Step 2: Use Non-Toxic Products
Stop for a moment to consider how many different products you come in contact with every day: personal care products, cleaners, computers, carpeting, cabinetry, cushions, cosmetics and much, much more. These are the makings of modern life, but do you know what’s in them? Oftentimes, what’s in them ends up in you. Everyday you may be rubbing hormone-disruptors into your skin or inhaling carcinogens when you lay on your couch.
Protect your health from this constant assault by making sure your products and furnishings are non-toxic. There are an increasing number of safe and healthy alternatives.
What to Do
- Use gentle castile soap and water, which has been shown to be as effective as antibacterial soaps. In fact, there are significant concerns about resistant bacteria developing due to antibacterial soap. In addition, triclosan, an ingredient commonly used in antibacterial products, has been linked to negative environmental and health impacts.
- Buy safer cleaning products. Many local, online, and discount stores carry cleaning and home products that are very effective without harsh chemicals or fumes. Make sure you read the label and do a little research, if necessary, to make sure the company is making an honest claim. The following terms are not regulated: nontoxic, bio-based, chlorine-free, organic, phosphate-free, natural fragrance, and/or biodegradable.
- Make your own safer cleaning products. Click on Safer Solutions to find some basic ideas.
- Clean floors with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner that traps fine particles of dust, soot and pollen, and wet mop regularly.
- Reduce your use of products altogether by investing in microfiber cloths or hand held steam cleaners, both of which clean effectively with water alone.
Personal Care Products
- Look for products made with certified organic ingredients and those with the fewest ingredients.
- Use fewer products and smaller amounts.
- Make your own! Some products are easily replaced with simple ingredients from your kitchen. Olive, almond, or coconut oil can make a wonderful moisturizer, oatmeal makes a nice face mask, and even toothpaste can be substituted with baking soda (if you really want to get back to basics). Click on the Safe Solutions header for some basic ideas.
- Avoid body care products with Parabens, Phthalates (DEHP, BBP, DBP, DMP, DEP), DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance, Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine), Formaldehyde, PEGs (polyethylene glycol), and anything with "glycol" or "methyl."
- Look for products made with natural materials. Call the manufacturer to find out what a product is made of (be sure to ask about adhesives, coatings, and treatments.)
- Re-invent and re-use to reduce your exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – often recognized as that “new smell.”