I have ethical problems with buying at the supermarket. Aside from the fact that supermarkets sell so much processed food, I have problems with how much market share they have, and with how they wield the power that comes with having what’s basically a duopoly in Australia. I have problems with the kind of food they sell, and how they market that food.
So after reading an article in The Guardian about how one journalist went supermarket-free for a year, I’ve decided that my family is going to give it a go. For three months, we’ll stay out of the supermarket and shop locally, online, and independently.
While we do already buy a lot of our food away from the supermarket, some of this is going to be a challenge. Toilet paper, for example. Where am I going to get toilet paper that’s made from recycled paper if I don’t buy it at the supermarket? And what about the organic butter and the jars of passata that I usually buy at Aldi?
We already buy our fruit and vegetables at the local greengrocer, but I’d like to buy more at our local farmers’ markets. The same with meat. I always buy buy grass fed, free range meat at the local butchers, and we don’t eat a lot of meat anyway. We’re lucky enough to get a lot of fish from my dad, who’s a keen fisherman. I buy bread from farmers’ markets or our local sourdough bakery. We get organic milk and dairy products delivered, although I still buy yoghurt at the supermarket because I haven’t found one I like that can be delivered.
We have four pets, and I buy their food at our lovely local pet store and at the butchers. The few cleaning products that we use, I buy from Hello Charlie. The same with personal care products.
Other things are going to be a little more problematic. We eat lots of nuts, which we buy in kilo packs at the supermarket, and then there’s things like feta cheese, which I buy in tubs because it keeps longer. Vegemite? Flour? Porridge oats? Tea? Crackers? I can see I’ve got some research to do, and I’m going to have to get better at planning ahead.
As my husband quite rightly asked, what’s the point of this? Are we just trying to avoid supermarkets? Can we buy organic stuff from the supermarket, to try to encourage supermarkets to stock more organic products? Can we use wholesalers like Costco? Are we trying to save money by buying in bulk? So many questions, so many things to think about.
Join me and my family as we see whether it’s possible to live supermarket-free for three months.
Dry cleaning would have to be the two dirtiest words in the cleaning business. For a cleaning method that uses no water, it sure does have a heavy environmental impact (and on ourselves, too).
Dry cleaning chemicals are toxic
Conventional dry cleaners will pre-treat grease and oil stains with a solvent or treat water soluble stains with water, and then submerge in perchloroethylene, hydrocarbon or K4 to remove dirt and oil.
Perchlroethylene (or PERC) is a toxic chemical that can damage the nervous system and leave you dizzy or unconscious when exposed. Long term exposure to PERC can additionally damage the liver and kidneys, cause respiratory failure, memory loss, confusion, leave your skin dry and cracked, and can cause problems in developing foetuses.
Even short term exposure at low levels can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, mouth, throat and respiratory tract. It’s also a groundwater contaminate and acutely toxic to wildlife. The EPA has labelled PERC a likely human carcinogen and the chemical is slowly being phased out. In the meantime, is this really a chemical you want so close to your skin?
What’s the alternative to dry cleaning?
You may not be aware that many items with a dry clean only label (in particular anything made of wool) can actually be hand washed carefully, in an eco friendly detergent, avoiding chemicals and possibly even putting the grey water from the wash to good use.
There have also been improvements in the dry cleaning process, paving the way for some dry cleaners to label themselves as non toxic or even organic (though be extremely mindful that the term ‘organic’ is not regulated in the dry cleaning industry).
Look for CO2 dry cleaners – carbon dioxide cleaning that is far less harmful but effective in removing stains, even outperforming PERC in consumer reports. Clothes are washed in a machine using biodegradable cleaning liquid. The machine is pressurised and the CO2 turns from a gas to a liquid under pressure. The cold liquid CO2 rinses cleaning liquid from the clothes, then the CO2 vaporises as gas when pressure is reduced, leaving the surface material clean and instantly dry.
Another option is GreenEarth cleaning which uses liquid silicone in place of petrochemicals, meaning that the liquid sand breaks down into the three natural elements it’s made from: sand and trace elements of water and carbon dioxide. This means that it’s a safe solution for the air, water and soil. GreenEarth dry cleaners are found in all states of Australia, including some outside the capital cities.
