Business Presentation and Cleanliness

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Business Presentation and Cleanliness
December 26, 2023 
My experience has taught me that most if not all Business owners are visionaries. They create a vision for the future and lay out a rough plan that they can commit to, whatever the sacrifice might be. There is a need to dream big and build the perseverance to see that vision to actualization. My experience has also taught me that the best visionaries also often miss out on some of the smaller details that lay the groundwork to make those dreams a reality. Today I want to focus on a crucial smaller detail that will makes the world for your clients and employees: Presentation and Cleanliness.

The Presentation of your Office is how you Present your Business

While it may seem superficial, it is absolutely true. How your customers see your office gives them an impression of what to expect with your services. A dirty office gives the impression of carelessness and apathy. On the contrary you can use your space to create mood, whether that be through your use of colors, space, or rhythm. Consider your business front as a form of marketing, how would you like to sell yourself? Do you want to be seen as cozy and intimate, create a environment that feels more comfortable, lived in, and inviting. Do you want to be seen as more modern? Then your business front should look more sleek and fresh.
This also extends to smells. If you are using toxic chemicals for your cleaning, you are creating an uncomfortable environment that will bring irritation to your customers and employees. Instead use green cleaning products like Mrs Meyers clean Day, Method, Aunt Fannies, etc. to facilitate an environment that is free of toxic chemicals and full of of natural scents. I would also suggest avoiding conventional candles. If you are insistent of having candles consider using candles that are made using soy or beeswax with essential oils for the scent. This is to ensure that your are using scents that are less likely to have a negative effect on your staff or customers. You want to avoid giving your customers a headache or making them nauseated when they are at your storefront. In that vein, know what your employees sensitivities are; a nauseous employee isn’t going to be as productive or positive.

Air and Light are crucial to creating a Healthy Atmosphere

Consider how you are utilizing air and light. Natural lighting will help to make your business look bright and keep your energy bill down. Having dusty windows obscures natural light and makes the atmosphere more dingy. Make sure you are cautious when you clean your windows, use a squeegee or something you know won’t harm the glass. In interior design, light acts as one of the central components to creating an inviting atmosphere. By utilizing light in an effective way, you are creating an invitation for the customer.
Likewise the air in your office is pivotal to creating a productive work environment. Bad air flow can create a stuffy workplace that invites pests. Make sure your vents are changed regularly and that the workplace is actively dusted. Not only will having fresh air keep the environment smelling clean, but it will also reduce the static electricity in the air which can be dangerous for electronic equipment.

Maintaining Order and Cleanliness is Important to Safety

Besides being an effective marketing tool, maintaining a clean and neat workplace will ensure that your workplace is safe for your employees. It will communicate to customers that they are in a safe place which influence their spending habits. This is particularly important for a storefront or restaurant that serves food, but is also valuable for any business. It should be noted that by maintaining a clean workplace, you are sending the customers a message that you care about their safety and health.

Consider your use of Whitespace

Even if you maintain a high level of cleanliness, a cluttered workplace will create the sense of dirtiness. It is always good to have a measure of openness to your storefront/office to give a sense of freedom of movement. Both customers and employees alike will always appreciate more room to move around and having open counter-space may ease unwanted frustration. However too much empty space can have a negative effect as well. If the places has too much white-space, it gives the customer a sense that place is empty and barren. Again consider the mood you want for your customers and employees to have and emulate it with space management.

Train Your Employees On Proper Cleaning Practices

To keep things manageable, it is important to maintain a good cleaning schedule that is shared amongst the team. If an employee isn’t actively doing a small part in maintaining a clean work place, they are likely just adding to workload for the team. what are your companies cleaning habits and protocol? Team members should know what their daily cleaning expectations are, where to find and put away cleaning products, and what habits/products to avoid to keep a clean workplace. Cleaning habits should be an active part of the employee’s on-boarding process and should be taken seriously on all levels of management.

