It’s Enviro-Mama Thursday, and today I’m talking toxins. As in, avoiding them, because they’re icky and many can actually have serious health effects.
Avoiding toxins isn’t easy. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible. One study by the Environmental Working Group found that cord blood samples from newborn babies contained, on average, 287 toxins. These chemicals include fire retardants, pesticides, mercury and Teflon. I doubt that the mothers of these babies spent their pregnancies huffing chemicals inside a paint factory. This is just what their bodies contained from day-to-day living. Toxic chemicals are also found in human breast milk. Toxins are all around us, and they are going to end up inside our bodies.
Knowing that I’m carrying toxic chemicals around in my body, and so are my kids, I’m determined not to add any more to the load than is absolutely necessary. But where to start? On my podcast, I’ve interviewed lots of other enviro mamas. I thought I’d share some tips I’ve gathered from chatting with some of my favourite green folks.
Locally-grown, organic apricots, are my version of non-toxic eating
Eight Tips for Avoiding Toxins from Other Enviro-Mamas
- Bridgitte Alomes – Bridgitte owns Natural Pod, a company that manufactures and sells natural, open-ended toys, and creates imaginative play spaces. Here’s what she had to say about choosing safer toys: “Not all wooden toys are created equal. You can have a wooden product, but if it’s heavily varnished with a laquer and very brightly-coloured paint it has the same effects as plastic. Parents are now asking very educated questions. Where did this come from? Who made it? Is it safe for my child from a health perspective?”
- Suzanne Bertani – Suzanne is a super-cool mama who lives in my own neighbourhood. She also owns Green Planet Parties. Here’s her tip for making your celebrations less toxic: “Loot bag items are traditionally the most famous for being environmentally-unfriendly, and also quite toxic. If you look at traditional dollar store loot bags, the things that are in there could be toxic for the children to be playing with or touching. So we choose quality over quantity. With the loot bags, make it one or two carefully-chosen items instead of giving 10.”
- Tamara Champion – Tamara owns ByNature.ca, an online retailer of natural products for families. She shared this tip for reducing the number of toxins you use: “Start reading. Start learning. There’s a number of Canadian authors who have written fabulous books. Start there, and see what changes you can make in your life.”
- Deanna Duke – Deanna is the author of The Non-Toxic Avenger, a book that chronicles her effort to reduce her own toxic load. Here’s what she had to say about easy ways to eliminate toxins: “The easy, low-hanging fruit is really switching out your personal care products. All your cleaners, and all of the soaps and detergents that you use, as well as make-up and lotions and that kind of thing, you can really address those things pretty easily. With the big things, as they wear out and need to be replaced, you can look for non-toxic versions.”
- Katy Farber – Katy is a mom, writer and blogger at Non-Toxic Kids. She shared her tips for non-toxic eating: “Take your knowledge of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 with you in your mind – or print it out, because that’s a lot to remember – and think about it. If it’s something that’s on the clean 15 we know that it’s less likely to carry a heavy pesticide load. If you’re buying peaches, we know that peaches carry such a high pesticide load, it’s important to buy organic.”
- Anna Hackman – Anna blogs at Green Talk, and she’s also a green building expert. She had this tip to share about choosing furniture and home decor: “You have to look at the sofas you’re bringing in, the tables you’re bringing in, the draperies. Those things are laden with chemicals. That nice smell? Those are chemicals off-gassing. There’s a lot of things like formaldehyde, chemicals in the drapes, there’s a lot of things that people don’t realize they’re bringing in.”
- Selina Robinson – Selina is a City Councillor in my hometown. She spear-headed the local effort to ban cosmetic pesticide use. Here’s what she had to say about her work: “I really wanted to have a cosmetic pesticide ban in our community. I came to this because my husband’s master’s degree was on the effects of pesticide exposure on tree-planters. I learned a whole lot about pesticide exposure and the impact it had. It’s just appalling. It became clear to us that pesticides are bad for you, and you don’t want to be exposed to them.”
- Jen Williams – Jen owns Dress Me Up Organic, a line of organic and natural baby toys and gear. She also has a background in environmental science. She had this to say about avoiding toxins when you’re buying a toy: “Look at the tags. Usually there’s a big tag that says what the product is made of. All products have to say where they’re made. I would also say that I’m quite conscious of dyes, so you can do a bit of research on a product. A lot of people have it on their packaging, what kind of dyes they use.”
What about you – how do you reduce your own family’s exposure to toxins?
I was inspired to write this post by Lori at Groovy Green Livin. She’s hosting the Green Moms Carnival this month, about reducing the number of toxins in our homes. Check out her post, Green Moms Unite to Talk About Toxic Chemicals, to read a whole lot more great tips, ideas and suggestions.