Sustainable Living: The lowdown on Toxics

We are living in an increasingly toxic world. People are being exposed to toxic substances like it is nobody's business. Babies are born with high levels of mercury, BPA etc in their blood stream. It is extremely worrying because a lot of the sources of toxics are directly linked with our lifestyle. A lot of these then go on to cause diseases like cancer, some are powerful enough to cause gene mutations that result in birth defects, other disturb ecological balance by causing reproductive problems in animals and plants. There are some sources where you can easily avoid contact with toxic chemicals and others are more difficult, let's focus on what can be done, for now.

Food: This one is a no-brainer, organic, locally grown food contains the least amounts of toxics. Buying it from a farmer's market also reduces plastic packaging that adds to the toxic-cycle.

Cosmetics and Toiletries: These are loaded with toxic chemicals like phthalates and parabens which are directly linked to cancer as well as changing hormonal balances in animals and humans alike. All major brands contain these as they are commonly used a preservatives. It is easy to avoid these and other toxic chemicals if you switch to a more eco-friendly brand of make-up and hair/body-care products. Whilst you're at it also ensure what is being used when you visit salons and what you do with empty bottles and make-up containers.

Household Cleaning Products: It baffles me that people spend so much money on household cleaning products when vinegar and sodium bicarbornate will solve most problems and cause less allergies. In addition to exacerbating allergies, substances in cleaning products and detergents are also toxic to both human and animal, especially acquatic life. Switch to a more sustainable brand like Ecover for your cleaning needs.

Plastics: Plastics are derivatives of petrochemicals so all forms are toxic in one way or another. Avoid the use of plastic, reduce plastic where you can towards a toxic-free world. The easiest way to avoid plastics in your lifestyle is to stop using plastic bags, so if you don't carry your own bag already, start now. Stop using plastic water bottles and carry your own water - all the little things add up.

Electronics: Electrical and electronic items are the biggest sources of heavy metal pollution. Our consumption of electronics has reached highly unsustainable levels boosted by 'manufactured demand' and 'planned obsolescence'. What happened to using things until they broke? Make sure electronic items are properly recycled and not just tossed away.

Other things that can be added to the list include clothes, cars, baby diapers - the list is endless. Really, the best way to be toxic-free as well as green: simply buy less stuff. Most of what we have, we don't really need. And for most of what we need, there are greener options.

Photo Credit: Flickr