By Tammy Woeppel
We have so much information about health all around us. We start our days with lemon water and green smoothies, we all know to exercise on a regular basis, we turn to yoga and acupuncture just as much as we turn to medical doctors. There are no shortage of restaurants where we can find an organic, non-gmo, seasonal farm-to-table menu sourced with local, fresh ingredients through small-farmer cooperatives. Skincare and toiletries have seen massive growth over the last several years with demand for clean, non-toxic ingredients skyrocketing as people realize that it's not just what we ingest, but what we slather on and absorb through our skin. But one thing people rarely think about is the toxicity of their actual homes and everything we put in it, from the materials used to construct it to the throw pillows we casually toss on the sofa.
I recently made the switch to organic pillows (I plan to purchase the mattresses for our family once we make our next move), and I also had our sofa upholstered in organic fabric, so I've initiated the process to 'green' up our house a bit more now that I have a good system in place with non-toxic cleaning products (vinegar and water on #repeat). However, after reading this series in the Chicago Tribune, it was really eye-opening (and downright alarming!) to realize how prevalent these heavy-duty chemicals are in our everyday lives and especially those of our little ones.
So, how is a busy family with a budget supposed to combat this? Well, we can only do what we can do and it's definitely overwhelming to try and make every change at once. I'm a big fan of starting small and working your way up to bigger overhauls and that's what I'm currently working on.
For starters, you can shop for non-toxic products such as low VOC paints or sustainable wood furniture, but this is obviously very limiting. Without the demand though, companies won't produce it so it's good to always ask and put the request out there! Another tip is to purchase a floor model or vintage pieces that have already had the opportunity to offgas (ie, release a chemical gas that was dissolved, trapped, frozen, absorbed or adsorbed in some material)- in other words, it has already 'aired out'. Considering vintage dressers make the cutest changing tables, this is a great option when decorating that nursery for your little one.
As I mentioned previously, one swap I made was our pillows. Around the same time that I started educating myself more on this subject, a friend and her husband happened to start a 'clean' mattress company, Avocado Green Mattress, and I'm seriously so proud of what they're doing. From their responsible sourcing of non-toxic raw materials like latex, wool, and organic cotton to their made-to-order model to their super-competitive pricing (their most expensive california king mattress is only $2199 including an additional pillow-top), they just got.it.right. and if you look at the reviews, you'll see that a LOT of their customers would agree. I highly recommend reading this for in-depth information on why it's so important to sleep on an eco-friendly mattress.
Another company that has become my first stop when looking for fabric is Two Sisters Eco-Textiles. I originally contacted them when we were sourcing for NONA but I ended up loving them for all my home fabrics (they sell apparel, drapery, and uphosltery fabrics as well as my new go-to housewarming gifts, these adorable napkins and tea towels)! Their customer service has been on point, and the owners are all about helping, even if it means sending you somewhere else to get what you want. They are clearly passionate about educating consumers and ultimately offering safe products with a transparent process.
So, it's a start. I still have a long way to go- this is just the tip of the iceberg. But, knowledge is power and living clean isn't a trend that is going anywhere. I hope that green construction and home furnishings is a category that will continue to grown like the skincare industry has, giving us consumers an easier way to provide safe spaces for our families.
Have you made any changes (big or small) to live a cleaner life? Would love to get inspired- leave us a comment below!