You’re making your best effort to cook ethical meals and run a sustainable household – but the tools that are helping you do all this could be causing more harm than good.
We often buy our routine household products without a second thought, trusting that they’re safe to use. However, certain everyday items contain hidden dangers that might be detrimental to both your health and the environment.
We’ve listed a few key things to look out for and suggested some easy alternatives that are much friendlier for you and the planet.
1. Air fresheners
Marketed as a quick and simple fix for unpleasant smells, air fresheners and sprays could be turning your home into a toxic environment. The same ingredients that help to hide strong smells may have detrimental consequences for your health.
Products that contain phalates, formaldehyde, and other chemical pollutants are the worst offenders, and can combine with other particles in the atmosphere to put you at risk of respiratory and reproductive problems.
Instead… Trust nature to help you freshen your house. Swap the chemicals for for essential oils and natural candles.
2. Household cleaners (especially those used for ovens and toilets)
Commercial household cleaning products might be effective when it comes to tackling dirt and stains, but those strong chemicals can be incredibly hard on your body and the environment.
Some products (especially those designed to clean the oven or the toilet) contain corrosive ingredients such as ammonia, bleach, hypochlorite, and lye. They can burn your skin and your eyes, as well as harm your respiratory and digestive system if ingested.
Unsurprisingly, these ingredients can have a similar effect on plants, animals, and marine life when they are flushed out of your home and into the environment.
Instead… While it might take a little extra elbow grease, using a homemade solution containing baking soda and distilled vinegar can help you get your home looking just as spotless but while being a whole lot kinder to your body and the world.
3. Antibacterial soaps and cleaners
When we’re shopping for soap and cleaning products, ‘antibacterial’ might seem like a helpful quality that promises to help stop us from getting ill – but if you see it on the shelves, it should actually raise alarm bells.
Most antibacterial products contain triclosan, which is a chemical that can cause problems on all sorts of levels. Studies have shown that it can alter hormone function in animals, disrupt the photosynthesis process in algae, and and harm other marine life.
Some argue that it can be directly harmful for humans too, as it can trigger mutations in bacteria that stops them from responding to antibiotics, meaning we could become more vulnerable to illness and have less success at treating it.
Instead… Antibacterial soaps don’t actually offer any real gain in terms of cleanliness – you can get the same results with organic soap and water. When it comes to cleaning products, swap antibacterial for natural alternatives such as baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil, and lemon juice.
4. Non-stick pots and pans
If you regularly use non-stick pots and pans, the convenience of an easier dishwashing routine could be causing you major health problems in the long run.
Many non-stick cookware products are made using polytetrafluoroethylene within the coating, which has been linked to cancer in animal studies. When cooking, it can get into your food, putting you at risk of ingesting it directly (especially if your cookware is a little bit scratched or damaged).
Instead… Go back to the classics and use steel or cast iron pots and pans with sustainable cooking oil (such as avocado or coconut).
5. Plastic food containers
We’re totally on board with vegan meal prep and saving your leftovers – as long as you’re mindful about the equipment you’re using to keep it fresh.
Plastic containers can leak hormones and chemicals into your food (especially when you heat them up). These phalates can cause or contribute to serious health problems, such as asthma, reproductive issues, thyroid conditions, and diabetes.
Instead… They might be a little bit heavier in your bag, but glass or stainless steel containers are far better for your health. And, of course, anything that isn’t plastic is usually friendlier for the environment, too.
By making a few simple swaps, you can help to take your home to an all-new level of sustainability, as well as protect yourself from potentially harmful toxins that are hiding in those everyday products. For more ethical swaps, check out our guide to creating a natural beauty regime.