In my functional nutrition program, I've been learning much about the role toxic load plays in health and disease. It's something many of us never give much thought to, but the lotion we use on our bodies, the detergent we put in our laundry, the pollution we breathe, the food we eat, it all contributes to our toxic input.
Aside from my growing knowledge base on the topic, having a child has of course heightened my awareness. But, the tipping point for me was when my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer last summer. It was pretty shocking since he was only 39 at the time. I felt really helpless for a while, but after some thought, I realized that there were things that I could start doing to feel like I was contributing in a positive way. For me, that was further improving our dietary habits and taking a good long look at the products we were using in our home.
Of course it is impossible to avoid everything. It's a fine line to walk between being informed and being a lunatic. I have been focusing on what I CAN control and over the last 6 months or so, have been slowly replacing things in our home to products that can help reduce our toxic exposure. This is a list of some of my favorite green products I've found so far. They are linked througout the post and at the end.
GLASS FOOD STORAGE
If there is only one thing you switch out today I would start with this. Food storage is one of the items that is the least expensive and can make a big impact. At our house, we are storing leftovers on a daily basis and had been using plastic containers for years- even putting them in the microwave- yikes. I recommend buying them in a set, rather than separately as they are much more affordable this way. I bought this 24-piece set with BPA-free lids at Bed Bath and Beyond using my 20% off coupon and they have been great!
AVANCHY BAMBOO KIDS BOWL
This beautiful bamboo bowl comes with a silicone spoon perfect for little hands and mouths. What's really cool about this product is that the suction bottom is detachable, making it functional after kids meal time or after they outgrow the need. They come in five fun colors and also make a divided plate option. The only drawback is they cannot be put in the dishwasher or microwave, but that honestly hasn't bothered me.
This is an all around great plant-based brand (plus Maya Rudolph's commercials are gold) and I buy a lot of their products on a regular basis. I stay on top of my Target Cartwheel app or Sprouts weekly and stock up during a good sale. I've been using their eucalyptus and lavender laundry detergent for a while now- it makes our clothes smell so nice without being overbearing.
Their dishwasher pods totally impressed me, as they don't leave the cloudy residue on glasses and flatware like every other brand I've used. I've also tried their counter and bathroom cleaning sprays, but my most favorite product is their Purely Clean Liquid dish and hand soap in the lemon and tea tree scent. It smells AMAZING. Skip their toilet cleaner.
BEES WAX FOOD WRAPS
These have been my newest addition but one of my favorites. In the past, I used a ton of plastic wrap and sandwich baggies and now rarely have to reach for them. These sustainably-made, reusable and breathable cotton cloths are covered in bees wax, jojoba oil and tree resin and come in a variety of sizes. The warmth of your hands seals them around whatever food item you are covering- sandwiches, bowls, cut avocados, bread, really anything you want to store- and keeps them fresh. If you subscribe to Thrive Market, they have a gonga price.
MCCULLOCH STEAM CLEANER
Cleaning the floors has always been one of my least favorite and neglected chores- wringing out the mop, emptying and refilling the bucket with clean water and the floors staying wet for an hour after you've cleaned them- pain in the ass. And when you have toddlers that love to throw their food on the floor and a drooly bulldog that loves to eat said food, you end up cleaning your floors... a lot. Then there are the cleaning solutions- they just smell toxic.
This cleaner literally solves all those problems. Using only steam, it can remove even the most dried and stuck-on food. The hot steam does all the disinfecting, so there is no need for "cleaner". It dries within minutes and leaves absolutely no streaks on the floor. The reusable cleaning pads are machine washable and for $17, I bought an extra pack of pads to have on hand since I run it on our tile every other day.
Also worth mentioning, are the included hand-held attachments for use on the oven range for baked on food, the grill or for cleaning grout (seriously, its witchcraft how clean it gets). There's also a glass attachment for use on windows and mirrors. I could write a whole blog post on my love for this thing (maybe I will). My sweet Mama ordered it for me a couple months ago and I honestly don't know how I lived without it.
DIY COUNTERTOP CLEANER
I am a little OCD about the kitchen counters always being wiped down and clean and had a serious Clorox wipe addiction for years. Nowadays, I make my own spray using vinegar, water and essential oils (google this for recipes). Lately, I've been using these glass spray bottles that have both a spray and concentrated stream.
MRS. MEYER'S CLEAN DAY HANDSOAPS
It seems like I wash my hands every 10 minutes these days and these paraben, phthalate and triclosan-free hand soaps do not dry out my skin and smell fantastic. My favs are Rosemary and Bluebell. They also have pretty killer seasonal scents like this spring's Peony. I had their Iowa Pine scent candle burning pretty much the whole month of December.
GROVIA CLOTH DIAPERS
I don't know who this crunchy girl is writing this, but I am so proud to say that we have cloth diapered Nixon since he was a few weeks old. I never thought in a million years I would even consider it, but here we are, 18 months in. I admittedly do a little more laundry, but love that I don't have to buy diapers- as the greener brands can get pretty pricey. This is the brand we have used exclusively and it's been great for us. I can write a post on this specifically if anyone is interested in knowing more about our journey with cloth.
I'd like to become more educated on essential oils so that I'm using them properly and safely, but...time. So if anyone has any tips to share, I'm all ears. I'm also desperately searching for a non-toxic, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner safe for color treated hair that doesn't cost a weeks' worth of groceries. Anyone?
Of course, as a dietitian, I can't end this post without stressing the role of food in managing the toxic load on our bodies. Consuming a fresh, whole foods diet full of fruits and vegetables to support our bodies' detoxification pathways is just as (if not more) important as being conscious and selective of the products we use on our bodies and in our home.