BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 13th Mar '14

IT’S TIME TO STOP ‘UPPING THE ANTI’ (BACTERIALS), SAYS BBC RADIO PRESENTER AND THE UK’S NUMBER ONE NATURAL LIVING EXPERT, JANEY LEE GRACE.

By way of introduction I should tell you upfront that, despite being on Steve Wright in the Afternoon on BBC Radio 2, I am NOT the old woman – a fact lamented by many Hollywood Stars who long to meet the enigmatic character. But what you’ll certainly find me doing is banging on about organic food, skincare, cleaning without chemicals, natural pregnancy and birth – not to mention balls and nuts (more on that later…).

Now imperfectly natural is the key here – in fact it was in the titles of three of my books. I’m no ‘Green Goddess’, I’m barely Lime, but I do take the ‘small change, big difference’ approach and I’m passionate about encouraging everyone to live a little more simply, and to look for 100% natural alternatives – without compromising on looking and feeling great.

Statistics show the average home is more polluted than a busy street corner.

Of course the best eco intentions can go down the compost heap in times of recession and economic crisis, so it was brilliant to be asked to present the PEAB awards in London recently, where we were reminded that there are still many companies, large and small, who are committing to sustainability. But what can the humble consumer do to ensure that we take note of our whopping great carbon footprint and make some necessary adjustments? That’s where I believe the holistic small change approach really comes into its own. If we look to our own personal environment and make sustainable choices that are 100% natural, we will improve our health and wellbeing and tick the eco box almost without trying.

Got green fatigue?

As our bank balances have dwindled some ‘green fatigue’ has set in; it no longer feels so important to be carbon offsetting or investing in solar panels when friends and colleagues are facing redundancy or struggling with mortgage payments. But going green can save us money as well as saving the planet.

A good way to start is to ditch the chemicals – sounds way too obvious but I meet many eco-warriors who omit to consider what they’re eating, wearing on their skin or washing down their own sinks. Start small and notice the impact. The good news is that the recent rise in availability of organic and natural products has been huge; Mintel recently reported a 40% rise in organic skincare spending over two years.

Ensure that the products you choose are also 100% natural and preferably Soil Association accredited. Also, look for what’s NOT in a product – the most ethical skincare companies will make it clear that their products contain no parabens, preservatives, sodium laurel sulphate or other synthetic chemicals. Don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat is the mantra: scientists say at least 60% of what we put on our skin goes within. If you’re dubious, think about how HRT cream works!

Statistics show that the average home is more polluted than a busy street corner; pollutants, fixtures, fittings, furnishings and the synthetic chemical products we bring into our home all add up to a ‘toxic soup’. Emotive marketing has convinced us that we must create a sterile environment for our home to be safe and balanced for our children, but with the rise of anti-biotic B-resistant superbugs, my view is that we should be ‘anti the antibacterials’.

Keep the balance

Opt for plant-derived green cleaners instead, but even then avoid antibacterials because they unbalance the microbial environment in your home. Antibacterials can’t discriminate, killing all the good, friendly, beneficial and essential bacteria, too. The force that drives materials to biodegrade is bacteria, so antibacterials can only degrade by taking something out of the environment – making the ‘environmentally friendly’ claim tough to justify.

One solution is to choose a probiotic cleaner from My Living Water or Chuckling Goat, full of friendly bacteria that put positive microbes back into the environment. The cleaning power comes from the fermentation process of 100% edible ingredients, which can rebalance your home’s microbial environment. I’m a big fan of detergents that don’t need the ‘skull and crossbones’ ‘call the cavalry style’ warning – I love Green People’s slogan for its washing up liquid: ‘Does the dishes not the fishes’.

As for balls and nuts… Well, laundry balls work by changing the molecular structure of the water (try the Ecoegg – it will save you a fortune). Even funkier – soapnuts have been used in India and Nepal for ever as detergents. You need a handful of soapnut shells in a little bag or sock straight in the drum – when they come into contact with water they create saponin, or soap, cheap as chips! (And far healthier.) They look like truffles. Don’t eat them though, unless you literally want to be foaming at the mouth!

Janey Lee Grace is the author of five books on holistic living, founder of the ‘Janey Loves’ product Accreditation Award and was voted Number One Personality in the 2014 Natural Beauty Yearbook. For more information, visit her website.   WWW.IMPERFECTLYNATURAL.COM