Reducing the chemical load of dry cleaning
If you aren’t located near a CO2 dry cleaner or a GreenEarth dry cleaner, there are still things you can do to minimise the chemical load of conventional dry cleaning.
PERC fluid remains in the clothing fibres after it is cleaned. And usually, your garments are delivered inside plastic garment protectors. Remove the plastic and hang your garments outside so that the PERC residue can air out in the open air instead of in your wardrobe. If you don’t have a yard or a garage to hang your dry cleaning, leave them in a room of your home with a window open and the door closed for a few days.
Pay careful attention to the care labels of your clothing and bedding before you buy as you can save yourself the challenge of finding an environmentally friendly dry cleaner. Learn how to care for wool and silk by hand washing and drying in the shade instead of dry cleaning, as it’s estimated that upwards of 65% of dry clean only garments can be machine or hand washed.
You can also try your hand at dry cleaning in your own home. Often, steam is enough to remove some stains. Another do-it-yourself remedy is using vodka! The alcohol kills the bacteria that causes odours, it evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave an evaporation ring. Make sure that you test any of these methods on a small amount of fabric that can’t be seen before you try a large section, like doing a patch test. We suggest leaving leather and suede to the experts, though.
Some baby sleep bags have ‘Tog’ ratings on them, from 0.1 to 3.5. Obviously, it’s some kind of warmth rating, but what do the numbers actually mean?
Even more confusingly, when you buy doonas, you’ll see Tog ratings from 1.5 all the way up to 15.
So why the difference? Basically, Tog is a measure of thermal resistance or thermal insulation, or how warm the doona or sleeping bag is.
Doonas (or duvets, as they’re known in England where the Tog rating originates) are generally sold with different Tog ratings, according to how warm the weather, or the room is. As a guide:
4.5 tog – Lightweight summer duvet
9.0 – 10.5 tog – Spring/autumn duvet
12.0 – 13.5 tog – winter weight duvet
Baby sleeping bags, however, have different Tog ratings.
0.5 tog = for hot weather / warm nursery 24-27 degrees
1.0 Tog = for autumn/spring weather in temperatures of 20-24 degrees
2.5 – 3.5 Tog = ideal for cooler nursery temperatures of 16-20 degrees
You’ll also need to dress baby appropriately under that sleeping bag. So in cooler temperatures, you’re going to need a singlet, and warm pyjamas under that sleep bag, while in warmer temperatures you’ll need cooler pyjamas. All those extra layers add up to extra Togs, or thermal insulation. And on really hot nights, your baby will probably just be wearing a nappy and a singlet under a cool sleep bag, which means a lower Tog.
Nerd alert! Here’s a fun fact: the word TOG is short for Shirley Togmetre, which is the actual name for the measurement. The British Cotton Industry Research Association in Manchester, England, was known as the Shirley Institute and it was they who came up with the TOG rating. So next time you’re shopping for doonas, or baby sleep bags, you can stroke your chin knowledgeably and say, “I believe this rates a 1.5 on the Shirley Togmetre.” Or not, of course. Entirely up to you.
By now you’ve probably ditched the plastic shopping bags for re-usable, green bags. They’re rather convenient, too. If you get in the habit of keeping them in the car at all times, there’s no reason why you couldn’t turn down a retailer’s plastic bag for your supermarket green bags or a trendier, printed calico option.
This in itself will make a significant difference to your plastic consumption, but if you look around your kitchen and your car through a plastic-free perspective, chances are you’ll still see plenty of room for improvement when it comes to using less plastic.
So far, I’ve never come across a café that doesn’t service and support customers who bring their own coffee cup. Coffee is something you may buy every single day. Multiply that by the number of people on their way to work or in their break (or both!) buying coffee and you’ve got millions upon millions of plastic coffee cup lids going into landfill.
The same goes for bottled water. Always have a couple of stainless steel bottles on hand whenever you leave the house. Some bottles have filters, so you may feel comfortable refilling your water bottle somewhere convenient if you need a top up.
How to use less plastic in the kitchen
Start with your produce. Avoid pre-packages foods (they often work out more expensive per kilo to buy anyway).
Shop at your local farmers markets with your green bags.
