Spring Cleaning the Nontoxic Way

While human bodies are extremely good at adapting to changes in our environment, our world has experienced more change in the last century than it has over the last 100,000 years.  We have seen the introduction of new technologies that humans had not previously encountered.  Since World War II, we have introduced nearly 80,000 chemicals into our atmosphere.  Today, newborn babies are being born with nearly 200 pesticides found in their umbilical cords.  

It's a toxic world out there!  But there is much we can do to minimize our exposure. Check out my top 6 ways to upgrade your home to nontoxic status:

1) Shop the Dirty Dozen ORGANIC.  

Thanks to the invaluable work of the Environmental Working Group, we have access to the list of approximately 50 of the most highly-pesticided fruits and vegetables in the United States.  Some of the produce listed in the top 12, also known as "The Dirty Dozen," are foods we consume regularly, (apples, celery, strawberries, for example), and so choosing to buy these foods organic can reduce our personal pesticide load greatly.  Visit EWG.org for the full list, or download the free Dirty Dozen app.

2) Ditch the Plug-ins and toxic candles.

Toxins that we inhale are carried directly into our bloodstream via the lungs.  There, they can be transported to any of our cells, tissues, organs, etc., to set up unwelcome residence.  Airborne fragrances like Plug-ins and low-quality candles are loaded with chemicals.  The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—an international environmental organization—conducted a study called, “Clearing the Air:  Hidden Hazards of Air Fresheners” in which they found 86% of air fresheners tested contained dangerous hormone/endocrine-disrupting phthalates.   

3) Upgrade your aluminum-filled anti-perspirant.

Aluminum is a toxic metal that accumulates in the body and has been linked to cancer, Alheimer's disease and brain dysfunction.  The worst part is that anti-perspirants create a double-whammy of toxicity:  they introduce aluminum, and then seal it in, as they prevent the body from applying one of its four pathways of detoxification - sweat.  There are several deodorants out there that do a fine job of keeping you smelling sweet while still allowing the sweat to flow, such as Aubrey E Plus High C.  Ever since I was introduced to essential oils, I started using them as my deodorant.  Check out Living Libations' Poetic Pits, or my own DIY recipe using your favorite scent of essential oils.

4) Make your own dryer balls.

Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are super-toxic. According to the author of The Brain Wash, there are seven common chemicals found in dryer sheets which affect the central nervous system:  Alpha-TerpineolBenzyl AlcoholCamphor (on the US EPA’s Hazardous Waste list), Chloroform (a carcinogen and neurotoxin also on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list), Ethyl Acetate (on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list), and Pentane.  Don't expect to see these dangerous chemicals on the box of sheets, though, as labeling regulations are lax to say the least.  It's easy to make dryer balls out of wool, and sprinkle them with essential oils to bring a fresh scent to your clean clothing.  Start with one end of a skein of wool and begin twisting it around itself until you have a ball.  Twist evenly in one direction and then the other until you have about a plum-sized ball.  Place it in a cotton sock and wash it with your next load of laundry.  Then run it through the dryer.  remove ball and continue wrapping yarn until about tennis ball size.  Repeat wash and dry and you have safe and clean dryer balls that will last many years. 

5) Replace toxic all-purpose cleaners.

A simple mix of vinegar and water will get you a fantastic glass cleaner.  Add tea tree oil and lemon, and you have an all-purpose cleaner for kitchen and bath.  Check out my DIY kitchen surface and sink cleaner as well.

6) Give yourself a makeup makeover.

Cosmetics are loaded with chemicals and additives that have been linked to endocrine disorders, cancer and brain dysfunction.  Check out my articles on makeup makeovers as well as the top cosmetics ingredients to avoid for details on what to look for and why in everything from shampoo to sunscreen.  Use the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetic database to see where your favorite products rank, and to find the most highly-rated products on the market.  If you are up for it, try making some on your own, using recipes such as my DIY moisturizer, toothpaste, deodorant, bath salts and body wash.