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  • DIY & Recipes, Healthy Home

    6 Natural Eucalyptus Decor Ideas

    home decor uses for eucalyptus

    Eucalyptus is beautiful, natural and easy to care for, making it one of my favorite plants to use for home decor. Best of all, once eucalyptus dries out, you can use it to decorate your living space for years to come!

    Why I love Eucalyptus

    Eucalyptus brings a fresh, new vibe to your home! The evergreen can last approximately three weeks if you cut the stems every few days and regularly change the water. Plus, not only does eucalyptus hold its leaves well, but it smells great too!

    Additionally, decorating your home with natural decor rather than artificial decor is healthier for your home too! Think about it… natural materials like plants, cotton, hemp, and so on all bio-degrade and are compostable. On the contrary, plastic creates microplastics further contaminating our soil and our bodies for generations to come! Plus, so much plastic is never actually able to be recycled.

    Home Decor Uses for Eucalyptus

    1. Eucalyptus Fireplace Decor

    Throughout the Christmas season, I typically place live cedar, pine or fir garland around my home. But, outside of the Christmas season, I’ve struggled to find garland to compliment my faux candles within my fireplace. Now, I use fresh eucalyptus to decorate the inside of my fireplace and it lasts all year long. For a clean green look, you can decorate your mantle with eucalyptus too! Scroll down to check out my fireplace decor.

    2. Eucalyptus Vase Decor

    One of the most common uses for eucalyptus is simply placing it in a vase. Create a serene bedroom scene, freshen up the bathroom, or brighten up the kitchen with some live eucalyptus. You can even use it in the bathroom. Endless possibilities, peopleeee! See examples below.

    3. Use Eucalyptus in the Shower

    The healing aromatic properties of this plant help you breath easier. Simply place a bundle in your shower and let the combination of steam and eucalyptus go to work! You can even hang it with some wire or twine.

    4. Eucalyptus Wreaths & Garland

    Eucalyptus wreaths and garland are naturally so pretty! Create your own eucalyptus wreaths by weaving the branches between the natural vines of a wreath similar to this one or use a metal wreath frame and use floral wire to attach the eucalyptus (see my example below). Garland can be created with twine or wire and placed throughout your home as well!

    5. Eucalyptus Centerpieces & Home Accents

    Earthy eucalyptus can be used to create a centerpiece on the dinner table, alongside candles on a shelf, or even tucked alongside a picture frame or wall art.

    6. Eucalyptus as a Natural Bug Repellent

    Spiders, mosquitoes and other bugs aren’t big fans of eucalyptol which is found in eucalyptus oil. Place the evergreen around your home, in corners, or cabinets to ward off insects.

    diy eucalyptus
    DIY fresh eucalyptus garland in my fireplace.
    My DIY eucalyptus wreath. This was actually a lot easier than I expected!
    DIY fresh eucalyptus in a vase.

    Keep in mind…

    Eucalyptus can be toxic to pets, so place it out of their reach. I’ve always used live eucalyptus to decorate my home and while my dog has zero intentions of eating it, every pet is different!

    Disclosure: This post may contain “affiliate links.” Regardless, we only recommend products or services that have extensively researched; and products that we use personally, have used and would use in the future. We pride ourselves on honesty and integrity to our readers.

    Full Disclaimer and Disclosure here.

  • Clean Living, Healthy Home

    Helpful Environmental Websites To Consider When Moving To A New Home

    Neighborhood environments where we live have a significant impact on our overall health. Below is a guide of helpful websites you may want to consider as you search for your new home!

    Envirofacts, part of the EPA website, is a great website to learn about where you live (or where you would like to live!) You simply enter your address, city, or zip code and can view information related to the quality of air, water, land, radiation, waste, and other toxins of the area.

    Antenna Search is a great resource for locating antennas, towers, and future towers in the area.

    Home Facts is a website where you can view schools in your area, sex offenders, environmental hazards, property assessments, population information and other relative home info.

    EPA Water Quality Standards (State Specific) provides water quality standards that EPA has approved or are otherwise in effect for Clean Water Act purposes.  This compilation is continuously updated as EPA approves new or revised WQS.

    EWG Tap Water Database Tool is a helpful tool you can use to access what contaminates and chemicals linger in your water supply. Simply type in your zip code.

    RadNet Database provides near real time radiation exposure.

    Drilling Maps is where you can view oil and gas drilling locations throughout the area.

    Power Plants Map – Health, Safety, Pollution Issues is a website dedicated to creating awareness of various illnesses potentially caused by living in close proximity to power stations (gas, oil, coal, nuclear).

    Power Reactor Map shows a map of the national nuclear power reactors.

    National Pipeline is where you can see maps of pipelines in the area.

    EPA Superfund Map shows where superfunds are located nationwide as well as a map of the current related cleanup.

    Toxic Sites maps out superfunds nationwide.

    FloodFactor is a site where you can view current and past flood risks.

    PFAS Contamination in Water Systems Map provides information as to where PFAS have contaminated public and private water supplies.

    Carcinogen 1, 4 Dioxane Map shows where the chemical has spread via water systems nationwide.

