According to the Union Of Concerned Scientists, in their book, The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, just three of the household activity areas-transportation, food, and household operations-account for the majority of consumer caused environmental impact. The following is a brief list of suggestions to help you create a healthier, less toxic, earth-friendly lifestyle:
Choose a fuel-efficient, low-polluting car. Trade in or sell your Sport Utility Vehicles, mini-van, or light truck (unless you need the truck for business).
- Choose a place to live that reduces need to drive (commute to work/school)
- Think twice before purchasing a second car
- Whenever practical, walk, bike, take public transportation
- Set concrete goals for reducing travel
Did You Know: Household use of transportation, from recreational boating to cars to passenger air travel, is responsible for 28-51% of greenhouse gases and air pollution and 23% of toxic water pollution. The use of land for roads is a significant threat to wildlife.
- Avoid conventionally raised meat (beef, lamb, pork, and poultry) and prefer certified organically raised alternatives. Reduce overall meat intake.
- If you eat fish (which can also be contaminated with toxic chemicals) prefer: haddock, wild pacific salmon, U.S. harvested shrimp, and yellowtail. If you eat tuna, limit to once/week due to high levels of toxic Mercury.
- Choose certified organically grown foods, ideally locally grown.
Did You Know: The Union of Concerned Scientists reported "our results show that meat production causes more environmental harm than other food production, so it is desirable to try to reduce the amount of meat you eat." Additionally, Epidemiologist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D, one of the world's leading authorities in nutrition science, said, "In my view, no chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein."
Conventional food can be: genetically engineered, irradiated, fertilized with municipal sludge, artificially flavored, colored and preserved, injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, and contaminated with other industrial chemicals and radiation. Sound appetizing?
- Have your drinking water tested for pollutants (Watercheck National Testing Laboratories, 6151 Willson Mills Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44133).
- Depending upon results, choose an effective, affordable tap and shower water filtration systems, like my favorite: Lakota Scientific (You can purchase them on my webstore.)
- Install low-flow aerators on sinks and showers. Consider a composting toilet.
Did You Know: Approximately 43% of the nation's community water systems are in violation of federal safe drinking water laws. Lead is one of the most dangerous drinking water contaminants. Bottled water is not required by law to be pure, and it may become contaminated from the plastic container it's bottled in.
Choose organically grown cotton, hemp, and untreated wool as much as possible. Environmentally friendly clothing is now offered by: Levi Strauss & Co. (Levi's Natural jeans), VF Corp (owner of Lee and Wrangler), Esprit, and Patagonia. O wear is also offered in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and NYC. Tomorrow's World catalog also offers a good selection of organic cotton and hemp clothing (1-800-229-7571).
Did You Know: One of the most heavily sprayed crops in agriculture is cotton, and yet toxic water and air pollution are created from the production of synthetic fibers from petroleum products. The production of shoes and leather goods are very damaging with regard to water pollution and land use.
- It's better to launder clothes than to dry clean. Many items that are labeled "dry clean only" can be washed without harm, if you know how to do it. (Check out Debra Lynn Dadd's book, The Non-toxic Home and Office, for washing instructions).
- If you must dry clean, remove clothes from plastic bag, tie bag into a knot and safely throw away. Air clothes outside to reduce solvent fumes (ideally) or in a closed room with ventilation. This could take up to 1 week, less if the weather is dry and warm.
Did You Know: Dry cleaning, on a per-dollar basis, is responsible for very high levels of toxic air pollution? Trichloroethylene may be outgassing from dry-cleaned clothes. Trichloroethylene is suspected of causing cancer in humans.
- Avoid common synthetic cleaning products; many of them are toxic regardless of what the packaging indicates. Be aware that some "natural" looking product labels and packaging may be hiding nothing more than a synthetic chemical product with added herbs and essential oils.
- Seek out truly nontoxic, earth-friendly household cleaning products, like Ecover, or make your own. (You can purchase them on my webstore) Consult Annie Berthold Bond's book, Clean and Green, and Debra Lynn Dadd's, The Non-Toxic Home and Office, for recipes.
Did You Know: Cleaning products rank high on a per-dollar basis in terms of air and water pollution impacts. Their use also creates unhealthy indoor air in homes, offices, schools, etc. which can cause illness. Thanks to "trade secret laws", manufacturers of cleaning products are not required by law to disclose all of their ingredients. Many of the undisclosed "inerts" are toxic, and they can make up to 99% of the product.
Pesticides And Fertilizers- Indoor
- Eliminate use of toxic home pesticides, including pet flea and tick products, fly strips, and synthetic fertilizers.
- For ants, try a 50-50 mix of borax powder and sugar. Line cabinets, cracks, and crevices where ants have been noticed. (Keep out of reach of children and pets).
- Try flea prevention. Comb pets regularly with good metal flea comb, comb daily if they have fleas. Bathe pets with Vermont Soap Company or Dr. Bronner's organic castile soaps. Vacuum at least once per week. Call Flea Buster's (non-toxic service) at 1-800-765-FLEA for local referral.
- Fertilize indoor plants (and lawns and gardens) with liquid seaweed or fish emulsion (Neptune's Harvest) & compost (for lawns and gardens).
Pesticides & Fertilizers -Outdoor
- First, change mindset about "perfect" lawn. Learn to tolerate some "weeds", different color grasses, and uneven spots.
- Limit amount of grass and instead use other ground cover like ivy. Plant more native shrubs and trees.
- Cut grass high (3"), lime, aerate the lawn, and rake vigorously in spring.
Did You Know: One study found a rate of childhood leukemia 4-7 times greater in children whose parents used store-bought home and garden pesticides. Pesticides, whether used properly or improperly, are designed to kill living organisms. Of the 34 most commonly used lawn chemicals, 11 are known carcinogens, 20 poison the nervous system, 9 cause birth defects, and 30 create skin irritation.
- Insulate. Replace old windows and doors with newer energy efficient (triple glazed) options.
- Try to increase the amount and use of sunlight in your home through building on a passive solar sunroom & installing solartubes (energy efficient skylight).
- Consider purchasing photovoltaic panels to generate clean electricity and a solar electric hot water heater (save $150-350/year depending on local climate).
- Lower thermostat to 68 degrees (or lower) during the day and 64 degrees (or lower) at night .
- Use wood or wood pellets to generate electricity in modern energy efficient pellet or wood stove.
- When appropriate, replace old appliances with newer energy efficient ones, like solar hot water heaters, and incandescent lights with compact fluorescent full spectrum lights.
- Choose an energy supplier who supports renewable energy generation. For renewable energy products, call: Real Goods at 1-800-762-7325.
Did You Know: Burning fossil fuels for heating, hot water and air conditioning creates 31% of consumer-caused greenhouse gases, and 24% of common air pollution.
- Choose unfinished solid wood cabinets, furniture, and hard wood floors. Antique wood furniture is also a good choice.
- Use non-toxic wood primers, stains, etc. (The Natural Choice at 1-800-621-2591, and A.F.M. at 1-800-239-0321, and ICI's Performance 2000)
- Look for organic or untreated cotton, silk, linen or hemp fabrics for upholstery, curtains, sheets, towels, etc. (Winter Silks, 1-800-648-7455).
- Organic cotton and solid wood beds, and organic cotton and hemp clothing are currently available (Tomorrow's World, 1-800-229-7571).
- Untreated, nontoxic, all natural carpeting is available from: Earth Weave Carpet Mills, Inc. 706-695-8800, www.earthweave.com)
Did You Know: Formaldehyde is used extensively in commercial furniture; medium density fiberboard emits the highest level of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde causes cancer and nervous system damage. Many brands of carpets are treated with poisonous moth repellents, mold retardants, and pesticides. Toluene, xylene, and styrene are nerve toxins found in carpeting. They all outgas into our indoor air environment. Commercial paint contains nerve toxins and cancer-causing chemicals including formaldehyde, methylene chloride, xylene, and toluene, and others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Todisco is the President and Owner of greenlivingnow.com organic and natural product webstore. She was the founder and executive director of the nonprofit, the Consumer's Healthy Home Center (CHHC). CHHC was created to hire independent toxicologists to test a variety of household products for their potential inhalation health effects, and then recommend the safest products to consumers. Amy closed down CHHC to create the greenlivingnow.com webstore. She felt that she could inspire and positively impact more people through the webstore.
Contact Amy here: firstname.lastname@example.org