What does it mean to live an organic lifestyle and to have an organic home?
Well, it can of course actually mean lots of different things to different people. When many of us hear the term ‘organic lifestyle’, our minds might jump immediately to the stereotypical ‘hippy’ image of someone who lives off the land.
We imagine people who keep chickens, who make all their own products and who don’t wash their clothes for fear of using water and electricity.
But while that could be considered an ‘organic lifestyle’ and an organic home, it’s only one example of how we can express a desire to live more naturally and healthily. In other cases then, an organic lifestyle can simply mean choosing to buy organic, or it can mean favouring organic options where both are presented. It might mean creating your own organic garden, or it might mean choosing to buy organic foods for your family.
Often, being truly organic simply means changing the way you think. It means that you pause to look at what precisely went into the product you’re about to use before you use it and it means thinking twice before going ahead with it.
If we look at the word ‘organic’ in the dictionary, we see that it means ‘relating to, or derived from living matter’. In other words, something organic is something that in some ways comes from a living organism.
By extension, this means that the thing is not man-made and is not made from synthetic chemicals.
So that is roughly what it means to be organic, the next question then is why be organic? What advantage is there to shunning synthetic compounds and choosing natural ingredients and products instead?
There are actually a great deal of reasons to choose to be organic. Let’s start by looking at some of the most obvious and prevalent:
Going organic is good for you for a number of reasons. For starters, it means that you won’t be consuming unnatural chemicals or other potentially noxious ingredients. At the same time though, it also means that you are embracing more natural ingredients and generally striving to live a little more in-keeping with nature and the way that your body evolved to live.
The most obvious example of this is what you eat. If you eat regular fruits and vegetables, then that means that you could potentially be eating trace amounts of toxic pesticides. These are literally man-made poisons that are being sprayed on our food and on our crops and so it isn’t hard to see how this might be a problem!
Indeed, pesticides have been shown in a large number of studies to be associated with a range of health problems both short-term and long-term. In the short term, they have been associated with headaches and nausea for example, while in the long term they have even been linked to cancer. Here is a research paper looking at the potential hazards of pesticides.
And it’s not just that non-organic foods can be unhealthy either. It’s also true that organic foods have additional health benefits. This is because organic foods will be fed with other natural ingredients, which in turn provide them with more nutrition. Thus, those animals and plants become healthier, thereby being more nutrient dense themselves.
This can be seen easily when we look at the difference between corn fed and grass fed beef. Those cows that have been able to live on their natural food source (grass) are able to benefit from better nutrition, which in turn results in a healthier, tastier and more nutritious cut of meat.
And this doesn’t just apply to what you eat either. It also goes for organic shampoos, organic skin care products etc. Many people will find that products that use harsh, unnatural ingredients are much more likely to result in skin rashes or other unpleasant reactions. Conversely, using natural ingredients in things that will come into contact with your skin will often help to provide natural, gentle nourishment.
The other big reason to go organic is that it is much better for the environment. When you use synthetic pesticides, this isn’t only a risk to human health. At the same time, it can also negatively impact on other animals that might come into contact with it.
This in turn can end up having knock-on effects through the local ecosystem. If one type of insect should be culled for example, then this might reduce the available food for their natural predators, or it might result in certain types of plants or weeds growing faster.
Organic methods are also more sustainable. Because they rely on natural ingredients that can be grown, they aren’t placing a large strain on the environment. Very often, an organic ethos will go hand-in-hand with a general eco-consciousness, meaning that you can normally assume that a business that sells organic products will also be striving to keep its emissions and its waste low.
With global warming and the energy crisis both looming threats on our horizon, buying organic normally means that you are supporting sustainable and eco-friendly companies and thereby helping to further contribute to a healthier planet.
Another advantage of going organic is that it will often be cheaper. That’s because it will a lot of the time mean that you’re actually making or growing your own. People who stick to an organic lifestyle will very often grow their own fruits and vegetables for example and right away, this will mean that they are getting some of their foods for free.
Similarly, people who go organic might use organic soaps or organic rug shampoos even! Again, if they made these themselves then they will have saved a lot of money. But even buying organic products will often be cheaper because they will be made from expensive ingredients – naturally occurring ingredients in fact that are readily available!
Finally, consider taking up an organic lifestyle and using things like organic cleaning suppliers because of how rewarding it can be.
Essentially, going organic means learning to live off the land and learning to make nature work for you. It’s about being creative and resourceful and it’s about making the most of all the natural supplies and ingredients available to you.
Instead of simply going out and buying a soap, you’ll be learning to make your own soap from natural ingredients that looks and smells unique. Instead of buying corrosive cleaning products, you’ll be using household items to do your own organic home cleaning.
And growing your own organic garden is about the most rewarding part of all. This way, you’ll be able to grow an organic garden that will act as a microcosm of the broader ecosystem. It will be entirely self-sustaining and self-reliant, while providing you with food and supplies you can use to make your home life easier. And on top of all that, you will now have a garden that is teaming with life and movement.
All this is a highly rewarding experience and as you commit more and more to the organic lifestyle, you’ll find that you discover more and more about nature and about your own creativity.
Do keep in mind though, that it is possible to go ‘too far’ when it comes to an organic lifestyle. The problem is that some people will think of organic living and running organic homes only in terms of what is strictly organic.
The question then becomes: does organic immediately mean better? Are there never any scenarios where it can actually be healthier to veer away from the organic approach and to lean on more modern methods?
For example, organic farming is very healthy and highly laudable. But there are scenarios where unnatural methods can be preferable. For example, hydroponics can actually be very useful as an efficient way to grow crops indoors in large quantities with minimal use of water.