Consider How you Manage Waste

This includes disposing waste on a regular basis and in the correct manner. You want to make sure you’re cognitive in how you manage your waste. Also consider where waste is disposed. Be deliberate in where you put your waste baskets so that they aren’t in a location that would negatively affect customers or staff. Waiting areas for instance may benefit from a waste basket that is either smaller or away from the customer seating. If it is a larger trash bin, ensure it has a cover that is less likely to be stained by grime and that is cleaned regularly. Consider how you manage outside waste. If you have an outdoor waste disposal, keep the premises around it clean and out of the way of parking.
Generally speaking there shouldn’t be litter around your store. The outside of your business is the first impression customer get of your business and it sets the mood for what the day is going to be like for you and your employees. Down-time is a great time to get some air and clean up around the office.

Make Cleaning easy and fun

You can also invite cleaning by encouraging cleaning at the office by having the proper supplies in a relatively easy to access location. I fr there is a way to incorporate your employees passion as a way to provide a green environment, take the opportunity. For instance, if you have the time supply your employee(s) with the tools to create candles with essential oils. It is a relatively quick way to encourage creativity, give your employee(s) a small break and stock the store with a healthy smelling option that your employee(s) can be proud of. There are tons of ways you transforming cleaning from an additional job to a clean break from the mundane workday.

The Importance of Green Cleaning

We discussed in briefly before, but it is important that when you clean, that you don’t default to conventional cleaning practices. You want to create safer, healthier, inviting climate for your customers and employees. By using green cleaning practices, you are using methods that are non-toxic, better for the environment, easier, and cheaper, while being just as effective. Green cleaning sends your customers the message that you care about their health as well as the world around you. In today’s Eco-friendly driven economy, it is important to let your customers know that you are being intentional on every level of development and planning.

Get Help from the Pros

That all said, not every business has the time and resources to keep the workplace in tiptop shape. By hiring a professional cleaning company, you can be rest assured your business maintains a professional level of cleaning that besuits your business. By getting help from a professional cleaning service, you can take advantage of their expertise and focus on what building your vision

Starting DIY recipes for Green Cleaning

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Starting DIY recipes for Green Cleaning
August 15, 2023 

Sometimes you will want more control over the your cleaning chemicals. Due to my wife’s allergies, we found that it is better to create our own cleaning ingredients to remove allergens and save money on cleaning tools. Here are just a few cleaning recipes to start your DIY green living journey. For this entry I wanted to focus on healthy cleaning recipes for home cleaning.
—–

MULTIPURPOSE SPRAY

*do not use on anything sensitive to acid.
i.e. marble, granite etc

• Equal parts water and white vinegar
• Add essential oils to preferred strength
• We use about 15 drops wild orange and 10 drops peppermint in a conventional spray bottle. Gently shake to combine.

 

LAUNDRY DETERGENT POWDER

We based this recipe off of This recipe by Rebecca. When we had our child, My wife tried substituting with the Dr. Bronner’s baby bar soap; however she found the soap to be too gentle; it did not get out newborn spit up stains (the smell). We went back to using the recipe with the Fels-Naptha bar and it did not bother our baby at all.

What you’ll need:

• A 1/2 gallon – 1 gallon container with tight fitting lid. If using essential oils, choose glass.
• A large cheese grater, preferably with non-skid bottom
• A stout mixing spoon

Ingredients for Safer Laundry Detergent:

All that is required are three ingredients (in equal amounts):

• Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (you can make your own out of baking soda as well if you want!)
• 20 Mule Team Borax (brightens colors and gets whites dazzling). Adding borax boosts detergent and it helps to “soften” hard water so there are no traces of rust.
• Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar (stronger for work clothes). You can also buy high quality soap granules from Earthborn Elements.
• (optional) essential oils (consider lemon, orange, or mandarin for an uplifting, clean scent) or (lavender for relaxing and calming).

I love this recipe because a little goes a long way.

SHOWER CLEANING PROCESS

This one is simple.

• I use dawn soap,
• baking soda
• water
• kitchen sponge (designated for bathroom cleaning).

Splash a line of soap on the tub floor and sprinkle baking soda. Get the sponge wet and scrub away. For the shower walls I put dawn soap and baking soda on the sponge and scrub the walls. Then I rinse the sponge thoroughly and scrub the soap/ baking soda off. I use a cup to fill with water to rinse the rest away.

This process is so cheap, very effective and I have found my tub stays cleaner longer.

Are there DIY recipes that you would like to share for home cleaning or a recipe you would like to see? Let us know below and it may show up in a future blog entry.

Are the products in my home safe or toxic?

