At no other point in history has there been the kind of innovation, cultural inspiration, and particularly unprecedented technological advances. New manufacturing and engineering insights have brought revolutionary changes to absolutely everything we touch - from foods and fabrics to cosmetics and electronics.
While new innovation is exciting and thrilling, these rapid changes and advancements haven’t always been careful or thoughtful. In some cases, our bodies are paying the price. Modern life exposes us to an astonishing number of new chemicals with unknown (and sometimes unsafe) health implications. The good news is, there’s hope! You can start eliminating the worst offenders quickly and easily.
Here are 5 ways you can start ridding your home of these toxic chemicals.
- Avoid Plastic
Ever since the 1970s, plastics have been commonly manufactured with an additive called bisphenol A, or BPA. It’s in children’s toys, food package, water bottles, electronics, the liners on the inside of food cans, and pretty much anywhere else you can imagine. But since the late 90s, it’s become clear that BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It interferes with your hormones and has been linked to a whole host of health problems including heart disease, fertility, brain development in children, and more.
While there have been strides made with products labeled as BPA-free, the safety of these products still come into question. The plastic industry rolled out replacements for BPA, such as BPS, BPF, and BPZ - but it turns out these compounds may be just as bad as the original BPA.
For now, the best way to get this dangerous family of chemicals out of your home is to use as little plastic as possible. Replace bottles and food storage containers with glass and ceramic. Cook dried beans instead of buying cans. And avoid touching store receipts, which are sometimes coated with BPA powder. The more you can limit your exposure, the better.
- Filter your water
In a series of tests over the last decade, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found dozens of contaminants in drinking water across the US. These range from pesticides and hormones used in factory farming (which runoff into local groundwater) to heavy metals like arsenic and lead, as we’ve seen in the devastating water crisis of Flint, Michigan.
The solution is simple, filter your home’s drinking water. There’s a huge range of filtration technologies available - from simple, pitcher-style carbon filters to reverse-osmosis systems that filter your entire house’s water supply. Different systems have different costs and benefits, so check out the EWG’s water filter guide for more information.
Once you have a filter system in place, use it for everything! That means cooking, washing fruits and vegetables, etc.
- Choose safe fragrances
Fragrances are in virtually every cosmetic, cleaning, and beauty product. It’s in shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergent, shower gel, hand soap, mouthwash, bubble bath, shaving cream… if it smells like anything, it probably has an added fragrance.
But alarmingly, fragrances are often concocted from untested and unregulated chemicals. Frequently, perfumes and colognes contain parabens and phthalates - two known carcinogens which have been linked to many negative health conditions. Traditional scented candles are sometimes made of a petroleum derivative called paraffin, which releases benzene and toluene while it burns - just like exhaust from a diesel engine.
When choosing home products, it is best either go fragrance-free or choose a natural, non-toxic alternative. Skylar perfumes are hypoallergenic and made with naturally-derived ingredients, while our clean-burning soy and coconut wax candles are safe for you and your family.
- Use DIY cleaning products
Common cleaning products like glass and tile cleaner, surface wipes, toilet cleaners, etc. - are major culprits for bringing nasty compounds into your home. Research has found that their fumes can cause asthma and breathing problems, skin rashes, and eye irritation. Studies have also shown that cleaners are frequently contaminated with a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane, and may contain give off formaldehyde in your immediate environment
The solution? Whip up a batch of your own natural, DIY cleaning products. You can get almost anything in your kitchen or bathroom sparkling clean with just baking soda, vinegar, and lemon. The gentle, abrasive power of baking soda scrubs surfaces clean, while the acidity of vinegar and lemon works as a surfactant and natural disinfectant!
- Wash your hands & take off your shoes!
Washing your hands doesn’t just protect you from germs that cause colds, food poisoning, and the flu. It’s an absolutely essential way to keep your home safe from the innumerable toxins floating around in the world.
Similarly, when you walk around in the world, you’re stepping in everything from toxic road residue (think car exhaust and engine oil) to pesticides on treated lawns to construction dust and degrading plastics. Leave your shoes at the front door to avoid tracking those pesky toxins around, and make your home a safe, toxin-free zone.