One of the most common questions I get from readers is “Where Do I Start”? They may know they want to make some changes but they really have no idea where to begin and that is perfectly normal. It can be daunting when you decide that you want to make your home healthier and greener, especially if all this is new to you. Most of us have time constraints and money constraints so that has to be considered as well. No matter which way you slice it though the easiest way to get started is to just pick a problem and fix it.
What are your hot button issues? Are you most worried about chemical cleaners, additives in your food, off gassing of plastic products, or getting the toxins out of your indoor air? Just keep a running list of things you want to change, products you want to buy, and ideas for greening and cleaning your household. Take this master list and compare it to your budget and your schedule and get started in any small way you can. Once you start ticking things off that list you will gain some momentum and you’ll realize that you have more influence over the health of your home environment than you think. Here are three ways you can get the toxins out of your home. These are as good a place to start as any.
Clean Up Your Your Laundry Routine
So what exactly is the smell of clean laundry? If you think it smells like a fresh mountain spring you are probably exposing your family to chemicals every time they wear clean duds and you are washing those same chemicals down the drain. That smell is actually a chemical perfume that scientists in white coats have spent hours tinkering with and it was not to make sure it was safe for you either. Lots of money goes into researching scented products because they know that scents sell the product. Skip it! The skin is your largest organ and wearing clothes cleaned in those chemical perfume products is like wearing a nicotine patch 24/7 but with perfume chemicals instead of nicotine.
Try greener, cleaner laundry products like soap nuts, Dr. Bronner’s, or one of my new favorites of late Roux Maison Essential Fragrance Free. LOVE this product! It is made with purified water, non-hazardous biodegradable surfactants, non-hazardous biodegradable salts, and 100% pure essential oils. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Free, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES) Free, Formaldehyde Free, Pthalate Free, 1,4 Dioxane Free, Paraben Free, Phosphate Free, Readily Biodegradable, Optical Brightener Free, Neutral pH, Not A Marine Pollutant, No Harmful Chemical Residue, No Animal Testing, Vegan, No Genetically Modified (GMO) Ingredients, Safe for Sensitive Skin, Ingredients Classified as Non-Hazardous, Low Sudsing. All in all, very good stuff.
Dryer sheets are also loaded with chemicals and we can avoid those by hanging clothes to dry on a clothes line or hanging racks. For days when you would prefer a dyer, perhaps in the winter or when it is raining, you can use dryer sachets made with lavender or wool dryer balls. These easy household hacks produce the same results but with less impact on planetary resources and on our health.
Clean the Air
Adding indoor plants is a lovely way to bring fresh air into the home. They do a great job cleaning the air and absorbing contaminants. Spider pants, ivy, and ferns are all good for this purpose. When the weather is fine it is also a good idea to open as many doors and windows as you can to let let things air out.
Indoor air purifiers are also a welcome addition to a clean and green home. We have been using our Bionaire purifiers/ionizers for many months now. I would hate to be without them!
Clean Your Bathroom
Start with the cleaners under your sink. If you currently use harsh chemical cleaners, switch to hot water, castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. Not only will your house smell fresh and clean without synthetic fragrance the germs will be just as dead. You can also rest easy that your family will not be poisoned.
Shampoo can be ditched in favor of a baking soda/apple cider vinegar routine or a shampoo bar. Toothpaste can be bought without fluoride or SLS. I personally like the coconut oil based toothpaste from Tropical Traditions. Lotions, potions, and other body products should be certified organic if possible and made with food based ingredients. Toss conventional over the counter meds in your medicine cabinet in favor of of homeopathic and herbal remedies. Reduce chlorine exposure in the shower and tub by using a chlorine filter.
Once you tackle some or all of these issues move on to the next area of concern… perhaps healthier foods or a safer sleeping environment. This is a process and we keep learning, growing, and changing as we go. The important part is to take that first step and make that first change. To your health!
So have you seen The Lorax yet? If so, then you know that it is fodder for lots of conversations within your family about environmentalism and how to put into practice Lessons With The Lorax. The movie is phenomenal and fun but the subject matter is serious and there is no time like the present to work together as a family to do your part and speak for the trees, and the air, and the waterways, and all things Mother Earth. The Lorax movie just brings us a fun way to launch into it with renewed vigor.
