Indianapolis Edition

New Year’s Resolution

A Toxin-Free Home

Ridding your home of harmful chemicals and toxicity doesn’t have to be a daunting task. The first step, according to Bea White, an independent consultant with Pure Haven, is to examine the cleaners you’re using. Reading labels at the grocery store is a handy way to know what you’re buying; however, it isn’t so easy picking out cleaning products.

When shopping for natural cleaners, the customary rules for label reading don’t apply, White says. “Unfortunately, there is no requirement for home cleaning products to put ingredients on labels,” she says. “There is no guarantee that the products on the shelf are safe.”

Manufacturers often take advantage of a loophole established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration where if “fragrance” is listed on their product label, they don’t have to disclose what they use to create the synthetic fragrance because it is considered a trade secret. Therefore, consumers really have no idea what chemicals are in the product.

The next step in eliminating toxins from the home is to redefine clean, White says. Just because a cleaner has a strong odor doesn’t mean that it’ll clean better than a more nature-based product with a subtle scent.

Pesky fumes pollute the air in your home and potentially can harm your overall health. There are many health risks with using a strong, acidic cleaner, White says.

Two of the most common offenders contained in commercial cleaners that pose the greatest risks are parabens and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS). Parabens, which are usually used as a preservative, have been shown to disrupt hormone function and adversely impact reproductive health. Additionally, SLS may add scrubbing bubbles, but it is considered a moderate hazard to health as it has been linked to a variety of health issues from minor skin irritation to endocrine disruption.

“It is astounding to me, in this country, we are allowed to have cleaners in our home that have all these toxic chemicals in them and no one seems to care,” White says.

By now you may be wondering where to start when selecting a less toxic cleaner, to which White recommends leaning toward more naturally derived ones. But it’s still important to exercise caution and common sense.

“Usually, you are better off using Method and Seventh Generation, but they still have toxic chemicals in their products,” White says. “If you see a Method hand soap that is bright green or blue, you have to ask yourself, ‘What in nature is that brightly colored?’ And the answer is nothing.”

To make the task of selecting natural cleaners easier, having healthy skepticism and the motivation to do some homework online are invaluable. Start with the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org), which offers lots of information about everything from consumer cleaning products to beauty, home and more.

Buying new home furniture can be exciting; however, it’s important to note that new items, like couches, mattresses and even carpets, all contain flame-retardant chemicals and petroleum-based elements that will off-gas for a period of time when brought home.

White recommends shopping second-hand or consignment for gently used items to reduce this risk as not-sonew items have already expelled residual chemicals with time and through wear.

Although going toxin-free in the home is a great, healthful undertaking, making sure your home is 100 percent toxin-free can be a nearly impossible task, White admits; unless you are planning to move to the woods.

“There are so many toxins in our environment that we cannot control, like air and EMF pollution, that we need to take responsibility and control the toxins we can influence and reduce those to as close to zero as possible knowing we cannot eliminate toxins completely from our life,” White says.

Locally, there are options for shopping organic and as natural as possible, she says. Retailers like The Clean Bedroom offer a wide variety of organic bedding and mattresses, plus clothing and items for the bathroom. In addition, they carry many brands and models of HEPA Air Purifiers. Natural air purifiers work to remove bacteria, dust, cold and flu viruses, and more from the air, which can help improve overall health.

Detoxifying the home can also expand beyond the four walls. Chemicals and items you use on your lawn and around the outside of your home may leach harmful elements into the ground, which can affect area landscaping and seep into area groundwater.

Greenscape Geeks, LLC, is a local company that specializes in offering environmentally friendly lawncare and landscaping services. The company offers everything from allorganic hydroseeding and organic lawn maintenance to drainage, aeration and food garden consultation and insulation.

Making healthful choices for the home is both beneficial for the health of you and your family and sets in motion a sense of awareness and responsibility that can influence future generations, White says.

“Moms and dads have to be responsible to get the next generation and on down to stop using toxic products and vote with their dollars,” White says. “It is up to us to teach them to use natural products that are 100 percent free of toxins. Check the ingredients, do your research.”

Local Resources

Bea White, independent consultant with Pure Haven. For more information, call 317-697-1025 or visit PureHaven.com/BeaWhite.

The Clean Bedroom store location: 1776 86th St., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-548-1818 or visit TheCleanBedroom.com.

For more information about Greenscape Geeks, LLC, call 317-801-5833 or visit GreenscapeGeeks.com.

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