The 10 Easiest Ways to Reduce Toxins in Your Home

1. Open your windows (even in the winter, even if you live in Michigan).
Due to more energy-efficient construction, newer homes allow little air in or out except through the windows and doors.  The EPA warns that indoor air pollution is now often a bigger problem than outdoor air pollution.  Opening your window, even for just a few minutes, can drastically improves indoor air quality.  You might want to focus on opening windows after cleaning and in rooms where your kids spend lots of time (for example, children's bedrooms before bedtime).

2. Take off your shoes at the door.
Does your child spend a lot of time on the floor, maybe even licking the floor?  Mine does. Taking off your shoes keeps a lot of man-made toxins out of your house, off your floor, off of little kids' hands and out of kids' mouths.

3.  Avoid flame retardants in sleepwear.
Choose snug-fitting 100% cotton pajamas for children (and you) instead of pajamas made of synthetic fabrics (such as polyester), which are treated with flame retardants.

4. Use iodized salt.
I like kosher salt and sea salt too, but I make sure I sometimes cook with iodized salt.  Iodine buffers against chemicals such as perchlorate that can disrupt your thyroid system.

5.  Keep strong fumes out of your house.
When you bring home an item with strong fumes (dry cleaning, new car seat, new particle board furniture, new mattress), let it air out outside or in your garage before you bring it inside. Those fumes are chemicals, and they are not good for you.

6.  Wash hands often, but don't use soaps with triclosan.
Most antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, which is potentially toxic and probably contributes to the creation of super-bacteria.  Regular soap and water are just as effective at killing bacteria and microbes anyway.  If you really want antibacterial (in the kitchen after handling raw meat, for example), try a natural alternative, such as Cleanwell soaps.

7. Use plastic wisely.
Consider plastic alternatives, especially for food storage and preparation and for teethers and other infant toys.  Basically, you are trying to eat less plastic.  When you use plastic, use #1, 2, 4, 5 if you can.  Don't microwave plastic and replace plastic food containers that look worn.

8. Switch to greener cleaners.
When I started thinking about greener cleaning products, I noticed that the instructions on my household cleaner spray stated that I should rinse with water any surface that would come in contact with food after use.  I used this cleaner all the time in the kitchen and had never rinsed the counter after. In addition, my teething baby often sucked/licked our wood floor and I was pretty sure my floor cleaner wasn't safe to be ingested.  Most cleaners don't even list their ingredients.  I decided to switch to greener cleaners.  Method and Seventh Generation are two popular and easy-to-find brands for green cleaning products. Other benefits of greener cleaners:
-- no toxic residue
-- no toxic fumes
-- your kids can clean with you
-- no gloves necessary

9. Dust and vacuum (with a HEPA filter) often where your kids hang out.
Because dust contains chemicals in it that you don't want them to ingest or inhale.  (Regular household products "shed" chemicals over time and it ends up in your household dust.)  This one actually isn't that easy  for me, but I do try to focus on my kids' play area and bedrooms.  If you are a better house cleaner than I am, you probably already do this one.

10. Use fewer personal products.
Maybe you love your shampoo and don't want to change it, no matter what's in it.  One easy and cheap way to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemical ingredients in personal products is simply to use less of them.  Use less lotion, wear less make-up, wear less perfume.  This is especially true for children, who are more sensitive to hormone disruptors and other chemicals.  To reduce their exposure, just bathe your kids less often, use less shampoo and soap, slather them in less lotion, use less diaper cream, and cover up with clothes instead of using sunscreen.

Here are some other lists of ways to green your homes.  Warning: Some of these lists are very long and not very easy.

What are your easy tips for a healthy home? 

Meet the Authors of The Eco-Nomical Baby Guide, Part 2

Be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for the book 
The Eco-nomical Baby Guide by Monday (May 31st).  

To read part 1 of this Q&A, click HERE.

 The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways
 for Parents to Save Money and the Planet
Q&A with Rebecca Kelley and Joy Hatch,  

How did you become interested in frugal and green living (i.e., were your parents hippies?)?

Joy’s parents were the opposite of hippies: Midwesterners.  Still they were highly resourceful and saved on the trash bill by recycling, saved on the water bill by taking three minutes showers, and saved on the grocery bill by making almost everything from scratch including bread, yogurt, and ice cream..  Secondhand clothes were very common and touring garage sales was a thrilling family sport.

I [Rebecca] grew up in Nevada, which is not the eco-friendliest place in the world—at least it wasn’t in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I specifically remember watching an Earth Day special on T.V. in 1990 and instantly jumping onto the green bandwagon. I collected glass bottles to take the recycling center and adopted “reduce, reuse, recycle” as my mantra.

How do you gently encourage greener living with spouses, parents, coworkers, friends (besides giving them your book, of course)?

