With over 62,000 untested chemicals in commercial use today, toxins are an area of great concern, especially for families with young children whose immune systems are more sensitive. Most conventional bath, beauty, and cleaning products are made with a toxic soup of ingredients, the combination of which has not been tested, so you are wise to seek out healthier options. I don’t recommend using up the bad before replacing with the good. Once you know something is toxic, are you really going to enjoy massaging your baby with it? Or having her eat off of it? It just makes no sense to keep using something that reads Caution, Danger, Keep Away From Children, Use Only In Well Ventilated Space.
Now that you know better, you can do better, however, when starting to reduce the amount of toxins in one’s home, many people are confronted with the question of what to do with the old products. It’s an important question because, as laws of physics help us understand, nothing is really created or destroyed. Just shifted. Hence out of your house does not mean it is not in your environment. Disposed of out in the yard or down the storm drain just means you’ll be swimming in it, eating it, or drinking it, in some form or another down the line. A 2006 study by the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows a broad range of chemicals (hormones, pesticides, etc.) in 80 percent of randomly sampled streams across our country.
As such, here are some guidelines to help you get rid of toxins in your home, without polluting your world:
• For lotions, shampoos, make-up and general cleansers, if the bottles are less than half full, you can empty them down the drain. Not fantastic, but in terms of disposal, our waste management systems are generally more equipped to deal with these toxins better than if you were to just pour everything out in the yard, or into the street drains.
• Full bottles should be taken directly to your local toxics management site. If you’re feeling particularly motivated, you can ship them back to the manufacturer and ask them to shift to healthier ingredients. Customer feedback (especially from groups of moms) does have an impact!
• Paints, solvents and other heavily toxic chemicals must be taken to a toxic waste collection site.
• Old medicines and medicinal creams should be taken back to the pharmacy you purchased them from for proper disposal.
In regard to the actual hazardous management site in your region, these are mobile in some towns and at a fixed site or transfer center in others. Look online or in your phonebook for location details. It is also helpful to rally with a group of friends in detoxifying your home and that way you can add in carpooling while you drop off that which you’re getting rid of. It is also a great excuse to catch up with friends while checking off an item on your To Do list at the same time! earth911.org is an excellent resource as is actually talking with your local waste management experts. They are usually a wealth of information and oh-so-grateful to better educate YOU because that makes their job easier and more effective.
Finally . . . congratulations! You’ll feel so good about having made this change in your home and your children will thank you.
By Ecomom Co-Founder, Kimberly Danek Pinkson
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