    USA Military Base Guide provides locations of bases.

    Organic, Non-GMO Report – Glyphosate includes the first map that shows global hotspots of glyphosate contamination.

    Upstream Reports is a website where you can view environmental quality information surrounding your home and assess how hazardous it may be.

    Good Guide Chemical Profiles is a tool to help guide consumers to more informed buying decisions (the website is offline for now, but a good resource when they resurface).

  • Babies & Kids, Clean Living, Healthy Home

    Lead Testing MY Stuff with Tamara Rubin!

    lead testing household goods

    Tamara Rubin is more than just a “Lead Safe Mama”. She is an environmental activist, documentary filmmaker, and a mother like so many of us. Her children were poisoned in their own home by a contractor who did not follow the EPA’s Guide to Lead Safe Work Practices. Since then, Tamara began speaking out and has become an advocate for childhood lead poisoning prevention. Her advocacy work has been nationally and internationally recognized by numerous media outlets including CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, The New York Times, and many others. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including two from the federal government during the National Healthy Homes Conferences in both 2011 and 2014. Tamara Rubin is the real deal – a true advocate for lead prevention.

    I know what you might be thinking…

    “My kid isn’t going to eat lead paint chips.”

    “I live in a brand new home with no concerns for old lead paint.”

    “I clean my house religiously, so there is zero chance of lead dust.”

    Well, unfortunately, lead is much more common than we all may think. And it isn’t just paint chips that you have to worry about. Lead in small amounts, created by dust or fumes you cannot see, is enough to poison a child.

    The legal allowable amount of lead in children’s toys is 90 ppm (parts per million) although many people believe this should be lower. Surprisingly, plates, cups, and other household items all can contain toxic amounts of lead that cause irreversible brain damage, health impairments, memory loss, and so much more. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “There is no known ‘safe’ blood lead concentration; As lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases.” So then, why is it legal for a plate to contain 20,000 ppm of lead?

    As a part of Tamara’s advocacy work, she recently embarked on a cross-country ‘tour’, visiting families who wanted to learn more about lead in consumer goods and even toys (gasp!). I met Tamara back in 2019, at a ‘lead testing party’, and again this August, when she tested items in my home with a Niton XRF Device (in consumer goods mode). This device tests for lead, cadmium, and antimony, in addition to other heavy metals like mercury and arsenic. Cadmium is a known carcinogen and antimony causes cancer in rats and although not enough studies have been done on humans, it is a suspected carcinogen.

    Here are the results of my testing:

    We were gifted this set in 2015 at our Bridal Shower. Lead shouldn’t be present in anything you use with food, and this amount is especially alarming. I actually contacted Bed, Bath and Beyond and they refunded me for the item.
    18,000 ppm of lead in the support posts and over 1,000 ppm of lead in the chain. Galvanized steel is notoriously leaded. We did paint the fence which acts as a bandaid for now, but, I cannot wait until we nix the fence next year!
    My mom loved these plates… 20,900 ppm of lead. Stacking plates with this amount of lead can create lead dust that can contaminate your food and cause irreversible damage.
    This bathroom tray tested lead-free, but contained 171 Barium (the limit of Barium allowed in drinking water is 2 ppm).
    This bell was my late grandma’s and my daughter has always wanted to play with it. Nope! 400,000 ppm is creating dust as it sits on the shelf and can poison a child. I returned this to my parents since it was meaningful to them.
    Tamara tested the old, original 1950’s trim in our kitchen. It tested as 292 ppm of lead over the new white coat of paint. In a place where the paint was chipped, the XRF device showed 786 ppm.
    This gutter was tested in two areas: one where painted was chipped a bit (216 ppm) and another area where it wasn’t chipped (189 ppm). Tamara said to keep an eye on it and make sure the paint doesn’t chip further.
    Our original 1950’s kitchen cabinets had 4,682 ppm on the bare wood and 1,500 ppm on the painted surface. This is not a safe level to have in the kitchen, especially if the paint is chipping or if the cabinet doors rub. Check back for my post on these cabinets and my mini “lead SAFER” remodel (which will suffice until we can gut the kitchen next year!)
    800 ppm of lead in these baseboards. We tested several and I’d say 800 ppm of lead seems to be the average for the baseboards. All of the baseboards tested were original to the home. The new baseboards did not contain any lead.
    It’s hard to find a lead-free mug so usually I stick with the clear glass ones, which have become my favorite! But, I had Tamara test this Baum mug and plate from Bed, Bath, and Beyond circa 2015 and surprisingly they were both lead-free!
    2020 White Corelle Plate was lead-free as expected. Corelle said to use their vintage plates prior to 2000 as decorative pieces due to lead contamination.
    We always use these forks and spoons in our home, so I wanted to test them just to be sure! They are made from 18/10 stainless steel and are lead-free as expected. Purchased in 2015 from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
    New ceramic bathroom wall tile made by Florida Tile was also lead-free!
    Tamara tested our Baldwin front door knobs from the Home Depot (stock image pictured). The interior knobs had lower lead levels while the exterior handle had extremely high levels. Tamara said the more expensive an item is, the more likely it is to have lead. Unfortunately, I don’t have the exact number noted, but I believe it was in the 800s for the exterior and 200 for the interior.
    GoSili Silicone Straw was lead-free! Cadmium was not at a level for concern either. Win, win!
    Prior to my knowledge about flooring and vinyl, we used this to replace old flooring in a corner of our home. I still don’t like that it is vinyl, but at least it is lead-free!
    Melissa and Doug did have a lead recall in the mid-2000s, and I was curious about their scratch art book, but I was happy to learn it tested lead-free.
    Meters are notorious for being high in lead. Ours was recently replaced and tested lead-free.
    Libbey glass cup tested lead-free.
    I really liked this planter and recently purchased it, so when I saw the amount of lead (487 ppm) it contained, I was a bitttt upset! Needless to say this planter is no longer on our kitchen table. I did end up keeping it, but I am sure to keep the area clean and out of reach of my little one.
    2,570 ppm lead and 1,300 antimony. Both are toxic although studies
    for antimony have only been done on rats. It is a known carcinogen. This amount of lead is way too high to be used in a dinner plate!
    This Mikasa plate had low lead (60 ppm) on the food surface, but high lead (2,600) on the logo. Tamara said, it is probably OK for occasional use.
    Vintage LED Christmas Tree from 1970s? 93,000 ppm of lead! I loved this thing, but unfortunately I had to get rid of it especially since my daughter was drawn to it. Children should absolutely not be playing with anything that has lead levels this high!
    My daughter’s stainless and silicone Pura Kiki uninsulated water bottle tested lead-free! This is a great non-toxic choice for your little one and it holds up great!
    This was my husband’s late grandmother’s. It has an iridescent finish and contains 82,000 ppm of lead. Given that this is a meaningful piece to my husband, we keep this angel in a ziplock bag, out of my daughter’s sight. 82,000 ppm is nothing to play with!
    To everyone’s surprise, this crystal duck was lead-free… until Tamara tested the eyeball. The crystal eyeball contained 3,256 ppm of lead! Worst of all, one of the eyes was missing so that means it could have been picked up and put in the mouth of my daughter! Luckily, we know it was missing prior to us living in our home, but still! Things like this do happen!
    This Hammock Stand purchased from Amazon in 2018, tested lead-free. It is made from a powder coated steel (although I am not sure what kind of steel).
    This Hersey’s Candy Jar contains 2,300 ppm of lead. Even though the candy inside would be wrapped, I wasn’t willing to risk it and definitely didn’t want my kiddo touching it!
    This planter was purchased in the summer of 2020 from the Home Depot. It contains 487 ppm of lead. Since it is new and wasn’t chipping, Tamara said it is probably OK, although she wouldn’t want it around her children’s toys or in her home. Later, upon further inspection, I noticed it actually IS chipping now so I threw it away!
    B. Smith Pasta Bowl purchased from our registry in 2015 from Bed, Bath, and Beyond was lead-free!
    One of our interior walls leading towards the garage tested positive at 1,356 ppm. This was an original-to-the-1950’s-home plaster wall with several coats of paint on it. The most recent coat (painted by use) was most likely lead-free. It’s what is under our coat of paint, that is not!
    As expected, this Libbey mug tested lead-free (and is one of my favorite recent purchases! LOL)
    New ceramic bathroom tile from Florida Tile circa 2017 was lead free!
    (THANK GOD!)
    My daughter loves (and I mean LOVES) “Lena the Ballerina” made by Haba so naturally I was happy to hear when it tested lead-free!
    Surprisingly, this original 1950’s vent cover, was completely lead free. I actually even had her test several other vents to confirm. All were lead-free. According to Tamara, many vents contain lead.
    Not all American Girl dolls test lead-free, but my childhood Samantha doll did. She was originally purchased around 1995. give or take a few years. Stock image for reference.
    My daughter’s railing to her Backyard Adventure playset tested lead-free!
    Our fire pit has seen better days (Ha!), but it was 100%
    YIKES!! 80,000 ppm of lead in the green portion of this vintage Pyrex bowl and 500 ppm in the white portion!! The worst part: the paint is chipping! This amount of lead, plus the chipping means this bowl is now living in the garbage can!
    Leaded crystal is a big problem because when something like wine or whiskey sits in a glass with such high amounts of lead (like this glass containing 401,000 ppm), the lead leaches from the glass extremely quickly.
    This B. Smith Bowl from Bed, Bath, and Beyond tested positive with 54 ppm of lead on the inside and 78 ppm on the logo (bottom). Within legal limits, just don’t use acidic foods in it!
    This had to go! 5,100 ppm of lead and I had 4 of these for our kitchen! The good news is, I found cute glass and wooden ones from Ikea that I like so much better!
    I was shocked at the amount of lead found in the spindles of our staircase – 4,675 ppm! Luckily, the carpet runner was lead free. The reasoning for testing the runner would be to determine if high lead dust was being tracked throughout.
    My mom loves this cup so I had to have it tested! And it contained over 9,000 ppm of lead plus antimony! Recycled glass often can contain lead. P.S. I am so glad that I never let my daughter drink from this!
    Ahh… our original fireplace mantle… 1,300 ppm of lead although it is possible it contains more due to the fresh coat of paint “diluting’ the reading. With that being said, our fireplace tools tested lead-free.
    While we did replace all of the original 1950s windows in our home, the baseboards (1000 ppm) and window sills (219 ppm) have not been replaced yet. Note: Our original leaded windows rubbed constantly, creating invisible lead dust and paint chips every time we opened them. This is a big concern, especially for families with kids.
    Surprisingly, the outdoor table tile was leaded with 435 ppm in either the finish or the tile itself. As long as the pieces stay in tact, and food isn’t directly touching the surface it should be OK, given that it is used outdoors and regularly cleaned with soap and water.
    Our 2017 Kohler Tub tested lead-free. Previously we had a vintage tub coated with enamel that tested positive for lead with a 3M lead test swab.
    These closet doors were the only original doors we left when we replaced all of our original interior doors. In hindsight, I have no idea why we didn’t just replace these too, but the good news is, they aren’t leaded!
    Paint is often the culprit when it comes to lead on consumer goods so I was a little surprised when this glass flamingo wine glass was lead-free! Yay! I purchased it from Home Goods a few years back.
    I don’t know what it is about flamingos (or clearly my obsession with them? HA!), but all of the ones I have are lead-free! This little guy was purchased in the 2018/2019 summer.
    My parent’s vintage stainless steel fork tested lead-free! They received this as a wedding gift.
    This metal wall art from Home Goods wasn’t even on my list of things to test, but we tested it anyways, and surprisingly it was lead-free!
    This cute toy cake from Tender Leaf Toys tested lead-free! Tender Leaf, like Plan Toys, uses rubberwood to make all of their toys.
    OXO is notorious for having inconsistent results in terms of being lead free or not, according to Tamara. This muddler purchased in 2015 was lead-free, but did contain cadmium which you really don’t want in your food.
    Defiant Doorknob in Brushed Nickel was lead-free.
    This chair came as part of a patio set purchased in 2016. It was lead-free!
    This marble serving tray is lead-free!