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Are the products in my home safe or toxic?
June 19, 2023 

Living a clean, healthy lifestyle can require a lot of effort in our modern industrialized nation. In many ways our use of technology has become unbalanced. Pursuit of convenience and profit outweigh wisdom, stewardship, and wellness. The same scientific and industrial advancements that transformed society with sanitation, hygiene, and medicine have polluted every part of our natural and cultural world. It’s hard to find a place in nature not polluted by heavy metals, pesticides, carcinogens, and EMF radiation. The more I learn on this journey, the more I am tempted to be frozen in survival mode. Truly, everything in the modern world seems to be aimed at choking out life.

Which is why I believe life is truly a miracle. As a Christian, I lean back and trust the Lord to protect my family, and me. I am one small person. I may not be able to change governmental policies or close evil corporations, but I can make empowered choices about the products my family consumes. With the internet and the free market, we can find products (or make them) that will have a limited negative effect on our well-being.

I’ve learned to focus on the little I can control and let go of what I cannot. I think these small changes can make a big impact as we share what we learn with our family, friends, and those in our sphere of influence. I hope the principles below help you make empowered choices that serve the well-being of you and your family.

I hope this strategy serves you as much as it has served me…

pay attention
• PAY ATTENTION
• READ LABELS
• DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH
• DISCERN WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR LIFE

PAY ATTENTION

Have you considered that each individual person has their own “normal”? Based on our family of origin, where we live, what social groups we belong to, even our diet; they all create a familiar atmosphere. That atmosphere has programmed us to make habitual choices. Often to grow as a person we need to think above “normal”.

This is essential for our health. Many of us have been programmed to trust the medical industry and we may assume that corporations that make consumable goods have our best in mind. But corporations are not people; they are driven by survival and the desire to make a profit. For some companies, if the product they make is harmful to people and the planet but increases profit, they have no hesitation to sale it.

I say this because, often the food and products we consume are making us sick. We’ve become accustomed to inflammation, fatigue, and obesity as a society that we don’t realize we are a part of the problem. We are putting things in, on and around our body that hurt us. Do you get a headache after you drink diet soda or eat sugar? Does your skin get itchy when you apply lotion? Do you get dizzy after you scrub the shower? Those are signs that something you’ve been exposed to is hurting you. Your body is telling you to pay attention.

READ LABELS & DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH

You must first read the label to know what’s in the product. Search out what each ingredient is and discern how vulnerable you are to that toxin. Once you do this long enough, you can develop a running list of ingredients to avoid. Then, when you are examining a new product, toxins will stand out to you, and you can move on quickly.

Safe and environmentally friendly products are very trendy right now. Corporations have caught on to the demand for less toxic products. They will use words like “green”, “all natural”, and “nontoxic” to make their products more attractive to the consumer. But these claims are not regulated and are open to interpretation by the company that sale the product. They mean nothing. Pure marketing. You must read the actual ingredients and decide for yourself how toxic or safe the product is. Typically, Ingredients with long chemical names that you cannot pronounce are red flags.

Examples of ingredients I avoid: SLS, EDTA, Formaldehyde, Bleach…

I use search engines to find information. I also recommend the Environmental Working Group. They have strict standards and rate products based on their toxic level. Beware info could be out of date. You can also find books and many people on Instagram that inform about this subject.

RESOURCES:
ewg.org

Books:
A Healthier Home: The Room by Room Guide to Make Any Space a Little Less Toxic – Shawna Holman

Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home – Renee Loux

I really appreciate Shawna Holman’s approach to less toxic living… ALLT:

evaluate what you use
ASSESS – What do you really use? Eliminate what is not used.
LET GO – Use less; only what you need.
LEVEL UP – When you run out of something, try to make the replacement less toxic – within your budget and lifestyle.
TRANSFORM over time. Changes add up; we never arrive; just keep going.

I looked up products my family uses on EWG’s website. Overall, I think we are doing well. EWG Verified is “0”, the best rating and “10” is the most toxic rating.

Everyone 3-1 Soap Lavender Vanilla, EWG verified
Seventh Generation Baby Wipes, 2 Rating – Fair
Honest Baby Wipes, EWG verified
Mychelle Fruit Enzyme Facial Cleanser, EWG verified
Old Spice Swagger Men’s Deodorant, 6 rating, moderate hazard

A simple and often cheaper way of ensuring the products you use in your home are safe and less toxic is to make them yourself. We will cover this topic in our next post.


Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.

Healthy Living for the Elderly

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Healthy Living for the Elderly
April 24, 2023 

It is an inevitable truth that as we age, keeping up with cleaning becomes more challenging. Regardless it also becomes more necessary to ensure that the house is clean to provide a healthy happy home. For the Seniors, it becomes imperative to create a system of cleaning techniques and support. This will allow for healthier living conditions and in respect longer lives. Here we have provided an overview on healthy home techniques for Seniors.

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter!

With a long life comes an accumulation of objects and memories. However more objects in the house allows for more places for dust to accumulate and makes the house harder to clean. If it is becoming too cumbersome, it may be time to pass sentimental items to loved ones or perhaps it’s time to store unused sentimental items in storage. Consider items that could be considered hazards and organize objects to keep all possessions orderly. For electronics and lamps, Professional organizer and family caregiver Carrie Kauffman recommends “placing cord organizers to keep them contained. Also consider any objects that may cause slipping hazards such as rugs. By having an organized and decluttered arrangement, your living space becomes easier to navigate that eases the cleaning process.

If you are struggling to declutter and organize, consider hiring a professional organizer or asking your home care assistant for assistance. Consider how the space is being used. Has an old family member’s room become a place for storage? Try to dream up the potential of what that room could be used for, whether it be a quite study or a sun-room. Not only is this a great way to declutter, but it’ll allow more freedom of house navigation.

Set Labels

If you or a loved one are having trouble navigating around the house, marking containers and goods may be a great way to add some extra organization to your living space. This should include lables for refrigerated goods and their time of expected expiration. Try to keep foods that are closer to expiration closer to the front of the fridge to ensure they don’t get lost in the shuffle. It is also wise to make it routine to check the fridge every couple of weeks for lost or expired foods.

The importance of Techniques and Tools

For elders who are cleaning, it is important to protect oneself from being injured. Avoid bending or stretching when possible. If there is a job that requires bending or contortion of the body, try to limit work to 10 to 15 minutes or ask a care giver, family, or friends to provide the cleaning for you. Try diluting any cleaning solution into a bottle to refrain from having to bend down and dip the sponge into a bucket. For vacuuming, consider the floors you have and use a vacuum that accommodates for that flooring. Light weight vacuums typically have an option for hardwood floors so you should be able to avoid needing to sweep.

Set a schedule

Cleaning an entire house can be daunting. However by setting cleaning tasks to specified days, you can create a rhythm that ensures that the house remains in a healthy condition and makes house cleaning more manageable. Prioritize rooms that are used the most such as the bathroom and kitchen, setting tasks by their importance. Tasks such as washing the dishes can be done on a nightly basis while vacuuming can be set as a weekly task.

Try not to put off the dishes, it is a daily task that can become cumbersome quite quickly. It is suggested that seniors clean dishes after every meal or at least daily. If dishes are becoming a problem, consider your cookware, it is much easier cleaning a glass dish used for baking then a cast iron skillet.

The importance to staying green

Greener cleaning tools equates to a healthier home, a purer environment and better air quality. According to Leslie Reichart, a nationally-recognized green homekeeping expert and writer of the book The Joy of Green Cleaning, [when you use many cleaning products] “harmful chemicals are being released into the environment.” It’s important to stay mission focused. The purpose of cleaning is for health and safety so it’s important that you prioritize your health with cleaning. Avoid using chemicals with strong chemical odors; instead focus on green cleaning products.

Stayed tuned to the healthy home blog for more resources on green cleaning products. You can also contact us to get a professional green cleaner to providing a safe clean environment for living.

Have a network of support

You want to ensure that you have a plan of support to assist your aging loved one. This can include establishing roles, delegating tasks and having an emergency assistance plan. It is also important for caregivers to consider your own health. Experts suggest the healthiest course of action for Seniors relying on care providers is that they should adopt minimalist living approaches while keeping the house organized. As a caregiver, if you find that you are spending too much time cleaning or organizing unnecessary unused items, it may be time for that item to go into storage or passed on.

