Shoeless SanctuaryWritten by Dina Colman
We don’t have control of many of the toxins outside of our home, but we do have control of the environment inside our home. Here are some ideas for making your home as environmentally healthy as possible.
- Leave shoes at the door. Having a shoeless sanctuary cuts down on dirt and pollutants tracked into your house. Think about all of the places your shoes travel in a day. When you wear them inside your house, you bring all of that into your home—including lawn pesticides, coal tar from asphalt surfaces, lead, and even E. coli. These substances have been linked to cancer as well as neurological and reproductive disorders. Keep the toxins out by taking off your shoes when you get home.
- Clean green. Many conventional cleaning products leave indoor air pollution because of the petrochemical VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and synthetic fragrances. These toxins build up in your house each time you use these products. As they evaporate, they can make their way into your body and can be dangerous to your health. These products can cause dizziness, watery eyes, skin rashes, and respiratory problems. In the long term or in very high exposure, many of these chemicals have been linked to nervous system damage, hormone disruption, and cancer. Try using all natural cleaning products instead. The combination of vinegar and water is great for cleaning glass and windows. Combining baking soda and water is great for cleaning counters and sinks. Steam cleaning your carpets is preferable to chemical cleaning. Try to avoid products that have fragrances, chlorine bleach, and ammonia.
- Avoid non-stick cookware. When heated, cookware coated with non-stick surfaces like Teflon emits fumes that can kill birds and potentially sicken people. At least four of the chemicals found in these products never break down in the environment and are widely found in our systems. Next time it’s time to buy pots and pans, opt for stainless steel or cast iron.
- Remodel with health in mind. For example, when it’s time to repaint inside your house, use latex over oil based paint because it releases fewer toxins and contains fewer petrochemicals. When it’s time to redo the flooring, opt for low VOC finishes. And, after the kitchen is redone, don’t line your kitchen shelves with vinyl shelf paper that can emit harmful phthalates. Instead, try enamel paint for easy cleaning.
- Set bugs free. Rather than pulling out the Raid for pest control, how about capturing the bug and putting it outside to go along its merry way. If you are afraid of bugs like I am, a technique that works well is to cover the bug with a small plastic dish against the floor or wall. Then slide a thin magazine under the dish and run out of the house screaming, carrying it to safety. You’ll feel good for saving a life.
- Get an air cleaner. I swear by my HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) cleaner. It captures 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns from air passing through the filter—this means 1.1 billion particles in an area smaller than one square inch. I can absolutely tell the difference in my house when the air cleaner is running. When I start sneezing, I check my filter, and sure enough it’s ready to be changed.
- Garden organically. Feed your gardens naturally with lawn clippings. Find natural ways of removing pests, such as buying ladybugs for aphids. Pull weeds rather than spraying them with harsh chemicals (or embrace them for their natural beauty).
You have control of your indoor environment. How can you reduce the toxic load inside your home?
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