Likewise, genetically modified fruits and vegetables are a controversial topic and it’s still possible that there could be negative side effects. However, they also offer perhaps the very best promise for growing food in developing countries and they will sometimes be fortified with extra nutritional content.
Likewise, some organic products simply won’t do as good a job as the non-organic counterparts. Or they may be significantly more expensive. In these situations, you need to weigh up the pros and cons in a detached manner.
In other words: organic does not always equal good. Don’t box yourself in with labels – just use your common sense and recognize when it makes more sense to go organic and when it’s preferable to take another tact.
Now you know what an organic home is, the question is: how do you go about moving more toward that way of living? What’s the easiest way to get started without breaking the bank and if you aren’t someone who is particularly gifted at making their own products?
One good tip is to start simple and to begin with the smaller basics. In other words, don’t try and go 100% organic on day one!
A good place to start is with your local shop. Take a look at your fruit and veg and try to pick organic options wherever possible. Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to start getting a healthier diet.
Next, you might want to look at your meats and to find a producer that prioritizes quality of life for its stock. Look for oils that are cold pressed and not subjected to chemical extraction processes and try to start finding foods and drinks that aren’t filled with additives too.
Again, if you try and change your entire shop, you’re likely to run up against hurdles. Instead then, focus on one area and then gradually introduce more new products as you go.
Some tricks to make this even easier still are to try and find a local organic store. These days, more and more healthy stores are opening up all the time as more of us are starting to embrace the benefits of eating and living organic. Planet Organic is one example for instance and is a great place to go if you want to pick up snacks and other things to eat.
What you’ll find though is that it can get a bit expensive if you buy all your food from stores like this. For your bigger items then, a good trick is to set up online shopping. This allows you to more tightly budget what you’re eating and to make sure that you aren’t spending too much each week. It also takes away any of the decision making process – you can simply wait for the food to turn up at your door!
But the real key, as mentioned is start with one area and then build on it.
A lot people think that having an organic lifestyle is all about eating organic produce and growing their own fruit and veg. In shot though, that’s only part of it.
What’s also important is to think about the products you’re using around the home – many of which can contain just as many harmful chemicals while also not being particularly good for the environment. These include things like cleaning supplies, carpet cleaners, bleaches etc.
In almost every case, you will find that there are alternatives for organic cleaning that work just as well to kill off bacteria and to help you keep your home hygienic without blasting potent chemicals around the air.
One of the things to remember with organic household cleaners, is that they are also beneficial because they don’t kill off all the bacteria in the home. Remember: not all bacteria is bad and living in a clinically sterile environment is hardly healthy or natural. By using more organic products, you can then keep your home more hygienic and cleaner looking, without using anything too astringent or potentially harmful.
So take a look at your current products and as each one runs out, try to replace it with an organic home product instead. This could either be something you’ve bought online (check out reviews here), or it could be something that you’ve made yourself.
There are lots of recipes you can find online for homemade organic cleaning products and these can all go a long way to keeping your home hygienic and helping you to avoid nasty chemicals.
The same also goes for your personal hygiene and that means things like shampoos, soaps and even colognes and moisturisers!
Going organic in these scenarios provides you with nourishing and health-supporting ingredients while at the same time, avoiding things that could be damaging to your health. This is something that women will be more likely to look into than men but that certainly shouldn’t be the case!
Men, you should consider switching to natural organic shampoo if only to avoid all the synthetic estrogens that are rife in these products. That’s right, going organic can boost your testosterone levels which means more fertility, more muscle and better weight loss. Read more about synthetic estrogens here.
This site has a ton of information for switching to organic personal hygiene and organic home products. You can find detail on:
Once again, when buying other things, just try to make it a habit to check the labels. Exactly what is going into that air freshener? Could you do better with something a little more natural?
Another tip is to try and find brands that you like and that you can trust. There are more and more companies springing up today with the mission statement of trying to bring more natural products into our homes. The best of these will also generally be energy efficient in everything they do and endeavour to work only with partners that share their principles.
By buying products from these brands, you can then rest assured that you will be getting products that fit with your new organic ethos and that are kind to your health and to the planet.
You can also find companies like restaurants and even hair salons that fit within these criteria. This way, each time you hire their services or buy their food, you know you will be supporting a sustainable way of living.
Pret is a great example of a food company that makes only natural things, free from unnaturally additives.
Looking for local producers is another good way to consume more natural products. Not only that but you’ll also be supporting the local economy and helping to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that are emitted as a result of food being transported over long distances.
Farmers’ markets are great too and best of all, is that they actually let you speak with the people who you are buying from to learn how they treat their animals and their crops.
When looking for things like organic cleaners on the other hand, you can try looking for smaller providers in your area once again or even looking for online options that will promise to use natural ingredients.
Another tip is to start growing your own organic garden. This is a great way to have a more organic home, though of course it is quite the commitment. Once you do that though, you’ll not only be supporting the environment and learning more about the ecosystem; but you’ll also be able to grow your own fruits and vegetables as well as cultivating raw materials that you can use to create your own home products.
There are plenty of things you can make using plants, flowers and other resources grown in your own organic garden!
For more on organic gardening, check out this huge resource we created, especially for you!
If you do all this right, then moving to a more organic lifestyle should actually save you money. Many people though will find that it can be expensive, so let’s look at some tips to help you cut the costs of living organically…
There’s a lot more to ‘going organic’ but really what’s most important is that you just enjoy it and find what works for you. Going organic doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be limiting – try to see it as an enjoyable project and you’ll find it can be a great way to enjoy more delicious food, improve your health and learn about nature in the process.