The warm weather and sunny days inspire many of us to start our 'Spring" cleaning. As you begin this ritual, think about the many ways that you can make your home healthier. If you are painting, consider the many options that contain no VOCs. When you are purchasing your cleaning products, start to read the labels. Many of the household names that we are all used to contain harmful toxins and chemicals. What a great time to try something new! look for products from Seventh Generation, Green Depot, or Meyers . . . just to name a few! One simple rule to remember - avoid products that contain "fragrance". They are loaded with phthalates!
Other tips to consider:
- Cleaning isn’t disinfecting
Loads of cleaning products, personal care products, and even socks contain antibacterials, which have been added to make you believe you’ll fend off harmful bacteria by using them. It’s not true. In fact, antibacterials cause more harm than good by leading to antibiotic resistance. Soap and water gets the job done without harming the environment or creating a new generation of “super germs.”
- Eat healthy and shop smart
Going organic is healthy and it is possible to do it without bankrupting your family. First, know which fruits and vegetables should always be organic (and avoid the Dirty Dozen) and which have the lowest amount of pesticide contamination.
- Skip cans
Many food and beverage cans are lined with the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to breast cancer and other health concerns. Avoid cans to reduce your kids’ exposure to the chemical, as they are more vulnerable to the effects of hormone-disrupters like BPA. As more companies bring BPA-free cans onto the market keep your eyes open for BPA-free cans on store shelves, and stay up to date on the issue by connecting with the Breast Cancer Fund’s Cans not Cancer campaign.
- Stay beautiful without chemicals
Personal care products, like shampoo, makeup, lotions, may contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to reproductive harm, cancer, and skin irritation. Avoid parabens in lotions, and antibacterials, like trichlosan, a carcinogen that shows up in toothpaste (yuck).
- Just say no to PVC
PVC is the worst of the plastics, made with toxic chemicals, including lead. PVC is identified by the #3 on the bottom and that “vinyl shower curtain smell,” which is the result of toxic chemicals called phthalates off-gassing into your home. Unless you make a point to avoid PVC, you’ll inadvertently fill your house with the toxic stuff, as it is ubiquitous and found in plastic food wrap, soft squeeze toys, wallpaper, flooring, and more. PVC is toxic, can’t be recycled, and is often the material of cheap, disposable toys that you don’t want in your kid sucking on or keeping in his or her playbox. Avoiding PVC is good for workers, your family, and the planet.
- Ban pesticides from your home and yard
Pesticides are poisons and, in most cases, their negative effects outweigh any short-term gain. Pesticides have been linked to a range of health problems, including asthma, hyperactivity and behavior problems, cancer, learning disabilities, reproductive disorders, and compromised brain development. Food storage solutions and good sanitation is the first step to preventing pests from entering your home. Removing your shoes at the door will prevent you from tracking in pesticides and other dirt from the yard and walkways into your living space. Instead of using herbicides on your lawn, yank weeds early, and use mulch to block weed growth. Use natural fertilizers, and plants that bugs don’t like (like marigolds) to help keep pests out of your garden.
- Commit to buying and using less stuff!
Buy and use less stuff! The simple act of bringing a bag to the grocery store and using a refillable coffee mug or water bottle pays back great dividends and sets a good example for your kids. Do your best to avoid buying “throw-away” or single use items. Invest in products and materials that will last; it saves trees, water, and money.