As the winter winds blow this way, we start to shut ourselves in a bit more. We turn inward and focus our attention on our homes and our close family units. Now is a good time of year to take stock of what fills your home and notice if it brings joy to your life or adds clutter to your chaos. Decluttering can often send maximalists (like myself) into a minor panic. The thought of giving up these things (these are my *things* I love to collect things and often have a little story for every knickknack on my shelf. It’s a problem.) can make my mind race. So instead of broadening the Great Winter Tidy-Up scope to a mass-decluttering, I like to focus my clutter clearout to simply reducing toxins. Since we’ll likely be spending much more time at home over the next few months, it’s important to note that our homes can be one of the most toxic environments we encounter. Here are a few tips on how to reduce the toxic load of your home.
DITCH THE SCENTED CANDLES AND ARTIFICIAL AIR FRESHENERS:
If you’re like me, you grew up on Yankee Candles and “fresh” scented everything. Each month had a different candle or scent theme in our home. But did you know that artificial fragrances are highly toxic and aren’t regulated by the FDA?! That means corporations that use “fragrance” in their long list of ingredients can put just about anything in there and it’s considered fair game. If you need candles for a little “hygge” in your life (check out my past blog post about hygge) make sure you get pure beeswax or soy. Additionally, if you just can’t enjoy your holiday season without a little cinnamon swirl hanging about your nostrils, opt for cinnamon essential oils or simmer pots for clean, natural scents. Additionally, scented dryer sheets! Oy! I haven’t used dryer sheets in years and I never plan to again. These sheets are designed to release their scent onto your clothes and have them hanging around for days after you wash. That means these chemicals are not only hanging around longer but are also closer to your skin and easily absorbable. Most to all of these chemicals have been found to be endocrine disrupters and are highly toxic.
PUT DOWN THE NON-STICK PANS:
Non-stick pans are just that, non-stick, because of a synthetic chemical called Teflon (well actually “Teflon” is a brand name of a very long chemical that, let’s be honest, none of us are going to memorize). Anyway, as time goes on and cooking happens, Teflon tends to break down and release a type of human-made acid into the air. Over long periods of exposure (say, your whole life being raised on food from these pans), studies have found links to cancers and other health concerns. If you really want to learn more about “non-stick” components check out the documentary called “The Devil We Know.” So what should we use instead? Cast-iron skillets are my favorite. They’re non-toxic, last forever, and actually add iron to your diet! A win-win-win!
AVOID CONVENTIONAL CLEANING PRODUCTS:
Lordy, this is where I would say that if you change just one thing in your home, this should be it. Conventional cleaning products are filled with harmful chemicals such as fragrances, phthalates, and bleach. While there are tons of non-toxic cleaners out there ready for you to purchase, you can always make your own at home with a little white vinegar, vodka, and essential oils (to smell pretty). With a combination of these 3 ingredients, homes have been cleaned for centuries. If it was good enough for grandma, it’s good enough for me!
ABANDON YOUR PLASTIC CONTAINERS:
Every time I open up my “Tupperware-like containers” cabinet it’s honestly like a plastic container jungle that falls out and about everywhere and I have no one to blame but past-me who thought it would be a fine idea to throw everything in haphazardly and hope for the best as I shut the cupboard. This is all avoidable by getting rid of plastic containers and instead opting for reusable glass containers. Beyond the decluttering capability of getting rid of these plastic containers, it’s also important for your health. These containers often are high in BPAs, which is a toxic chemical that has been found to easily leach into your food and water, especially if the container is heated. BPAs are especially harmful to your hormonal health. Since we’ve begun to know the adverse effects of BPA, many plastic containers are now bragging that they’re “BPA-free.” The problem with this is that we still don’t always know exactly what they’re made of. “BPA-free” could still very likely be BPS or BPF. These materials are replacing BPAs, yet are still considered just as, if not more, toxic than BPA. So what should you do to avoid the whole mess? Opt for glass. They’re more durable, they can be heated, and they remove the clutter obstacle in your cabinets. Again, if it was good enough for grandma, it’s good enough for me (I’m now thinking this should be the title of my entire blog series).
Happy de-cluttering, friends!