Not many of us are born with the intention to lead as green and healthy a life as possible.

Most of us have an awakening at some point along the way

A wake up call that tells us that we need to dramatically change our lifestyle for our own health and that of the planet.For some this coincides with bringing a baby into the world, when our focus shifts to our new baby and keeping them pure as long as possible… or even feeling the responsibility of the type of world we’re leaving behind for them. For others, it’s a health wake-up call given to us by our very own bodies that sparks our journey.

Today I’m joined by a lady who experienced such a wake-up call and who has dramatically changed her lifestyle over the past year…. So much so that she’s started a new business venture that’s in complete alignment with her new way of living.

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Jo Baulch is the founder of Dare To Be Healthy, an online store dedicated to helping people make better choices for themselves and our environment. She stocks a wide range of products that are natural, toxin free, organic and eco-friendly with many vegan-friendly options.

Jo was so kind to contribute to my Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs crowdfunding campaign back in June and part of the reward she selected was to be featured on Eco Chat. And I’m so glad she did in so many ways…. Not only because Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs is taking shape right now thanks to the contributions of generous people like Jo, but Jo is one passionate lady who has a message for all of us and I can’t wait to share her story.

What Kickstarted Your Eco Journey?


I guess I’ve always been fairly conscious of my own health and the environment around me; thinking about ways I can help. I’ve always been an avid gym-goer, and I’ve done the whole yo-yo dieting thing. I thought what I was putting in and on my body was good for me. But one of my biggest downfalls was what I put on my body. I was never a huge beauty routine person, I’d wake up in the morning and look at the pillow and think yep I’ve cleansed! I had switched to things like mineral make-up some time ago now but other products like my moisturisers, deodorants, perfume, hair-care, they were big toxin providers in my life. Also I never really escaped from the eighties, I always had my hair permed!

What got me started is a that little over 12 months ago I was living a crazy life; work and social activities. I am a business analyst in the IT project world and at the time I was wearing numerous hats and working on a project with tight timeframes and long, stressful hours. Not only that, I also ran a couple of social networking groups which had me out hosting events up to 4 or 5 times per week. To top it all off I am a chronic insomniac and that didn’t leave much time for healthy eating and looking after myself. So I decided that a detox from life was needed or I risked total burnout. A friend of mine was heading off to a beautiful health retreat in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland at the time and so I decided to tag along. I enrolled myself in their 7-day detox program and really I haven’t looked back.

The information they provided me at the retreat made me think about what I was putting on and in my body and what that might mean to my health, not just now but in the future. After leaving the retreat I made some really important changes to my work/life balance. At the time I reduced my work at an IT contractor down to 4 days per week. I have now reduced that further and do 3 days per week with them as I obviously have other things in my life to keep me busy at the moment. I also reduced the number of social activities I was organising. It just gave me time to focus on myself and my health journey.

I did change my diet as well by switching to a low carb/healthy fat diet. Basically eliminating most carbs out of my life as well as processed foods and sugar, and increased my healthy fat intake. I lost 10 kilos in less than three months! That changed the way I thought about food in general and also made me think what’s out there? What are we all eating? What’s the processing of food doing to our bodies?

While I guess I was on the lower side of chemical exposure because I had reduced things in my world, I still felt there was room for improvement. I immediately removed all chemicals from my personal products and those within my home and looked into natural alternatives. Your Home Detox Boot Camp helped me a lot with that. I felt and looked amazing and people were asking me what I was using. When I was mentioning some of the products I had switched to, friends just kept saying they’ve never heard of them. It dawned on me that whilst there are many existing avenues out there for natural products there’s clearly a need for more options and education.

I felt the diet changes that I made to remove processed food and sugar made the biggest difference in my journey, but my personal products were the area I felt I was most lacking. I have switched to natural deodorants, moisturiser, and hair-care. As I previously mentioned I have gone from having regular perms to now using a natural shampoo because our hair actually absorbs a lot of toxicity from the products that we use which then runs down our body and into our skin. It really dawned on me how much toxicity we are absorbing into our bodies from the things we are putting on them.

Did You Have Any Naysayers When You First Started To Make Changes? 

It wasn’t so much naysayers but people were pretty shocked. I’d always been known as a bit of a party girl as I was always out doing social activities. I did hibernate for a bit and that was probably the hardest thing for my friends as they couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going out as much. But I needed to make sure I gave my body a chance to work with some of these new regimes I was putting into place. Giving up alcohol was one of the biggest shocks for people. One of my friends said to me that when she found out she cried because lost her drinking buddy! The reality is a lot of our social lives revolve around food and drink so that was the hardest thing. I am back on the social scene more now but I do activity based events like playing tennis, going to movies and the park rather than pub-style events. It’s been a big change but my friends have been really good; although maybe they don’t invite me to as many things these days! But I’m feeling comfortable with what I’m doing and that’s the main thing.

