We spend so much time thinking about what we put IN our bodies, but what about everything that lives AROUND our bodies? Indoor air quality, personal care products, cleaning supplies, and electronics can cause considerable toxic exposure. Cleaning up the environmental toxins in and around my house has been a personal goal of mine over the past few years but often when I have tried to “greenify” my cleaning routine, I ended up bewildered and confused. The idea of mixing and creating our own cleaning products seemed like it was much more trouble that it is worth. But fear not, I’m here to tell you that, just like adding more greens to our diet, there are a few simple tweaks that you can make it quite easy to green up your cleaning routine.
First of all, try to avoid disposable products whenever possible. While they may be good in a pinch and save a little bit of time, disposable wipes, paper towels and other throw away one-use products really do add up in our landfills AND increase air pollution from the plants where they were created. You know what is really absorbent for spills, and works really well as a soft cleaning rag that is easy to wash, plus is pretty inexpensive to purchase? A package of plain, white cloth diapers. Yep, diapers. If that feels too weird, you can opt for a package of plain, white towels, too!
Next, ease yourself in to creating your own cleaning products as you need them. You would be amazed at what you can do with vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda! Don’t feel like you need to run into your kitchen and throw away every cleaning product you own this instant. Start with the ones you use the most, and have a DIY recipe ready for when your current all-stars run out. Here is a great website for green cleaning recipes and advice: Natural Cleaning Tips & Recipes | Wellness Mama
Despite our best DIY efforts, most of us will need to purchase some cleaning products at some point, so you want to be armed with knowledge to make an informed purchase. Luckily, my pals at the Environmental Working Group have us covered…again! (No, I’m not affiliated with the EWG in any way shape or form…I just think they’re fabulous and I’m so grateful for the consumer guides they offer!). Check out EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning before you head to the store, and be sure to recycle the packaging when you’re finished.
Lastly, don’t overlook the power of plants — both in and out of the body! Michael Pollan famously said, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” We can take this little quip of easy, straightforward eating guidance and apply it to the environmental toxins surrounding all of us. Not only do plants provide us with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and energy, and don’t need a laboratory to grow, but they are also master detoxifiers. According to this NASA study, indoor houseplants are a major pathway for chemical removal and “plants can play a major role in removal of organic chemicals from indoor air.” So next time you head to the farmers market or your local nursery, consider bringing home an Aloe Vera plant, Peace Lily, English Ivy or Spider Plant. This is one purchase that may let you breathe just a little bit deeper.