Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guidelines for Eco-friendly and Healthful Purchasing Choices


  • Replace products that are made from petrochemicals with products that are made with natural, non-hazardous and preferably renewable products. For example, use bamboo flooring that is finished with natural wax and Tung or Linseed Oil, and purchase natural paints, lime plasters and cork floors.
  • Purchase raw materials near production site to save on transportation expense and fuel waste.
  • Purchase materials that were processed using renewable energy.
  • Extend product life by reuse and recycling of components.
  • Recycle waste to become ingredients in other products. Called "biomimicry", it is the manufacturing process that takes one product and turns it into something else. For example, carpets that are made from recycled plastic bottles, paints that are made from vegetable extracts, tiles that are made from ceramic waste and rubber flooring that is made from recycled tires.
  • Support companies that employ safe and clean methods to produce product or who use recycled products.
  • Support companies that sell healthy, organic, sustainable products.
  • Support companies that engage in fair-trade and good wages for employees and a safe and fair work environment.*

* Not related to green living, but relates to conscious living.


  • Purchase from companies that pollute.
  • Purchase from companies that sell toxic or otherwise unsafe products.
  • Purchase from companies that do not support child-labor laws.*
  • Purchase from companies that practice unsafe or discriminatory working conditions or pay wages that do not constitute fair or livable conditions.*
  • Purchase from companies that use endangered wood or other unsustainable materials.

The following products cause pollution and should be avoided when possible:

  • Most commercial cleaning products and other household chemicals.
  • Garden pesticides.
  • Carpets glued with solvents, treated with fungicides and containing residual pesticides.
  • Fabrics treated with chlorine, benzene and/or formaldehyde.
  • Most plywood and particleboard, which contain formaldehyde, urea, and other dangerous glues.
  • Many paints and stains, which contain fungicides, volatile organic compounds (VOC's) and other chemicals.
  • Vinyl flooring, furniture, and plastics that contain VOC's such as bromides and chlorine.
  • Dry cleaning.
  • Underground oil tanks.
  • Electricity (While it's not feasible for most of us to eliminate electricity, there are ways—illustrated later in Harmonious Environment—to reduce your exposure to it.)

Excerpt from Harmonious Environment

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eliminate Harmful Goods and Replace them with Eco-Friendly Ones!

Virtually every object used in building your home and the objects within it—from the insulation in your house, your sofa, food storage containers, floor cleaners and even fabric softener—impacts both your health and the health of the planet. Unfortunately, in spite of the "all natural" or "safe" labels that are included on some of these products, many of them are unhealthy. This chapter will help you to identify what poses a risk and will introduce safe alternatives for you to consider.

The good news is that concurrent with growing consumer awareness of the dangers in ordinary household objects is an increase in the availability of environmentally-friendly and human-healthy choices as manufacturers acknowledge and try to meet this burgeoning market.

Nowhere has the impact of the average consumer been greater than in the food industry fueling the rise in the availability of organic food. Organic retail sales have grown an astonishing twenty percent per year since 1990—compared with an increase of between two and four percent of total food sales in United States.

As desire for organic food grows, so does the demand for healthful products of all kinds. Even though the major manufacturers are aware that there is a demand for healthful products, the vast majority of them are still not offering them. Although many businesses appear to be providing environmentally-friendly and healthful products; beware of the company that advertises its product with terms that are unregulated—such as "natural". "Natural," when used to describe shampoo, is usually a complete misnomer—the shampoo is still filled with synthetic chemicals and might contain only minute amounts of truly natural ingredients, such as jojoba or honey.

In addition, the government has historically allowed unsafe products to be sold as safe in this country. The use of lead is a great example. In 1909, eight European countries banned the use of white lead for interior painting. It took half a century for the United States to catch up—lead was not banned in paint and gasoline in this country until the 1970's and 1980's respectively.

Today, there are still thousands of toxic products being sold. To exacerbate the problem, manufacturers continue to pollute our air, water and land. There is no way to avoid all contamination while living on earth, but this chapter provides practical information and tips to help protect you from excessive exposure to the variety of pollutants that most of us are subjected to.

In addition to providing tips on how and what to purchase to live in an environment free from toxins that are made from cheap, unsustainable methods, this chapter explains how to eliminate nearly all pollutants from your home. You may be shocked with the discovery that many seemingly harmless household products contain dangerous chemicals. However, most of these products can be easily removed and replaced and some will lose their toxicity over time, so you needn't panic and think everything in your house must be replaced. For example, freshly installed wall-to-wall carpeting emits toxic gases into the environment; however, carpeting stops outgassing six months to a year following installation. Another example would be if you have painted your walls with paint containing volatile organic compounds (VOC's)—the damage is already done, the paint stops outgassing and you may as well wait until the next time to use an eco-friendly paint.