We lead by our wonderful examples! Ha! Joy’s husband, who’s a self-professed lazy environmentalist, was willing to make changes as long as they were incremental.  Going green is quite hip out here in the Pacific Northwest so many of our friends have similar lifestyles, but we do come across the occasional person who is shocked that we’re using cloth diapers.  When they see how easy cloth diapering has become (no pins!) they’re usually very interested.

What are your best blogging tips for new bloggers?  How about for veteran bloggers?

The best thing we learned about blogging is to write short posts! If you look at some of our early posts, you’ll see that they could easily be divided into three or even four separate posts. We’ve been blogging for two and a half years now, and I think we owe this in part to the art of the short-but-sweet post!

I don’t think we have any tips for veteran bloggers. We’re both practically computer illiterate and still don’t know what we’re doing half the time. I just checked out the book Problogger from the library. Maybe it will help us out.

Are you going to keep posting on your blog, Green Baby Guide? 

We plan to keep it going as long as it remains fun for us! For Joy, who still has a twelve-month-old sporting cloth diapers, it’s more relevant, but as our kids get older—we may find ourselves growing disconnected from the whole “green baby” world, which is so all-encompassing during pregnancy and those first two years.

We’re not sure yet what our future plans are, but we definitely hope to keep writing about green issues!


Thank you for answering my questions, Rebecca and Joy (a.k.a. The Green Baby Guide)!  Did everyone notice how I immediately implemented their advice to have short posts by splitting this Q&A into 2 posts?  I'm still working on keeping my posts short and sweet, since brevity is not one of my strengths (as you may have noticed).

How did you become interested in frugal and/or green living?

Favorite Potty Training Stuff

My 9-month old continues to poop on the potty almost every morning when she wakes up.  She has pooped (and peed) every day on the potty for the last 3 weeks.  If she eats lots of fruit, she sometimes has a small poop midday which I make no effort to get her on the potty for.  My nearly 3-year-old toddler just started using the potty for #2.  He uses it for about 50% of his poops, which is lots better than the 0% we had a week ago.  To read the beginning of this potty training saga, click here

So, let me tell you what I have discovered on my potty training journey.

BABYBJÖRN Little Potty - Blue

1.  This little potty rocks the house.
It is easy to clean (one single piece of plastic with no nooks, crevices, or corners).  It is BPA-free and phthalate-free.  I have already used it as a travel potty in the car for my barely potty trained toddler.  The pee guard is the perfect size, in my opinion.  It does require the boy to hold his pee-pee down himself a bit (which I consider a good thing, since he'll have to do that eventually on the big toilet when he's going #2).  My toddler and baby both love to sit on it.  My 9-month old can sit on it nearly unassisted.  Even though my toddler is a tall 3-year-old, the small size still works for him.  And a smaller potty will be advantageous when I begin #1 potty training my second child around 18 months.  (Before disposables, that's when kids used to potty train, folks!)

Update 11/18/14: I do believe the above potty has been discontinued (so sad!). However, the Baby Bjorn Smart Potty is only slightly larger and also excellent. My husband actually prefers the removable pot and finds it easier to clean. The Baby Bjorn potty chair is slightly bigger still, and is probably more appropriate for a baby at least 9 months old. The closest thing I have seen to the original now discontinued Baby Bjorn little potty is IKEA's LILLA potty ($5), which is much better than the one they made a few years ago and perfectly sized for a first potty for baby. The IKEA potty is also available on Amazon, but it's much cheaper at IKEA itself.

Safety 1st Potty 'n Step Stool

2.  This potty sucks.
This potty was supposed to save me money because of the 3-in-1 (potty chair, potty seat to put on top of toilet, plus stool) business.  During one potty session, my toddler didn't sit on the potty quite right, or perhaps all of his body parts weren't where they were supposed to be, and some of the pee did not go in the little removable pot.  Instead, it went inside the 3,000 nooks and crannies inside this plastic monstrosity.  Then, when I tried to use just the potty seat (what you put on top of a regular toilet) part of this potty, my son nearly ruined his private parts trying to sit on it with the pee guard -- which sticks up WAY too high and is WAY too thin and could do some serious damage to the family jewels.  I returned it, but first I had to completely hose it down to get off all the pee inside.

When you buy a potty chair or seat, imagine your child sitting down WHILE peeing and you cleaning up the mess.  Also imagine your child sitting down on the pee guard incorrectly and the possible bodily harm that may result.  Also imagine how easily the pee guard will fall off the potty seat into the toilet.  My sister fished a pee guard from a potty seat out of the toilet about 20 times and finally gave up and bought a different potty seat.

BABYBJÖRN Toilet Trainer - White/Black

3.  I love this potty seat.
The Baby Bjorn potty trainer seat is a thing of beauty.  It was my THIRD attempt at a seat to go on top of the toilet.  It fits on any size toilet seat -- you adjust it once, and then you never have to adjust it again.  It is has a handle to make it easy to take on and off the toilet, and you can use the handle to hang it up if you want.  It has a little bit of rubber around the bottom to keep it from slipping.  It is a single piece of plastic -- no nooks for pee to get stuck in! The pee guard is the same size as on the little potty.  Remember, if your pee guard to too large, it will be tough for your kid to even sit down.  Also, removable pee guards may fall into the toilet and guess who gets to fish it out?  So far, only the baby uses this potty seat much, but the toddler has tried it a time or two and likes it fine. 