    If you’re interested in learning more about lead prevention, Tamara is truly a wealth of knowledge. I highly suggest following Tamara on Facebook and/or joining her Facebook group. You will be surprised at what you will learn! Also, be sure to check out Tamara’s Documentary, “MisLead: America’s Secret Epidemic”.

    Thanks for reading! And thank you to Tamara Rubin, Lead Safe Mama!

    Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we use personally and have extensively researched. We pride ourselves on honesty and integrity to our readers.

    Full Disclaimer and Disclosure here.

  • Clean Living, Healthy Home

    8 Simple Non-Toxic Swaps To Live Healthier

    Create a healthier life for your family by making simple changes in your day-to-day life and switching to safer alternatives at home is a great start. With that being said, I know first hand how overwhelming it can be, so I’ve created this list to get you started.

    1. Swap Out Your Non-Stick Kitchen Cookware

    Make the switch to a safe alternative like stainless steel, glass, or cast iron. If you can’t switch out all of your non-stick items, replace a few of the most used ones. Teflon is known to cause a host of health problems including cancer, birth defects, reproductive harm, and so much more. Avoid as much as possible. I recommend and use these brands in my home: Calphalon (stainless), Pyrex (glass), Lodge Cast Iron (although I de-seasoned and re-seasoned it due to their current use of GMO oil). Finex Cast Iron is an excellent pan, but you should be aware that the brass handle contains the neurotoxin lead. Consider purchasing the Instant Pot. We use ours all the time and once you get the hang of it, you really become a pro! Plus, it is one of the healthiest ways to cook. Learn more about toxic non-stick (PFOA chemicals) as I explain here.

    2. Ditch Plastic Baggies for Reusable Ones

    Plastic sandwich bags are one of the largest sources of waste for many people. You use it once and it ends up in a landfill. Think about a family of 4 eating lunch on-the-go. A baggie for each sandwich, a baggie for a cookies, a baggie for berries… that is 12 plastic bags per day that ends up in a landfill or 4,380 plastic baggies per year! Switch to non-toxic Stasher Reusable Silicone Bags. Made of platinum grade silicone, they come in a variety of sizes and colors and are free of BPA, PVC, latex, lead, cadmium, and other toxins. You can cook, freeze, store, and more with this safe, eco-friendly option!

    3. Switch to Safe Plates and Cups

    This may sound silly, but did you know plates, bowls, and cups are legally allowed to contain toxins like lead and cadmium? Although over 90 ppm of lead is illegal to use in children’s toys, there aren’t regulations like this when it comes to dinnerware. Glazes, designs, and logos, often do contain high amounts of lead ranging from into the thousands. Clear glass (like Anchor Hocking) or plain white new Corelle dinnerware are safe options. Be aware, older Corelle plates do often contain lead (as confirmed by the company), so it is best to use something no older than 4 or 5 years old. We choose this Corelle set and love it! Learn more about dishes that are free of lead and other heavy metals as explained by Tamara Rubin, Lead Safe Mama here. Tamara has personally tested dozens of my items and is an excellent resource!

