As you travel towards a greener lifestyle you’re likely to find yourself questioning the products you use in your home, on your body and around your kids. This can become overwhelming, confusing and, yes, downright irritating. I have a friend who reads this blog and every time I see her she asks, “What are you going to ruin for me next?”
To some it may seem us “greenies” have an irrational dislike of chemicals – and for the record, I am aware that water and other naturally occurring substances like bicarbonate of soda are chemicals. So it’s not all chemicals I am wary of, just the funky ones. You know, the ones that have the potential to muck up our kids’ hormones and suffocate waterways.
In my mind there are three pretty compelling reasons to kick the chemical habit:
Reason 1: It’s good for your health
I can’t keep my family in a bubble (which would be made of lead-free glass, not that I’ve thought about it) and the fact of modern life is we encounter harsh chemicals every day. But I do try really hard to make my home a chemical-free zone to give our incredible bodies a chance to deal with the toxins they’ve encountered.
Many of the thousands of substances commonly found in our bathrooms, kitchens and gardens have only been around for a couple of generations and the vast majority of them have not been tested for human safety. As time goes by more and more are implicated in health conditions and the increase in “lifestyle diseases of the Western world” (we’re talking cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disease, obesity) seems to reflect an increased use of chemicals.
I believe in the precautionary principle, which states that one should always err on the side of caution when it comes to your health. Unfortunately, the chemical, agro-chemical and beauty industries don’t share this view.
Even if you and your family members are not prone to allergies, asthma, eczema or any of the more immediate conditions that can be exacerbated by chemicals, removing them will improve the air quality in your home, meaning you will sleep and breathe easier.
Reason 2: It’s great for the environment
I remember the day I decided to give up Pantene. I was breastfeeding my new baby and the fact I could still smell it on my skin hours after my shower worried me. Musing on this, I had another thought. Would I take this bottle of conditioner to the beach and squirt it into the sea? Of course not, it’s full of synthetic chemicals! So why was it okay to wash it down the sink over the course of a couple of weeks?
Then I saw this ad:
Most of the unnamed and complex ingredients in our household and personal care products break down quickly and don’t persist in the environment. But there are others, such as triclosan in anti-bacterial products, sulphates, phosphates and fluorocarbons that persist. Harmful algal bloom, hormonal effects on marine life and polluted waterways are some of the concerns about the after-effects of these chemicals, never mind the ecological impacts of their production.
Reason 3: It saves you money
If frugal living is part of your mission, you’ll love discovering the alternatives to common household cleaners, personal care, laundry and garden products. With a few staple non-toxic ingredients, you can replace almost every chemical in your home. No more expensive laundry treatments, no more coloured cleaning sprays, no more insecticides that kill more than just the bugs in your cupboard.
Here’s a great example of a product every mum needs but can make at home cheaply and safely using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, which you’ll find at pharmacies. This recipe is taken from the Sustainababy Home Detox Boot Camp.
DIY stain soaker
- 2 parts hot water
- 1 part baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- 1 part hydrogen peroxide*
· Combine all ingredients and either use immediately or store in an opaque dark bottle. You could even store in an empty hydrogen peroxide bottle and attach a pump spray to the bottle.
· Spot-treat stains and soak overnight. Mix only as much as you need for immediate use because it won’t store well over long periods of time.
· Use as a pre-wash spray on stains or add 1 cup of mixture to a load of laundry, add water and let soak for 30 minutes before washing.
Note: Hydrogen peroxide breaks down in light. That’s why it is sold in dark brown bottles. Only mix as much of this soaker up as you need each time. If you wish to keep for a prolonged period, store in a dark container.
Learn to kick chemicals with Laura
If you want to make your home a chemical-free haven but you’re in need of a bit of hand-holding, let me tell you about a new project by DTEM friend and “EcoCeptional” mum, Laura Trotta from Sustainababy. I’m pretty excited about it and I think you will be too.
Laura, who wrote this fab guest post last month, has been hard at work developing an online course to help parents like you rid their homes of toxic chemicals. It’s called the Sustainababy Home Detox Book Camp and it includes weekly videos, activities and step-by-step guides over the course of eight weeks. You will learn the basic chemistry of cleaning, how to maintain a clean and hygienic home with just a few ingredients in your “cleaning cupboard”, and all about the nastier chemicals and where to find them. Laura is an experienced environmental professional and with a Master of Science in Environmental Chemistry and plenty of practical experience. She has clean, beautiful smelling home that poses no threat to her two small children.
Early Bird Special: Register for the Sustainababy Home Detox Boot Camp before it kicks off on June 15, 2014. Book your place before June 1, save $50 and have the chance to win some FAB sing-up bonuses. Score! For more details, click here.