12 Easy Steps to a Healthier Home
You’re eating organic foods, exercising more and generally improving how you care for yourself. Well done! Now it’s time to focus on the health of your home. Research shows detoxing your home of harsh chemicals and synthetics can improve the health of you and your family. And, it’s a lot easier than you think. Look at the list below and choose what’s right for you and venture forward – one step at a time.
- Replace Toxic Cleaning Products
The quickest way to reduce toxins in your home is to replace toxic cleaning products with effective, earth friendly ones. There are a variety of natural cleaning products on the market but some of the best germ/dirt fighting cleaners are in your kitchen pantry. White vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), lemon juice, baking soda, club soda, and borax are just a few. Get yourself a copy of Clean House, Clean Planet as it is a wealth of information and recipes on how to clean your home with ingredients you probably already have.
- Reduce the amount of plastic in your home.
Plastic releases toxic fumes long after you’ve purchased the item. Consider choosing glass or ceramic containers to reheat leftovers, solid wood or natural baskets in place of plastic bins (check out www.diynet.com for simple construction ideas), wood instead of plastic toys and choose natural fibers instead of vinyl for upholstery and tablecloths.
- Use Low VOC Paints
When painting, use low VOC paints found at www.bioshieldpaint.com or try old fashioned milk paints (http://www.milkpaint.com) for a beautiful, healthy alternative. These choices are both good for your health and for the ozone!
- Choose solid wood instead of pressed wood furniture � especially for children’s rooms.
Pressed wood, aka particle board, releases formaldehyde for years polluting the air around you. Check your yellow pages for a bare wood furniture store. The prices are typically very affordable and you can finish yourself (use low VOC paints ^ see above) saving you money and exposure to toxic chemicals. Take it a step further and ensure that the wood is sustainably grown.
- It reduces dehydration and saves energy.
Drink lots of water and turn your heating thermostat down 5 degrees and your air-conditioning thermostat up 5 degrees. Believe it or not, they go hand in hand. On the go, use a stainless steel water bottle instead of plastic, which has been shown to leach.
- Create a microclimate in your home by adding plenty of green plants.
It adds to the humidity of your home and green plants absorb many of the chemicals released by furniture, carpets, paint, etc. They also add plenty of beauty too. Mind you – we’re referring to live plants…not the green plastic ones!
- Natural Fiber Mattress
When it’s time for a new mattress purchase a replacement made with natural fibers. Wool is a great fiber year ’round and allows for moisture to be wicked away providing a better nights sleep. Wool is also a natural fire retardant eliminating the need for toxic chemicals (here’s an interesting note: Synthetic foam found in most mattresses burns like jet fuel once ignited). Natural cotton and latex are also great choices as they don’t have the toxic chemicals of foam filled beds and are just as supportive. Click here for more information on the benefits of a natural mattress. Of course, don’t forget organic cotton linens. Most sheets use formaldehyde in the sizing and it’s released even after it’s been washed many times so organic cotton is the healthy and environmental choice
- Prevent colds and allergies by purifying the air.
This can be done several ways. Purchase an essential oil diffuser such as a geode aromatherapy diffuser. Use a blend such as Amrita’s Invincibility Aromatherapy Blend to fight viruses and illness causing bacteria. If you don’t want to go to the expense of purchasing a diffuser, you can simmer (not boil) a pot of hot water on the stove and add about 10-12 drops of essential oil. For allergy sufferers, purchase a HEPA filter or an IonizAir. Use a vacuum cleaner that is bagless and utilizes a HEPA filter to trap dust and hair. We recommend the Dyson DC07 All Floors bagless vacuum. For mold, be sure to check the surrounding area for leaks as mold thrives in damp areas. To get rid of mold, simply spray a solution of borax and water to the area and let sit. Scrub.
- Practice organic gardening methods.
Check out this fabulous website http://www.greenfire.net for organic fertilizers. They offer a product called Earth Juice that is an organic liquid fertilizer good for both lawn/trees/houseplants. It’s concentrated and affordable too (a quart is about $11). They also carry beneficial insects, predatory nematodes and other goodies to help your garden grow. Build a compost bin or purchase an easy to use Envirocycle that comes assembled and all you have to do is occasionally spin to produce beneficial compost and compost tea. For organic herbs and medicinal plants check out Lingle’s Herbs at http://www.linglesherbs.com. They offer excellent quality plants and have an informative website and newsletter. You can subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them that greenfeet.com sent ya.
- Eat organically.
Recent research has shown that not only does organically grown food taste better – it’s better for you. Many organic products are similarly priced to their conventional counterparts, but mostly you can expect to pay roughly 30% more for organic. The price is higher due to increased growing costs (they don’t use cheap pesticides and many times hand weed and hand harvest) and higher freight cost (vine or tree ripened fruit doesn’t keep as long). Explore your local farmers markets and natural foods stores for good values.If you don’t have access to a natural foods market explore local CSA members. CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is a growing movement of local farmers who have banded together to spread the word of eating locally grown food. By visiting this website http://www.csacenter.org/statesfr.htm you can enter in your state and find a local CSA near you. Here’s how it works. You pay a weekly fee for a box of locally grown fruits and veggies during the harvest. If it’s a hard year, there’s not much in your box, but if it’s a bountiful year, your box overflows with produce! It’s a wonderful way to support local agriculture, support organic farming and benefit from a variety of goods.
- Choose pure, natural skin care.
Many small companies make wonderful skin and hair care products without the use of chemicals and extenders. Nature provides an abundance of alternatives and when you find a gem, well, odds are you’ll be hooked. Just be sure to read labels, ask questions and most importantly, use your products when you get them. Natural products usually have a decent shelf life, however, they won’t last indefinitely as chemically preserved ones do. They’re typically hand made and created with your health in mind.
- Try alternative and complementary therapies
Explore and be open minded about alternative and complementary therapies in regards to everyday aches and pains. Homeopathy, aromatherapy and herbal medicine have been practiced for hundreds and in some cases, thousands of years and have a track record. Not all practices are for everyone, and do consult with your doctor if you are taking prescription medications. Knowing and understanding how the body works and responds does a lot to facilitate healing. Knowledge is power and this is one area where you, and your family, can benefit greatly. Once you find what works, stock your medicine cabinet accordingly.
These are just a few ideas to create a healthy and less toxic home. Don’t feel as though this is a daunting task. Just take one idea and try it. Then move one to another. If you would like to learn in more detail about the above ideas, purchase the book Living Organic It’s a beautiful and informative book loaded with practical ideas to detoxify your home. If you are looking for more detailed recipes for natural cleaning products definitely purchase Clean House, Clean Planet as it is a wealth of information on how to clean your home with everyday items. You’ll save enough money in a month to pay for the book. Your wallet and your body will love you for it.