Opt for NO plastic produce bags when buying your produce at the supermarket – just put straight into the shopping trolley and then into your green bags as you wash all your produce before eating it anyway.
Opt for organic cloth or reusable netting produce bags.
You could even make your own produce bags using old t-shirts or second hand fabrics.
Ditch the glad wrap. Cover bowls, half-used fruits and vegetables with plastic-free wraps such as this one called the Honey Bee Wrap. A natural cotton and beeswax wrap that is also perfect for putting your kids’ sandwiches in for school lunches.
Invest in stainless steel, glass or solid, BPA-free plastic storage containers for your food that last much longer than the plastic Chinese takeaway containers for your leftovers and work or school lunches.
Take a good look at your appliances and utensils. When they wear out, save a little more and invest in blenders made from glass instead of plastic (this is also better for your health), stainless steel ice-cube trays, popsicle holders, jugs, toasters, even appliances such as a food dehydrators have stainless steel options that are much longer lasting and much better for your health, too.
As a general rule, try to make your food from scratch. Juices, yoghurts, lunch-size packs of nuts and other snacks – they all come in individual packaging and are easy enough to make from scratch and package in your own, no waste packaging from home.
Using less plastic in your personal care items
There are a variety of different eco-tools available for replacing your hair and makeup brushes with plastic-free, often recycled options.
Bamboo toothbrushes are available now too with replaceable heads.
Opt for bar soaps at every shower or basin instead of body washes and hand washes in plastic bottles – your local farmers market will most likely have a stall with beautiful homemade soaps.
Experiment with the “no-shampoo” method. Save on plastic and cash.
Choose skin care products that use glass or metal containers. There are loads of organic skin care products available now where you can be sure they don’t contain polyethylene or types of plastic beads within the product, but not near as many that take the plastic-free principle right through their packaging.
If you make a conscious effort to consider all options before you make a purchase, chances are there is a plastic-free option available.
If something breaks, ask yourself:
Can it be fixed?
Is there a second hand option?
Is there a plastic-free option?
A little can go a long way. Once you start applying plastic-free filters to your purchases, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can do to avoid using plastic.
It’s really never too early to begin babyproofing your home. Not only can the unexpected get in the way of your preparation, you’ll also find there’s more to consider than simply bumper guarding sharp corners and lifting breakables up high.
If you haven’t yet detoxified your home of household cleaning products, furnishings, bedding, utensils and indoor air pollution, for many of us, preparing for a new baby is often the catalyst that accelerates this transformation.
Here’s a few ideas from Hello Charlie to help you work towards a safe and non-toxic home for your baby.
Given that you’re usually only in the bedroom at night, your windows are probably shut most of the time. You’re not actually shutting pollution out; you’re probably shutting a lot of toxins in. So in addition to opening the windows for at least 15 minutes of fresh air a day, apply the following tips to both your bedroom and also when preparing your baby’s nursery.
Add plants or an air purifier to remove toxins from the air.
Choose organic essential oils for your diffuser or natural, chemical-free candles and apply this to any room of the house, including the air freshener in the bathroom.
Minimise the electronics in the bedroom.
Dust your room regularly with a damp cloth.
Choose organic cotton bedding or 100% linen or cotton.
Finding an eco-friendly mattress is tricky here in Australia, but you can improve this by choosing an organic wool or cotton mattress protector.
Choose furniture made with low emission materials if you buy new. Alternatively, buy second hand wherever possible, or real wood furniture that has not had stain resistant treatment.
Choose wooden floors with natural fibre rugs over carpet.
Choose low or no VOC paint, or eco-friendly wallpaper.
Opt for natural fabrics in curtains and blinds, cordless blinds are a safer option for baby’s wandering hands.
Begin to purge all household cleaners and opt for eco-friendly cleaners, or start to make your own natural cleaners.
Choose a hand wash without the unnecessary antibacterial.
Quit holding your breath whilst you clean the shower and choose an eco-friendly brand or make your own using vinegar and essential oils or lemon juice with baking soda.
Same goes for your dishwashing products, general kitchen and bathroom cleaners and laundry detergents.
OK so baby’s first solid food isn’t for a while yet, but start now with yourself as you are feeding the little one growing inside you.
Choose wood, bamboo or stainless steel utensils.
