Green resolutions for a healthier home and family
If your New Year’s resolution is for a healthier lifestyle, then reducing your exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals should be at the top of the list. Every day we are bombarded with chemicals that we unknowingly bring into our lives. The result is poor air quality both inside and outside our homes and more pollutants entering our water supply.
Some ideas for getting started:
Pick better personal care products. Think of all the things you put on your skin and hair each day. Most of these are absorbed by our skin or rinse off and down the drain with water. Few of us really know what’s in the products we use and we can’t pronounce half of the items in the ingredient list. The Cosmetic Safety Database (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com) provided by the Environmental Working Group makes it easy to find out. Simply type in the product or brand name to learn how your items rate on a safety scale.
Incorporating more organic foods into your diet is an obvious choice because they’re grown and processed without synthetic chemicals. What you might not know is that organic foods are also never treated with sewage sludge or radiation.
Cleaners are another place to reduce exposure to chemicals. Just because you can buy it off the shelf doesn’t mean it’s safe for you. Better choices are natural and low-cost alternatives that work just as well such as vinegar, baking soda, borax and hydrogen peroxide.
You may not think of the carpet under your feet as a source of indoor air pollution but it is. Many carpet materials release harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) for years. When picking new carpet, cushion and adhesives look for ones with the Green Label logo from the Carpet and Rug Institute, which ensures low-VOC emissions.
Furniture and paints can be another source of VOCs in your home. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on low- or no-VOC paint from nearly any manufacturer without busting your budget. You should also seek out furniture items made with formaldehyde-free adhesives. Formaldehyde releases gas into the air that can irritate eyes and cause breathing problems. Pressed-wood products often release the highest amounts of formaldehyde.