Why Buy Toxic Products When There Are Healthier Alternatives?

January 26, 2010

OK, I get it – you don’t buy that climate change could be happening or that coal-burning power plants do any damage to anyone. Point taken, I will leave you alone…after I say this: Even if you don’t believe any of the hype, wouldn’t you rather buy products that are less toxic for both yourself and the world around you? So climate change is bunk and the world is fine…but why continue buying stuff that could hurt you when there are healthier alternatives available to you? In the last few years, in response to the “green” market, a plethora of products have come to market that are safer, healthier, and less damaging than those of the past, making it very easy to replace your “well-known” products with something better for the planet. And that’s great for everyone aside from any “climate change hysteria” or “green panic” that you may feel is going on!

I know it’s difficult to change from what you know to what you don’t know yet. I totally understand. If you have been buying a certain something for what seems like eternity, changing to a newer version of it can be a little scary. Will it work as well? Will it taste as good? Isn’t it more expensive? Everyone who starts to, and sorry for this, “go green”, has the same questions. But what they find is that yes – it works just as well, it tastes even better, and it’s not really any more expensive. And even if it was, isn’t a few extra pennies worth it to keep toxic stuff out of the ground and our bodies? I think so, and I think you would too if you gave a few of these alternatives a shot. While I was able to come up with many of these, I also asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter for their input, so many thanks to all of them. Let’s check out a list of long-time household staples and their healthier alternatives…

Traditionally Grown Fruits And Vegetables – Sure, you have eaten them your entire life…and nothing bad has happened yet! Or has it? Many underlying health problems could be related to a lifetime of pesticide consumption, especially now that farmers are using more and more of it. The healthier alternative? Buy organic. No pesticides and only natural organic fertilizers make for a healthier dining choice. Some studies have shown that organic foods are no healthier than traditional foods, but those studies are not taking into account the toxins sprayed on the food that you then ingest. You wouldn’t knowingly drink a bottle of toxic stuff, so why eat it on your fruits and vegetables? Need help choosing? Check out this list of foods you should at least try to buy organic versions of.

Fake Sugar, AKA Aspartame & The Like – People have been using products like Sweet’N Low and Equal for many years, but I don’t really understand why. Instead of raw sugar, which is completely natural, products like these contain aspartame and saccharin – both of which have been the subject of studies on their safety. Why use man-made sweeteners when sugar (or even honey) taste just as good, are just as cheap, and are completely natural and safe? I will pass on the chemical stuff, thanks!

Windex – Windex is made from water, Isopropanol alcohol, and the chemicals 2-Butoxyethanol and Ethylene glycol n-hexyl ether. Throw in a little blue dye for effect and you have a nice bottle of toxic cleaner that cleans no better than vinegar and water. Another upside? Water and vinegar are cheaper than Windex, too.

Bleach – Using chlorine bleach releases dioxin, furans and other organochlorines into the air, can cause sore throats, coughs, wheezing, shortness of breath, fluid in the lungs and studies have shown a relationship between dioxin exposure and cancer, birth defects, and developmental/reproductive disorders. Sounds like a great idea, right? Not really. Luckily there are alternatives to bleach that are safer for both your family and the planet like vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, borax, and washing soda.

Bottled Water – There was a time when everyone was buying bottled water; it was all the rage. But did you know that as much as 40% of the bottled water sold in the U.S. is just filtered tap water anyway and that production of the plastic bottles to meet our demand for bottled water takes the equivalent of about 17.6 million barrels of oil? Buy yourself a reusable bottle and be done with the plastic.

Chemical-Laden Fertilizers – Sure, everyone used Miracle-Gro and the like at some point in their lives and saw how amazing their plants and lawn grew. But fertilizers like this are full of all sorts of chemicals which get on our food, our clothes, and work their way into our water supply. Fertilizer run-off is food for algae blooms, which “create green lakes with low oxygen which can cause fish kills or loss of cold water habitat, add a foul taste and smell to the drinking water, become a neighborhood nuisance and produce poor water quality for fish, wildlife and humans.” (Friends of Water) Instead, try natural organic compost fertilizer which harms nothing, works just as well, and leaves no trace once it’s done it’s job.

Shampoos/Soaps Full Of Parabens – All those soaps and shampoos we have been using for years are full of ingredients I cannot pronounce, but one of the worst is Parabens. Parabens can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, and some food products. According to studies, parabens are linked to cancer, immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity. Why would you want to take the chance when there are perfectly safe alternatives on the market from companies like Dr. Bronners, Avalon Organics, and Tom’s of Maine? These cost no more than their toxic brothers and sisters and are better for you and the environment all at once.

Cleaning Supplies – You COULD go and continue buying your Fantastic or 409, but seeing as how they are toxic for you and your home, why do it? You remember baking soda, right? Sure you do! My friend Beth has a great post on the many, many uses of baking soda that you should check out, and there are plenty of safe, non-toxic cleaners on the market today if you don’t want to make your own. In fact, most of them are on the same shelf as the toxic stuff right in your local Target store, so next time you are there reach for something from Seventh Generation or Method if you can.