Choose cast iron, stainless steel, glass, enamel or ceramic coated pans for cooking. No more non-stick cookware.
For food storage, opt for glass, ceramic or stainless steel, or BPA free plastics.
Ditch the microwave.
Invest in a good water filter.
It’s baby time
Put the state phone number for the poisons information centre on a list on your fridge. You may have detoxified the house, but there will still be toxins that babies and children can get hold of. Add to this all your local emergency service numbers and trusted healthcare professionals.
Avoid buying flame resistant clothing – these have been treated with chemicals. Opt for organic cotton or wool clothing, pyjamas, bedding and blankets wherever possible.
Opt for BPA-free dummies and baby bottles, as well as toys that are BPA-free, avoiding PVC, phthalates, lead-based paints and flame retardants.
Secure all tall and unstable furniture to the wall.
Baby gate the stairs and any entrance you do not want your baby wandering through.
Ensure all garbage bins, pet litter trays and other rubbish is out of reach.
Ensure all electrical cords are out of reach and unused outlets are covered.
Double check all smoke alarms.
Bumper guard all sharp corners.
Baby proof doorways where tiny fingers may get pinched.
You can never be fully prepared for the joys and the heartache of parenting, but this checklist will surely get you well under way!
Visit the Hello Charlie blog for more extensive information on detoxifying your home – the first step to baby-proofing your home.
Here at Hello Charlie, we’re always warning about synthetic ingredients that can be harmful to you and to your baby. But did you know that natural products, used incorrectly, can be just as harmful?
Before we stock anything, we check all the ingredients. If there’s anything that’s harmful, we won’t stock it. We recently started stocking Redmond Earthpaste, and while we’re stocking the peppermint and spearmint versions (and love them!), we’re not stocking the Wintergreen. This is because Wintergreen is a very powerful essential oil that’s toxic for babies and children, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women. It’s natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.
Which leads us into a discussion about essential oils. Essential oils are a great way to add not just gorgeous natural scents to products, but have therapeutic properties, too, provided they are used correctly. And one of the ways you need to be careful with essential oils is when you’re using them with children.
Safe essential oil use with babies and children
First and foremost, essential oils are extremely powerful. Essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic liquids extracted from plants, generally by distillation but also by expression or solvent extraction. In their pure form, essential oils are very, very strong and some can be poisonous or cause an allergic reaction so it’s essential that essential oils are never ingested and never to be used without dilution with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil.
Safe Essential Oil Dosages for Baby
For your newborn, only one drop is required to two teaspoons of water in a diffuser, or in two tablespoons of oil for a massage.
This can be increased taking into consideration the size and sensitivity of your baby to two or three drops between 3-24 months old.
Even children over 2 years should still not exceed 2% of the recipe (i.e. 2% oil to 98% carrier oil, or water for diffusers).
What to look for with essential oils
Look for essential oils that are organic therapeutic grade – or rather, avoid anything that is purely a fragrance oil. If the label specifies that it is not to use topically or internally, it is most likely a petro chemically diffused fragrance oil which has no healing properties.
Safety Tips for Using Essential Oils with Baby
Remember to never use essential oils on or near your baby’s face
In the interest of avoiding ingestion; be sure to avoid their squirmy little hands which will inevitably find their way to the mouth!
Safe Essential Oils for Newborns
At the newborn stage, the list of safe essential oils for your baby is very small. Lavender and Roman or German Chamomile are the most commonly used essential oils safe to use at this young age, both effective in calming and soothing your baby and as a sleep aid.
One drop of Dill with a tablespoon of sweet almond oil rubbed in circular motions on baby’s tummy and back is a natural remedy for treating colic.
Mandarin essential oil mixed with water makes a fragrant natural sanitiser for cleaning surfaces in your newborn baby’s room.
Essential oils for babies 2-6 months
It is safe to introduce eucalyptus radiata, neroli, tea tree, geranium and rose otto.
Neroli essential oil has many healing properties, including mood enhancing, antiseptic, sedative and digestive properties. Neroli essential oil also disinfects and kills bacteria, helps boost the immune system by fighting common coughs, colds and mucus; and promotes the generation of new cells in growing children.
Eucalyptus radiata is relatively gentle and non-irritating for children, effective at the first sign of coughs and colds.
