If you've recently decided to make your home a bit more eco-friendly you may now be wondering where to start. To help you get motivated we consulted Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan, co-founders of The Honest Co., for their no-fuss ways to dive in and start living life a little greener.
What goes ON your body is just as important as what goes IN. Most personal care products are filled with unhealthy ingredients and questionable chemicals. When you learn that up to 60% of these products are being absorbed through your skin directly to your bloodstream, it makes you think twice about what you are using. So, read labels and educate yourself about specific ingredients! Opt for natural, non-toxic, organic, and plant-based bath and body products (especially for your children!) that are FREE of chlorine, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, dyes, sulfates (SLS/SLES), sodium chloride, formaldehyde, and fragrances.
The average American household has approximately 63 hazardous chemical products, which translates to roughly 10 gallons of toxic waste. And, to think, we’re unknowingly spraying, wiping, and washing these toxins down the drain, impacting the health of our family and the planet while we’re at it. Yikes! Instead make the easy switch to cleaning with non-toxic ingredients, avoiding products with ammonia, chlorine, phosphates, glycols, 1,4-dioxane, bleach, triclosan, lye, solvents, acids, dyes, and fragrances. To kick start your kitchen and laundry room cabinet makeover, trade in conventional products for eco versions of those you use most like laundry detergent and dish soap. Or get rid of the most caustic culprits including all-purpose surface sprays, oven cleaners, drain decloggers, and toilet bowl cleaners.
Surprisingly, the FDA states that indoor air quality is often much toxic than outdoor air because harmful chemicals are emitting (known as "off-gassing") from items in your home — from everything from mattresses and air fresheners to couches, carpeting, and wall paint. To immediately see improvements, simply open your windows and let in fresh air for at least five minutes a day. Regularly change HVAC filters to avoid mold, dust, and particle build up, ensuring they’re operating at optimal levels. You can also use houseplants to naturally sanitize and purify air. And avoid major offenders — especially in children’s rooms — by investing in no-VOC finishes, natural fabrics and floor coverings, organic furniture, and the like.
Choose safer plastics such as polyethylene (#1, #2, and #4) and polypropylene (#5), look for products that say “no phthalates” and “no bisphenol A (BPA),” and avoid polycarbonate plastics and vinyl (PVC, V, or #3). Opt for baby and children’s toys made with natural wood, cloth, or metal. And consider switching to reusable containers — especially for food — that are made from glass, ceramics, or stainless steel. These simple switches reduce exposure to toxic chemicals that leach from plastic into foods, drinks, and ultimately our bodies.
Organic fruits and veggies are grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. While there isn’t concrete data on the nutritional benefits of eating organic versus conventional produce, exposure to these chemicals and their impact on the development of children’s brains and bodies has been well documented and raises serious concerns. (Did you know that half our lifetime exposure to pesticides occurs during our first five years when children — pound for pound — consume four to five times more fruit, veggies, and milk than adults?) By switching to organic foods and supplements, you immediately see a reduction of pesticide levels in the body. In one study of 23 children, only 1 contained any detectable traces of pesticides after four days of eating organic foods. If you have to prioritize when to eat organic, skip the fruits and veggies with the highest pesticide levels that are identified as “The Dirty Dozen” by EWG.