According to an About.com article:

Science is constantly learning about the impact that stress has on your overall health. Stress is or may be a contributing factor in everything from backaches and insomnia to cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Make the choice to let go of the negative and focus on all of the positive steps you are taking toward living a green and healthy lifestyle. Choose to be proud of yourself for being an aware, dedicated, and proactive parent! This choice will not only help you to relax but also help you to maintain good health or overcome any health challenges you may be facing. Never doubt the power of positive thinking!

2. Find a community of green and healthy supporters:
Sometimes a few words of support or the ear of a good listener – or message board! – can allow you to vent and clear your head. There are so many wonderful online communities to support you when you need a lift. You can find over 42 web sites to get you started with my post, The Best Web Sites for Green & Natural Mamas.

3. Find alternative ways to do things and lend your voice to campaigns to make a difference:
Yes, there are many non-green products that can have ill effects on our families, but sometimes you can remove the impact of that product by simply making another choice. Web sites like Healthy Child, Healthy World offer a myriad of alternatives and solutions for some of the most common unhealthy parts of our day. Take the time to look up some of the easiest ways to create a healthier home, and allow yourself to feel empowered for quickly and easily turning a negative into a positive for your family!

Also, as a busy parent, you may feel like you don’t have the time to make a larger green impact on the world, but there are several easy ways to lend your voice to making a difference. You can make yourself heard and fight for clean air, healthy food, and toxin-free products by simply signing your name to online campaigns like the ones that are regularly posted from Moms Clean Air Force and MomsRising. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, sometimes an effort to make a difference is all you need to remind yourself how much power we have as individuals to change our world for the better.

4. Find a source of inspiration:
Quotes like the following inspire me:

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. ~Edward Everett Hale

It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can. ~Sydney Smith

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. ~Author Unknown

He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help. ~Abraham Lincoln

If I thought I was going to die tomorrow, I should nevertheless plant a tree today. ~Stephan Girard

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~Mahatma Ghandi

5. Look at the face of your little one, and know that even the smallest of steps is something to be proud of when you’re doing it for your precious child:

Baby drinks a sippy cup

This is the face that keeps me positive! In this picture, Baby visits an organic farm wearing a "Think Green" shirt and an organic cotton hat while sipping on a BPA-free sippy cup. Even the smallest of green choices are something to be proud of!

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica September 6, 2011 at 8:34 am

Such a great post, sometimes it is hard to stay focused on why we should live a green lifestyle because it can be so much more work. Great tips.
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2 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Thank you, Jessica!

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3 Greener Cleaning Mom September 6, 2011 at 9:01 am

For me, being green is about making healthier lifestyle choices. I try small, easy things I can do to help my family be healthier like changing my cleaning products. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you try to make a lot of changes fast, so I encourage myself to just keep taking baby steps.
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4 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

That’s great!

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5 Free Range Mama September 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

Thanks for the tips! Sometimes I find myself wishing for the blindfold of naivity so I don’t have to second guess everything! I have friends who prefer to live their lives without learning more. That way they don’t have to make any changes and nothing bothers their conscience. I am glad there are people out there thinking of the future generation. That helps keep me going, as well as helps me learn more about how to live sustainably and how to teach my children to do so as well.
Free Range Mama recently posted..Your vinegar may be made from petroleum productsMy Profile

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6 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm

You’re welcome!

I know the feeling and I know way too many people who live the way some of your friends do. It’s very disheartening, but it makes me feel better to think about how many people I know are changing their lives – and our planet – for the better these days :-)

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7 Maria September 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Great post and reminders! I especially like the quote about planting a tree. My husband tends to be the doom and gloom guy when it comes to our environment. I’ll have to share this with him!
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8 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

Thanks, Maria! I hope your husband likes it!

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9 Eve September 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Such a great post, Charise! It can be tough to live green, and it does sometimes make you feel helpless in the big picture. But I agree, we can do a lot of little things that make a BIG difference in our world!
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10 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

Thank you!

