Are you confused about what makes certain cleaning products toxic, whether the air inside your house is dirtier than the air outside, and how your kids’ health is being affected by fire retardants in their pajamas or BPA in their water bottles?
Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!), may be just what you need. Written by activist Leah Segedie, the new book promises to “get you acquainted with the main chemical offenders” many household products contain by providing “important details on exactly how they threaten your health.”
“Your family is not protected the way you thought,” Leah declares. But being forewarned is the key to being forearmed, she argues. Her book is nothing if not a warning about what to avoid and a call to arms about how to protect yourself as a consumer.
Leah starts with an introduction that lays out the stark reasons why parents need to take chemical exposures seriously:
- One in three children are overweight.
- One in six children have a learning disability.
- One in nine children suffer from asthma.
- Increasing numbers of children have ADHD, food allergies, and autism.
Leah cites research from sources ranging from the Centers for Disease Control to the New York Times linking these illnesses to chemicals showing up in food and everyday products, like cleaning agents, air fresheners and mattresses.
Science and Prescriptions
Two doctors back up Leah’s statements:
- Dr. John Peterson “Pete” Myers, co-wrote the book Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? and is one of Leah’s advisors. He “drops science” throughout the book, and he drops some here:“The “conventional” fragrance industry has several thousand ingredients they use to create artificial smells,” he says. “Many of those are made from petrochemicals. None have been fully tested for safety, especially for interfering with hormones.” Dr.
- Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician and mother of three boys, offers “prescriptions” throughout the book to help stay healthy. She offers this one about air fresheners: “If you are planning to become pregnant, avoid fragrances as much as possible,” she advises.
Room by Room
“Public Enemy No. 1” is endocrine disruptors (EDCs), synthetic chemicals that can interfere with our hormones and our body’s systems for managing reproduction, puberty, our immune response system, metabolism, behavior and even intelligence.
“EDCS are B-A-D,” she says, “and when I say bad, I’m talking potentially “messing up your little boys’ sperm” bad.” In the “Room by Room” chapter, Leah notes how prevalent EDCs are in the synthetic fragrances we may spray in our bathrooms or living rooms.
Leah offers two general recommendations for going green: “Dial down the toxic exposures that are happening inside your home” and “Keep the toxic trespassers coming in from the outdoors to a minimum.”
What may already be indoors that you should toss? In addition to those synthetic fragrances, junked-up personal care products are on the no-no list, too, especially if they contain phthalates and parabens, two more endocrine disrupters that threaten our health.
The tone throughout the book is less “be worried” and more “DO something!” Avoiding EDCs is part of Leah’s bigger recommendation to shift purchases to the greenest, safest products available. To make that easy, Leah categorized a variety of household and personal care products products according to whether they’re “bad” (high-risk, containing multiple high- and moderate-hazard ingredients); “better” (pretty good ingredients with no more than one high-hazard chemical compound) or “best” (free of all high-hazard ingredients and no more than one moderate-hazard ingredient). She also offers DIY recipes for safe cleansers you can whip up yourself using basic ingredients you probably already have at home.
Change the System
In addition to making safer lifestyle choices and shifting spending, Leah recommends taking on the companies themselves in person and on social media.
“Learn as much as you can and share your knowledge with your loved ones and friends…We will change the system through sharing knowledge and supporting the good guys who are doing things in a better way right now.”
Changing the system is key here. Being engaged citizens by supporting stronger policies that protect children’s health now and in the future, and also being conscious consumers, is a win-win for families.