Since it's Breast Cancer awareness month I thought I'd share some healthful tips to reduce your exposure to toxins. These tips are modified from ones that printed in Body and Soul magazine.
1) Inspect all products you put on your skin. Shampoo, lotion, cleaners, dish soap, bath, cosmetics, etc. Your skin is your most absorbent organ, everything you put on it goes through it. Check labels and reduce your exposure to petrochemicals, talc, and other harmful poisons. Here's a list of companies that have gone toxin free.
2)Assess your clothing. Where does it come from? What is it made of? What is it dyed with? Choose to educate yourself on where clothing is made and the fabric that are best for the earth. Yes you may spend a bit more for organic clothes, however you will save a ton on the impact of the earth. Reduce your carbon foot print even further by buying used clothing at thrift stores, vintage shops and consignment spaces. Better yet host a party with all your friends and trade.
3)Food. READ INGREDIENTS. I know it's a chore but sneaky marketing laws allow nasty stuff to get through the organic label. Buy things with ingredients you can pronounce and save a bundle by visiting local farmer's markets for fresh produce, herbs, cheese, breads, and flowers.
4) Assess you home. The big surfaces in your home affect air quality the most. Consider using hardwood, ceramic or stone flooring instead of chemically derived carpet. If painting consider paints low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) better yet try a natural plaster finish tinted with earth based dye.
5) Sleep. Since you spend roughly a third of your life here "green" this area first. Invest in a mattress of latex foam, cotton, or wool batting. Replace synthetic pillows with wool or cotton, and look for unbleached untreated linens. I can attest since we bought out organic bed a year ago I sleep much better. We bought ours at Soaring Heart and the best thing the latex mattress will last minimum 20 years and we can replace the cotton futon (get it re stuffed every 3-5 years) for cheap!
6) Car. make sure you aren't leaching car fumes into your home. Obviously if you need a car it'd be best to have an electric on, if you can't afford that buy one that's less hard on the environment. If you own a car, participate in bike to work, riding the bus or walking anytime it's possible. If you work from home consider why you need a car and play with the idea of finding a flex car. There are 298 flex cars in Seattle, 11 in west Seattle, 4 within walking distance to my house. My goal by the end of 2008 is to get rid of one or both of our cars. It's a waste of money, time and frustration. Always keep a window cracked in the car as the inside of a car is the most toxic place you come in contact with on a daily basis.
8) Evaluate how you cook and store food. Plastic is handy but evil... limit your usage. Non-stick pans kill birds and small dogs with their toxic fumes, should you be eating out of that? (I still use mine too) When you buy new things take these thins into consideration, store foods in glass and cook in stainless steel.
9)Dump the "magic" cleaning products. If you have to call the poison control center after ingesting it you shouldn't expose it to your skin or lungs or eyes. I used Method products, my friend uses Seventh Generation. both you could ingest and only end up with a tummy ache, yet they kill germs, clean well, and smell amazing.
10)Look to your pets, garden and outdoor spaces. Do you use pesticides, herbicides, weed block, super lawn enhancers, etc. Do you then let your pet and/or child and/or self go out in that? Once again skin is the most absorbent organ and you/your pet/your child is taking it all in. Not to mention it's running off in the rain and creating havoc in local water systems and killing fish/birds/good bugs. Try natural alternatives, companion planting and build a bird house for day bugs and a bat house for night bugs. Look at what you feed your pets. With all the scars earlier in the year people are switching to natural pet foods. again read the ingredients. Also look to pet products and search out natural alternates to poisoning them. (and then let me know cause i still use that nasty flea meds on them)