5 tips to create a healthy and green home
It’s easy to see the benefits of a healthy, organic diet. After all, research on pesticides and chemicals in food has shown they are toxic to human health and contribute to many scary diseases like cancer, autoimmune conditions, lower IQ, birth defects and higher risk of autism and ADHD. But who cares about an organic, healthy and green home? We all should.
People often don’t realize that their houses are making them sick or that they can take action to reduce their exposure and make their home environment greener and healthier. We spend 90% of each day indoors so the contents of our homes contribute to our health or make us sick. There are 350 different indoor air pollutants identified and research links hazardous exposure in the modern environment as a threat to our children’s health. Lead, phthalates, BPA and flame retardants are just a few examples of toxic chemicals that are often found in typical household and children’s products.
Greening your home might seem overwhelming at first. We get it! It’s just like changing your diet, start with small changes and keep going! We have compiled 5 strategies to create a healthy home to get you started:
1. Grow Plants Indoor
Peace Lily, Chinese Evergreen, Azalea, Chrysanthemum, Snake Plant, Gerber Daisy and Spider Plant are some of the best varieties to filter out hazardous chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene in our homes. These chemicals are found in paints, furniture, dry cleaning, plywood and insulation – just to name a few. Indoor plants are the best air fresheners so dump toxic sprays and green your home with beautiful, live plants.
2. Upgrade your cooking pans
Healthy green home starts with well stocked kitchen. Chances are you probably own at least one non-stick pan coated with Teflon or similar toxic chemical. Non-stick surfaces are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. At high temperates, the coating on Teflon pans breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases. Chemicals from this family are associated with smaller birth weight in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune function. This is no surprise since the chemical is found in majority of tested Americans.
Toss the non-stick cookware and substitute a safer, healthier alternative. Stainless steel is a terrific alternative to a non-stick cooking surface. So is cast iron. Cast iron is extremely durable and can be pre-heated to temperatures that will brown meat and withstand oven temperatures well above what is considered safe for non-stick pan.
3. Toss the plastic
Bisphenol-A — better known as BPA — is an industrial chemical that’s used in many household plastics and food packages to make plastic more durable and flexible. Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA in children is a concern because it has been linked to everything from asthma, behavioral problems to obesity. In addition, BPA was shown in studies to increase growth of fibroid tumors in the uterus, interfere with fertility treatments, development of diabetes, heart attack and may even increase the risk of breast cancer.
Here are some tips to help reduce your BPA exposure:
- Stop buying plastic water bottles. Instead, opt for a reusable, stainless steel or glass water bottle and fill up with filtered tap water. Don’t drink from any plastic bottles that have been frozen and/or exposed to sunlight or high temperatures.
- Avoid plastics with #3, #6 and #7 printed on the bottom of plastic containers, these are the most toxic.
- Store leftover foods in glass containers instead of plastic.
- Never put plastic containers (or baby bottles/dishes) in a microwave or dishwasher.
- Automatic, plastic coffeemakers may also contain BPA. As the plastic is heated, BPA can leech out into your coffee. An old-fashioned glass French press is a great alternative.
- Cut down on canned foods. Recent studies have showed that BPA levels were 1,221 % higher in people who consumed canned soup for five days, when compared to people who consumed fresh soup for the same time period.
- Avoid handling receipts that are printed on thermal paper. BPA is used as a color developer for the dye the printer uses.
- Although the chemical was banned from baby bottles in 2012, it is still found in many other baby products. Instead of plastic, store baby food in glass or ceramic containers.
4. Install a water filter
Water can be contaminated in several ways. It can contain microorganisms like bacteria and parasites that get in the water from human or animal fecal matter. It can contain chemicals from industrial waste or from spraying crops. Nitrates used in fertilizers can enter the water with runoff from the land. Various minerals such as lead or mercury can enter the water supply, sometimes from natural deposits underground, or more often from improper disposal. Drink companies capitalized on the opportunity to supply potable ‘clean’ water in plastic bottles but many brands simply filter the water, instead of providing a natural spring source, and bottle it in plastic bottles (which is a problem in itself). A whole house purification is always the best option (but also most expensive!). There are many less expensive options for filtration, from a simple portable filter found in water jugs to a filtration system that is installed under the sink.
5. Think green when renovating
Renovating your home is the perfect time to go green and make thoughtful selections of building materials, furniture and accessories. People often don’t realize that their houses are making them sick or that they can take action to make their home environment healthier and greener. Did you know that most flooring, kitchen cabinets and furniture are made with formaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical, which releases toxic fumes over time? Children are particularly vulnerable to toxic exposure because their bodies are small, their immune systems are not well developed and their brains are growing and changing rapidly. Creating organic kids’ rooms, nurseries and playrooms is especially important to raising healthy children and reducing the toxic burden on their bodies.
Fortunately, there are many great options on the market today to furnish your home with healthy, eco-friendly choices. It is time to embrace green living to improve the health of everyone in your family!
Download our free Healthy Green Home Guide for more tips!