In my last post I wrote a brief introduction about toxins in the home. Unless you have begun learning how to navigate ingredients lists (and the lack thereof), chances are there are toxins in your home that are preventing you from maximizing your wellness. Through this series, I'm hoping to make the process of identifying potential products in your kitchen that may be toxic and provide healthy alternatives.
Let's start by looking under your sink. Why? Because this is where most people store their cleaners.
Under Your Kitchen Sink
The kitchen sink: most often it's where you have a bunch of cleaning products. Shouldn't cleaning products clean the house and keep me safe from germs? They should and can, but that doesn't mean they do or that they cannot hurt you too, which is why it's so important but read the fine print and know what you're buying.
Take a look. What do you see? If your cabinet under your sink looks anything like mine used to, there is probably a cleaning product for everything. My kitchen sink cabinet used to house glass cleaner, all-purpose kitchen cleaner, tile floor cleaner, carpet cleaner, dusting spray, heavy-duty cleaner, oven cleaner, air freshener, dishwasher detergent, and extra dish soap. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a germ-a-phobe, I just assumed each product was specially designed for its use, that's what my mom used, and I like living in a well-kept space.
The average American is exposed to anywhere between 60 and 250 (sometimes more) toxic, harsh chemicals every day. My early adulthood easily consisted of more than average, many of which were industrial grade and incredibly caustic. My 20s also consisted more than my fair share of unexplained health problems.
Many of these cleaners may contain hazardous chemicals such as ammonia, sulfuric and phosphoric acids, lye, chlorine, formaldehyde, and phenol. The information about these chemicals is seriously downplayed by the same companies wanting you to purchase their toxic products. These products can cause reproductive harm, allergies, asthma, cancer, skin reactions… Etc. Knowing how to navigate labels is essential. Check out EWG's decoding labels page.
Do we really need 20+ different products to clean a house???
My cleaning habits, like many others, was unnecessarily, although justifiably, expensive. Do we really need to spend so much to have a clean house???? No! Cleaning your home and office does NOT require harsh chemicals, nor does it need to take up a generous portion of your budget! Even some of those harsh chemicals are as not effective as you might think.
Lysol, for example, is one that particularly makes me cringe. It's one of the most widely used cleaning brands while withholding most of their ingredient information. Lysol advertises killing 99.9% of germs, but only kills 7 strands of viruses and bacteria, and they do not disclose what it's made of. The EPA even lists Lysol as a pesticide! Lysol earns grades of D/Fs from EWG, and is listed in EWG's Hall of Shame.
Also in the Hall of Shame are brands that advertise being “safe” or “green.” That isn't the case. I STRONGLY encourage you to check out their Hall of Shame and see if you have anything on there. Also, do a search in the search bar at the top of that page for what you do have and see how it stacks up.
What do you really need to keep a clean house?
My favorite cleaning materials are baking soda, vinegar, and Thieves cleaner. You're home can be sparkles clean with just those items.
I now have two small spray bottles for cleaners: one is Thieves cleaner diluted a capful of cleaner to a 16 oz spray bottle of water; the other is he same, but with three capfuls for heavier duty cleaning. I love Young Living's Thieves cleaner because i makes cleaning simple, and I can use it for everything all over the house. EWG also has an excellent guide for healthy cleaning.
It's sad to see commercial cleaners being advertised as being made with real lemons while lemonade at the grocery store is mostly sugar and “natural and artificial flavors.” Natural flavors can be anything from animals to rocks, not necessarily from the plant it leads you to believe.
Additives are everywhere from artificial sweeteners to artificial food coloring. Make sure you read the labels on any prepackaged foods. Adding additional vitamins don't necessarily add health benefits either. Some ingredients don't legally have to be listed either, so make sure you're buying from a brand you trust (this is what we use).
For example: Potassium Bromate is a popular additive added to flour to make baked goods fluffier and white, although it is a likely carcinogen. Carrageenan is in a bunch of organic and nonorganic prepared foods too (also in some nondairy milks), and some brands of canned food still use BPA too!
photo credit: EWG
There has been millions of dollars poured into marketing and altered statistics to convince the public that there is no difference between organic, conventional, and genetically modified foods and processed foods. This couldn't be further from the truth. There are plenty of studies that have blatantly proven otherwise. My biggest problem with GMO crops is the excessive use and need for additional pesticides and herbicides. Those chemicals are poisons and health hazards, including leading to disrupting thyroid function and causing Parkinson's.
Science aside, having personally eaten processed foods, conventionally grown foods, and organically grown foods I can honestly say I feel the best after eating foods that are grown the same way as the food grown for our great grandparents (organic). Plus, there is no refuting they taste better too. The EWG has a great buying guide that helps navigate which foods are best to buy organic to avoid heavy pesticide ingestion.
As always, do your due diligence in making sure you understand what you're consuming before you consume it.
Yes, what you eat on and store your foods in can have unwanted impacts on your body. Specifically, plastic. No matter how many times you wash it, plastic is still plastic. It still emits its plastic odor and leaches into its contents (especially when contents are heated or hot).
What's a good alternative? Glass and Pyrex. Our family uses the Pyrex Snapware. I know, it's breakable and heavy. Glass also won't add to your toxin exposure and once you are acclimated to its weight, it won't be so bothersome. As soon as we switched, we didn't miss those plastic counterparts at all. We love our glass snapware for storing food and real glass cups for drinking. We use plain white Corell dishes (one of the few options that doesn't contain lead), which are nice, don't break easily, and don't look as junky over many months and years of use and washing. Plus these options hold up much better over time too, and don't look as junky as plastic when it starts to break down.
Have you heard the news? All those Teflon, Caphlon, and other nonstick pots and pans flake their inedible bits into your food and can contribute to gastrointestinal upsets and toxins floating around in your body. Even stainless steel cookware has a coating on it that leaches into your food and can make you sick. And it won't wash off!
Even Teflon is harmful. It can cause childhood obesity, contains carcinogenic chemicals. We've even found the coating on ceramic and Green Pans comes off after a few years of daily use. Instead, we traded in our nonstick mess of cookware for cast iron cookware, and glass and clay bakeware. Cast iron cooking is even more enjoyable than I thought it would be.
While we can't avoid every toxin all the time, we can make small lifestyle changes that will significantly reduce toxin exposure by avoiding what we can.
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PS, we have a wonderful complimentary coaching program for our members who purchase personal care and cleaning products through us. For more information, please contact us.
Additional posts in this series that you won't want to miss:
- Remove toxins from your kitchen
- Remove toxins from your laundry
- Remove toxins from your bathroom
- Remove toxins from your skin care and makeup
- Remove toxins from your perfume and cologne
- The problem with candles
For more information, check out our Healthy Home, Happy Life online course! In this course we cover information about specific chemicals that may harm your health that are worth paying attention to on your labels so you can avoid them, and we will cover both DIY and non-DIY replacements that won't force you to totally change your lifestyle and habits.