Karen Leland

7 steps to a greener, healthier home

Beth Greer thought she was leading a healthy life. But after a lifetime of eating right and exercising regularly, at age 49, she was diagnosed with a 5-centimeter tumor in her chest. Greer, who has a strong belief in the body's ability to heal itself, weighed her risky surgical options and decided to go another route.

For six months, she followed an all-organic diet, ate raw food, did an internal cleanse and cleaned up the everyday chemicals found in her home environment. When she went in for a thermoscan one year later, there was no evidence of any mass.

Last week, Greer's book Super Natural Home: Improve Your Health, Home, and Planet--One Room at a Time
was released. In it, she shares relevant research and practical advice on some simple ways to clear the chemicals that go in you, on you and around you:

  1. Eat organic or pesticide-free foods whenever possible.
    One 1997 study from Mt. Sinai Medical Center found that women with high levels of the popular crop pesticide DDE in their blood were four times more likely to develop breast cancer than women with lower levels. Two vegetables Greer says to go organic on all the time include tomatoes and potatoes.
  2. Use chemical-free body-care products and cosmetics.
    Greer says consumers need to read the label on these types of products much more carefully. Watch out for parabens, as well as the chemicals DEA (used as a foaming agent in shampoo and baby wash) and BHT (used as a solvent in lipstick and nail polish). For more information on how the cosmetics you use rate, go to www.safecosmetics.org.
  3. Clean your house with non-toxic, natural cleaning products.
    Try vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Avoid chlorine bleach, strong solvents and ammonia whenever possible. "It's trial and error as to what will work," says Greer. "You may need to use some elbow grease, but the trade off is that you're not using harsh chemicals." Clorox and Shaklee (among others) both have green cleaning products.
  4. Avoid volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are found in vinyl wallpaper and floor coverings, new carpeting and paint.
    VOC's can often be identified by their plastic smell - reminiscent of a beach ball. Companies such as Bed Bath and Beyond and Target are starting to offer products with low or no VOCs.
  5. Sleep on a mattress made from untreated, non-toxic natural materials.
    If you can't afford a new mattress, buy a wool and organic cotton mattress topper. Natural mattresses are sold at J.C. Penney and IKEA.
  6. Switch to sheets and towels made with bamboo or organic cotton.
    Regular cotton is one of the most intensively sprayed crops in the world. By some estimates, cotton accounts for 25% of all pesticides used in the U.S. Check out Macy's and Pottery Barn, both of which sell organic cotton.
  7. Get rid of non-stick, Teflon cooking pans.
    When preheated, Teflon emits potentially toxic fumes that have been known to kill pet birds. Use cast-iron, stainless steel, enamel or glass cookware. Martha Stewart and Cuisinart both sell a green line of cookware.

Want to find out how "supernatural" your home is? Go to www.supernaturalmom.com and take the quiz.


Sign up for the Vibrant Nation
newsletter and stay connected!