It’s the new year and the season for resolutions. As you resolve to adopt a new exercise routine or plan to get more organized, consider a commitment to creating a healthier environment in your home.
Here are our top 10 non-toxic tips for 2014:
1. Implement a shoes-off policy at home.
Shoes track in more than dirt. They also bring in a variety of environmental contaminants including pesticides, chemicals from car exhaust, and even lead-contaminated soil. As a perk you’ll spend less time mopping or vacuuming.
2. Wash your hands. A lot.
During flu season this has a two-fold benefit — it protects you from that virus going around the office or school, but it also washes off chemicals linked to breast cancer found in household dust, including phthalates, alkylphenols, PAHs, PCBs, pesticides, bisphenol A and flame retardants, which are found in furniture and electronics, and linked to endocrine disruption, especially thyroid disruption.
3. Avoid flame-resistant kids pajamas.
Though some chemicals like chlorinated tris and PBDEs have been phased out of kids pajamas, these have been replaced with other chemicals. Check labels that indicate that PJs are flame resistant, and pick snug-fitting alternatives that don’t require added chemicals.
4. If you’re thinking about getting a new couch, wait a year.
By 2015 manufacturers are expected to remove toxic (and ineffective) flame retardants from furniture, due to the implementation of the state of California’s new flammability standards. If you can’t wait, choose new furniture made with naturally flame retardant materials, like wool.
5. Replace your plastic leftover containers with glass or stainless steel.
Go old-school with metal and glass, and especially avoid putting hot food in plastic.
6. Keep Plastic Out of the Microwave
Even so-called "microwave safe" plastic can leach chemicals into your food when it gets hot, so choose glass or ceramic containers for re-heating food. Don't cover your food with plastic wrap when you heat it, either; use a ceramic plate or an unbleached paper towel or napkin.
7. Avoid synthetic fragrance.
Choose personal care and household cleaning products that fully disclose all ingredients, including what’s in “fragrance”—that single word on a label can contain dozens of chemicals, some of which, like phthalates, should be avoided.
8. Find safe ways to fight germs
Skip antibacterial soaps. Chances are, these products contain triclosan, an antimicrobial agent that is suspected of interfering with the hormone systems of humans and wildlife. There’s no evidence that triclosan is more effective than soap and water, so trade in the toxics for old-fashioned soap and water (see resolution #2 for added benefits). Since hand sanitizers rarely contain triclosan, these are a good option when you are out and about (pick those with alcohol or thyme-based derivatives).
9. Kick the can.
Limit consumption of canned foods until companies replace BPA-based can linings with safer alternatives. Instead, choose fresh or frozen options. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or nursing, given concerns about prenatal and early-life BPA exposure.
10. Take the plunge and say goodbye to your nonstick pots and pans.
Although there’s no denying they make our life easier, nonstick pans and stain-resistant materials can contain toxic polyﬂuorinated chemicals. Alternatives include anodized aluminum, stainless steel or cast iron.
Breast cancer prevention starts in your everyday environments. For more tips on choosing safe cosmetics, safer food and making informed healthcare choices, check out our full page of Tips for Prevention.