4 Switch to concentrates. Concentrated detergents translate to less energy used in shipping, less waste and more value.
4 Stop static cling without dryer sheets. Never over-dry clothes and al- ways dry natural fibers separately from synthetics to prevent static cling.
Bathroom The smallest room in the house is a disproportionately large contributor to household environmental impacts. In an average non-conservation-minded American home, 38,000 gallons of water annually go down the drains and toilet. “Along with that water,” says MacEachern, “You’ll be washing lots of personal care and cleaning products down the drain, as well, where they could get into local natural water sup- plies and make life difficult for birds, frogs and fish.” Sara Snow, television host and
author of Sara Snow’s Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home, cautions against personal skin care products with questionable chemical ingredients. “A good percentage of them are being absorbed right into our bloodstream, so focus on ingredients that do no harm; ones that help our bodies instead, such as nourishing and healing botanicals.”
4 Slow the flow. Ultra-efficient show- erheads use as little as 1 gallon per minute (gpm); aerated types that mix air into the water stream to enhance pressure provide a good soak and rinse using less than half the water than some other low-flow showerheads. At the sink, aerators should flow between 0.5 and 1 gpm—plenty of pressure for brushing teeth and washing hands.
4 Flush responsibly. According to the EPA, the toilet alone can use 27 percent of household water. Replace older toilets (pre-1994) with new, higher ef-
ficiency models for savings of two to six gallons per flush.
4 Heat water wisely. A tankless water heater supplies instantaneous hot water only as needed. Or, install a timer on a traditional water heater to cut warming time to a few hours a day at most.
4 Shun a plastic shower curtain. Poly- vinyl chloride (PVC) has been called “the poison plastic” for its highly toxic lifecycle, which includes the release of dioxins into the air and water. These toxic chemicals persist in ecosystems and can cause cancer. PVC shower curtains are also a short-life product that cannot be re- cycled, so switch to a PVC-free alterna- tive. Organic hemp is the eco-shower curtain gold standard.
4 Ban antibacterial products. Triclo- san is a popular antibacterial agent found in many household cleaners, hand soaps, cosmetics and even toothpaste. It’s also a registered pesti- cide and probable human carcinogen that’s showing up in the environment and children’s urine. The Mayo Clinic suggests that triclosan may contribute to the development of antibiotic- resistant germs and harm the immune system, making us more susceptible to bacteria.
4 Install a shower filter that removes chlorine. Chlorine, which is increas- ingly being linked to some cancers, is used by many municipalities to disinfect water supplies. People absorb more chlorine through the skin and by inhaling chlorine vapors when bathing and showering than from drinking it.
4 Use recycled and unbleached paper products. Using recycled bath tissue helps close the recycling loop on all the paper we dutifully recycle at the curb. Unbleached varieties keep chlorine byproducts like dioxins out of the environment.
4 Remove bad odors instead of cover- ing them up. In a University of Califor- nia study, chemical air fresheners were found to have higher concentrations of polluting volatile organic compounds (VOC) than any other household cleaning product. Long-term exposure to some VOCs have been linked with adverse health effects.
This Natural Awakenings checklist sug- gests steps that are possible in making any home healthier, safer and more enjoyable. Start checking off items today and begin shrinking the family’s ecological footprint right away.
Crissy Trask is the founder of Green Matters.com
and author of the bestsell- ing, It’s Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living. Follow her at Twitter.com/greenmatters
Urban composting solution BokashiComposting.com
Toxins in consumer products Toxipedia.org
Eco-water filters Brita.com/your-brita/recycle-your-filter BritishBerkefeld.com TerraFlo.com/recycle.htm
Textile certifications Tinyurl.com/7wd9vlr
PVC fact sheet MyHouseIsYourHouse.org/pvcfacts
Radiation exposure facts epa.gov/radtown/index.html
Safe cosmetics and personal care products ewg.org/skindeep
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