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11 Lori Popkewitz Alper September 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm

What a great post-thank you! I really liked the quotes at the end. My favorite was the first:” I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~Edward Everett Hale

We all do what we can-and it’s impossible to do it all. But it’s important to remember that you are making a difference.
Lori Popkewitz Alper recently posted..10 Ways to Stay Sane in a Crazy, Toxic WorldMy Profile

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12 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

Thanks, Lori! I love that quote too. :-)

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13 Lisa @Granola Catholic September 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I learned a few years ago, that I can not do everything, nor can I do it all by myself. So I have to choose what I do for my family. Sometimes there is a lot to choose from and it can be overwhelming, but we if we all choose one thing to do, then we will begin to make a difference.

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14 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

Exactly – I agree!

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15 Gaby @ Tmuffin September 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm

What great reminders! I especially like the one about surrounding yourself with like-minded folks. It helps give you ideas and keeps you motivated to be green, even if it isn’t always more convenient. I also like the last point. When I use talcum powder to get the sand off after a day at the beach or resort to a disposable diaper, instead of feeling guilty, I think of all the other ways I try to help the environment and then I think of all the other ways many people don’t, and I feel better about what I personally accomplish, and then I want to share so others realize how easy it can be to take the baby steps.
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16 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

Thanks!

Yes, I think we deserve to give ourselves a break and recognize how much we do rather than what we don’t do!

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17 Janine @ Alternative Housewife September 6, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Great post! I get SO overwhelmed sometimes thinking about all of the ways we AREN’T green, but really we do so much more than the average person. Love that pic of your little one!
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18 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

Thank you, Janine!

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19 Janelle Sorensen September 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Great advice Charise! When I used to do more public speaking, educating parents about these issues, I always reminded them about the stress factor. It’s so important to find your own path, do what you can, and then just focus on enjoying your life – laughing, playing, hugging.

Thanks for writing about this!

Janelle Sorensen
Chief Communications Officer
Healthy Child Healthy World

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20 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Thank you, Janelle!

I agree. Laughing, playing, and hugging are such important things to focus on :-)

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21 Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman September 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

That’s a good point about staying positive. Recently a blog I visit wondered whether all our green efforts were actually worth it. I did think about it for a while but came to the conclusion that even though it may not make a difference in the overall scale of things, it made *me* feel good and therefore it was worth doing.
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22 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I agree, Alison. That alone makes it worth doing.

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23 Shelley September 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Thanks for the good advice & the wonderful quotes! It’s so true that individually we are only one, but as a part of a group, we make a difference. If we never made an effort, as individuals, nothing would ever be accomplished!
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24 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I agree, Shelley!

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25 Mimi September 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Those are some great ways to encourage others in their Green Lifestyle. I wish I were more green and organic!
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26 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Thanks, Mimi! It’s never too late to take a couple of green and organic baby steps ;-)

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27 Luschka September 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Lol! When I saw the sippy cup, I wondered if it was BPA free! :D

Great post, and I LOVE the quotes!

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28 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Thanks!

LOL – I am like the BPA police ;-) I had to mention it was BPA free!

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29 Greg@www.stylishhome.com September 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Solid advice Charise. I find that I can reduce my stress by making up my mind that each decision I make will be through a green filter. I can’t change everything now, but I can make one decision right now and make it a good one. That way I don’t stress about the thousand things that need to get revised soon.
Greg@www.stylishhome.com recently posted..Outdoor Furniture. Getting it Right, Getting it Green.My Profile

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30 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm

That sounds like the right attitude, Greg!

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31 Kristl Story September 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I’ve chosen to lead my green life by example and hope that others will follow.
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32 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama September 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Good for you! Go green!

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33 Hollywood Cosmetic Dentist October 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Great idea of getting into a support group. I have never thought of that. Any suggestions where I can find a group like that?

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34 Cindy Haines McCooeye October 19, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Thank you for this! This is just the encouragement I needed to hear today, after lots of discussions with friends lately on health, food, the environment, vaccines, etc. We are all on different points on our journeys and understand different truths, but each of us needs to know that it’s the right thing to do- to do what we can do to improve things, step by step, little by little,. We need to know that this will have an impact in our lives and our children’s lives as we go along.

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