    4. Swap Plastic Water Bottles For Stainless or Glass

    Think about how many one-time-use plastic water bottles go into the trash each day. You can easily save money and the environment by ditching the plastic water bottles and using a reusable glass or stainless version instead. Plastic water bottles also have the potential to leach chemicals, especially if exposed to heat. Our favorite bottles: LifeFactory, Contigo, ThinkBaby, KleanKanteen. Be sure to use filtered water too!

    5. Stick to Natural Cleaning Supplies

    Ditch all of the toxic ingredients found in traditional cleaning supplies and air fresheners and opt for safer options. Vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, lemon, tea tree oil clean just as good! There are also several non-toxic brands you can purchase as well. Be aware of greenwashing from companies and be sure to avoid artificial fragrances. Check out the What Mommy Knows Amazon Storefront for recommendations.

    6. Use a ‘Free & Clear” Natural Laundry Detergent

    Please, pleaseee do this – especially if you have little ones at home! Many of the chemicals in traditional detergents, even Dreft, have ingredients that are toxic or known carcinogens. Be sure to always use a ‘Free & Clear’ detergent, although they can also be greenwashed by companies, so you really want to look at the ingredients (I know, I know… why is it so difficult to find safe products?!?) Looking for something now? In my home, we switch between Better Life, Molly’s SudsMeliora, and Eco Nuts (made from just soapberries!)

    7. Replace Soaps and Personal Care Products

    Chemicals lurking in soaps, lotions, shampoos, makeup and other personal care products can wreak havoc on your body. They often use harsh chemicals like triclosan, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, methylisothiazolinone, and fragrance (which may contain up to 3,000 unregulated chemicals!). These are some of my favorite soap and lotion products from clean brands I trust: Better Life, Dr. Bronners, Earth Mama, and Carina Organics.

    8. Switch to a Natural Deodorant

    Traditional deodorants contain chemicals like aluminum and fragrance which have been hotly debated in relation to their health concerns. Opt for natural deodorants instead. After trying quite a few, this one is my absolute favorite – and it actually works!


    Our personal home favorites are linked below.

    P.S. And remember, living cleaner doesn’t happen overnight – so be patient!

    Thanks for reading!

    Looking for more swaps and safe products for your family and home? Check out our Amazon Storefront for personally vetted recommendations.

    Check out these other articles to help you live as clean as can be!

    This post contains affiliate links. Full Disclosure and Disclaimer here.

  • Clean Living, Healthy Home

    Top 10 Tips to Detox Your Home

    Simple changes can help you to “breathe a little easier” leading to healthier home life for your and your family!

    Environmental pollutants are a part of our every day lives. Cleaning products, pesticides, synthetic building materials, furniture, paint, and an abundance of other chemicals can wreak havoc on your home and your health.

    According to the EPA, “Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors,1 where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.2

    Take steps towards a healthier, happier home with


    1. Open windows and air out house daily.

    This is a great way to release harmful chemicals from the interior of your home. Plus, who doesn’t love the benefits of fresh air!? Airing out new furniture is another great way to lessen the effects of chemicals which may enter your home – a few days outside or in the garage will do the trick. And lastly, if you’re looking to really take your indoor air quality to a whole new level while eliminating allergens, viruses, and pollution you can purchase a high quality air purifier like the Austin Air or Air IQ.

    2. Do not wear shoes inside.

    Wearing shoes inside brings in all sorts of “yuck” including pesticides, bacteria, feces, dirt, allergens, neurotoxins like lead, and so much more. This is one rule I am so glad I have in place.

    3. De-clutter your home.

    If you haven’t used it in 2 years or more, donate it! It’s basically just a dust collector at this point. Household items, flooring, cleaning products, and furniture all shed chemicals that end up in dust throughout our home. We breathe these chemicals in or may even ingest them accidentally by touching a contaminated surface, and then prepping food.

    4. Avoid plastic cookware and non-stick pans (AKA Teflon).

    Cook with stainless steel, cast iron, and glass instead of plastic or non-stick. Both plastic and non-stick pans are not only bad for our environment, but can leach harmful chemicals known to cause birth defects, reproductive harm, impair immunity among other health problems. Additionally, non-stick pots and pans, contain harmful PFOS chemicals which are known to leach during the cooking process. Learn more about safe dinnerware here.

    “The Devil We Know” is an award-winning documentary on Netflix which exposes the chemical industry’s cover-up of the detrimental effects of the chemical. And if you’re into documentaries, check it out! It is very informative and interesting!

    5. Eliminate disposable products from your home and switch to reusable alternatives – including water bottles!

    Globally, more than a million plastic water bottles are sold every minute! In the U.S., only 30% ever end up getting recycled which means the rest are tossed into landfills or pollute our ocean and waterways. Plastic bottles are known to leach chemicals too – use glass or stainless reusable water bottles instead. Plastic sandwich baggies, utensils, straws and takeout containers are great things to eliminate as well! All of these items can be replaced with eco-friendly, non-toxic versions – such as Stasher Bags, Glass, Silicone, or Stainless straws, and reusable glass containers, like Pyrex.

