Hello, my awesome Plante Lifers!
If you’ve read my blog, then you already know I am a HUGE advocate for cleaning up not only your diet but your lifestyle too—so you can be the badass beauty you are meant to be!
With that in mind (and in honor of our theme this month, prevention), I encourage you to take a good, hard look at your home environment. Now you’ve heard me say a million times, it doesn’t mean you have to change every little thing all at once! You can start by making small changes in your home—switching out harmful cleaning products, for example, and then gradually move on to bigger household items and habits.
There are so many hidden dangers in our homes when it comes to toxins: from household cleaners to glue, paint, detergents, mattresses, plastic food containers and even shampoo and personal hygiene products. And so much of the “clean” industry is poorly regulated, keeping consumers in the dark about what exactly we are inviting into our homes and, indirectly, our bodies.
So to help you pull the welcome mat out from under these sneaky chemical culprits, here are my Top 5 Tips to trash the toxins in your home!
First, let’s begin with a crash course in common household toxins to avoid. This includes things like the chemical 1,4-dioxane (found in detergents), benzene, chlorine bleach (which releases chloroform fumes – just say NO!), formaldehyde, phthalates and synthetic musks, and sodium borate (aka borax or boric acid). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an amazing and extensive Guide to Healthy Cleaning available on their website, to help you decode tricky product labels and discover what exactly is in your favorite disinfectants and shower sprays, etc. They literally exist to keep you informed, so use their widely researched resources!
Okay, okay, you got me. This tip is also about what chemicals you’re putting in your mouth, but you keep your food in your home too, don’t you? In fact, the “U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues.” And whether you’re shopping or chopping up dinner, you can transfer traces of pesticide from your hands to your mouth, nose, and eyes without even knowing it.
They’re called the Dirty Dozen: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes. These foods are the most likely to contain pesticides on and in them. It’s no surprise why, as most farmers and grocers want the best-looking, most uniform produce to entice customers. But that beauty comes at an unnatural cost to you and your health.
Pesticides are by design toxic, so it’s no surprise they yield some scary side effects, such as brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption and skin, eye and lung irritation. To keep these toxic chemicals out of your house and off your plate, buy organic whenever possible. This way you know that the farming and packaging process is strictly regulated and food is grown “without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, genetic engineering, radiation or sewage sludge.” (Ummm, yuck!)
(P.S. You can find the Clean Fifteen here, which includes produce lowest in pesticides like avocados, asparagus and eggplant.)
Filter Your Tap Water.
You know I am all about you drinking lots and lots of water, but the ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan has brought the issue of safe tap water to the forefront in the U.S. Even if your town is not in crisis, hundreds of millions of Americans are exposed to poisons and harmful chemicals through their drinking water every day. Our tap water is polluted by a number of sources, like agricultural pesticides, industry pollution, runoff and sprawl, and our own treatment process. So even what is supposed to make tap water safe to drink can sometimes contaminate it.
The presence of arsenic, barium, manganese, radium, and total trihalomethanes (TTHMs – water disinfection byproducts) has been detected in at least 47 states, as well as added chemicals such as fluoride, which have not been proven to benefit us as much as originally claimed. There is also no national drinking water standard for most of these elements. And the possible side effects of high concentrations of these big baddies are terrible, such as organ damage, harm to the brain and nervous system, high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of cancer, and birth defects.
The good news is that you can take control of the water you put into your body, onto your body, on your dishes, and on your pets by using a water filter! You don’t need a fancy schmancy system either, it can be as easy as a few righty-tighty twists of a faucet version. If you need a little shopping assistance, the EWG has a great Water Filter Buying Guide that helps you find the right filter for your needs, from costs to specific contaminants. To see what the composition of tap water in your area looks like, and learn what you want to filter out, enter your zip code in EWG’s Tap Water Database.
Use Greener Cleaners.
The most important thing to remember when you switch to more eco and health friendly cleaning products is to do your research. Like with all manufactured products, just because the label says it’s natural does not mean it doesn’t contain toxins, even if it’s plant-based. It’s actually called “greenwashing”—using deceptive advertising to make you think the product is better and safer, with words like “bio-degradable” and “eco-friendly.”
But there could still be undisclosed ingredients because only “seven percent of cleaning products adequately disclosed their contents.” That is a staggering number! So be sure to do your due diligence before you shop. Check out these top-rated green products, and search for your favorite brands here.
We all love our house to smell lemony fresh, but unfortunately, that smell is not made from real lemons. In fact, it’s probably not made from anything real: “That pine or orange or lemon-fresh scent in your favorite cleaner isn’t necessarily natural. More often it’s a synthetic aroma engineered by combining dozens of chemicals.” And unlike food, beverages and cosmetics, there is no federal law that these products list their ingredients on the label. So not only can manufacturers engineer whatever combination they want, regardless of the health risk to customers, but they don’t even need to disclose it to you.
The highest concentration of harmful chemicals were found in common products with an added pleasant scent like perfume, air fresheners, dryer sheets, and sunscreens. These chemicals, such as parabens, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan and UV absorber octinoxate, are endocrine disruptors. By altering how your cells and hormone systems function, constant exposure to these chemicals can lead to an imbalance of testosterone and estrogen, thyroid disorders and serious asthma.
So stay safe and skip the sham smells!
Say Boo to Water Bottles!
Confession time: plastic water bottles drive me crazy! They are terrible for the environment, super expensive and a hazard to your health. You are much better off drinking filtered tap water from a reusable glass or stainless steel container.
You heard me right! Bottled water can hide “disinfection byproducts, industrial chemicals, prescription drugs and even bacteria” in not just the actual water but in the plastic as well. And companies (again!) don’t have to disclose this information, unlike the testing that is done often on tap water. Plus, bottled water costs 2000 times more per gallon while adding more trash to landfills, wildlife habitats and waterways.
If you need any more convincing, watch this cute and short video “The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bottle.”