6 Pair Gerber Training Pants 3T Boys fits 32-35 lbs

4.  These underpants catch the little drips.
And the poops too if necessary.  Since my toddler continues to poop in his underpants, I wash his poopy underpants with the cloth diapers, and they are holding up well.  If your toddler pees in his clothes, his pants will get wet too, but you will probably avoid a puddle on the ground.  Thanks to Jito for the tip about these!

Imse Vimse Training Pants - 28 to 37 lbs - Jungle/Zoo

5.  These training pants are good for church and other outings where wet pants will be pretty inconvenient.
Easy to pull up and down.  Good fit. Someone gave me some pull-ups and I kind of hated them.  The sides tore so easily when my toddler pulled them up or down.  Even when *I* pulled them up or down.  I like these training pants much better.  Plus, pull-ups are outrageously expensive.  Even if you don't cloth diaper, if your child poops predictably, you should consider a couple of these training pants.  You've washed clothes with pee in them before, right? Read reviews and comparisons of additional brands of training pants here and here.

Going to the Potty (First Experiences)Sesame S-Elmos Potty Time

7.  Books and movies
I bought many books about potty training, and then returned the duds.  The best ones (according to me and my toddler):  Going to the PottyEveryone Poops, and My Big Boy Potty.  Note that these books do not show your child doing anything stupid (unrolling a roll of toilet paper, for example) in the bathroom.  Why give them ideas?  My toddler also loved the movie Elmo's Potty Time.  My toddler still poops in his underpants, but when I say "Elmo poops in the potty,"  he looks like he's actually considering pooping in the potty for a moment.  If you want to be greener than me, check them out from the library instead of buying them.

6.  Prizes
There are no taboos for potty prizes, in my opinion.  Stickers, cookies, toys, TV -- I'll use anything.  One surprise was that my toddler actually prefers the teeny tiny stickers to the huge ones.  Bonus for me!

For more tips, tricks, and tales from our potty training adventures, CLICK HERE.

What's your favorite potty training stuff? 

Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had Kids

My Biggest Complaint About The Eco-nomical Baby Guide 

Where was this book THREE YEARS AGO when I had my first child???  I spent countless hours researching affordable green living on the Internet while holding my new baby on my lap and suffered through painful deliberations regarding endless purchasing decisions.  This book could have saved me a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears - and money

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet

Top 10 Things I Wish I’d Known 
Before I Had Kids
How to Spend Less on Baby

1. Don’t buy an infant car seat
Just buy a convertible car seat.  My babies grew out of our infant car seat in about 2 seconds.  It weighed a ton by itself and attaching it to my jogger stroller made the stroller ridiculously heavy.  I injured my wrist carrying our infant car seat so badly that I couldn’t chop vegetables or brush my teeth with my right hand for months.  My wrist still hasn’t healed completely 2 years later, and I still haven't forgiven the infant car seat.
2. You don’t have to bathe the baby every darn day
How dirty do they get before they can crawl?  My mobile 9-month old is lucky to get a bath once a week.

3. Consider a second-hand baby shower
A wonderful green alternative to the standard shower where you get lots of junk (I got a zillion burp cloths and flimsy washcloths) you don’t want anyway.  Invite your guests to give you their own gently used baby items and purchased used items.  If someone invited me to a shower like this, I would have tons of fun buying them a boatload of infant clothes at my favorite thrift store.  Also nice because it saves your guests money.

4. Cloth diapering is not as hard/gross as you think it is
No pins, no toilet dunking, lots of options and cuteness.  Unless you go the most expensive route, you will definitely save money.  If you use the same cloth diapers for more than one child, you will save tons of money.

5. A brief intro to infant potty training
It's not all or nothing!  It might work for you, and will save you money and make later potty training lots easier. 

6. Alternatives to bottled baby food
Make your own or buy regular baby-friendly food (like applesauce).  Less packaging, less money.

7. Best sources for used gear, and guidelines for buying it
Yes, under the right conditions, you can use a second-hand crib or car seat.

8. Great sources for greener toys
Alternatives to plastic junk.

9. Skip plastic baby bottles -- buy glass ones
Which plastics numbers are toxin-free?  Is it OK to put plastic through the dishwasher?  Sidestep the plastic drama and just use glass.  Who knew they still made glass bottles?

10. How to dispose of non-green cleaners
What to do with your household cleaners after you decide to make the switch to non-toxic ones.

Saving money while saving the earth works for me!

This post is part of
Top Ten Tuesday
Works for Me Wednesday
Frugal Friday

What do you wish you'd known before you had kids?

[To enter to WIN your very own copy of The Economical Baby Guide, click HERE.] 


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