    6. Invest in a water filtration system.

    Drinking Water / Sink Filtration | A good water filter, filters out heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and an abundance of other chemicals. Most important of all is to be sure your home has a quality drinking water filtration system. We have the Pure Effects Ultra Under-the-Counter System, which filters out an extensive amount of contaminants and with every component made in the USA. The owner, Igor, is also very knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions you may have.

    Whole Home Filtration | Chemicals in your city’s water can irritate your skin causing eczema and other skin problems. Both Aquasana and Friends of the Water have excellent systems that I’d recommend for Whole Home Filtration Systems.

    Water Pitchers | Just looking for a good water pitcher rather than a whole system? Check out on Zero Water 10 Oz. Pitcher or this Zero Water 40 Oz. Pitcher!

    PRO TIP: If choosing between a whole house or sink filter, go with the sink (since it is most important to filter out what we are ingesting). Another good option is to use a bath filter or shower filter like these in addition to the sink filter if you cannot add a whole home system.

    7. Vacuum often to keep dust and dirt at bay.

    A true HEPA vacuum encapsulates the smallest amount of dust in a bag, forces all of the air through the HEPA filter, and allows none of the air to exit the vacuum. Dustless and VacMaster are two great options! We personally own this VacMaster which has a certified HEPA filter that is 99.97 percent efficient up to 0.3 microns and complies with the EPA’s new Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Act (RRP). While the vacuum is larger (and heavier) than a commercial vacuum, I do lug this thing up and down the stairs at least once per week – once you try it, you’ll know why! It really picks up every single speck of dust. P.S. Don’t forget to vacuum furniture and mattresses too! Dust often “traps” chemicals so be sure to dust with a wet rag rather than a traditional duster or dry cloth which will cause the dust to disperse back into the air.

    8. Use a VOC-free paint.

    Here’s the thing: just because a paint says “low VOC” or “no VOC” doesn’t mean it truly is and also doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain other chemicals which may be harmful to our health.

    Ecos Paint is my #1 pick and the cleanest I’ve found. Ecos also has safe varnishes, stains, and more. Plus, it is virtually odorless!

    Benjamin Moore Natura line is another good option that I use from time to time in my home. Just like Ecos paint, the Natura line is virtually odorless.

    Milk paint is harder to work with in my opinion, but usually very clean in terms of chemicals as it is made with casein.

    9. Replace your air filters in your furnace and maintain your humidifier.

    Air filter replacement should be at least every 2-3 months to keep energy bills low, prevent damage to your furnace, and discourage buildup in duct work, and effectively filter particles and contaminates. If you have allergies, pets, live in a larger home or polluted city, consider changing every 6-8 weeks. Additionally, it is important to ensure proper working order of your home humidifier since moisture causes mold growth and bacteria which is not only dangerous to your health, but can worsen allergies and cause an even bigger problem down the road.

    10. Test home for radon, mold, and other toxins.

    Fix accordingly. Radon is a odorless, colorless gas that is known to cause cancer and is the second leading cause of lung cancer is in the United States. Mold can cause allergies, asthma, and other ailments. The best way to control mold is to control moisture. Purchase home radon, mold, and lead test kits to ensure the safety of your family. Then, re-mediate, if necessary. Always consult a professional to be sure.

    Practice natural lawn care & safe pest control.

    Use alternatives instead of highly concentrated chemicals like the cancer-causing glyphosate that contaminates our soil and our food. Pesticides are harmful to not only the person spraying the chemical, but also to children, pets and people who play on the surface. Chemicals in pesticides often contain ingredients that are banned or restricted in other countries and are a threat to our environment in addition to being suspected endocrine disruptors, reproductive toxins, and probable carcinogens. For ways to practice ‘greener’ lawn care consider a rain barrel, composting, over-seeding and purchasing an electric lawnmower instead of gas. Be sure to check out my posts Natural Weed & Pest Control for a Sustainable Lawn and The Ultimate Natural Gardening Guide for Busy Moms.

    “If just 20% of US homeowners switched to electric mowers, 84,000 fewer tons of carbon monoxide would be emitted into the air each year, saving the average user 73% in total energy costs.” – GreenSeal.Org

    Looking for eco-friendly, non-toxic replacements to commonly used items, but don’t know where to start? Check out my recommendations on my Amazon Storefront here.

    Additional Reading:

    Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” Therefore, if you click on a link and purchase the item, we may receive a small commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we use personally and have extensively researched. We pride ourselves on honesty and integrity to our readers.

    Full Disclaimer and Disclosure here.

  • Clean Living

    Plastic: Why I Avoid It As Much As Possible

    plastic, waste, pollution, recycle

    Plastic is EVERYWHERE. Think: cups, plates, bags, lined soup cans, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, toys, baby teethers (yikes!), furniture, food containers, shoes, cars, jewelry, phones, clothing, even cosmetics … and the list goes on and on. 