Toxic Chemical Load #3: Sodium Laurel Sulfate

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Toxic Chemical Load #3: Sodium Laurel Sulfate
April 17, 2023 

I recall a time when my friend asked me “Do you know what sodium laurel sulfate [SLS] is?” while we grocery shopped in Chicago. Naturally I answered “No, I don’t”. “Well, it’s a chemical in shampoo that builds up in your body as formaldehyde; ya know, the stuff they embalm people with” she responded. “That is so gross!” I was stunned.

It was 2008 and I had already begun my “clean eating” journey. Having my friend explain this to me was not a surprise, but startling none the same. I didn’t even question if she was right. I was just determined to AVOID SLS at every turn. Since then, I have been adamant to choose skin and body care that does not have toxic ingredients in them. Though usually a costly and inconvenient endeavor, I believe the health benefits will be worth it for life.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to not take someone’s word as truth and authority. I suppose it’s part of maturing and realizing we can all get it wrong, even on a subject we are deemed an “expert” on. As someone who values truth and integrity above all else, I try to devote more time to making sure what I have adopted as truth is actually TRUE. It’s a journey!

So, does SLS become formaldehyde in our bodies… I don’t think so. BUT I discovered there is no way of knowing how the SLS is preserved before it is added to products. They are not required to put that on the label. And it does appear that most SLS is preserved with formaldehyde. So maybe my friend was right after all?

So, what is Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)?

It is a surfactant that helps oil and water mix. It is used in products to make them sudsy and to clean better. Think liquid dish soap, liquid hand soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. It’s also put in food items like marshmallows.

SLS is known for drying out skin by breaking down the epidermis layer. Regulations state it must be under 1% of a product and should not stay ON the skin for any length of time. For example, washing your hands with a SLS product is less irritating than using a lotion with SLS.

SLS is used in a lot of lab tests because of its surfactant nature. Therefore, we do have a lot of scientific data on it.

SLS does not sound that harmful to our bodies when it is diluted properly and only briefly in contact with the skin. That said, it does dry out our skin, which is our biggest organ and part of our immune system.

The problem with SLS seems to arise by what it is preserved with.

There is no evidence that SLS is carcinogenic or that it causes hair loss. Sometimes “lack of evidence” just means they haven’t researched it enough. Due to the abundant lab tests utilizing SLS it does appear that SLS on its own is not carcinogenic. The jury is still out on hair loss. Again, it’s not just about the SLS, it’s about the unknown, carcinogenic preservatives it’s mixed with. Formaldehyde, for instance, is carcinogenic.

The moral of the story is that it’s our responsibility to be informed consumers. Corporations and manufacturers do not have our best interests in mind. They want to make money. Often, shortcuts are made, and cheap toxic chemicals are used to increase profit.

I recommend reading labels and researching the words you do not understand. You will be very enlightened. Many body care products use naturally derived forms of SLS. They are supposed to be healthier options. I’m not sure if that means they are preserved with something less toxic.

Please dive into the research below to learn more.


Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or one of its cousins like Ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) or Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), is the main cleaning agent and second-largest ingredient after water in most regular brands of shampoo, shower creams, liquid soap, toothpaste, shaving gel, bubble baths, etc.”

The fact that SLS, or its more common name in science, the reason SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate) is found in so many studies is the same reason why you find it in a lot of cosmetics, household and industrial cleaners – it is cheap! SLS is a cheap surfactant, commonly used in scientific labs to dissolve other molecules, for analytical studies, for toxicological studies and for any other application that does not require more natural conditions such as preserving the 3D-structure and activity of proteins. That is the downside of this very cheap surfactant, it damages protein structures or, correctly expressed, denatures the proteins, and thereby they lose both shape and function. In fact, one of the most used laboratory analytical methods for proteins is based on the ability of SLS to denature proteins (SDS-PAGE).”

Does SLS Cause Blackheads?
Yes, SLS is most likely comedogenic. It has scored positive in the classical rabbit’s ear assay [4]. In spite of that, it is regrettably often found in acne cosmetics.

Can SLS Cause Hair Loss?
SLS has been found accumulated in hair follicles [4, 5, 18] but so far there is no study that supports that SLS could cause increased hair loss.

Does SLS Cause Dry Hair and Split Ends?
Yes, SLS damages the outer surface of the hair strands, the cuticle, resulting in loss of shine, a rougher surface and split ends [19-21]. Even though all anionic surfactants to some extent damage the hair surface compared to only using water, SLS is harsher than all other surfactants used in skin care products[20].

SLS is an anionic surfactant commonly used in consumer household cleaning products. For decades, this chemical has been developing a negative reputation with consumers because of inaccurate interpretations of the scientific literature and confusion between SLS and chemicals with similar names. Here, we review the human and environmental toxicity profiles of SLS and demonstrate that it is safe for use in consumer household cleaning products.

“Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laurilsulfate or sodium dodecyl sulfate, is an anionic surfactant commonly used as an emulsifying cleaning agent in household cleaning products (laundry detergents, spray cleaners, and dishwasher detergents). The concentration of SLS found in consumer products varies by product and manufacturer but typically ranges from 0.01% to 50% in cosmetic products1,2 and 1% to 30% in cleaning products.3,4 SLS can be synthetic or naturally derived. This chemical is synthesized by reacting lauryl alcohol from a petroleum or plant source with sulfur trioxide to produce hydrogen lauryl sulfate, which is then neutralized with sodium carbonate to produce SLS.5”

“Down-the-drain cleaning products release SLS into the environment via household wastewater systems. In the environment, >99% of SLS readily biodegrades into nontoxic components per the OECD 301 standard.7”

“Dermal toxicity studies demonstrate that 24-hour exposure to a 1–2% (w/w) solution of SLS can increase the transepidermal water loss of the stratum corneum – the outer most layer of the skin – and cause mild yet reversible skin inflammation.”

“There is no scientific evidence supporting that SLS is a carcinogen.33,34 SLS is not listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); U.S. National Toxicology Program; California Proposition 65 list of carcinogens; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the European Union. In 1998, the American Cancer Society (ACS) published an article attempting to correct the public’s misconception of SLS.”

“If you are concerned about the possible effects of SLS accumulation, look for shampoos, toothpastes and other personal care products marked “SLS free.” According to Mother Nature Network, a related product known as sodium coco sulfate, which is also a coconut derivative, may be less irritating than SLS or SLES. Look for shampoos made with essential oils, or wash your hair with baking soda.”

“Some products containing SLS include a brief warning somewhere stating that there’s a chance the product could cause skin irritation, dryness or redness on sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, always read ingredient labels carefully, and opt for natural skin care products as much as possible, including those that are homemade or store-bought but labeled hypoallergenic and organic.
If you are going to use products containing SLS, try to avoid heating them and mixing them with very warm water, since this can open up the skin’s pores and lead to worsened reactions. One study found that warmer water caused SLS to lead to more skin irritation.
When it comes to avoiding it in foods, your best bet is to limit consumption of processed foods (such as bottled juices, frozen meals and liquid eggs) and read ingredient labels.”

https://www.ewg.org/

Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.

Toxic Chemical Load #2: Phthalates

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Toxic Chemical Load #2: Phthalates
March 7, 2023 

Sometimes I wish I had not failed chemistry. I was great at math, I liked science, but for some reason, my seventeen-year-old brain did not want to comprehend chemistry. The more I discover how products are made with health compromising chemicals, I wonder if chemistry would help me make sense of it all?

I express gratitude every day for the privileges of living in a world with electricity, modern plumbing, HVAC and vehicles. I understand how sanitation and modern appliances create a hygienic and convenient lifestyle. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to these modern perks. So many products and services are created with toxic materials or are filled with them.

As a millennial, I grew up in a world of plastic, fast-food, tv and pop-tarts. My parents were raised with less and higher quality (usually American made) goods. There was a simplicity and minimalism that required patience. If you wanted something, you had to save for it. Once you could afford it you would go to a physical store and buy it. Our generation is spoiled with LOTS of things that can be acquired on a low budget or with credit cards. We are completely disconnected from the supply chain and the true cost of things.

Our blind consumption of stuff and busy lifestyle habits leave us susceptible to encounter a wide range of toxins. Our air, water, food and habitats are filled with toxic chemicals. We really cannot avoid all of them. We do have some control though. We can choose products with less toxins and we can slow our lives down to detox. We must become educated consumers if we hope to steward healthy lifestyles for our families.

