Most of us have a long list of things we want to accomplish in the next 12 months. If having a healthier home and healthier family tops yours, there are many ways to get started.
Here are five simple swaps that will have you living healthier and more environmentally conscious.
Switch shower curtains: Polyvinyl chloride – or PVC – is a soft plastic used to make common household items such as vinyl shower curtains. Some have linked the plasticizers in PVC to developmental delays, liver damage and respiratory problems. Replace a vinyl shower curtain with one labeled PVC-free. A cotton or polyester shower curtain liner is also an option, or choose one made with a safer plastic known as EVA.
Swap out the soap: Triclosan is an ingredient found in many antibacterial hand soaps, gels and body washes. Some suggest it could interfere with thyroid function. Others suggest this substance could have links to the emergence of “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics. The FDA says it “does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.”
Replace nonstick pans: Many coated, nonstick pans can leach a chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA – especially if scratched. PFOA is linked to cancer and birth defects. Choose cookware made of cast iron, ceramic and stainless steel.
Ditch dirty dry cleaners: Conventional dry cleaners commonly use toxic chemicals. One of those is perchloroethylene, or perc, which some have linked to conditions ranging from headaches to organ damage. Air out dry-cleaned clothes before hanging them in your closet. Avoid exposure to perc by choosing items that don’t require dry cleaning or switching to a dry cleaner with a “green” cleaning process.
Stock up on safe cleaning supplies: Chemical-based cleaners may not include a complete list of ingredients on the label, because it’s not required. The missing ingredients could have the potential to pollute the air in your home. Swap out chemical cleaners for nontoxic ones that are also dirt cheap. Baking soda is a powerful nonabrasive. White vinegar is an all-natural disinfectant, effective at killing viruses such as the flu on most surfaces. And hydrogen peroxide works in place of chlorine bleach to kill bacteria such as salmonella and mold.
These simple swaps will help you jumpstart your New Year’s resolutions.
Terri Bennett is the author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living,” available at DoYourPart.com.