Rose otto helps to soothe, stabilise and relax and heal rashes whilst tea tree with its antiseptic, antifungal and antibiotic properties helps to fight common colds, earaches, thrush and insect bites.
Essential oils for babies 7-12 months
At this age, your baby is introduced to many new things. She is likely being introduced to many new people, as well as many new foods.
Palmarosa oil calms the mind and supports nervous exhaustion.
Petitgrain essential oil is a natural anxiety remedy.
Niaouli essential oil has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
Tangerine essential oil has natural detoxifying benefits, and like Cardamom essential oil, both are digestive stimulants suitable for your baby.
Essential oils for toddlers 2-5 years
Your toddler is now fast growing up, interacting with other children more frequently and eager to learn.
Essential oils of grapefruit, ravensara, ormensis and yarrow are natural remedies for supporting the immune system, with antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Essential oil of ginger supports aching muscles and acts as a digestion aid, along with coriander essential oil.
Helichrysum essential oil is an antifungal and anti-inflammatory – a great natural remedy for cell regeneration of active children.
Thyme linalool is an anti-microbial, stimulating brain activity and aiding in memory and concentration of curious young minds.
There is a plethora of aromatherapy information on the web about what essential oils are safe for your baby, and the two trusted sources we refer to at Hello Charlie are the books Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood and Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green. Valerie Ann Worwood is internationally acknowledged as one of the world’s leading aromatherapists, whilst Mindy Green and Kathy Keville have a combined 75 years of experience in botanical therapies.
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The New Year is here! It’s time to make resolutions for living a greener, cleaner life in 2015. It doesn’t have to be hard – choosing even one resolution and sticking to it until it becomes a habit will make all the difference.
Here’s our top tips on how to live clean and green in 2015:
1. Plant a tree
Or flowers. Or herbs. Or veggies. Anything that you plant will help clean the air and green the planet. Plant anything that you can, or you can even bring some plants inside to help detoxify your indoor air.
2. Clean up for the New Year
What better way to start the year than to clean up your stash and find a better use for all that stuff. Do a kitchen pantry raid, a bathroom cabinet raid, or a wardrobe raid. Separate everthing into piles of what’s still useful and what should go. Reuse old things, recycle or up-cycle stuff and free up space in your place. You can have a garage sale or donate your “still in good condition” stuff to charity.
3. Green Your Ride
Taking care of your car equals taking care of the environment. Get into the habit of checking your car once a month; check tire pressure, change oil and filters if necessary. These simple changes can improve the mileage of your car. Slow down and you can save on petrol; lesser petrol consumption means cleaner air. The next time you travel try to open up your car windows, forget the air-conditioning and enjoy the fresh air.
4. Ride a bike or walk more often
Avoid unnecessary trips in the car, which all add to air pollution and your carbon footprint. Walk down to the shops to grab some milk, or perhaps even commit to riding to work once or twice a week. If you children are old enough, why not ride with them to school occasionally? You’ll get fit and you’ll be setting a great example to your kids.
5. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) When Shopping
Ditch the plastic! Make a habit of bringing your own reusable eco bags when shopping or doing your grocery. With millions of plastic bags being used every minute and ending up in landfill, using reusable eco bags is one of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprint. If you’re not great at remembering to grab bags on your way out the door, get hold of some foldable bags that fit into your handbag or the dash of your car.
6. Introduce Meatless Mondays
Go veggie once a week! Not only are veggies are good for you and your family’s health but a recent study shows that eating less meat or cutting it off our diet once every week can significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
7. Stop buying bottled water
Yes, you need to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. But you don’t need to be buying that water from multinational soft drink companies who bottle it in single use plastic bottles! Grab yourself a reusable water bottle and take it everywhere with you. More and more public spaces in Australia are bringing back water fountains, so you can even refill on the go.
8. Go Organic
Organic farming and manufacturing are better for you and the environment. Buying and using organic products means you are removing harmful chemicals from your system and you are helping in reducing environmental pollutants. If you are not yet ready for completely going organic, you can start by ditching your chemically loaded cleaners and choose organic. Same thing with your skincare products and baby products.
