Most people know that eliminating toxic chemicals from their homes is an important choice for their health. Yet they don’t know where to start. There is also the misconception that going toxic-free is too expensive. But while you cannot eliminate all toxins you experience in your day to day life, such as those in the air and environment, and your workspace, moving towards a toxic-free lifestyle is possible, and there are easy changes you can start making today.
Why is eliminating toxins in your environment so important? Chemicals can act as “endocrine disruptors” — substances that interfere with our natural hormones. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea and headaches. Eliminating these toxins is especially important for anyone suffering with an autoimmune or chronic condition as they may worsen symptoms. Allergy and asthma sufferers are definitely impacted. These toxins have even been found to impact fertility too—one of the first things fertility doctors will tell you is to decrease your toxic load. And prolonged exposure may even lead to more devastating health problems. Love your pets? That’s just one more reason to eliminate toxins. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) listed household cleaners as one of the top ten pet poisons.
Here are some easy switches and swap outs you can do to reduce toxins in your home and minimize your carbon footprint.
- Make an easy (and cheap) cleaning solvent. Use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning. It’s much cheaper than store-bought cleaners and just as effective. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a great scent! Check out the simple DIY recipe below.
- Eliminate plastic. This includes reusing water bottles and microwaving plastic. Both leach chemicals into your food/water. Use a glass or ceramic dish for food storage and reheating and invest in a reusable water bottle.
- Eliminate air fresheners, and most candles, which can contain harmful chemicals. Instead look for soy-based candles and open up windows to air out your home.
- Eat organic, when possible. Because eating organic is so important, try shopping at farmers markets, or local farms. You can find some great deals there, especially just before closing time. You can even sign up for a co-op where local produce is shared amongst a group. Two other ideas: new subscription services sell “ugly produce”, the type of produce that would be thrown away otherwise because it’s not perfect enough to sell in store. Or try planting your own garden, which is very economical and fun. If you have cannot buy everything organic, be sure to avoid conventional produce that has been found to contain high levels of pesticides by avoiding these dirty dozen.
- Buy a cast iron pan. It’s cheap, will last forever, and won’t expose you to chemicals found in Teflon pans.
- Stop conventional dry cleaning. Dry cleaners are some of the most chemical-laden establishments around. Look for a clean and green or eco-cleaners in your area. If you must use a traditional dry cleaners, remove your garments from the plastic bag and air them outside for several hours before hanging them in your closet.
- Remove your shoes at the front door. Shoes track in lead, pesticides, and other pollutants, which contaminate our carpets and floors. Stuff we track in from the outside can turn our home into a toxic place, especially for pets and young children who spend more time on the floor.
- Green your home. Houseplants are healthy for our indoor environment. Not only do they clean the air, but they're relaxing to look and be around. NASA has researched the benefits of plants on air quality for about 20 years and found that common houseplants are natural air purifiers.
- Avoid "fragranced" products. Be cautious of products with the word 'fragrance' on the label, including shampoo, lotions, and perfume. They contain phthalates, known to interfere with our hormones. Pick those made from essential oils instead.
Here’s an easy recipe for an all-purpose cleaner you can use to clean just about anything, including clothing!
Easy DIY All-Purpose Cleaner
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) of water. Store in a pourable container and/or in spray bottles. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.