Aside from school - or work - our homes are where we spend the most amount of our time.
Also, our homes are where we come in contact with the most amount of food, chemicals, and potentially harmful products.
With the progression of civilization and domestication, Americans have become consumed with cleanliness. A sanitary house was thought to be the key to reducing illness and the spread of bacteria. Television blasted ads about the latest new technology to scrub away the dirt, grime and bacteria. Today there are hundreds of cleaning supplies on the market. Many contain harmful ingredients that, if swallowed, could kill you. Warning labels appear on so many products today that it’s easy to not pay attention…thinking I will never drink that, so what does it matter?
You are on this website, so obviously you are not so young that you would mistake your bathroom cleaner for a refreshing beverage to chug. So let’s just say you avoid ingesting these products, but what about the fumes, referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that they release? Your body is exposed to VOCs over time and they can enter into your body and target your DNA or other parts of the cell, damaging them and making them nonfunctional or dysfunctional. Once the cells are injured in this way, they may never recover and this damage could lead to cancer and/or other diseases later in life.
RESEARCH, READ, AND SHOP SMART
Read the labels on all cleaning products. If it seems complicated or has a danger or warning sticker on it, avoid using this product. Many cleaning products do not contain a list of ingredients on the label. However, many manufacturers are voluntarily providing this information on the web, or by phone.
See http://www.cleaninginstitute.org, for more info.
ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO BE NON TOXIC
Work together with your family, friends and roommates...anybody! Sit down and talk to your parents about your concerns, offering them suggestions for phasing out toxins in your home. Not everyone will be able to adapt to change. Being patient, armed with the facts, and making the changes small at first are important.
VENTILATE YOUR HOME
Ventilate your home by keeping windows open when you can or buy a HEPA air-filter. Air-conditioning can circulate air-borne toxins. They can also make you more susceptible to colds, flu and other minor ailments. They also use a ton of energy that pollutes our environment. If you have to use one, make sure the filter is replaced as needed and use it sparingly. Ventilating also reduces the need for air fresheners that pump tons of chemicals into the air to disguise odors.
ORGANIC WHENEVER POSSIBLE
This is the easiest step. Choosing organic or natural choices over toxic is as simple as making it a priority in your mind. Start using organic laundry detergent and instead of air-fresheners use organic materials such as using a couple of drops of essential oils. There are many natural non chemicals ways to deal with ants, bugs instead of pesticides and personal bug repellant. That includes flea medicine and collars for your pets.
Choose organic when it comes to your family's clothing, bed sheets, towels and anywhere else you desire the touch and feel of cotton. Cotton accounts for 50% of the world's textile market, taking some of the harshest chemicals to grow conventionally. It takes 1/3 pound of agricultural chemicals to produce one cotton t-shirt, including herbicides that are linked to breast cancer. (Lauresn, S. E., Hansen, J., Knudsen, H. H., Wenzel, H., Larsen, H. F., & Kristensen, F. M. (2007). EDIPTEX: Environmental assessment of textiles. Danish Environmental Protection Agency, working report 24.)
USE COMPANIES THAT CARE
You have the choice to spend your money where it matters. If you use a gardener or your housing complex does, find out what type of pesticides they may be using. Encourage the company to use safer, non-toxic products or seek out another local company that only use environmentally-friendly products.
Avoid dry-cleaning, but if you choose to dry clean make sure to choose a facility that doesn't use a harsh solvents which poison the human body, air and water right where you live. You can also bring your own organic cotton/hemp/bamboo dry cleaning bag, or pillowcase instead of taking that plastic bag that ends up in the landfill.