Well, there you have it – a few safer alternatives that you can change out for the “tried and true” toxic ones you have been using for years. Just because it has been used forever doesn’t mean that it is inherently safe; that’s why it is important to use products that you know and trust not to be harmful to yourself, your family, or your surroundings. It’s often as easy as looking on a different shelf at the grocery store – those alternatives are right there in front of you if you take an extra 10 seconds to look for them. And I guarantee that once you start, and again, I apologize for the oft-overused phrase, “going green”, you may never look back. After all, it’s the health of everything around us we are talking about…separate from climate change hysteria.

Photo from Shutterstock

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Comments (14)

  1. Sherri says:

    Great post! It is unreal how people are still choosing to purchase toxic products. Windex costs more than a large bottle if vinegar which can be mixed with water, how is that not understood? I am so thankful that I gave been able to raise my boys in a completely chemical free environment. (Sickness has been near nonexistant too!)

  2. Michele says:

    “Why would you want to take the chance when there are perfectly safe alternatives on the market from companies like Dr. Bronners, Avalon Organics, and Tom”™s of Maine?”
    Please consider buying from small business as well.It is soo important to keep small business alive and well. There are many reasons to support the little guy. Consider that when you buy from cottage industry soapmakers you are buying fresh product made with fresh wholesome food grade ingredients. Most likely the product is incredibly fresh,aromatic and still possess viable beneficial properties that oils, butters and essential oils impart into the product.
    We do lots of research and put great consideration into our ingredients in an effort to offer you the most natural, organic and beneficial product possible – and each batch is a labor of love.
    The following is my favorite excerpt that in my opinion conveys the nuances of handmade soap so eloquently.
    “Homemade soap feels good: soft, rich, enveloping, soothing. The lather is dense and penetrating rather than thin and airy. It leaves an emollient film on your skin that makes it feel soft and sensuous. Homemade soap is comforting in ways which manufactured soap can never be: its look, its weight, its bulk, how it feels in your hands, looks in its dish. There is something ineffable about homemade soap. It”™s not homogenized, pasteurized, deodorized, sanitized or synthesized – it”™s one of a kind, every bar different, each unique. It is idiosyncratic in the way of all homemade and handmade things.”
    Ann Bramson

  3. david says:

    Because you really need to encourage people who aren’t normally interested in “green” products to look on another shelf in the store. That’s the first step and the point of the article. Small business is very important and maybe those people will start buying from them once they “get in the groove”, but for starting out its hard enough to get them to buy from a brand in Target, nevermind a small business they haven’t heard of.

  4. Michele says:

    Makes great sense but, I just wanted to invite people to also consider handmade venues. There are many opportunities to buy handmade “eco-friendly” products-food,produce, bath and body, clothig etc at Farmer’s Market, art markets, as well as many online venues that sell expressly handmade “green” recycled, repurposed, products.

  5. leslie says:

    I can clean anything with vinegar and baking soda!

  6. Craig says:

    I’ve used vinegar to clean my coffee maker and to freshen up jeans without subject them to the washing machine. I have to start using it for other things as well. I think it will be on my next BJ’s shopping list!

    I don’t see any reason to use a sugar alternative unless you have diabetes.

    I’m going to check out the bleach alternatives as well. Thanks!

  7. jlp says:

    really great post – thanks! it is a great list to send to friends and family who don’t understand why we choose to live the way we live- nontoxic vs toxic.

  8. Lucas says:

    The bit about sugar alternatives is vacuous. “Have been the subject of studies on their safety”, the same can be said about infant car seats. Consuming added sugar, particularly in the US, is not a great idea. If I’m eating/drinking things with additional sugar (HFCS or “natural” products) I am increasing my likelihood of obesity and diabetes regardless. Sugar alternatives won’t do this. There may be some partially founded argument in not consuming the alternatives either, however, in either case it’s extra stuff your body has to process somehow be it “natural” or not.

    • david says:

      No one said it was a great idea. The post is about natural non-toxic alternatives to man-made chemicals.

  9. Lucas says:

    I agree in most cases and strive to use these alternatives. However, many of you on here who state – “Why would you not…” are just as narrow sighted as those who are ambivalent to the existence of these alternatives.

  10. Carla says:

    I use many homemade cleaners, but its hard to convince someone to make the switch when they are used to wanting to kill everything. Vinegar and baking soda is just too ineffective for a lot of people. Safer brands like Bio Kleen and Seventh Generation is the next best thing.

  11. Marcy says:

    Carla– those other brands are a step in the right direction, but people should also know that vingear *is* an excellent disinfectant:

    “Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar””the kind you can buy in the supermarket””kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses).”

    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/vinegar-kills-bacteria-mold-germs.html

  12. David says:

    As we all should, Danika. I guess my point wasn’t to show products that are 100% organic and nontoxic, which there aren’t many of, but rather to show “healthier” alternatives that are available everywhere.

  13. Love it. However, just an FYI Avalon Organics has many of the same synthetic chemicals in it as many conventional products. They really aren’t much different.

    And Toms of Maine used to be good, but since they were bought out by Colgate they’ve been slowly and quietly slipping synthetic ingredients into some of their products so make sure you read the labels.