going organic, part three – HOME
Oh to have a non-toxic, eco-friendly home… well this is just about impossible these days, but luckily there are lots of ways to decrease the amount of chemicals and toxins that you live with everyday- ESPECIALLY now that you have already cleaned up your beauty and food. I am going to break it down to 10 simple steps to help you breathe cleaner air inside your home.
10 SIMPLE STEPS FOR A GREENER HOME:
- Get a natural pillow – This is vitally important since you spend a third of your life sleeping. Your best bet is to choose pillows with natural or organic fills and organic/unbleached cotton outer coverings. Natural fill options are pure virgin wool, all natural/organic cotton, or natural latex. If you need a little motivation, watch The Story of Stuff and learn how your average pillow is doused in brominated flame retardant chemicals (BFRs). If you can afford it, also get an organic mattress.
- Leave your shoes at the door - Could this step be any easier? Just thinking about traipsing all over my home with my shoes on makes me feel a little nauseous. Think about all the stuff you walk in throughout the day – pet waste, oil leaks, spit, pesticides, dirt, garbage, etc, which then get carried around your home and into your carpet by your bacteria/toxin spreading shoes.
- Get a safe shower curtain - Another easy one! If you have a PVC or vinyl shower curtain, toss it and get one labeled as non-PVC, which you can find easily these days. PVC is a type of plastic (also known as The Poison Plastic) that releases toxic chemicals (including phthalates!!) into the air, unfortunately it is all too common of a material used since it is so cheap. Natural fiber shower curtains are your best bet – organic hemp curtains are more expensive but resist mildew.
- Limit the plastics you use - One simple way to cut down on your plastics is to use reusable grocery bags, it took a little while for me to get in the habit of remembering but now I am rarely caught without them (bonus points if you use reusable produce bags). Another common household use of plastic is food storage – this is dangerous since the chemicals in the plastic leach into your food. I would recommend tossing all the plastic kitchen storage you have, especially those that are not BPA-free. Chances are if you don’t know if it is BPA-free, then it probably isn’t and you should toss it – BPA is all to common of a chemical these days. Invest in some glass food storage, for the fridge and for lunches to-go. For extra green-ness, switch to glass drinkware too – be sure it is lead-free! The next step for me is trying these reusable sandwich bags out.
- Cooking tools – I think it is pretty obvious that rubber spoons and spatulas, Teflon and plastic bowls are not the green choices here… Since you are buying organic food, it is a little counterproductive to then cook/prep/create in chemical laden products. I love my bambu utensils, my stainless steel All Clad, Lodge’s cast iron, and Le Creuset’s enameled cast iron, to name a few which I know will last generations.
- Paint - Painting is a great way to update a room, a table, old picture frames, etc. The problem is that most paint has large amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds – VOCs. This is what you smell when you smell that distinct fresh paint smell that makes you a little dizzy. Luckily there are great brands like The Freshaire Choice that don’t have VOCs in their colorants or paint! I have tried some and it is truly amazing the difference – they do not smell. They have a beautiful selection of colors too.
- Laundry - Standard laundry detergent is full of harsh chemicals and harmful synthetic fragrance. Of course there are alternatives – Seventh Generation uses plant derived cleaning agents which you can get without dyes & synthetic fragrances. Or if you want to be super green you can use Soap Nuts and wool dryer balls, both of which I am eager to try since I just learned that dryer sheets work by leaving a coating of chemicals onto your clothes that have properties to make your clothes feel smoother and have less static electricity, but in turn you breathe in those chemicals and they get onto your skin and into your bloodstream while you are wearing your clothes. Here is a great article on The Toxic Dangers of Dryer Sheets and Fabric Softeners. Of course the greenest drying solution is drying in the sunshine outside on a clothes line – this is difficult for me since I live in the Pacific Northwest where we just wrapped up our limited 3 weeks of summer sunshine.
- Cleaning – This is similar to the laundry step, ditch your typical cleaners which are also chock-full of horribly harmful chemicals and use some plant derived Ecover or Seventh Generation (which I keep recommending since they are super easy to find at your local store) or make your own! Here is a great blog post from Maillardville Manor on DIY cleaners - Homemade Cleaners: Green Cleaning Recipes.
- Stay aware of mold or mildew problems – Your nose and eyes will guide you to any problems, be extra watchful of damp areas in your home like under sinks and anywhere that might have a leak. Here are some mold prevention and cleanup resources from the EPA.
- Open the windows! – This will help flush out indoor pollutants like VOCs, chemicals and so on, so you can breathe fresher air. Here are some tips from the American Lung Association.