In a previous post, we shared with you how difficult it was for us to start on our journey to a healthier and greener lifestyle. We were not sure where to begin and the vast amount of information we found in our research was, to say the least, very overwhelming. If you are just getting started, or maybe have already started on your journey, you might be having some of those same feelings. We understand! The bottom line is this; you do not have to accomplish everything in one day or even in a week, a month or a year. The most important thing is you make an effort each and every day toward your goal. Several small steps over time add up to huge improvements so … take a deep breath and take things one step at a time!
1) Remove Plastic Food-Storage Containers – Replace With Glass
Start with tossing out your plastic food-storage containers and replacing them with glass. Why? Well, to put it simply, eating plastic is toxic to your body. Many people store their food in plastic containers and find it very convenient to heat up this food in the microwave using the same container. After all, it does say “microwave safe” on it so that means it is safe, right? WRONG!
Even if the plastic is labeled microwave safe, it can still release toxic chemicals into your food when you heat it up – and then you eat those toxins. YUCK! Never put plastic in the microwave. Instead, use glass or lead-free ceramic dishes or containers.
My favorite glass storage container brand is Pyrex. In addition to being great storage containers, they are also relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes.
2) Remove Non-Stick (Teflon) and Aluminum Pans – Replace With Glass, Cast Iron and/or Stainless Steel
Next, remove all of those non-stick (Teflon) and aluminum pots, pans, cookie sheets and any other coated cookware. Once again, this is due to the chemicals that are released when using non-stick coated skillets, baking sheets, waffle makers, electric skillets, etc.The list is endless!
These products contain Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) and specifically, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). PFOA is a dangerous chemical that releases toxins once heated (ecobluelife.com).
Two other places you’ll find PFCs: 1) In grease-resistant food packaging; and 2) As a stain-protection treatment. Reducing greasy packaged foods and fast foods from your diet (like microwave popcorn, french fries and pizza) not only lowers your exposure, it’s also good for your heart. (WebMD.com)
So, avoid non-stick cookware! As you can afford to, start replacing these items, one by one, with glass, cast iron and/or stainless steel.
My favorite brands are Pyrex for glass, Lodge for cast-iron and Calphalon for stainless. Additionally, all of these brands are made in the USA!
I absolutely love-love–love my Lodge cast-iron griddle. I use it all the time for making pancakes, frying eggs and for grilling sandwiches. My husband uses it sometimes too! Below is a picture.
3) Remove Aluminum Foil and Plastic Wrap – Replace with Parchment Paper and/or Bee’s Wrap
Remove aluminum foil from your kitchen. It is just a very thin layer of aluminum and …
Research by the International Journal of Electrochemical Science found that small amounts of aluminum may leach into food during the cooking process (cnet.com).
Remove plastic cling wrap from your kitchen because like all plastics, it releases toxins into the air. So rethink your use of plastic wrap by using it less often or (preferably), not at all.
Plastic wrap in the United States is made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and contains a “plasticizer: called di(2-ethylhexyl)adipateor DEHA (center4research.org)
A replacement for aluminum foil is parchment paper. It can be used in lot of places where foil was once used. It is heat-resistant (unlike wax paper) and virtually non-stick (unlike aluminum foil). You can use parchment paper to line your baking pans and cookie sheets, wrap meat for short-term freezing and to cover bowls when heating in the microwave.
If you are still using non-stick cookie sheets, lining them with this product will help reduce the amount of chemicals that get into your food but it will not eliminate it.
A replacement for plastic wrap is parchment paper or bee’s wrap. Parchment paper and bee’s wrap are perfect for wrapping up cheeses, produce, sandwiches and nuts. Bee’s wrap is also a great alternative to covering bowls for storing.
My favorite brand of parchment paper is Regency because it has not been bleached.
4) Remove Candles, Incense and All Air Fresheners – Replace With Air Purifiers and Essential Oils
Remove conventional air fresheners like candles, incense and plug-ins (like Glade). They actually make indoor air-quality worse and do nothing to reduce toxins.
These “air fresheners” contain toxic ingredients like phthalates and artificial fragrance [and] half of the air fresheners tested released acetaldehyde, a likely carcinogen
(NRDC: bottled water).
The EPA confirms indoor air pollutants are typically 2-5 times higher than outdoor air. How does indoor air get so polluted? Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Here is a partial list of items that release VOCs into the air: Scented candles, air fresheners, perfumes, carpets, paint, wall coverings, fabrics, plastic shower curtains, pressed wood furniture, polyurethane foam furniture and adhesives.
The answer: Open your windows for at least 5 minutes a day. This helps to air out or remove some of the toxins in your air. If you live in a climate where this is not practical, invest in a high-quality air purifier for your home.
A great replacement option for candles is an Essential Oil (EO) diffuser. My sister and I both have the diffuser pictured below and would recommend it if you are looking for one (see our post about this product here). When using an EO diffuser, choose your EO supplier wisely as using the wrong EO or low-quality EOs can actually put additional toxins into the air. Remember, you are trying to make things better!
We love and highly recommend YoungLiving Oils. Not only can you pick EOs that smell great but you can also get EOs that fight for you – like Thieves Oil! It not only smells like Christmas but it helps to kill germs. Studies have shown, diffusing Thieves Oil into a room will kill 99% of airborne bacteria.
