Eliminating toxins from your home doesn’t just entail knowing what pure natural products to buy: you also have to know what to avoid. As a culture, we’ve become trained to purchase many non-essentials. A five-dollar latte at Starbucks tastes great, but it’s not essential to your nutritional survival, and cutting out that morning habit can save you hundreds over time (20 days, to be precise). Less obvious, though, are the household products we’ve gotten used to buying. If they own a knife set, no one really needs a garlic press; and wives complain about their husbands’ tool purchases for a reason—in very few circumstances will owning four hammers come in handy. The same can be said of many toxic products. Clever marketing has convinced Americans the following items are necessary, but most don’t even need substitutionary pure natural products: they can just be avoided altogether.
- Air fresheners. Some people enjoy these artificial scents, but no one benefits from them. Most commercial air fresheners simply mask odors with chemicals—dangerous droplets that get inhaled by everyone in the home. If you have pets and really need something to eliminate their smell, many safer pure natural products can be used as alternatives. Baking soda absorbs rather than masks, and houseplants actively recycle and purify the air.
- Cans. Unless you’re building a bomb shelter, there’s not a huge reason to accumulate thousands of canned goods, but there is a huge reason not to. Canned food uses an epoxy resin that’s linked to heart disease, obesity, and hormone disruption. Over time, air in the home and the canned food itself gets exposed to this chemical (called BPA), which people then breathe or eat. Switching to fresh, frozen, or jarred foods isn’t just safer; it tends to taste a lot better.
- Dry cleaning. Some clothes absolutely have to have it, but the chemicals used in dry cleaning have caused cancer and organ failure. Regularly using this service brings that chemical into your home. Dry cleaning one piece of clothing once a week over a forty-year period can increase the risk of cancer by 150. If at all possible, clean even delicates yourself with water or other pure natural products.
- Pesticides and herbicides. Contrary to popular opinion, these aren’t essentials, and perhaps not surprisingly, they can be some of the most dangerous products in the home. Weeds are a nuisance, and no one likes herds of sugar ants crossing their floors, but the pesticides and herbicides used to kill them can have a similar impact on our bodies. They’re pure toxins, and their residue lingers long after the ants and dandelions have died. You might get a sore back from pulling weeds, and you might have to be more compulsive about cleaning up crumbs, but that’s a small price to pay for the health of your family and pets.
- Rubber ducks. All right: on their own these little toys aren’t the most dangerous products in your home, but they’re made with poisonous plastic called PVC, also known as vinyl. From the moment it’s produced, PVC begins leaching dangerous chemicals that contaminate the air. It’s so dangerous that 14 countries and the European Union have banned it, but the U.S. has not yet followed suit. If your kids love playing with toys in the bath, there are many alternative pure natural products that don’t pose such a risk.