Many use the word “detoxing” when describing their New Year’s resolutions, although it means different things for different people – less caffeine, less sugar, less junk food, quitting smoking, etc. Unfortunately, some toxins are less visible; we don’t even know that we are exposing ourselves to them. What I’m particularly thinking of are carcinogens and other harmful chemicals in common consumer products.
This topic can get me worked up into quite a rage if I let it. In a world that would make sense to me, manufacturers would be responsible for ensuring that the ingredients they use for their products are safe for human beings and the environment. Or the government would review their safety. It should not have to be the responsibility of the consumer to have to read ingredient labels full of unpronounceable long names while standing on shopping aisles — certainly not parents of young children, who are usually already overwhelmed and busy.
But that’s not the world we live in. We ourselves have to do the detective work if we don’t want to enjoy endocrine-disruptive BPAs with our lunch, have probable carcinogens like triclosan in our kitchen sponges and toothpaste, and hormone-disruptive parabens in our shampoo. (Thanks, guys!) And the fact is that it’s plain impossible to eliminate all harmful substances from one’s life and one’s home. But what you can do is minimize your everyday exposure to them. Thankfully, there are a couple of online tools that make it easier to judge which products are relatively less harmful and responsibly manufactured. For personal care products, the Environmental Working Group’s SkinDeep Database is a great resource. The GoodGuide evaluates household items, clothing and appliances in addition to cosmetics, and considers not only the health effects of a product, but also the company’s environmental and social responsibility.
The safest option, of course, is to make your own whenever you can. Then you always know exactly what ingredients have been used. For house cleaning, I have been using this all-purpose spray from Gorgeously Green for two years, and find it really effective, incredibly easy to make, and so nice-smelling that cleaning has become something I almost look forward to… Give it a try!
Get a 32 oz (about 1 liter) plastic spray bottle and fill it with 2 cups of water. Add:
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 tsp pure castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
- ¾ cup hydrogen peroxide
- 20 drops tea tree oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil