Green Home Consultants Central Falls RI
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Nurturing your own environment is the first step toward helping the planet.
If a damaged environment evokes only images of frightened polar bears floating on shrinking Arctic ice floes, consider the more local impact. An array of toxic household products means that it's too easy to damage the personal ecosystem housed within our own skin. So if a closer look at product labels in your house turns up a list of ingredients too difficult to pronounce, a green-home makeover may be in order.
Too daunting a prospect? "Take a step that you can do," suggests consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home (Tarcher/ Penguin). "Change the sheets on your kids' beds or try buying a bag of organic cookies. Just take one step, then another. You'll find that you will feel better. If you look at it as something that is really going to help your house in many ways, it becomes proactive, like taking vitamins."
Though "green" and "healthy" aren't always thought of as synonymous, they might as well be. What's bad for the environment often hurts our bodies, too. It's worth being vigilant. Of the 17,000 chemicals in common household products, only 3 in 10 have been tested for their effects on human health, says Beth Greer, a holistic health advocate who changed her lifestyle after being diagnosed with a benign chest tumor.
As with cosmetics makers, manufacturers of household cleaners are not required by the US Consumer Products Safety Commission to test their products before they appear on store shelves, observes Greer, author of Super Natural Home (Rodale), due out next month. Nor does the Environmental Protection Agency require chemical manufacturers to conduct human toxicity studies before approving their products.
If attaining good health isn't strong enough reason to ditch the chemicals, consider the economic cost of bad health. One local study showed that the costs of lead poisoning, asthma, childhood cancer and behavioral disorders such as autism and mental retardation resulting from exposure to toxic chemicals and other pollutants totaled $381 million just in the state of Maine.
Little wonder that green-home advocates remind consumers to read product labels carefully—and with a healthy bit of skepticism. "Natural," for example, is an undefined word that is unregulated by government authorities. To help navigate this uncertainty in your food and household product aisles, Dadd recommends shopping by the process of elimination: Find labels that indicate a product's toxicity, and avoid those items entirely.
Greer offers a couple of other litmus tests for whether a household product belongs in your healthy home. A strong odor and watery eyes are sure giveaways that what's inside that bottle belongs nowhere near your body or in the air or water you consume. And if the product you're using makes cleaning too easy, it's probably too harsh; even...