9. Go Paperless
The paper industry is one of the largest global warming contributors. So if you lessen your paper consumption, you can help lessen global warming. Go paperless by choosing not to print your emails, bills or notes. And if printing is necessary, set up your printers so that it will print on both side of the paper.
Think about visiting your local library to borrow books, rather than buying them. Many libraries also lend books online, too. You can buy books to read on a tablet, and you can even read the newspaper online!
13. Reduce food waste
Reducing the amount of food you throw away is good for you and the environment. Less waste means you can save money, plus you can also help conserve energy and reduce methane gas emission from landfills, reducing your carbon footprint. Plan meals ahead, cook in batches and freeze, learn to use leftovers, and use older vegetables for soup.
These are just a few ideas on how you can live clean and green. You may already be doing some of these, but we hope we’ve given you some food for thought.
Happy New Year!
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I used to visit farmers’ markets all the time, but somehow I got out of the habit of it. Recently, however, I’ve been going more often, and I can’t believe that it’s been so long.
Here’s my top ten reasons why you should track down your local farmers’ market and visit this weekend:
Food is fresh. Farmers will often have picked their produce the day before, or even that morning. I’ve found fresh cheeses no more than 24 hours old, and plenty of fruit and veggies that have been picked just before being packed into the van and taken to the market.
Food is better – there’s no gassing, no artificial ripening, and no radiation to kill pests. Food that’s picked at it’s best and naturally ripened is so much better for you.
Shop locally. Food has a lower eco footprint when it’s grown and sold locally. In some cases, food is even better for you if it’s local. Honey produced locally will actually help boost your immunity to hay fever.
Shop organic. It supports good land stewardship, and it means less pesticides for you and your family.
Become part of your community. When you shop regularly at farmers markets, you get to know the producers. Unlike at a supermarket, people want to chat to you about what they’re producing, and it becomes not just a shopping trip, but a social outing!
Support your local economy. When you buy directly, you’re supporting the producer and their family, and you’re ensuring that they get a fair price for what they’re producing. Unlike the supermarkets, who are squeezing every last cent out of the producer.
Save money. Eliminating the middleman saves you money, especially when you can buy cheap seasonal produce when there are gluts.
Learn about food. Talk to the producer about how it’s made, what’s the best way to eat it, and new and delicious ways to cook it. It’s great for kids to learn where food comes from, too.
Enjoy seasonality and get to know what’s in season. Fruit and veggies are cheaper to eat when in season, and they’re at their most delicious. You’ll also see varieties that you don’t get in the supermarket – heirloom fruits and vegetables, meats from different breeds, and cheeses that just don’t make it to the supermarket shelves.
Know where your food comes from. When you’re buying direct from the farmer you can ensure that you’re buying meat, dairy and eggs from humane producers.
Why not get yourself to a farmer’s market this weekend? To find your local farmers market, jump on over to the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association. http://farmersmarkets.org.au/
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When you’ve got children, you spend an awful lot of time in the kitchen – making breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and endless snacks. So how do you make sure that your kitchen is the safest environment possible for you and your family? You detox your kitchen!
Start by having a look at the chemicals that you use.
Ditch the disinfectants – avoid any products that contain microban, triclosan or other synthetic disinfectants. Go with natural soaps like Dr Bronner’s and add your own antibacterial essential oils.
Go through your cleaning products and remove any that have ‘caution’ on them. Choose an eco-friendly brand like ecostore. You’ll find greener alternatives to all your kitchen chemicals like dishwash powder and tablets (I swear by ecostore’s!), surface sprays, and dishwash liquids.
If you swear by your disinfecting surface sprays, try making your own with a spray bottle of water to which you’ve added a few drops of each of eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils – cuts through grease as well as being naturally antibacterial.
Chill out a little when it comes to germs. We’re not advocating that you stop washing your hands before you prepare dinner, but a little dirt is good for everyone. The rise of allergies and asthma in the western world is thought to be because children are not being exposed to enough germs, allowing them to develop their immune systems.
Scrub chopping boards between uses and stand them in the sun to bleach when you can.
Wash tea towels, sponges, and dishcloths everyday in the washing machine or dishwasher. I use colour coded facewashers, blue in the kitchen, green for floor spills, pink for bathroom, etc. You can sterilise sponges by putting them in the microwave for 30 seconds, too.
