7 Toxins Hiding in Your Home (and what to do!)
It seems that everyone is trying to be as “natural” and “green” as possible these days. It’s kind of trending.
While this rise in consciousness surrounding health is certainly positive, making healthier, cleaner and more sustainable choices is actually really difficult. Why? Well, due to unfortunate labeling and marketing, there is an abundance of what we call “greenwashing”, a term coined by an environmentalist in the 1980’s which refers to the conscious act of “misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company”. Corporations are spending millions to tell their consumers and future customers that they are ecologically conscious, and environmentally correct.
(Sources: stopgreenwash.org & The Guardian)
The funny thing is, they might not be all that eco conscious and green after all. Making a small improvement and turning it into a huge marketing and advertising scheme is the name of the game.
So when you peruse through the store and see things like “our company is committed to taking strides to preserve the oceans”, or, “we use only 100% pure and natural ingredients”, it’s hard to know if they really are committed to the environment, your health, and limiting toxins.
As a consequence, making healthy, conscious choices as a consumer is difficult if you don’t know where to start, and what to trust. No one wants to do an hour of research before purchasing a product!
The truth of the matter is that our environment is overloaded with toxins that we take into our bodies whether we like it or not. There’s just no way to avoid it, especially if you live in a big city.
More and more emerging research is showing that we have chemicals in our everyday household products in our homes, that are damaging to our health. Infertility is a big one these days. The chemicals we are exposed to can build up in our bodies over time, and can potentially make us very sick. How the sickness manifests remains to be seen, as there is simply not enough research done on these everyday chemicals and their potential adverse health effects over time.
What you CAN do is find simple ways to rid your house of toxins and unnecessary chemicals. Finding a few excellent brands that you know and trust and supporting their efforts to provide truly clean products and take care of the environment is a good start.
7 EVERYDAY TOXINS HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT:
#1) Plastic food-storage containers & water bottles
Plastics are polluting the earth, that is a known fact. In addition, these containers are made from an array of chemicals, some of which are known endocrine disruptors. Plastics break down over time especially when heated in microwaves and washed in a dishwasher.
What to do instead: buy glass food-storage containers, and purchase reusable stainless steel or glass water bottles (I personally use a BKR, they’re so cute!)
#2) Non-stick pots and pans
It’s been shown that nonstick pans contain trace amounts of a chemical in their non-stick coating which has caused cancer in some laboratory animals. You’ll notice that the lining scrapes off in your food overtime, which means you're probably ingesting small particles of the chemical coating. Yuck.
What to do instead: use stainless steel pots and pans, or, even better, a porcelain non-stick pan.
#3) Air fresheners (artificial scented candles, plug-ins, infused scent sticks, room sprays)
The fact of the matter is that what you breathe in doesn’t just disappear. It ends up in your bloodstream, and eventually your brain. These synthetic scents contain chemicals called “phthalates”, which have actually been linked to reproductive problems. Real air fresheners smell so much better, and you can breathe happier knowing you're not inhaling chemicals into your body.
What to do instead: diffuse essential oils (which has added health benefits too), or make your own room and linen sprays with essential oils.
#4) Hair care products
surfactants which make the product lather up and suds. They can cause irritations to the skin and are harmful to the environment. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is listed on pretty much every shampoo bottle, and is absorbed by the body through the skin. Because of the size of its tiny molecules, it can penetrate the cells in your body.
preservatives to keep them shelf-stable and to prevent growth of yeast, mold, and bacteria. But, because they are designed to kill such things, you might want to consider why that is going on your head. They can certainly have a range of toxicity problems for both you and the environment.
fragrance is an umbrella term for up to 100 ingredients! Many of these are toxic to our health, and can build up in our bodies to cause hormone disruptions. Because fragrances are entitled to “trade secrets”, these ingredients don't actually have to be disclosed. (SOURCE)
Conditioners suffer from the same ingredient list as shampoos. However, they have one more ingredient category to add: emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are softening agents (leaving hair shiny and soft), and don't ever break down in the environment (hello, pollution). This is seriously bad for aquatic life, and probably not so good for your body, either.
What to do instead: Choose shampoos and conditioners free of synthetic fragrances and chemicals, made with very simple ingredients and natural fragrances such as pure essential oils.
#5) Cosmetics & skincare
According to the Environmental Working Group, women apply on average 12 different beauty products on a daily basis. Within these 12 different products are roughly 120+ ingredients, many of which are toxic chemicals absorbed directly by your skin.
Throw out your drug store makeup, face creams, eye creams, etc. Investing a little more money into safer and cleaner cosmetic products is worth the lesser health risks.
What to do instead: purchase mineral-based makeup and non-toxic skincare products that disclose their ingredients. (Check this post out for a non-toxic skincare regimen).
Because they are protected by trade secrets, perfume companies don’t have to disclose their ingredients. One perfume can contain up to 300 different chemicals, none of which you are aware of.
Avoid all perfumes and colognes, it’s not worth spraying yourself with a chemical cocktail everyday.
Instead, buy 100% non-toxic scents made with natural essences. Or, make your own with essential oils. It’s really easy. Plus, you can create different blends for whatever mood you’re in. They smell better, too.
#7) Household cleaning products
Go through your house and check the labels on your cleaning products. These so called “cleaners” notoriously contain hundreds of chemical ingredients such as phthalates and surfactants which are toxic to your health, not to mention kids and pets.
What do to instead: clean with baking soda and vinegar, warm water with Castile soap, or lemon and hot water. Even better, invest in a bottle of Thieves Cleaner (you can get that here) and make your own cleaning solution using plant extracts. The best part is, you can save tons of money by using this concentrate, it comes down to $0.85 per bottle when you make your cleaning solution. Oh, and did I mention it can clean every surface in your house?
Deciding to make more conscious choices as a consumer is an excellent step in reducing your footprint and lowering your personal intake of toxins and chemicals. When reading labels before you buy, keep an eye out for: parabens, sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates, and fragrances, even ones labeled “parfum”.
When you're searching for better products, its important to note that the word “natural” in reference to food, beauty products or cosmetics means absolutely nothing as the word is not regulated by the FDA. Transparency in where your ingredients are coming from and how the company sources, produces and guarantees quality are number one. In addition, choosing “organic” labeling is a good first step since this is federally regulated in the US, and guarantees much less chemical and toxin use.
Wishing you a toxin-free home!
Want to learn how I use essential oils as a replacement to toxic chemicals in my life? Sign up for my free online class!