Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Greening our home

I recently read Healthy Child, Healthy World and highly highly recomend it. It is easy to read and offers tons of do-able suggestions to live a cleaner life. There is tons of info in the book but one of the most alarming statistics to me was from the American Cancer Society - they estimate that 75% of all cancers are due to environmental factors. That is scary!

Here are some ideas to live a greener life - healthier for us and the environment.

Things we can do now:

1) When replacing shower liners, remove the package and leave outside for at least a day before bringing in and hanging up. I actually knew this one, when you open the liner packaging that heavy smell is toxic. If you smell it, you are breathing it in.

2) I am not ready to completely give up dry cleaning (although my dry cleaner up in K Mart plaza is going green in August which is great) so for now - remove the plastic and leave behind with them. Most toxins can then also stay behind. Leave clothes hanging ideally outside or someplace other than your bedroom for a day before putting in your closet.

3) Don't eat microwave popcorn. The lining leaches into the oils and are a known carcinogen. They say the amounts ar small enough so the govt wont outlaw but the problem is they stay in your body for years so they build up. Not worth it. (this was easy for us, cant think if the last time I did eat it! My sister on the other hand...

4) Use non-stick (teflon) pans sparingly (if at all). I would rather clean a messy pan...the govt did get involved here and Dupont and others agreed to eliminate by 2015. The EPA lists Teflon as a "Likely human carcinogen". Why wait until 2015?

5) Stop buying plastic containers. I went to Target and bought the box of Pyrex storage glass containers with lids. Completely reasonable. I now feel bad about chucking the plastic crap we do own but we have. This is obviously for the environment as well as our health.

6) Replace light bulbs with CFL bulbs. They are more expensive upfront but use 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer. This is ongoing ,we will replace as incadescent bulbs blow.

7) We buy California Baby products for the kids then dump Pantene etc on our own heads. There is a GREAT website that lists almost every known product out there and rates each on a healthy to hazardous level. The books says our skin is very porous and absorbs approximately 60 % of what we put onto it and many of these chemicals then go directly into our bloodstream.

It is eye opening to see where all the products fall out...

Next level - (More money)

1) Replace crib mattress with organic one. My son sleeps half of his life right now. You know that tag that is the butt of jokes at times, threatening jail time if you remove from the mattress? It is because it tells you that it is up to fire code, meaning it is covered in toxic flame retardent chemicals. As well as others...(its all in the book). If you dont want to spend the money, the next best thing is to cover the mattresss with a natural organic wool pad.

2) Eventually replace all mattresses is house...

Third level - (Steps to take when we re-build our home)

1) Install water purifier, either under sink or whole house filter. The worst types of plastics are labeled by the numbers 3, 6 or 7. The 5 gallon water bottles that we get delivered are 7's. I cannot find a water delivery company that uses glass bottles in NJ. There is a whole section on bottled water, the best option by far is to purify tap water.

2) Either skip carpets entirely or go with natural fiber carpets. I had no idea how many chemicals are in carpets !

3) Paint with only VOC free paint. Most mainstream paint companies offer either low or no VOC paints now.

4) Same for floors - Low or no VOC finishing is a must for hardwood floors. And if ambitious go with bamboo (rapidly renewable, 4 years) or cork

Those are my thoughts for now, just in time for Earth Day :)

Please share your own ideas!

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