The decision to start creating a healthy home is not always an easy one. Many people feel overwhelmed and confused by the process. I often hear questions like: What is a healthy home? Where do I begin? What might be toxic for me and my family? Remember, changing to a healthier way of life is a learning process. It does not happen overnight. Each move is a stepping stone toward the goal of healthier living. Be patient. This should be an exciting and positive experience. Here is some information to help you on your journey.
Most detergents, commercial cleaning agents and personal hygiene products populating grocery shelves contain chemicals that can contaminate our homes, contribute to health complaints, and end up in our environment, affecting plants, animals and our ecosystem. These daily-used products may contain formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, toluene, as well as many other chemicals. It is important to educate ourselves about the products we use and understand how they can affect us. By switching to natural home cleaning and personal care products, you can reduce possible harmful exposure, while promoting a healthier home and planet.
Commercial dish detergents, for example, can contain petroleum-based surfactants, chlorinated materials, and germicidal agents, as well as naptha (a central nervous system depressant), diethanolsamine (a possible liver poison) and chlorophenylphenol (a metabolic stimulant considered toxic). By choosing all-natural dish detergents, you eliminate these unnecessary chemical compounds from seeping into groundwater, polluting animal and plant life, and contaminating the plates and dishes you use for food preparation and meals.
Laundry detergents are another major indoor contaminant. It’s often difficult to ascertain official ingredients since many companies are not required by law to list them. Some even claim that their formulations are confidential. Most detergents contain petroleum-based artificial fragrances – shown to have toxic effects on animals – which can lead to severe allergies, anaphylaxis, and skin and eye irritation. These toxins contaminate our air, cling to our clothing and furniture, and leave behind an almost-indelible chemical residue. Because they may appeal to our sense of smell, we often think they must be healthy and good. WRONG! Artificial fragrances are chemicals and bring a plethora of health risks. Commercial detergents also may contain alkyl benzene sulfonates or linear alkyl sodium sulfonates. These are synthetic surfactants that can release benzene into the environment, especially upon manufacturing. And, being extremely slow to biodegrade, they linger in your home and environment.
Personal care products are also a big contributor to toxins in your environment. They can contain formaldehyde, methylene chloride, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone and benzyl chloride. Many are considered carcinogens and carry with them numerous side effects.
One way to educate and protect your self is to READ LABELS. If you see an ingredient you do not recognize, call the manufacturer and request an MSDS (material safety data sheet). You have a right to know what is in the products you are using! If they can’t tell you what they contain, switch to a natural-based product that lists ingredients you recognize. Common sense says that the less synthetic compounds we use, the better off we will be, especially since most of these products are placed directly on our skin – the largest organ of our body.
Next, bring label reading to your cabinets and cupboards. Automatic dish detergent, fabric softener, furniture polish, window and glass cleaner, and bathroom cleaners are all potentially toxic products that may contain harmful chemicals. Many great companies are now supplying more wonderful and affordable nontoxic cleaners, beauty aids, cosmetics, and hair products than ever before. Buying naturally helps promote a healthy planet and a healthy you!
Photo from here, with thanks.