11 Earth Day Basics For Beginners
In honor of Earth Day, stylish eco-expert Rachel Sarnoff of MommyGreenest.com whipped up a few tips on how to go green this year. Whether you’ve been an environmentalist for decades or are just dipping your toes into the water, these 11 tips are doable reminders for everyone.
Want to go green but don’t know where to start? Try one of these easy steps
today—and another tomorrow. By the end of the week you’ll be well on your way!
1. Eat organic: Studies have shown that eating organic for just one week can eliminate many of the pesticides—linked to cancer, among other health problems—in our bodies. Following the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen lists can reduce your family’s exposure by 80 percent. [www.ewg.org]
2. Peel away pesticides: Organic not an option? Opt for conventional fruits and veggies that you can peel, like oranges, watermelon, eggplant, avocados, corn, sweet peas and cabbage. Remove the outer skin, husk or leaves and you’re removing a significant amount of pesticide contamination.
3. Lose the nonstick: When a pan is heated to high temperatures non-stock coatings such as Teflon break apart into potentially carcinogenic substances that don’t taste so good in the long run. Stainless steel, iron or copper coated pans are a better bet—even if it means losing the 12-piece set.
4. BYOB: Some plastic bottles contain BPA, a hormone disruptor, which leaches into the water you drink. Plus, it may seem cleaner but bottled water has tested positive for heavy metals and even giardia—ick. Pour filtered water into a stainless steel reusable water bottle for on-the-go hydration and save your family $50 a month!
5. Don’t heat plastic: Sealing hot food in plastic or heating it in the microwave can cause the plastic to leach hormone-disrupting chemicals—like BPA—into your food. Glass or dish-ware is a better bet for food storage.
6. Clean greener: Most of us clean our houses with the products that we remember from childhood—if it was good enough for mom, it’s good enough for us. But in this case mom doesn’t necessarily know best: Some chemicals in those products have been linked to serious illnesses. Simple, chemical-free formulas based on tried-and-true cleaners like baking soda and vinegar mean you can clean your house for pennies!
7. Nesting: A 2011 study found 300 chemicals inside a new nursery, while only two outside the windows. Look for zero VOC paints and formaldehyde-free furniture: They won’t pollute the air you and your family breathes with potentially dangerous chemicals.
8. Forego flame retardants: When you’re buying new mattresses or pillows, avoid those with foam that has been treated with flame retardants. (You can see if it has by reading the label.) Since eco-friendly mattresses made from organic materials like wool or latex can be expensive, get a thick cotton—preferably organic and/or prewashed—mattress pad in lieu of a complete mattress overhaul.
9. Treat your body like a temple: When you can, opt for personal care products that are free of eparabens and pthalates as your skin can absorb up to 60% of what you put on it. If you’re a mom, these rules apply to baby products, too.
10. Lose the shoes: Taking off your shoes when you enter your home reduces the amount of pesticides, insecticides and dirt on surfaces and in the air by 85%.
11. Choose preloved fashion: New clothes are responsible for a whole lot of environmental degradation, not to mention the impact on (mostly) female and child laborers who aren’t paid a living wage so you can buy a five-dollar t-shirt. Instead of buying new, buy thrift and consignment or swap clothes with friends. Shopping preloved can save you a whole lot of green, too!
Everyone wants to make a difference, but no one wants to give up the little things that we love. Making a difference doesn’t have to mean making a huge change in your lifestyle–sometimes it just means considering the alternatives. Mommy Greenest is about providing information without judgment. Because at the end of the day, you’re the only person who can make decisions that stick.
Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, speaker, marketing strategist and eco-lifestyle expert who appeared on “The Today Show” and “CNN Headline News,” among others. Perhaps best known as MommyGreenest.com, she is the former Executive Director of the non-profit Healthy Child Healthy World and author of” The Big List of Things That Suck” and “The Mommy Greenest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond.”