The world of green living is vast. After all, green really just means healthy. Most of us care about what’s in our food, however others are wondering about the safety of our homes, especially if you have young children. Here are eight areas to consider as you give your living space an eco-makeover.
- Ditch the cans
Many food and beverage cans are lined with Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical linked to breast cancer and other health concerns. Avoid canned food especially to reduce children’s exposure to BPA; pound for pound they’re more vulnerable to hormone disrupting chemicals than adults.
- Minimize plastic
Many chemicals of concern are found in plastic, so it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of it in your home, and in the kids’ toy bin. Vinyl, aka PVC, is especially important to avoid. Often referred to by environmentalists as “the poison plastic,” you can identify it by the #3 in a product’s recycling arrows and by its strong smell (like a new car or a shower curtain). That smell is actually hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates off-gassing into your air.
- Look under the kitchen sink
Choose green cleaning products to drastically reduce indoor air pollution. Because cleaning product formulas are currently government protected trade secrets, consumers can’t read ingredient lists in an effort to avoid harmful chemicals. We can look out for danger labels and warnings. Even better: buy products from companies that voluntarily disclose their ingredients. And don’t be afraid of DIY; there are many effective and safe cleaners that can be made out of non-toxic household staples like baking soda, plant-based dish soap, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.
- Eliminate dangerous chemicals in your kitchen
Most likely you have already heard a bunch about why not to use conventional skin care products. But have you also thought about other product categories that pollute your skin and thus pollute your body? Actually conventional household cleaners are even worse than beauty products and they enter your body just as easily through your skin and your lungs as conventional beauty products do. Among household cleaners, dish soap is an item with underestimated health effects. Conventional dish soaps are laden with dangerous ingredients such as SLS, a proven carcinogen that enters your skin when you do the dishes. But this is not where it stops. They leave behind a chemical film on your dishes that mixes in with your next meal. That’s not what you want to end up in your kids’ bodies, right? Luckily there are some dish soaps out there that do a good job. Go ahead and get yourself a really natural dish soap to keep dangerous ingredients at bay. Watch this cool video to find out why.
- Remember: cleaning isn’t disinfecting
The dirtiest thing in any home is your own two hands. Still, many cleaning products, personal care products, and even socks now contain antibacterial agents, added to make consumers feel safe. It’s false safety as these antibacterials can lead to antibiotic resistance. Even the American Medical Association says it’s prudent to avoid antibacterials. Soap and water gets the job done without harming you, your kids, or the environment—or creating super bugs.
- Don’t forget the big guys
If your house was built before 1978, check for lead paint. If you’re in an area where radon is a concern, test for that as well. Too often, we’re so focused on organic food and, say, non-toxic diaper cream, that we forget just how crucial these larger scale problems are to address.
- Be a natural beauty
Personal care products like makeup, lotions, and even baby shampoo may contain chemicals that have been linked to everything from reproductive complications to cancer. Choose natural, clean versions from companies that don’t use things like parabens (preservatives) and a whole host of petroleum-derived ingredients. Natural skin care products are the best choice for keeping toxins away from your ski and your body.
- Just say no to pesticides
If you eat organic to minimize ingesting pesticide residue, why spray poison in your kitchen or garden? Say goodbye to your exterminator and rely on natural pest solutions combined with preventative measures instead. 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. Removing your shoes at the door will decrease the amount of pesticides you track into your home.