Were There Times That You Felt Making These Changes Were Too Hard?

I am ex-military so I’ve always been a strong person and once I make up my mind to do something I tend to do it. I’m pretty competitive and I’ve always been a goal-setter. I’ve found you really need to be organised and sometimes that’s hard because life does get in the way. You’ve got to have a Plan B for when times get tough. I’m not going to say I’ve always been perfect but my body does tell me if I’ve consumed something that’s outside my plan and it does make me think twice about it next time. You’ve got to want to do it. Everybody has their own journey, you can’t force people into something that they don’t want to do. I know people around me have watched what I’ve done and they’ve embarked on a similar journey or taken aspects of my journey and incorporated it into their own.

What Areas Of Your Lifestyle Would You Still Like To Improve?

I’ve been trying to grow a garden (quite unsuccessfully!). I live in town-house and I’ve got a courtyard out the back that I’ve set up some garden beds in but I think my biggest problem is that I’m not getting enough sunlight in that area. I would love to have a few things to pick from my own garden, but in my two attempts to grow things I’ve only ended up with a couple of zucchini, a few spinach leaves, two sweet potatoes and a handful of herbs. I was bitterly disappointed with my gardening attempts but I’m not going to give up! I am now attempting to grow lemons, limes and avocados on my deck so we’ll see how these go.

Have You Found A Particular Environmental Or Health Issue That You’re Most Passionate About? 

I still work in an office environment on a part-time basis and it irks me the amount of waste I see on a day-to-day basis. I work in a green building and it has office recycling stations but not everybody uses them! I continuously see recyclable packaging going in with the normal rubbish. I do dive in occasionally to change bins but in the course of your day you don’t always have the time to sort through the rubbish! I am known as the recycling police!

My biggest pet hate within the office environment is take-away coffee cups. The amount going into landfill is astronomical. I don’t drink coffee myself (I do have a sneaky chai-latte every now and then) but I always take my reusable KeepCup to the coffee shop. I keep one at my desk and one in my car so if I’m ever on the road and I feel like a take-away I’m prepared. My local café offers me a discount for bringing in my reusable coffee cup which is great. Selling everyone at my office a reusable KeepCup would be a big goal of mine! The lady who makes my coffee actually asked me where I got mine from and when I said I sell them she purchased one from me. But the fact that people are throwing away up to three coffee cups per day – it’s definitely one of my biggest things.

My main aim really is to provide an avenue to help people make better choices for themselves and the environment. I’m not sure what the reality is of that but every little bit that I can do to encourage people along an eco-friendlier and toxin-free journey is surely a good thing. I’m a realist so I know that the world we live in won’t be completely toxin-free but every change that I and others can make will make a difference.

What Message Do You Have For Listeners Today Who Are Beginning Their Eco Journeys?

Take baby steps, you don’t have to do it all at once (unless you’re an all-or-nothing person like me of course!) I know it can be overwhelming so just take on one challenge at a time and make it routine. But most of all never look back, just keep moving forward.

Tell Us About Your Business And Where We Can Find You.

You can find me at Dare To Be Healthy and I’m also on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. For anyone in Brisbane I run a meet-up group called Dare To Be Healthy where I hold events (I still can’t escape that social scene!) We meet up in social situations to chat over lunch or coffee or attend events like healthy-living type exhibitions. It gives others an opportunity to mix with like-minded people and chat about all things healthy as well.

At Dare To Be Healthy I stock a growing range of organic and toxin-free products for the body and the home plus eco-friendly and sustainable products. I’ve got a soft spot for locally owned and made products and I like to support other small businesses to get their products out there as well. I’m fairly new to this and I’m continually growing our product lines and store so I’m also interested in hearing from my customers about new products that they’d like me to stock.

For your listeners and readers, I would love to offer a 10% of discount of their total cart order for their first order by entering the coupon code HOMEDETOX10 at the checkout. There is no expiry on the coupon, I will keep it open for all first time shoppers. I’m also including all new subscribers to my newsletter into a draw that will be drawn at the end of September 2016 to win one of three $20 vouchers to spend at Dare To Be Healthy – you can subscribe here.

Thanks so much for sharing your story so openly on Eco Chat today Jo. I’m honoured to know I’ve played a small part in your eco journey and I’m so grateful for your support, especially your contribution to help me to create and bring Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs into the world.

I wish you all the very best with your new business and your creation of an ecoceptional life!

Well there you have it!

I hope you’re feeling inspired after hearing Jo’s story and how she’s daring herself and others to be healthy! Jo’s a great example of how we start our eco journeys at different times in our lives and we’re all at different stages along our journeys. But we’re all constantly learning and indeed, all have more changes we can make. It’s the kind of journey where there is no destination.

So if you’re yet to start your eco journey or feel you’re pretty new at all this, just take one step at a time and keep on swimming. Every little change you make is helping to make green mainstream.

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