4 Easy, Healthy, Eco-Friendly Changes You Can Make in Your Home Today

Changes You Can Make in Your Home Today

I’m always asking myself how we can be more health-conscious and eco-friendly in our home. Lately, I’ve made four switches that make me feel a lot better – I hope you will jump on that bandwagon, too!

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My motto is this: If you use something every single day, it needs to be guilt-free. Knowing what I know about antiperspirants and the dangers of aluminum, parabens, and other common ingredients, I stopped using antiperspirant years ago. I always thought it was unnatural to use something that actually blocked the flow of sweat when that is something our bodies do for a reason.

However, even the deodorant I had used for years (Arm & Hammer Essentials Deodorant) wasn’t as clean as I wanted it to be.

My favorite Native scent is Coconut & Vanilla – Smells like a tropical vacation 🙂

I recently made the switch to Native, a deodorant free of all of these awful ingredients that actually works… and for 24 hours! If, like me, you are concerned about the rise of breast cancer (1 out of 8 US women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime), make the switch. You won’t regret it.


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Why make the switch? Wooden toys are safe from harmful chemicals that our young kiddos are especially sensitive to. Our infants and toddlers don’t just play with these toys, they nibble, bite, and chew them – plastic toys often contain phthalates, BPA, or PVC, all dangerous chemicals that mimic or suppress normal hormone regulation and have been linked to problems related to early puberty, obesity, and cancer. Many traditional toys have been recalled in the past due to lead – lead ingestion can lead to brain and learning disabilities.

Why worry about these things? I’d rather be confident that what I am buying for my child is safe and chemical-free.

What I also love about wooden toys is that they tend to foster imagination – no need for batteries, electricity, or software. They are often educational, engage a child’s imagination, and encourage creative open ended play. The kind of play that helps them develop many cognitive skills. These toys are also durable and lasting – they will survive many years of use and abuse! Financially, they are a true investment – you will most likely have them for decades.

Two of my favorite brands are Dragon Drew and Santoys (pictured above).

  • Dragon Drew products are made up of 100% real wood and comply with all international toy safety standards. Their toys are made from renewable resources with non-toxic paints for safe play. I love their pretend play sets, like their doctor kit, toiletry set, and breakfast playset. I mean, seriously… how cute are they?
  • Santoys build 100% of our products within their own factory in Thailand. Their toys are made of replenishable rubber wood, an eco-friendly, sustainable, and high quality wood. Santoys uses strict production techniques to ensure high quality and safe wooden toys. Some of my favorites are their Super Carrier Lorry, Portable Builder Workbench, and Velcro Cutting Food Pretend Play.

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Although dryer sheets work extremely well to soften clothing and reduce static, they can contain hundreds of unlabeled, untested chemicals that come into direct contact with the body on a 24/7 basis. And as if that wasn’t enough, dryer sheets are awful for the environment.

Want to make the switch? I recently discovered the brand Friendsheep on Amazon. Their fabric softener wool balls are individually hand felted with 100% premium organic New Zealand wool, and then sun dried.

Their dryer balls are organic, contain no fillers or additives, and shorten drying time by up to 40% (they absorb up to 30% of their weight in water!) saving you time, energy, and money. They are environmentally friendly, hypoallergenic, chemical and fragrance free. You get so much more  for your money – they are reusable (last for thousands of loads!), safe, and biodegradable. For a fresh scent, you can add 3-5 drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender for the win!) so your laundry always smells fresh and clean 🙂

* If $23.95 for 6 wool dryer balls is a little steep for your budget right now, I recommend the brand Delana. Their packs come in sets of 5 wool dryer balls for $10.49!

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I want to stop using as much plastic but find it daunting to entirely eliminate it at once. One solution I found is to stop buying cases of plastic bottles and solely use a reusable water bottle. Here are a few reasons to stop buying and using so much plastic (source):

  1. Most plastic is made from fossil fuels like oil and natural gas, which release toxic emissions when extracted from the earth.
  2. Petrochemical plants pollute communities and harms workers.
  3. Plastics contain additives that can offgas and contaminate the air in our homes and other personal spaces.
  4. Plastics release hazardous emissions when burned.
  5. Plastic recycling can be hazardous to communities and workers.

Plastic is bad for our air. Bad for our oceans. Bad for our planet.

Bad for our kids.

I did quite a bit of research on the dangers of plastic, and what hit me hard is that plastic bottles take on average 450 to 1,000 years to fully decompose. That means that all of the plastic that has been created in our lifetimes is still around, on land or in our oceans. How horrible is that? So if, like us, you’d like to reduce your family’s plastic consumption, get a water dispenser and a reusable water bottle. I bought mine at TJ Maxx (under $7) and even got my two-year-old a little one at Target.

Click here for tips on how you can reduce your everyday plastic waste!


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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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