One way to gets kids interested and excited might be to give them title of Lorax for a week and alternate weekly between children. For a week they get to be the voice that speaks for the planet. They get to be the watch dog that makes sure lights get turned off and water isn’t wasted. Giving kids this bit of power makes them more aware of the issues and how to solve them. Once all of your kids have had their turn at the wheel you can ask them to look outward for more ideas and broaden their reach. What can they do on their block, in their community, and at their school? Empowering them at home will give them the confidence that they can make a difference elsewhere.
But… back to the home. What can you do there? Letting them be the Lorax for the week might be fun enough on its own but you can also up the ante by offering rewards when certain goals are met. Mom and Dad get to be the Lorax too though, just to set the standard and let the youngins see how this game is played. Have fun!
- Teach kids to be aware of household waste and give them tips on how the family can reduce the amount of garbage that hits the curb each week. If you usually throw out two bags each week, challenge the kids to help you whittle it down to one. Trash can be reduced by recycling as much as you can, reusing what you can, buying foods with little or no packaging, composting scraps, and reducing purchases.
- Start a laundry challenge. Explain how much energy and water goes into washing clothes and how much is wasted when they can’t wear the same pair of jeans for 2 to 3 days or they change clothes multiple times a day. See if you can reduce the number of laundry loads you do and get help hanging the laundry to dry so that the dryer doesn’t have to be used as much.
- Let them audit your household. Give them the power to police water use, energy hogging, and general wastefulness. You will be surprised by all the ways those keen minds will find to help reduce your impact.
- Let your the children help research and decide on purchases. Letting them make buying decisions now will only help them be more mindful consumers later on. Let them choose which toilet paper is the greenest option or what gadget might help them conserve energy or reduce waste. Doing this is especially good for older kids because it gives them the opportunity to really research products make better choices.
- Take an eat local challenge. With your kids at your side make a list of meals you can make with all local ingredients and take them shopping with you and have them help in the food preparation. Explain how you are saving resources by buying from vendors and farms in your own hometown.
- Start a children’s garden. If you have the space, it would be beneficial to let each child have their own small garden bed and help them plant in it. Then they are responsible for weeding, watering, and harvesting. The smiles and feeling of accomplishment will be priceless.
If we want them to be the ones speaking for our planet then we have to help them find their voices…
This post is part of the “Lessons With The Lorax” Blog Tour organized by Universal Pictures for The Lorax Movie. Visit some of the other stops here:
This morning I hit the gym for the first time of 2012. Not only did I feel like the energizer bunny (thanks to paleo/primal foods!) I wore some new athletic shoes thanks to the fine people at PlanetShoes. Last month they sent me a pair of the “new” New Balance shoes, called NewSky. I already have some New Balance minimalist shoes in black and pink, though not this version and I love them so I was excited to try NewSky. I absolutely adore the blue/grey coloring (I was getting sick of pink) and these shoes come in wide width so they are way more comfortable than my other ones. Yes, those are my pasty white legs in the photo above. I don’t usually wear shorts in the snow but I haven’t done any laundry since the week before Christmas. I got some pretty strange looks at the gym today, LOL. Shorts and a parka isn’t a good combo?
Anyway, NewSky shoes are special because they are a much greener version of the classic shoe. They are minimalist and uber lightweight, which is important to me. You also know as you lace them up that the material they are made of is different. 95% of the upper section is made of recycled P.E.T, also known as recycled plastic bottles. Cool beans! I often hesitate to buy products that make the same claim because who wants to sleep on a pillow filled with plastic bottle filling or wear a shirt made of plastic bottles, but shoes are perfect. I always wear socks with them so they don’t come in contact with skin and athletic shoes typically wear out so fast that it is reassuring to know they are made from recycled materials. Also in order to make a shoe with so much recycled material they had to completely redesign it and that meant reduced waste overall. All of the inner materials you see in typical shoes like foam and reinforcer materials are not there. This makes the material very soft and pliable, not stiff. It is evident in putting on the shoe since you need to mold it your foot and then lace it up. This makes NewSky very different from other shoes but I personally think this it is rather awesome. The fit feels custom and perfect, like I am not even wearing shoes.