Another thing you can do to improve the air quality in your home is to introduce live plants. Indoor greenery breathes life and color into your home and cleans the air. Experts recommend using 1-3 houseplants for every 100 square feet of living space, Some of the best known plants for their air-cleaning capabilities include: Spider Plants, English Ivy, Golden Pothos, Peace Lilies and Bamboo Palm … just to name a few.
My favorites indoor live plants are the Peace Lily, Bamboo, Palm and English Ivy. English Ivy not only cleans the air but when placed in a bathroom, will absorb airborne fecal matter.
5) Remove Toxic Bottled and Tap-Water – Replace With Clean, Filtered Water
Water — What do you really know about what you are drinking or cooking with when you use tap water? Tap water has been treated with Chlorine, Fluoride and 300+ other chemicals. Bottled water, in many cases, is not any better.
In a Natural Resources Defense Council study, 22% of bottled water brands contained chemical contaminants at levels above health limits. That’s almost a quarter over the limits for what’s deemed healthy. Also, phthalates can leach from the plastic bottles (or from the plastic lids on glass bottles) after being stored for just ten weeks. Unlike tap water, no one regulates phthalates in bottled water. (NRDC: bottled water)
What to do? Remove the unknown as much as possible, limit the use of bottled water and filter the water coming from the tap yourself.
So, how toxic do you want your water? Remember, you are made of mostly water and should be consuming about 64 oz. of water daily. When at home, you can filter tap water yourself using a reverse osmosis system or buy reverse osmosis filtered water from your local grocery or health food store. For those of us always on-the-go, instead of grabbing a plastic bottle of water, a much healthier option is to take filtered water with you using a glass or stainless steel reusable water bottle.
6) Remove Toxic Household Cleaners – Replace with Non-Toxic Cleaners
Remove all of the toxic, chemical-laden cleaners from your home (like bleach and ammonia) as well as products containing synthetic fragrances and dyes.
Replace these with natural, plant-based products that you can either buy or make yourself. If buying, look for plant-based products that have a complete list of ingredients on the label. If you choose to make them yourself, you can search online for household cleaner recipes.
You can clean quite effectively with products your grandparents used. White vinegar or natural castile soap can be mixed with salt and baking soda to cut through mold or soap scum. Natural products like washing soda and Borax can be used to clean floors and remove grease stains. Baking soda is a cheap and effective all-purpose cleaner, scourer, polisher and fungicide. Switch to natural disinfectants such as tea tree oil, citrus oil or my personal favorite, Thieves Oil.
My personal favorite is Thieves Household Cleaner (concentrate) from Young Living. Check out our post on how to make this household cleaner yourself at home. Not only is it a great cleaner and an effective disinfectant, it smells great too!
7) Remove Dryer Sheets, Fabric Softener and Toxic Detergents – Replace with Non-Toxic or Homemade Products
Modern-day laundry detergents are toxic and fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain harmful chemicals that adhere to your laundry AND filter into the air.
Fabric softeners work by coating your clothes with a thin layer of potentially toxic chemicals, such as Quaternary Ammonium Salts. These can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems and headaches. (lifehack.org)
The scientific community is coming out with more and more evidence that laundry products are damaging to our bodies. We soak our clothes in this stuff every week and then put it on our bodies. Our skin is absorbent so these chemicals are making their way into our systems every day. This has been going on for decades.
On top of the soap itself being dangerous, the University of Washington discovered that detergent, softener, and dryer sheets all emit at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous (without any labels indicating this). Most of these products also produce carcinogenic air pollutants.
Replace these toxic products with better options. For example, you can choose to read labels at the store and find healthier options. Another option is to make your own at home. My sister decided to make her own laundry detergent at home and after many hours of research and trying several different options, she found one that worked best for her. You can find the recipe for it in this blog post. Of course, this is not the only option out there but hopefully you like the recipe as much as we do.
For a dryer-sheet replacement, try dryer-balls. Dryer-balls made of 100% wool will naturally soften your laundry and are long-lasting. I have had mine for over a year. You can use the dryer- balls “as is” or add a few drops of EO for a scent.
A replacement for liquid fabric softener is White Vinegar.
In the washer, I personally use this laundry detergent recipe above along with white vinegar as a liquid fabric softener. In the dryer, I use dryer-balls. They not only soften the fabric but they also shorten the dry time.
There is an endless list of things we could remove from our homes and each one of us has to determine what we can live with (and live without). My hope is this list helps you make healthier choices for your home and your family.
Inside nearly every household’s garage, basement or kitchen sink cupboard lurks harmful substances like old paint cans, used motor oil, garden pesticides and weed killers, used batteries, old computers or electronics, harsh cleaning chemicals, or pest killers. Do some research to find the best way to dispose of your household toxic waste. Some cities or counties have monthly or annual pickups. Others have special drop-off sites. Call your local government to learn more. (WebMD.com)
I know this is a long post with a lot of information. If you are still reading, thank you for sticking with me. As always, if you have questions or comments, leave them in the comments section.
We wish you a happy and healthy home!