By Terri Bennett
(MCT)—The start of a new year can certainly be overwhelming. Most of us have a long list of all we want to accomplish in the next 12 months. If having a healthier home and healthier family tops yours, there are many ways to Do Your Part and get started. Here are five simple swaps that’ll have you living healthier and more environmentally conscious at the same time.
1. Make a Shower Curtain Switch
Polyvinyl chloride – or PVC – is a soft plastic used to make common household items such as vinyl shower curtains. The plasticizers in PVC are suspected of causing developmental delays, liver damage, and respiratory problems. Your best bet is to replace your vinyl shower curtains with ones labeled PVC-Free, made with a safer plastic known as EVA, or use a cotton or polyester shower curtain as a liner.
2. Swap out the Soap
Triclosan is the main ingredient found in many antibacterial hand soaps, gels, and body washes. And, it is believed to interfere with thyroid function. It’s also linked to the creation of “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotics. So what’s the smart alternative? Soap and water. Even the FDA says it “does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.”
3. Replace Certain Pots and Pans
Not all cookware is created equal. Many coated, non-stick pans can actually leach a chemical known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA _ especially if scratched. PFOA is linked to cancer and birth defects. Safer cookware choices include cast iron, ceramic, and stainless steel pots and pans.
4. Ditch Dirty Dry Cleaners
Conventional dry cleaners commonly use toxic chemicals to “clean” clothes. One of those chemicals is perchloroethylene or Perc, which is linked to everything from headaches to organ damage. Safer solutions include choosing items that don’t require dry cleaning, switching to a green dry cleaner, or at least letting your traditionally cleaned clothes air out before you hang them in your closet.
5. Select Safer Cleaners
The scary thing about some chemical based cleaners is that their ingredients are not even required to be on the label. And those ingredients are some of the main sources of air pollution right inside our own homes. Swap out those cleaners for non-toxic ones that are also dirt cheap. Baking soda is a powerful non-abrasive cleanser. White vinegar is an all-natural disinfectant and effective at killing viruses like the flu on most surfaces. And hydrogen peroxide works in place of chlorine bleach to kill bacteria like salmonella and mold.
These simple swaps will help you jumpstart your New Year’s resolutions and Do Your Part for our planet, too.
Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living” available at DoYourPart.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distributed by MCT Information Services.
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