I decided to find out when my daughter, Harper, was two. She wasn’t hitting her developmental milestones, including language, coordination and motor skills. She had digestive problems. It became clear that in order to get her system in good working order it was necessary to remove the toxins—from her skin, her food, her environment. Once we were able to do that, she dramatically improved.
Creating a toxin-free home environment wasn’t easy, though. I searched The Environmental Working Group [a nonprofit that researches the safety of products] every day. I thought, “This shouldn’t be so hard—I don’t have time for this.”
As a clinical social worker, I worked with many families and kids who were sick and often taking medication or hospitalized. I saw a need for prevention, to get to the beginnings of problems before people get sick.
Removing environmental toxins can mitigate or prevent many all-too-common health problems—from obesity to allergies, cancer to reproductive dysfunction.
Some chemicals can be outright carcinogenic, but they can also wreak havoc on other systems at lower levels with equally devastating outcomes. For instance, BPA is a recent culprit responsible for disrupting our endocrine system, the system that regulates hormones. When our systems are out of whack, cellular functioning is impacted and can lead to infertility/reproductive challenges, neurologic dysfunction, immunodeficiency, obesity, diabetes, allergies, developmental delays – you name it. The rates of numerous diseases are going up because we are exposed to more chemicals and environmental toxins than our parents and grandparents were.
The regulations on harmful chemicals set by the U.S. government are narrow and outdated compared to Europe, Canada and Japan. For example, the European Union Cosmetics Directive banned 1,328 chemicals from their cosmetics, while the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. has banned only 11. We can’t assume the government is looking out for us. We need to become our own health advocates.
HELP YOURSELF, HELP THE WORLD
Using safe products in our homes is also a way to preserve the larger environment. People often don’t commit to cleaning up the environment because the problems seem far away, like the melting polar ice caps. But if all you do is take care of yourself, you really do affect wider issues. For instance, you aren’t washing contaminants down the drain or releasing them into the air we breathe. It’s giving back by giving to you!
Here are five top items to detox on a budget:
- Switch from antiperspirant to deodorant, and make sure it’s non-toxic.
- Pick one shampoo/body wash for the whole family. Using one good product saves money.
- Choose a safe body lotion because it stays on your skin.
- Get an all-in-one household cleaner. Reduce your quantity of products and spend your money on one good one.
- Pet shampoo. Wash pets in something safe (don’t use human shampoo).
Here are five no-cost options to help detoxify your home:
- Ditch the plastic. Plastics leach, especially when heated. Drink out of glass cups and heat food on non-plastic plates.
- Open the windows for five to 10 minutes each day. Indoor pollution is more toxic because of chemicals used to manufacture furniture and dry-clean clothes, among others.
- Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking in pesticides, heavy metals and germs.
- Prepare your own meals. Less packaging equals less processing and preservatives. Whole ingredients mean less fake stuff.
- Purchase used when possible (cars, clothes, toys). Harmful chemicals have been washed out and off-gassing of manufacturing chemicals such as formaldehyde may be finished.
Shopping allows you to be an advocate; it’s one of our most available vehicles for creating change, for doing good in the world.