    Plastic not only is bad for our environment, animals, oceans, OUR water, but it is also not good for our children or our bodies. Tiny bits of micro-plastics are created which often end up in oceans, are then eaten by aquatic life, and later end up in our bodies through many forms which include ingesting fish and other animals. Research shows, “Americans ingest at least 74,000 microplastic particles every year,” according to the Washington Post.

    It takes hundreds of years for plastics to biodegrade and the sad part is, approximately only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. Most plastic is not able to be recycled, contrary to popular belief, and ends up in landfills, our oceans, and water ways.

    With so many resources in today’s day, there are much better AND safer alternatives which include: clear glass, stainless steel, and silicone.

    IF you MUST buy plastic… here’s what you should know…

    PVC is the most toxic. I avoid it whenever I can. It is not only toxic to consumers, but extremely toxic to those who manufacture it and the surrounding communities who breathe in the pollution it creates.

    The 7 Plastic Numbers & What It Means For Your Health

    Plastic items are often coded with a recycling number 1-7. This number indicts the type of plastic and is used in the recycling process. Unfortately,

    1, 2 – Usually recyclable
    3,5,6 – Some recycling companies are able to recycle it
    4, 7 – Not usually recyclable.

    Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
    PET is considered a safe plastic, but can leach the toxic metal antimony, and brominated compounds. Water bottles, soft drink bottles, sports drink bottles and condiment bottles are some products that contain this type of plastic.

    Bromine is known to cause acute paranoia and other psychotic symptoms while antimony causes a host of health issues ranging from heart and lung issues to vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ulcers. The longer a bottle of water sits on the shelf, the more antimony it contains. This may vary based on exposure to sunlight, temperature, and pH levels.

    One study that looked at 63 brands of bottled water produced in Europe and Canada found concentrations of antimony that were more than 100 times the typical level found in clean groundwater (2 parts per trillion).3

    Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
    HDPE is considered a low-hazard plastic, but like most plastics releases estrogenic chemicals. Milk, water and beverage bottles, cleaning supply bottles, shampoo bottles, grocery bags, cereal liners and many others contain this type of plastic.

    HDPE and other plastics disrupt your hormones and structure of your cells, posing risks to both infants and children. Even products that claimed to be free of BPA, have tested positive for other toxic estrogenic chemicals.

    Plastic #3 or “V”: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
    The MOST toxic plastic for consumers, manufacturers and our environment and should be avoid as much as possible. PVC is often used for shower curtains, bags for bedding, shrink wrap, deli wrap, cooking oil bottles, plastic toys, play-mats, flooring, table cloths and blister packs used to store medications.

    PVC can be rigid (unplasticized) OR flexible & clear (plasticized). During the production process, plasticizers, including phthlates are added to increase flexibility and soften plastics. DEHP is a type of phthalate often used in PVC that causes cancer.

    Toxins enter your body as they are released into the air we breathe and food we consume, causing a number of health issues including cancer, deformations, low sperm count and infertility.

    Tip: If the plastic is soft and flexible – it is probably PVC.
    Avoid children’s playmats made from PVC/Vinyl. You can choose a latex mattress topper as an alternative, Corkimat, or a fun pile of cotton blankets!

    Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
    LDPE is considered a low hazard and does not contain BPA, but may leach estrogenic chemicals similar to HDPE.

    Bread bags, squeezeable bottles including condiment bottles, fresh produce bags, household garbage and frozen foods bags, as well as in paper milk cartons and hot/cold beverage cups are all common uses for this plastic.

    Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP)
    Polypropylene is one of the “safest” plastics you can buy. It is said to have a high heat tolerance making it a good choice for outdoor toys and storing food, although I personally wouldn’t recommend any plastic containers for food. PP is unlikely to leach chemicals, but evidence is still inconclusive.

    PP is used for containers including yogurt, deli foods, medications and takeout meals. 

    Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS) AKA Styrofoam
    Avoid polystyrene as much as possible. This type of plastic leaches styrene into your food, damages your nervous system, and has been linked to Cancer. Benzene, a known human carcinogen, is used in the production.

    Everything from cups, plates, meat trays, packing peanuts, and more can be made from Polystyrene (Styrofoam). Hot food and beverages very well may be the most dangerous due to the amount of styrene they leach from containers. Therefore, AVOID if possible coffee cups, to-go containers, etc. that are made from polystyrene (Styrofoam).

    Plastic #7: Other
    Plastic #7 is often made from a combination of plastics and resins. It most likely contains BPA and/or BPS and most likely other toxic chemicals. Technically, there is only a partial ban on BPA (for example, in baby bottles), but research shows there are much greater concerns and a full fledged ban should be implemented, as described here.

    The reason BPA and BPS are so dangerous is because...

