I know for certain, that my turning point with making a safer home, was when I had my first child. It opened my eyes to everything around me and essentially yanked my head out of the hole it was hiding in (ostrich style). For others, it came less abruptly, or when they adopted a pet or experienced a health problem. Whether you want to address it or not, we are living in a more chemically saturated life now. Every lawn on my block has a warning sign stuck in it. (And they’re all rolling their eyes at my neatly trimmed weeds). There is arsenic in my rice. There is rocket fuel in my water. There are hormone mimicking chemicals in all our household products. There are flame retardants in all my furniture making toxic dust in my home. My carpet is off-gassing chemicals into the air in my home. I could go on forever.
This is why I get panicked emails from parents asking me “How do you not get totally overwhelmed with all this?” Truth is sometimes I do. And many times I feel like the only one around me who even cares. What I often tell people is to take it one day at a time. Much like when you start any new chapter of your life, you just have to get through each day to get to the next one. Handle what you can control first. Your home. Then start tackling the bigger issues.
Lose The Shoes – Any greenie will tell you that not wearing shoes in your house that you wear outside is a huge step in the right direction. You track in all kinds of things like pesticides, fertilizers, lead, along with bacteria and other fun things like e coli. Mmmm. I bought 2 wicker baskets and placed one at each door where we enter the house. Everyone dumps their shoes in them. (Well, most of us… others are a little stubborn about this one.)
Clean Your Air – The air inside your house is more toxic than the air outside. Off gassing carpets, flame retardant foam furniture, building materials, etc can all contribute to poor air quality in the house.
- Opening your windows when you can to get some air moving through is a great tactic.
- Use HEPA filters on your vaccuum
- Use air purifiers if possible (with HEPA filters)
- Buy some plants! Easy to maintain plants like Lucky Bamboo, Spider plants, Ferns and Bamboo Palms are really great at filtering out impurities in the air.
- For heaven’s sake quit smoking if you do.
- Check and run all ventilation features in your home (kitchen and bathrooms) to ensure you are allowing for maximum air circulation.
- Replace the filters on your HVAC regularly.
Green Your Decor – The materials and furniture you use in your home have an impact on air quality too. From carpeting to foam stuffed furniture to the paint on your walls.
- Use No-VOC paint like Mythic Paint, especially in baby’s room and yours where you spend a 1/3 of your life breathing.
- Choose hardwoods over wall to wall.. the padding and chemicals in carpeting off-gas quite a bit. If you must get carpet, look for natural fiber padding and air out the rooms you carpet for as long as possible.
- Choose solid wood over fiberboard or particle board. Fiberboard is used in lots of furniture to make it less expensive. Essentially it’s saw dust molded into shapes with glue, that off-gases formaldehyde. (Eww).
There are lots of things that cost very little you can do to de-tox your home like making your own non-toxic cleaning products. There are also more expensive ventures you can take like replacing your body care products to ones with safer ingredients. Start with a few things first and work your way through a list of goals to improve the quality of your home environment. What are your tips?
This post is part of this month’s Green Moms Carnival –How to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Home– Hosted by the lovely and knowledgeable Lori of Groovy Green Livin‘! The carnival goes live Monday, March 19, 2012.