Yesterday our blog post was entitled “top 10 health dangers in your home” and of course one of the easiest ways to eradicate those health dangers in your home is to switch your home to be more natural.
In the past couple of years, I have stopped and thought about trying to live a more natural based lifestyle, making a special effort to change my own home in this way. Had to make sure my husband was caught up in the struggle at the same time and there are still mutterings about garden pests! That is why it is often easier to make the switch with baby steps, researching and changing one aspect at a time.
A more natural home is going to be a healthier environment for everyone who lives there
Eating more naturally
– this is perhaps the best way to start and that means ditching the processed and convenience foods and going back to eating living, whole foods with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (organic when possible but at the very least local - in the USA, the USDA Organic Seal is a trusted seal that genuinely indicates organic quality) along with grass fed meat and dairy, free range eggs and poultry. Prepare meals from scratch when possible. In your kitchen, avoid non stick pots and pans and plastic bottles and containers. Invest in quality copper-clad stainless steel pans that will last a lifetime (but will never contaminate your body with chemicals) and use glass, china and stainless steel for storing and serving your food.
What about drinking?
Many people simply don’t consume enough water to effectively remove toxins from their bodies. Along with water, include water-rich foods especially fruit and vegetables in your diet. If your drinking water is fluoridated, you can reduce your exposure with a reverse osmosis water filter.
Going organic in the garden
- but giving up all chemicals in the garden does not mean you have to put up with garden pests. There are usually organic versions you can use or you can change to companion gardening principles, growing plants which deter pests near those which attract them. There is also a natural synergy between some plants which means planting them near each other increases your yield. Herbs that have a medicinal effect on human health, also offer benefits to plants which grow near them. Keeping your own chickens is a great way to go natural in the garden as you will have the benefit of free range eggs and a chance for your chickens to keep any pests at bay. An added bonus is that chicken manure contributes beneficial nitrogen to the soil of your garden. If you can grow your own fruit, veggies and herbs, you will have the freshest produce possible.
- apart from polluting waste water, chemicals in laundry products leave a residue on clothing and linen which can cause skin rashes (often severe in those with eczema
) and allergies. Look for eco friendly brands but be aware than some natural products are no safer than normal commercial products. You need to check them out. If you are using a dryer, avoid dryer sheets which are particularly high in VOCs (including two classified as carcinogens with no safe exposure level so that just an occasional sniff can cause damage). Skip the dryer sheets completely and add a dash of vinegar to the rinse cycle instead of softener. If you need some extra fragrance, you can achieve this by a drop or two of essential oil on a cloth (such as mint or lavender) and adding to the drum. For the most natural laundry result of all, use soap nuts and line dry in the fresh air!
Household cleaning products
- these can be particularly harsh. Look for eco friendly brands whose labeling clearly states that they do not use harsh chemicals. At the same time cleaning products can also be very detrimental to our health and half the time, plain warm water will do the cleaning job anyway with vinegar or baking soda as a back up for any stubborn cleaning tasks. I use a jumbo size bottle of green and non toxic general cleaner which I decant into smaller spray bottles of different strength for all my cleaning jobs.
Personal hygiene products
- It has been said so many times but is always the best advice: don’t put anything on your skin you would not eat! Avoid all mainstream consumer skin care, cosmetics and personal care products. For soap, try natural, organic brands like Dr Bronner’s. You can find natural versions of everything you need – toothpaste, make up, deodorant shampoo, conditioner, hair coloring, skin care and the rest. Did you know that traces of chemical toxins from body products are found in the newly birthed umbilical cord which means that products used by you when pregnant could be absorbed and passed onto your unborn baby. Such products include nail polish, hair color, skin cream, deodorants and shampoos.
– it is frequently not necessary to take over-the-counter drugs or prescription pharmaceuticals except in an emergency when you should be sure to detoxify your liver afterwards. There are plenty of natural alternatives that you can take for every kind of condition. Cleanse your body with parsley, alfalfa, red clover, chlorella or chlorophyll. All these substances can help eliminate toxic substances that may be detrimental to your health.
Fresh air and sunshine
- some people go the whole winter without opening their windows so no wonder some homes can be ten times more polluted than outside. Even in winter, windows should be opened for at least a few minutes each day. Let the air circulate and refresh the oxygen, naturally. In the summer, there should be fresh air coming in all the time. House plants are a great way to purify the air while sunshine is a great sanitizer and what could be more natural than hanging out your washing to dry in the sunshine and yet, how many people still do this. Give your blankets, duvets and pillows a good shake and then let them spend some time in the sun to get rid of dust mites.
- these are my pet hate and those plug-in ones top the list. There are plenty of natural ways to mask or even absorb unpleasant smells including baking soda, vinegar and essential oils. Baking soda neutralizes odours by balancing the pH levels of the air while pouring some vinegar into a shallow bowl to do its work when you are out of the house. Candles made with natural products can take away odors and improve air quality. A special tip is to light candles and place in a bowl of cinnamon sticks or coffee beans to look beautiful, while the heat from the candle can warm the cinnamon or coffee and give the room a nice aroma. A spray bottle filled with essential oils will always give your home quick burst of natural fragrance. Use 35 drops of essential oil such as eucalyptus or sweet basil for every 500 ml of water, combined in a spray bottle and spritzed as needed. Essential oils have natural anti-bacterial qualities so they can purify the air and make it smell good, naturally.
- don’t fill your home or apartment with products that off-gas toxic chemicals such as carpets, particle board furniture, adhesives, wallpaper, paints, solvents and even fire retardant materials that are all guilty of this. Off gassing is the evaporation of synthetic compounds used in manufacturing a host of products, from cars to computers and toys to tennis balls. Two of the most identifiable types of off-gassing are the telltale “new car” and “new carpet” smells. off-gassing can cause a whole host of allergy symptoms, ranging from puffy, red, and watery eyes to a runny nose, congestion, coughing,asthma-like symptoms and skin irritations. Off-gassing can also be odorless.
- yet another way to introduce a more natural element to your home for your clothing, bed linen and even upholstery by forgoing the synthetic fabrics and using cotton, wool, linen and the even more environmentally friendly bamboo and kemp. At the same time, steer clear of disposable items such as paper towels, plastic bags, diapers and wipes and where possible use items that can be washed with the rest of the laundry and re-used time and time again.
The next generation!
If you have young children in the home, enlist their help with the “going natural” exercise. Important to get them on the right track from a young age and you never know, they might teach you more than you can teach them!