These days, it’s hard to go anywhere without hearing something about going green or becoming eco-friendly.
With the world’s population and consumption both rising at an alarming rate while the world’s natural resources remain fixed, it may all seem quite daunting. So why not start with something simple? Perhaps you could green one room in your home.
Greening Your Bathroom for Your Health and the Earth’s
Here are some simple steps that you can take today to make your bathroom safer—not only for the environment but also for your entire family.
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Personal Care Products
A good place to start is with the personal care products that you bring into your home, like soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. Unfortunately, many conventional ones contain dangerous chemicals, which may not be fully tested for toxicity.
Some ubiquitous yet harmful ingredients in personal care products include coal tar, DEA and even lead. Coal tar, a known human carcinogen, is often present in anti-itch creams and dandruff shampoos. Coal-tar dyes, like FD&C; Green 3, are commonly found in mouthwash.
Many shampoos and lotions contain diethanolamine (DEA), a potential carcinogen and hormone disruptor. Lead, a neurotoxin, is sometimes added to toothpaste in the form of hydrated silica. For a complete list of the “dirty dozen,” twelve chemicals to avoid bringing into your home, check out the Green Guide. To find out which products may be safe alternatives, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database.
If you are still using a vinyl shower curtain, it may be time to find a new one. Vinyl contains PVC, a toxic plastic that is made up of hormone-disrupting phthalates. Get a PEVA shower curtain instead. Although still plastic, it is non-chlorinated and odorless—and has no phthalates.
Perhaps an even better option is a hemp shower curtain. Hemp grows easily without pesticides and herbicides, and the plant requires no irrigation. One added benefit of a hemp shower curtain is that it is naturally resistant to mildew, so you do not need a plastic liner.
The best air freshener around—an open window—is free, and is also a renewable resource. Simply raise a sash in your bathroom or any room, even just a crack, and allow fresh air to pour in.
Another type of air freshener is a candle. Conventional candles are made from paraffin, a petroleum product. Burning paraffin candles dirties your air and releases harmful chemicals such as alcohols, hydrocarbons, and phthalates.
Cleaner options are beeswax and soy candles. Both smoke very little, don’t drip and burn longer. However, only beeswax candles can actually clean the air by emitting negative ions, which remove airborne contaminates as well as increase the flow of oxygen to the brain.
Washcloths and Tissues
If you need to purchase new washcloths or towels, try organic cotton. Besides being extra soft to the touch, it is much more eco-friendly than conventional cotton, which uses large quantities of herbicides and pesticides when grown.
We couldn’t possibly talk about greening your bathroom without mentioning toilet paper. These days, it is easy to find recycled, non-chlorinated toilet paper (and other tissue). Search out the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled materials, like Green Forest toilet paper. Also look for PCF (Partially Chlorine Free) or TCF (Totally Chlorine Free). Who needs white-white toilet paper, anyhow?
If you are looking to completely forego toilet paper, consider installing a bidet. Common in many areas around the world—and gaining popularity in the US—bidets are both hygienic and easy to use.
With a little bit of knowledge—and a whole lot of scanning labels—you can make the world and your family’s health a bit better each day. But labels must be read carefully. Remember that phrases like “all natural” and even “organic” may not tell the whole story—they may even be meant to mislead.
Read the entire ingredient list, or materials list, on each package before you bring it home. If you don’t know what they are—let alone know how to pronounce their names—chances are they aren’t good for you.
It is important to remember that each of us holds a tremendous amount of power in creating a better world. Every single thing we do or consume has an impact on the planet and our health for better or worse. We can choose to lessen this impact by carefully choosing safe products to purchase while foregoing unsafe ones. So why not start with the products used in one room—the bathroom—and then branch out from there?