Cool fact: Each pair of NewSky shoes uses 8 20 ounce plastic bottles.
I first wore these on a quick two mile hike earlier this week. They were comfortable from the get-go and I never got a hint of a blister despite them being brand new. I can’t say the same of my other New Balance shoes. Today I wore them to the gym. I had to take them off before I jumped in the pool of course but afterwards I did some weight training and they performed well. I think these will be prefect for colder days when I can’t wear Vibram Five Fingers as I normally do.
Love the fit, love the comfort, and I love that they are made from recycled materials. They get an A+ from me! If you are interested NewSky shoes come in the blue/grey you see above as well as pink and a yellow/green combo. They also have NewSky shoes for men.
Contest Closed! The winner is Debbie Clauer, congrats!
When my two youngest kiddos were little, I wore them close to me via ring slings, pouches, and wraps. I knew nothing of these amazing devices when my oldest was born but they sure would have been a lifesaver since he was my neediest baby by far. Wearing your baby was something that I was introduced to when I looked into attachment style parenting and it just seemed like a no-brainer way to not only deepen the bond with your child but also a great way to minimize gadgets and gear meant to entertain baby. The baby benefits from having a secure, safe environment that is close to mom and makes them feel protected in the same way swaddling does. Cooking, laundry, household chores, hiking, traveling, etc all became much easier for mom (or dad) when you can just put on a sling and wear your babies around. Baby wraps and slings are amazing!
Comfy Joey is a company that offers absolutely gorgeous ring slings and pouches. They are functional of course but also beautiful. I LOVE the colors. Their linen slings come in lots of great colors. If I were still in my sling years I am sure I would own several! The ones that really stood out to me were the mesh water slings. These can be worn wading in the pool or in the shower. Love them! I always stuck my babes on the bathroom floor with some toys and hoped they wouldn’t get into stuff while I showered. How much easier … and fun… life could have been if we could have showered together with one of these slings. ;)
The company is also mom owned which I always preferred in my sling buying days. It is owned and operated by Ayesha Ghatala Shoaib. Ayesha discovered babywearing after the birth of her second child and founded Comfy Joey when he was only a few months old. Now Ayesha is the proud mother of four. She still considers babywearing a valuable tool as she runs her business while raising her children.
The company has graciously offered to give one of my readers a $100 voucher to Comfy Joey. Woot! The giveaway will run from today through Sept 30th. To enter please like Comfy Joey and Gather for Good on facebook and then leave a comment on this blog post. For a second entry please share this blog post with friends and leave a second comment letting us know that you did, and how. A winner will be chosen at random.
Not only do you have an opportunity to win the prize you are also helping out with a great cause just by entering. 10 cents will be donated by Gather for Good to Bruce Roseneberg’s FIGHT against Stage 4 Melanoma Cancer for every valid entry made in this giveaway. You can read more about Bruce’s fight against cancer here. You can also help support Bruce’s fight by shopping at Comfy Joey and using coupon code BRUCE. 15% will be deducted from your total purchase price when you use this code, and that same 15% amount will be donated to Bruce’s cause. You can also donate to Bruce directly through paypal at rosenberg [at] comporium.net.
This giveaway made possible through Gather for Good.
UPDATE: We have a random winner!! Material Girl Green! Congrats!!!
When the weather is warm and I am not in the mood for a green smoothie I make the next best thing… a milkshake. Nosh on some chocolate on the side and I am heaven sent. Yum!
This is a raw, vegan “mylkshake” made from unsweetened almond milk. I added a bit of Thai coconut sugar, a ripe banana, some vanilla, and ice cubes. It is frothy and delicious. I think the Ball jar and glass straw just add a little something too.
In the bowl is handful of Nativas Naturals Cacao Goji Power Snacks. I have long liked the brand for their raw, vegan, organic offerings. They sent me this bag and and a bag of Citrus Chia snacks. The chocolate ones are killer. The Chia Citrus ones tasted like soap. I did not like them at all. My husband, however, devoured the whole bag in about 30 minutes. Guess they don’t taste like soap to everyone.
Now I am powered up for errands and laundry!
What are you snacking on?