Reduce your paper waste in the kitchen. Paper towels are chlorine bleached, so try to choose TCF (totally chlorine free) or unbleached paper towels and napkins. Or even better, make the change to cloth – cloth napkins, tea towels, and tablecloths are so much nicer than disposable ones!
Invest in better food storage. Go for glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Re-use glass jars that have had food in them, and go with old fashioned canisters for dry goods.
If you must use plastic food storage, choose BPA free and phthalate free, and make sure that it is a safe plastic. [link] As a rule of thumb, the more flexible the plastic, the more phthalates it will contain.
Ditch the glad wrap! If you’ve got leftovers, you can cover stuff with a plate instead. We’ve been doing this for years at home. You can also use baking paper or waxed paper with a rubber band around the top.
Go with BPA free by choosing wood, bamboo or stainless steel utensils. Silicone is a safer plastic alternative, too.
Say no to Teflon and non-stick cookware. Choose cast iron, stainless steel, glass, enamel or ceramic coated pans instead.
Other things to think about
Filter your water with a good water filter that will remove toxins from your tap. Go with a carbon ceramic filter or a reverse osmosis system.
Rethink the microwave – it emits EMF’s and irradiates your food. Reheat food on the stovetop instead. It’s faster, and it heats through more evenly.
To avoid EMFs, stand away from the microwave when you’re using it, and stand back from the induction cooker and flashing digitals.
Skip the air fresheners. Empty the rubbish every day, get a couple of plants in (go even more eco and keep some herbs on the windowsill) and wipe your rubbish bin down with an essential oil if you want a nice smell.
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The bathroom is a place where you use lots of chemicals – not just how you clean the bathroom, but all the chemicals you put on your body, everyday.
Go Anti Antibacterials
Washing your hands? Choose a soap without the antibacterials. Triclosan is just not necessary – it’s bad for you, bad for the environment and it’s thought is one of the reasons for the rise of superbugs. Check out our blog post on Triclosan for more information. Go with a natural hand wash from a brand like ecostore, or use the good old Dr Bronner’s.
Check the rest of your products for triclosan, too. You’ll find it in products like toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and even in your socks. Microban is another name that you’ll find on things like chopping boards and food containers. Be aware, and read the ingredients before you buy!
Ventilate! Nowhere is it more important to get lots of fresh air than the bathroom (and toilet). Open the window in the toilet, and you won’t need to use toxic air fresheners. Of course, you can always choose a natural one, or go with some essential oils if you prefer.
The bathroom is one room in the house which is the perfect environment for mould and mildew, which can cause all sorts of health issues, aggravating allergies, asthma. Give the shower a quick once over with a dry cloth, or even a window wiper, and wipe any excess water off the counter and around the taps. Open those windows to let the fresh air in and get everything dried out.
Giving things a quick once over every day will also reduce your need for toxic cleaning chemicals in the bathroom, too.
Ever used a shower cleaner where you’ve had to hold your breath while using it? Hmmm. Not so good for you. Keep a squeegee in the shower and give it a wipe down before you get out. This will cut back on limescale and will keep the mould down, too.
Try spraying diluted vinegar or lemon juice on your porcelain, leave it for half an hour and then give it a scrub. You can also make a paste of baking soda, Dr Bronner’s and essential oil for a good cream cleanser. Spray vinegar and baking soda on your glass to remove limescale, let it sit a while, then clean off. Dilute some clove oil tea tree oil and vinegar to spray it on anywhere there’s mould and damp – it’s a non toxic mould buster.
If you don’t want to go with the DIY solutions, try an eco brand like ecostore.
Change your hand towels regularly, and your towels. Wash them in an eco friendly laundry powder. Dry them on the line, and if you want to soften them up, run them through the tumble dryer for a few minutes, rather than completely drying in the dryer.
Skip the toxic air fresheners. Get in some detoxifying plants, open those windows and go for essential oils if you want masking smells.
Ditch the disposables
Try switching to reusables, like face washers instead of cotton pads to remove makeup. If you do choose disposables, try organic cotton or bamboo brands from the likes of Simply Gentle and Go Bamboo.
We’re not hardcore enough to recommend reusable toilet paper – euww! However, it’s easy to switch to recycled and unbleached brands which are easier on the environment.