    • They mimic, interfere, and disrupt with your body’s hormones and endocrine system which regulates mood, growth, development, metabolism, reproductive processes, sexual function and tissue function.
    • In utero exposure to BPA compounds, can lead to chromosomal errors in the developing fetus, causing spontaneous miscarriages and genetic damage.
    • Strong evidence shows these chemicals are effecting adults and children, too. Leading to a host of health issues including, but not limited to…
      • Early puberty, decreased sperm count, and cancer.
      • Obesity
      • Insulin Resistance – an underlying factor in many chronic diseases
      • Stimulation of mammary gland development
      • Disrupted reproductive cycles and ovarian dysfunction
      • Heart disease


    So, what are the “safest” plastics?
    #1, 2, 4, 5 But, only #1, 2, and 5 are most likely to be recycled which means the others will end up in a landfill. Avoid PVC Plastic #3 at all costs – the entire duration of its life cycle is toxic to humanity. Also, avoid Polystyrene #6 (styrofoam) and Plastic #7 Other as much as possible.

    Where can I find the number(#) plastic on items?
    Often found on the bottom, side, or inside plastic items will be a number. If the number is not present, you can contact the manufacturer for more information.

    How can I tell if something is silicone or plastic?
    If silicone contains plastic (or is plastic), when it bends, it will turn white-ish in the area where it was manipulated.


  • Clean Living, Healthy Home

    The Toxic Item You Use Everyday

    TEFLON: America’s Dream or America’s Nightmare?
    The True Story.

    Years ago, I’ll never forget when my now-husband was flabbergastered that I was stirring my pasta with a stainless steel fork… in the Teflon pot. I thought he was crazy and had no idea the health impact I was truly causing.

    What did he know about cooking anyway? After giving him the sarcastic “side eye”, I continued to swirl. Little did I know, the pot itself was leaching toxic chemicals and with every knick, scratch, and stir even more chemicals were being released into my delicious Italian cuisine and then… again later when I cooked our next meal for days, weeks, months, and years to come.

    Imagine my surprise, years later I came across the award-winning documentary, “The Devil We Know”, which confirmed everything I had known, but didn’t want to acknowledge. Teflon. Is. Toxic.

    As mentioned in ‘The Devil We Know’, according to numerous studies…

    • “It only takes 2-5 minutes on a stove top for Teflon cookware to overheat and create toxic particles and gases, according to numerous studies.” Source: EWG
    • “American babies are born pre-polluted with more than 200 chemicals in their blood, 180 of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals.” Source: EWG
    • Drinking water is the primary route of exposure [to PFOA chemicals] in some populations, but exposure sources are not well understood. PFOA has been used to manufacture such products as Gore-Tex and Teflon. PFOA does not break down in the environment.” Source: National Center for Biotechnical Information.
    • “The chemical used in Telfon has been linked to 6 diseases including testicular and kidney cancers.Source: New York Times

    From “The Devil We Know”: The Chemistry of a Cover Up
    “When a handful of West Virginia residents discover DuPont has been pumping its poisonous Teflon chemical into the air and public water supply of more than 70,000 people, they file one of the largest class action lawsuits in the history of environmental law.” The chemical caused cancer, death, and birth defects in unborn children of pregnant workers among other devastating consequences. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), “99% of American’s have the toxic chemical, PFOA, in their blood, including babies. This is the chemical used to make Teflon.” It didn’t stop there though, the spread of PFAS chemicals has gone global to China and beyond. FACT: PFOA is one of more than 80,000+ untested chemicals that have been approved for use, their dangers unknown.”

    What can I use instead of toxic Teflon Cookware?

    Stainless steel, clear glass, and cast iron are safe options. Avoid ceramic due to possible lead contamination in the glaze. Avoid aluminum due to harmful health hazards it poses as it has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s among other things. I also avoid GMO oils.

    • STAINLESS STEEL: As long as it is 100% stainless steel, it should be safe to use. Calphalon, Cuisinart, and All-Clad are brands I use and recommend.
    • CAST IRON: For the best of the best, I love and recommend Finex. This skillet in particular is perfect for our everyday cooking needs. While I do recommend and use this Lodge Cast Iron skillet as well, I strip and reseason Lodge Cast Iron with organic flax seed oil before use due to the original seasoning containing GMOs. Both of these brands are made in the USA.
    • GLASS: We use this Pyrex baking tray in the oven all the time and it works great! Typically, clear glass without any writing is best, as oftentimes the writing on glass can contain lead or cadmium.
      What about Coringware Visions Cookware? Visions Cookware is perfect for the stove top, but unfortunately after rigorous XRF testing by Lead Safe Mama, Tamara Rubin, some of them have tested positive for low amounts of lead and therefore, I cannot recommend them here.

    What other products besides pots and pans use PFAS chemicals?

    PFAS chemicals are found in water-proof, stain-proof, and wrinkle-proof clothing, furniture, home goods, carpeting, food packaging, and even dental floss! Worst of all they have contaminated our drinking water and our air! Fortunately more and more brands are starting to phase out these chemicals as their toxic effects become more prevalent.

    Which brands and products are PFAS-Free?

    Below are several brands and/or products that are free of PFAS chemicals, according to For the full list of brands and products thus far, click here.

    For the full list, click here.

    Learn more about PFAS…

    Looking for safe, non-toxic products? View our favorite products here!

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