Living chemical-free seems like a luxury — after all, those organic products tend to be pricier. But is it worth the cost? Beth Greer, an environmental health consultant and the author of Super Natural Home, warns that the chemicals can “act as endocrine disruptors — substances that interfere with our natural hormones.”
This may lead to the worsening of conditions like allergies and asthma and other symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and headaches. Prolonged exposure may even lead to more devastating health problems.
For those who are resolving to start living a more chemical-free life this year, Greer has some budget-friendly tips on how to make the change:
- Switch foods. “Start with the foods and products you use most often and switch out just one in each category. For example, if you drink milk, switch to organic milk (without pesticides and growth hormones); switch just one lipstick to a natural one; choose a natural deodorant.”
- Try the farmers market. “Because eating organic is so important, try shopping at farmers markets. You can find some great deals there, especially just before it closes. I’ve seen broccoli for $1 per lb, for example. Farmers don’t want to have to bring unsold food back to their farm. Or try planting your own garden, which is very economical and fun.”
- DIY it. “Make your own products you use in your home. Now, this isn’t as hard as it sounds. For example, I use baking soda as a deodorant. I fill up a salt shaker, shake some in the palm of my hand, and apply on my armpits. It works really well, is inexpensive, and nontoxic.”
- Make your own nontoxic natural cleaning products. “Try vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. You can find recipes in my book Super Natural Home.”
- Remove your shoes at the front door. “Shoes track in lead, pesticides, and other pollutants, which contaminate our carpets and floors. Stuff we track in from the outside can turn our home into a toxic place, especially for pets and young children who spend more time on the floor.”
- Green up your home. “Houseplants are healthy for our indoor environment. Not only do they clean the air, but they’re relaxing to look and be around. NASA has researched the benefits of plants on air quality for about 20 years and found that common houseplants are natural air purifiers.”
- Natural deodorizer. “A really easy, economical, and nontoxic way to clean a carpet, even a musty one, is to deodorise it with baking soda. You will need several pounds of it for a nine-by-12-foot room. Sprinkle it liberally over the entire carpet.” Wait 15 minutes or longer, then vacuum.
- Choose filtered tap water over bottled. “It will have less bacteria and chemical contaminants. The bottled water industry is largely unregulated in the United States. Choose glass or stainless steel water containers.”
- Pick your mattress wisely. “Sleep on a mattress made from untreated, nontoxic natural materials. If you can’t afford a new mattress, buy a wool and organic cotton mattress topper.”
- Avoid “fragrance” products. “Be cautious of products with the word ‘fragrance’ on the label, including shampoo, lotions, and perfume. They contain phthalates, known to interfere with our hormones. Pick those made from essential oils instead.”