10 Ways to Make Your Life and Home Less Toxic

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glass food storageA while back we posted this blog about things you didn’t need in your home. One of the reasons was because certain items were damaging to the environment, but another reason is that they can be damaging to you. Many of the items below contain chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other illnesses. And I know it may be difficult to change all of these items right away, but perhaps changing one thing at a time is a tangible goal and could help make your life and home less toxic.

I definitely am not one to judge. Although we have been making a conscious effort to choose less toxic items for our bodies and our home, sometimes convenience wins. The items listed below are things that I have personally looked into but I also know that many will have their own opinions and that is okay, too. I encourage everyone to do their own research. And to be clear, I am not saying that by changing these things I am preventing or curing cancer, but I am saying it can’t hurt to change these things.

1. Plastics: Many plastic containers are made from chemicals such as phthalates, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system to produce adverse developmental, reproductive and neurological effects in humans and since the plastic breaks down over time it can cause the release of these dangerous chemicals into your food. Read this blog about what you can use instead of plastic wrap and baggies, and make the switch to glass storage containers.

2. Nonstick pans: Non-stick pans are the most popular cookware and also the most controversial. According to the Environmental Working Group, nonstick coatings can “reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 3-5 minutes, releasing 15 toxic gases and chemicals, including two carcinogens.” There are non-stick pans that ARE non-toxic you just have to do your research. My favorite pan to use is a cast Iron pan. You can find tons of information on the internet on how to properly take care of them.

3. Air fresheners: Like cleaning products, air fresheners help keep our homes nice, but a study by the University of California at Berkeley found that when used excessively or in unventilated areas, they release toxic levels of pollutants. We used to use the plug-in air fresheners but found we were all getting headaches and it took a while to figure out that it was the air fresheners. We now use good quality essential oils and a diffuser to make our home smell the way we want.

4. Fabric softeners: Softeners work by coating your clothes with a thin layer of potentially toxic chemicals, such as quaternary ammonium salts. These can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems and headaches. We have been using wool dryer balls for a few months now and love them. I even add a drop of essential oil to each ball and my clothes smell lovely. Here’s a tip: Add lavender essential oil to dryer balls when you are drying sheets and pajamas!

5. Cleaning products: Many people know that cleaning products are toxic (many of them have a skull and cross bone warning). Here is a blog about safe and effective products that you can make at home.

6. Antiperspirants: One of the ingredients found in a lot of deodorants is aluminum. The Food and Drug Administration does require a warning label on all antiperspirants. Questions have been raised about aluminum in deodorants and if they contribute to breast cancer, and although studies are inconclusive, it is enough of a reason to look for all-natural deodorant.

7. Wi-Fi routers: Wireless routers give off electromagnetic radiation in the low frequency. You probably can’t get away from the effects of Wi-Fi. (I know I can’t!) One thing you can get in the habit of doing is shutting off the Wi-Fi at night or when you aren’t using it. Some have found that a Himalayan salt lamp helps because the chunks of salt produce negative ions, which yield positive effects on indoor air. According to this, placing a Himalayan salt lamp in every room of the home can reap several health and environmental benefits, including to help balance electromagnetic radiation. Personally, for me this falls under if it doesn’t hurt why not try it. It also has the added benefit of being very pretty and emitting a nice glows.

8. Flame retardants: One of the most toxic things in many of our our homes is our mattress. And we spend a lot of time on it. Most mattresses contain flame retardants. Flame retardants use polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs for short. Two forms of PBDEs were phased out of use in manufacturing in the United States in 2004 because of related health threats, but the products containing them linger on. Studies have linked PBDEs to learning and memory problems and other health issues. It’s a good idea to check your mattress label! And check before you purchase a mattress cover.

9. Shower curtain: Phthalates are sometimes used to soften the plastic that goes in shower curtains. Phthalates has been associated with causing harmful effects in children. Opt for a shower curtain that is phthalate-free and use a cloth liner that you can can wash every few weeks.

10. Candles: The Environmental Protection Agency found that potentially hazardous chemicals can commonly be found in the ingredient “fragrance,” and these can have major side affects. Most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned. In fact, the toxins released from paraffin candles are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes. So look for candles made from vegetable (soy) .

Photo from here, with thanks.

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February 2023