Have you been thinking about going sustainable and reducing waste? Well, what are you waiting for?
There are many ways to do it. From changing foods in your diet to exchanging items you commonly use every day in your home or place of business, there are endless ways to make your living environments less toxic and healthier for your whole family.
Here are 12 simple ideas to make significant changes in your life from toxic to sustainable:
1. Trade in:
conventionally-grown produce that is sprayed with pesticides and other harmful chemicals, and possibly originating from genetically-modified seeds and organisms
Remember, spray-free doesn’t mean no pesticides, it’s really just a marketing term like many others. If you have children, read Produce and Pesticides: The Dirty Dozen and Protecting Your Children’s Health. Pesticides are linked to ADD, Autism, hyperactivity, and other health disorders in children as reported from studies conducted by researchers at The University of Montreal in Quebec in 2010.
organic or sustainable versions of these same foods
Buy locally if you can, and have a conversation with the farmer at the market or in your local area about his or her practices.
2. Trade in:
commercial meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy which come from animals on feedlots
Meat and meat products from animals in feedlots are fed the wrong kinds of feed, contain hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Also, their nutritional content is compromised from being raised in non-sustainable environments where the soil, water, and other areas are not cared for in an ecological manner, and soils are not cultivated nor enriched with organic matter or fertilizer to make the meat healthier.
grass-fed and pasture-raised versions of those meats and poultry
Check with your farmer’s market or local farmer. Although many grass-fed and pasture-based farmers use sustainable and/or organic practices, it’s always a good idea to interview your farmer and find out whether their animals are normally on pasture (and if they are fed any grain, soy, or corn). Concerned about the cost of switching to naturally-grown meats? Consider the long-term cost of health problems as a result of consuming toxic meat such as sick days from work or school, doctor and hospital fees, and medications.
Take the Grassfed Meat Challenge
3. Trade in:
plastic cutting boards in your kitchen
Plastic degrades over time and can start to come off after many years of being cut on into your food. Plastic cutting boards are also petroleum based and bad for the environment since they don’t biodegrade in landfills for thousands of years.
bamboo, wood, or glass cutting boards. These materials are safe and environmentally-safe and do not harbor bacteria on their surfaces, and are easy to clean with soap and water (glass is inert).
4. Trade in:
teflon, non-stick, and aluminum pans
cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel, granite, or stoneware
Non-stick and teflon are dangerous to health. Teflon contains a carcinogenic substance known as perfluoroalkyl acids which have been found in blood samples of people and animals, and are responsible for impairing liver function and increases the bad LDL levels of cholesterol in the body.
Studies released by the EPA in Du Pont and 3M labs concluded that rats who were fed PFOAs (perfluorooctanoic acid, one of the main offending chemicals found in Teflon and other non-stick cookware) had a higher incidence of developing tumors in the liver, testicles, mammary glands, and pancreas.
PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate, another offending chemical found in non-stick cookware) has been connected to thyroid and liver cancer in rats. Other problems include increased rates of weight loss, miscarriage, and thyroid issues. The offspring of female rats showed stunted growth and accelerated rates of sexual maturation.
5. Trade in:
canola or vegetable oil
If you are cooking with vegetable oils or using them for salads, now’s the time to pitch them out. These rancid, genetically-modified vegetable oils become trans-fats during processing, and cause heart disease and cancer because they are not real food, but are a chemically-altered fat which the body doesn’t recognize and cannot absorb. These substances are cheap to produce (think industrial waste by-products) and make huge profits for companies selling them.
olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or tallow or lard from animals on pasture
Healthy, traditional oils are loaded with nutrients and essential fatty acids, and support digestive, brain, endocrine, thyroid, and cardiovascular health. Foods with healthy fats are the most nutrient-dense foods on the earth. Some of the most important, fat-soluble vitamins found in fats are Vitamins A, D, E, and K – and those are essential to helping us absorb the nutrients found in many other foods, including vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.
6. Trade in:
toxic, commercial cleaners from the grocery store
Many disinfectants used in commercial cleaning products are considered pesticides by the EPA. Products containing bleach (“ultra” concentrated) or quaternary ammonium chlorides (“quats”) are corrosive, that is they can cause permanent eye damage if spilled or splashed. Chlorine bleach is a powerful lung irritant and can form toxic compounds in fumes if combined with other cleaners such as ammonia or strong acids like toilet bowl cleaners. Many of these products have been tested and declared endocrine disruptors and are linked to reproductive damage and alterations in specific genders, and cancer.
safe, non-toxic, natural cleaners like Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap, vinegar & baking soda, lemon, olive oil, and grapefruit seed oil extract. Dilute your mixtures in a spray bottle with filtered water and experiment with how much you need to do your cleaning.
7. Trade in:
plastic containers used for food storage or water bottles
Many plastic containers contain BPA and other harmful petro-chemicals that can cause interference in the endocrine system, hormone function, and can lead to the development of cancer.
stainless steel, glass, and ceramic (lead-free) containers
Try stainless steel for water and stainless steel, glass, or ceramic for cooking and storage. Most ceramic cookware and containers produced in the U.S. are lead-free, check to make sure the manufacturer doesn’t use this chemical in their products.
8. Trade in:
canned products like beans and tomatoes
BPA, found in cans, interferes with hormonal activity in the body and gets stored in your cells. Also, aluminum cans can leech aluminum into your food, which has been liked to Alzheimer’s and other degenerative mental disorders.
dried bean and fresh tomatoes (or freeze them for when they are out-of-season). Or, consider not eating tomatoes until they are in season since even jarring your own at home exposes you to BPA in the lining of the jar lid.
9. Trade in:
refined table salt
Refined table salt is primarily composed of sodium chloride and causes the body to retain water in its effort to isolate the toxin being stored in the body – hence the “puffiness” or swelling associated with salt consumption. Refined salts are processed and subjected to high heat, virtually eliminating all healthy trace minerals and nutrients, and leaving behind toxic chemicals which make our bodies sick.
real sea salt
Real salt that hasn’t been refined is essential to health and contains important trace and other major minerals that are largely missing from our diets like potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iodine, manganese, and phosphorus. Good brands include Himalayan Pink Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, and Brittany Salt.
10. Instead of buying new:
buy something used at a thrift store, garage sale, or on Craigslist, or borrow or trade from a friend or relative
11. Instead of washing your clothes on warm:
use cold water
I’ve been washing all my family’s clothes in cold water for over a decade, and our clothes still come clean. Use a clothes line instead of your dryer. If you still use a dryer, ditch toxic dryer sheets. To avoid your clothes being full of static, make sure you don’t over-dry them in the dryer (which will also save on electricity).
12. Trade in:
Tap water is notoriously full of many chemicals and heavy metals. It is nearly impossible for city reclamation filtration to remove substances from water like caffeine, medications, and many other chemicals and toxins. See how the tap water in your city ranks in a list of the best tap water from all over the U.S. from the Environmental Working Group. Recently, a startling report came out about Hexavalent Chromium, a carcinogenic substance being found in tap water of 31 U.S. cities.
Invest in a good water filtration system for your sink or house. For some good recommendations and some useful information about water filtration, visit The Urban Homemaker.
Other water filtration systems: Berkey Water System
LifeSource whole-house water filtration
Here’s a list of water filtration companies (and other eco-products), state-by-state on the Organic Consumers’ Association site.