Today, we are highlighting another chemical and showing how to make simple changes to prevent toxic overload in your life.

 


 

What: Phthalates (ortho-phthalates) – commonly used in plastics (to make it soft) and used as “fragrance” and “parfum” in personal care products and home goods like air fresheners. Also found in vinyl flooring and other home finishes.

 

Research Blurb:

“One of their common uses is to soften vinyl plastic. Things like shower curtains, boots, and IV tubing are made from that same hard white plastic that a plumber would use, but when you add about 30% by weight to it of a specific phthalate, you get soft pliable vinyl plastic. Phthalates are also used in many personal care products such as colognes, perfumes, soaps, and shampoos, in the coatings of some medications, and in vinyl tubing used for food processing. I would estimate that phthalates are used in many hundreds if not thousands of different products.

One primary way that people can be exposed to phthalates is through diet. For example, it’s been shown that these chemicals can leach into food from vinyl plastic equipment and materials, food preparation gloves, and food packaging materials. Phthalates can also migrate into indoor air and household dust from products like vinyl flooring and wall coverings.” (1)

 

Health Concerns: Known to disrupt hormones, especially testosterone in males and carcinogenic.

 

Research Blurb:

“PVC can contain as much as 57% chlorine. Carbon—derived from petroleum products—is also often used in its manufacture. Due to the toxins that can potentially be released during manufacture, when exposed to fire, or as it decomposes in landfills, PVC has been dubbed by some medical researchers and environmentalists as the “poison plastic.”
PVC-related health concerns are as yet to be statistically proven, however, these toxins have been linked to conditions that include but are not limited to cancer, fetal developmental setbacks, endocrine disruption, asthma, and diminished lung function. While manufacturers point to PVC’s high salt content as being natural and relatively harmless, science suggests that sodium—along with the release of dioxin and phthalate—are in fact potential contributing factors to the environmental and health hazards PVC pose.” (2)

Where: In ALL types of plastic, hygiene products, home goods and home finishes.

 

Research Blurb:

“How can I reduce my exposure to these phthalates?
• Avoid plastics known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl (with recycle code 3).
• Choose personal care products that are identified as “phthalate-free” or “fragrance-free.”
• Prior to undergoing medical procedures (especially recurring ones, like dialysis) plan ahead by requesting medical devices or equipment that do not contain DEHP. This is especially important for protecting boys from the reproductive effects of DEHP (during pregnancy, in infancy, and around the time of puberty).
• Minimize exposure to dust, which can contain some of the phthalates listed above.
o Wash your hands and your child’s hands frequently, especially before preparing food, and before eating.
o Clean floors regularly, using a wet mop or a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if possible.
o Wipe up dust regularly, using a damp cloth.
• Eat more fresh food, and less processed and packaged food.” (8)

 

Suggested Changes to Make:

Clean your house more often (with natural products of course!) because dust contains phthalates.

DO NOT drink water out of plastic and avoid pre-packaged food. Use a glass or (lead free) stainless steel water bottle.

Consume purified water.

Upgrade food storage containers and serve ware to glass, ceramic, wood and (lead free) stainless steel.

READ LABELS. Replace ALL products with “fragrance” and “parfum”. This includes shampoo, soap, cologne, lotion, air fresheners, and cleaning products. There are plenty of items available without phthalates. You made need to find a health food store or search online.

AVOID all plastic numbers 3, 6 and 7 (found within the arrow triangle symbol that signals how to recycle it).

Sources to learn more:

(1) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/the-big-3-why-phthalates-should-be-restricted-or-banned-from-consumer-products/
(2) https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-pvc-plastics-820366
(3) https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-plastics-820362
(4) https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-everyday-plastics-820348
(5) https://www.thoughtco.com/recycling-different-types-of-plastic-1203667
(6) https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates-cosmetics
(7) https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html
(8) https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/fact-sheets/phthalates
(9) https://www.thoughtco.com/is-it-safe-to-drink-hose-water-609429

It’s been a long journey for me to remove common toxic products from my life. I still have a far way to go. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when your eyes get opened. If you feel this way, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “what is one change I can make in this season?”. We are on a journey to better health.

What changes have you made or are interested in making? Leave us a comment below!


Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.