Creating a healthier, less toxic home can seem daunting. I get it, there are so many resources and products out there shouting down at you. I truly believe the best way to start is to just jump in and select a few ways you believe you can consistently make a difference in your home. Don’t feel pressured to do all these things at once. I personally ditched the all-or-nothing mindset and just embraced that I’m doing my best to create a greener home. I’ve been doing this now for almost three years and I can tell you it’s an ever-evolving journey — you live and you learn.
I recently heard a great analogy on a podcast, “toxins in your home are like bees. The more bees you have in the room, the more likely you are to get stung. If you reduce the bees in your home, the better odds you have of not getting stung.” So the goal here is to make your environment less toxic NOT toxin-free (that is nearly impossible!).
Why do we not want to get “stung” or why is having a safer environment at home so important? What we breathe, touch, and come in contact within our home every day can have a significant effect on our long-term health and well-being. Research shows that the air within our home is 2-5 times more toxic than the air we breathe outside. These toxins can cause health issues and are endocrine disrupters (hormone altering). Crazy, right!? If you have a health issue like adrenal fatigue, an autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance, asthma, allergies, or any number of other health concerns, you may want to consider the effect that these chemicals have on your health and the burden they may place on your body (and your loved ones). The more I educated myself, the more empowered I felt to take action.
Here are some easy ways to create a healthy home
- Switch to beeswax candles or a good quality essential oil: Perfume scented candles use paraffin and when burned they pollute the air with petroleum by-product and synthetic scents. Also, avoid mainstream air fresheners like Febreze. The EWG evaluated Febreze in 2009 to determine its safety as a school cleaning supply. Results showed that the product (Hawaiian Aloha option) released 89 air contaminants, including one carcinogen. Yet the manufacturer discloses only three of those ingredients. YIKES.
- Filter your water: This may seem like a no brainer but so many don’t invest in countertop water filters, which you can easily install yourself. If you feel like getting fancy a lot of people rave about Berkey!
- Don’t exterminate and use Diatomaceous Earth instead: I know this one is hard, mostly because it is so easy to call the exterminator to handle all bug situations but DE is super safe to use in your home. DE is a white powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. When a bug with an exoskeleton comes into contact with DE it kills the bug. This non-toxic option is a great alternative especially if you have kiddos or pets.
- Use an all-natural detergent: For me, this was an easy swap. From phosphates to surfactants, traditional laundry detergents are typically packed with loads of chemical ingredients. Several, like phosphates, are known to be poisonous to fish and the overall environment. I personally love Branch Basics, Seventh Generation and Ecos (which I’ve found at Costco!).
- Switch to Dryer Balls: Balls that are made with 100% wool naturally soften your laundry and help with static. They last for months so they are also cost-effective. We get ours at Trader Joe’s but these are also great (they have 25k positive reviews on Amazon).
- Dust and vacuum more often: Yep it’s that simple. Dust is made of pet dander, mites and also flame retardants that escape from home products. The flame retardant dust can be inhaled by you or even ingested by your small children who put everything into their mouths. Neither is good.
- Swap household cleaners: As products under my sink started to run out I made an effort to replace them with safer options. This takes time but slowly you’ll get there and you’ll feel better knowing you’re cleaning your home with safer products. I love Puracy, Branch Basics, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers.
- Don’t self-clean your oven: When an oven reaches over 600 degrees, it can start emitting nasty fumes like carbon monoxide. Nope.
- Buy some plants: Plants are great natural air purifiers and they make a home feel cozy. Plants clean the air through the process of photosynthesis. As humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, plants do the opposite. They absorb light, carbon dioxide, and water to manufacture sugar. This chemical process creates oxygen as a byproduct.Regardless of how advanced an air filtration system in a home or office might be, none have the ability to create oxygen. Oxygen is a vital element of clean and healthy air. Indoor plants may be the answer to enhancing our exposure to it.
- Open your windows: Indoor air is dirtier than fresh outdoor air. This is one of the easiest things you can do especially if the weather is nice outside. I like to open my doors in the morning when the weather is cool.
Above are just a few ways you can create a healthy home. In the next few months, I plan to continue this series by sharing more ways you can expand on this — think self-care products and other every-day-items like pillows and mattresses. Like most things, this is a marathon, not a sprint. It will never be perfect but you’ll always get an A for effort. I’m on this journey with you! I’m still making transitions too. We got this!