Those who follow Daily Grommet know that we're always on the lookout for widgets, gadgets, and gizmos that make our lives easier. We're especially keen on handy guides -- and that's exactly what we found in Lindsey Carmichael's book Greening Your Family (Peter E. Randall, 2009).
Lindsey, who has her masters in public health, got a firsthand education in ridding her home of harmful chemicals and toxins in her efforts to help her son Liam fight asthma. She knows this is serious business, and if you've ever worried about the lengthy ingredient lists on your shampoo and cleaning supplies, you'll love that she gets down to business quickly. Her chapters, covering all sorts of food, personal care, and cleaning products, offer easy-to-read charts of "ingredients to avoid" and "safe products." Good thing the book is compact because you'll want it in your purse the next time you go shopping.
For example, here's her list of safe all-purpose kitchen cleaners that are free of synthetic chemicals with known links to health problems:
- Biokleen Super Concentrated All Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser
- Bon Ami Cleaning Powder
- Citra-solv Conentrate or Ready-to-Use
- Earth Friendly Products Parsley Plus All Purpose Kleener
- Ecover All Purpose Cleaner
- Method All Purpose Cleaner
- Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner (previously featured on Daily Grommet!)
- Planet All Purpose Spray Cleaner
- Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose Cleaner
- Shaklee Basic H2 Organic Sugar Super Cleaning Concentrate
Of course, if you'd rather make your own, Lindsey has suggestions for that, too: White distilled vinegar is an excellent antibacterial and antifungal, she explains. Mix with a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle, and you'll find it does the job and only leaves your preferred scent behind.
Grommet Interview with Lindsey Carmichael, MPH, author of Greening Your Family
Your book makes it so easy to find safe products, but of course, sometimes it's actually a little hard to part with products we know and love around the house. What, in your opinion, are the worst offenders? What should get tossed first?
No doubt we all have some favorite products that are tough to part with. I would first evaluate the products that are used and consumed by children, and let that guide the ‘tossing’ decisions. I would start by filtering my water, swapping the family’s most popular produce for organic varieties, and I would opt for hormone and antibiotic free dairy and meat products. Next I would eliminate personal care products that contain phthalates (often disguised as the word fragrance) and parabens. Lastly, ditch those conventional brands of dryer sheets! They contain truly terrible stuff (ingredients that are known neurotoxins and carcinogens)! There are some safe brands of both fabric softener and dryer sheets, so it is possible to have our clothes smell good, without compromising our health.
How has going green affected your family's health? Any big changes?
The change has been significant. I buy totally different brands of products today than I did five years ago. We are members of a local CSA (Community Supported Agricultural Farm), which has had a great impact on the volume and variety of produce that we consume. I am confident the air quality in our house is significantly better than it was when I used conventional cleaning products and stored various toxic things in the house. My son’s asthma is greatly improved, and collectively we eat better than we ever have. If it’s true that you are what you eat, I feel pretty good about where we are today! We are all very healthy.
There's a great chart in the book showing produce items and their pesticide load. Avocado and onions had the lowest levels, which seems to make guacamole the world's healthiest food. What are some of your favorite healthy, low-tox things to make for your family?
Tonight we’re having vegetarian burritos with plain organic yogurt and organic salsa. Other healthy family favorites for this time of year include chicken curry over brown rice, fish chowder (with a tomato base), baked fish, and chicken or blackened shrimp Caesar salad on organic romaine.
Visit Lindsey's blog at www.lindseycarmichael.net
You can buy Greening Your Family here, or you could win a copy by posting a comment today. The contest will remain open until 9pm and we’ll use Random.org to pick a winner. What are you waiting for?
General contest rules: To enter, you must be a U. S. resident, and at least 18 years of age. No purchase necessary. The winners will be randomly selected by Daily Grommet and we will select one person to win a CD for every 20 people who comment (one entry per person). Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. Void where prohibited. Contest will run from 10am through 9pm ET, December 10, 2009.
Now that you're in a green mood, browse the rest of our green and eco-living Grommets here.