Earth friendly is an important concept for our own health and well being. It is something that every household needs to consider for the health of its inhabitants, not to mention the beneficial effects on the earth.
While the term “earth friendly” conjures up all kinds of visions of recycling, windmills, solar power and hybrid cars, I like to think about the ordinary products I use in and around my house.
According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is one of the nation’s most pressing personal health concerns. Peak concentrations of 20 toxic compounds – some linked with cancer and birth defects – were 200 to 500 times higher inside some homes than outdoors according to a 5-year EPA study that surveyed 600 homes in 6 cities.
Chemical residue from over 400 toxic chemicals has been found in human blood and fat tissue. What we breathe and what comes in contact with our skin absorbs into our bodies. The danger of toxicity from our homes is made worse by the amount of chemicals in our food. Our bodies do not recognize synthetic chemicals and have trouble eliminating them.
Our personal care products and our household cleaning products are likely to contain chemicals that are both known carcinogens and suspected carcinogens. While each product may contain just a small amount, they add up. The EPA reported that household cleansers are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air pollution.
The average household lawn uses six times more chemicals per acre than conventional farming. If just 10 percent of us switched to natural lawn care, more than half a billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides would not enter the environment or the bodies of our children and our pets.
The list of products made with harmful chemicals is astounding – yet, not all chemicals have to be listed on the label. Some are protected by proprietary formulas and others are excluded by labeling laws. I looked on the internet and noticed names such as Dove soap, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Crest toothpaste, Cover Girl Make Up, Tide, Lysol, Oscar Meyer and more – all listed as containing known cancer causing chemicals.
What we don’t consider is the number of chemicals that aren’t carcinogenic. While we focus on cancer causing chemicals, many others cause some kind of damage whether it’s neurological, liver, kidney, or other.
Collectively, we dump 32 million pounds of toxic chemicals down our drains just from household cleaners. That doesn’t count what goes into the air. Switch to green alternatives and keep those chemicals out of your body and out of the water supply.
There are many great natural products that you can use that do not contain harmful chemicals for all your household and personal care needs. They include laundry soap, bathroom cleaners, pet shampoos, fire ant control, toothpaste, sunscreen, insect repellant and more. These alternative products are both easier on you and easier on the earth. Try some; you might be surprised by how good natural products are now.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.