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How to Become a Toxic Avenger at Home

In a perfect world, every ingredient listed in every product would be tested for safety, and nothing sold at the store would contain any toxins. Unfortunately, there’s no complete guarantee of product safety, even with a popular brand sold at a chain mall. Pesticides still linger on fruits and vegetables. Non-stick cookware still emits dangerous fumes when heated. No regulatory agency exists for personal care products, which means manufacturers can include toxic synthetic chemicals with impunity. Toxin avoidance requires personal vigilance.

Beth Greer, award-winning journalist and holistic health advocate, raises public awareness about toxins lurking in everyday products, and what we can all do to switch to more natural products to benefit our long-term health. She’s even published a guide. So she was the first expert we thought of for tips.

1. Buy real food. Try to buy only organic produce. Phase out processed food with additives, food coloring and dye. Anything with an ingredient you can’t pronounce is probably not good for you.

2. Punt the polymers. Kitchen plastic contains a bleach chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). That stuff can disrupt hormones and even cause changes in brain chemistry. Never microwave food in plastic containers. Replace plastic cups with glass cups. Store food in glass or metal containers instead.

3. Teflon be gone. Non-stick cookware contains toxic fumes that emit while the pan is being pre-heated. Your best bet is to use skillets or green technology non-stick cookware.

4. Product swap. Most conventional toothpaste brands contain artificial sweeteners and colors, which can disrupt your hormones and nervous system. Shampoos? Plenty of those mess with your hormones too. Conventional cleaning products? Full of toxins. Replace them all with the natural versions from most health food stores, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s.

5. No more air fresheners or scented candles. Dig those scented candles? Use palm oil, beeswax or soy candles instead. Air fresheners and scented candles contain phthalate—another nasty, hormone disrupting toxin. Oh, and this one can cause weight gain. Make sure those candles and fresheners don’t contain “fragrance”—a manufacturer’s term that basically means toxins.

6. Better bedding. Conventional mattresses leave flame retardant in the air. The whole time you’re slumbering, you’re ingesting it. For years. Invest in a latex rubber mattress.

7. Indoor gardening. Indoor air can be five to 100 times more toxic than outdoor air. Add some plants to your home to clean up that air. Aloe vera, rubber plants, English ivy, and spider plants are all great scrubbers.

This post originally appeared on, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or submit your own idea today.


(cc) by Flickr user John Carleton

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