How to Use Fewer Harmful Chemicals in Your Home

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The recent trend in kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and garages has been a move towards more low-waste, natural, and organic products. While the mid-20th century was all about better living through science, we now find ourselves seeking better living through eco-friendly, sustainable products with a minimum of ingredients–and fewer chemicals that we don’t know how to pronounce. The 1950s, 60s, and 70s gave us microwave ovens, TV dinners, and shelf-stable preservatives; it seems that the 2020s might provide us with a return to a more simple way of life.

1Switch to Green Cleaning Products

There’s no denying that modern cleaning products get the job done, but at what cost to the environment and to our health? There are several books you can pick up in used bookstores, in libraries, or new, including The Complete Guide to Eco-Friendly House Cleaning by Anne B. Kocsis, Clean & Green by Annie Berthold-Bond, Green Cleaning for Dummies by Elizabeth B. Goldsmith, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning by Mary Findley, The Organically Clean Home by Becky Rapinchuk, and many, many more. There are so many books on this subject. One of the most common reasons people resist switching to natural cleaning solutions is a fear that they won’t work as well; however, the abundance of literature on the subject might help you change your mind.

2Read Ingredients Labels

One of the easiest ways to cut back on the number of chemicals you consume is to start reading ingredient labels. You should know what’s in the foods you eat and the drinks you drink. Caramel color, for example, is a possible carcinogen. BPA, which is sometimes found in the plastic lining of many soda cans, is thought to increase rates of reproductive cancers. Phosphoric acid can erode your teeth with daily use, and heavy citric acid use has also been linked to tooth erosion. A survey from UCLA showed that high fructose corn syrup could alter your ability to learn; it is also linked to obesity. Sodium hexametaphosphate caused skin irritation and kidney issues in lab rats. Sodium nitrate has been linked to cancer in humans. Refined vegetable oils are thought to be a source of heart disease and cancer. The list goes on and on. 

One of the easiest ways to drastically reduce the number of chemicals you ingest is to switch to a whole-food, plant-based, and organic diet, cut out the sodas, and leave artificial sweeteners on the grocery shelf. Books to help you learn more about this way of eating include The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall, The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn, and The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. 

3Re-Examine Your Toiletries

What’s in your bathroom? Chances are, your toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner all contain chemicals you’ve never heard of. And if you looked those chemicals up, you might discover that they’re not so great for your health. Fortunately, eco-friendly companies like SeekBamboo sell toothpastes, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners without all the additives. Their wild shampoo ginger bar, for example, is made with essential oils, vitamins, and nutrients–and without sulfates. Or, if you want to make a clean sweep of your medicine cabinet, pick up one of their complete kits of Zero Waste products. Try Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home: The Simple, Room-By-Room Plan for a Natural Home by Becky Rapinchuk, Natural Beauty Skin Care: 110 Organic Formulas for a Radiant You! by Deborah Burnes, or 100 Organic Skin Care Recipes by Jessica Ress, if you’re looking for a book on the subject. You might be able to find a copy of the out-of-print book Complete Book of Natural Cosmetics: An Authoritative Guide to Natural Beauty Aids That Can Be Prepared in the Buyer’s Own Kitchen by Beatrice Traven. It was printed in 1974. 

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