The Savvy Path

    Six Steps to Simplify {and Declutter} Your Home

    Time to roll up the sleeves and dig in to a New Year's resolution. What shall it be? Decluttering? Zero-waste living? Plastic free living? Even we admit that sometimes the notion of decluttering the house sounds more enticing than reducing exposure to harmful chemicals. What if you didn’t have to choose? What if embracing one led to actions that include the other?

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    9 Short-Cuts For Cleaning With Vinegar

    Lovin' Short Cuts

    I’ll admit it – managing my daughter’s autism is more important than cleaning, and housework is a task that often can fall by the wayside. It’s important to our family, though, that our house is clean and toxin-free, so I need to keep up on it as best I can.

    But even that little bit of cleaning can be tiring – and finding safer products can be even more tiring.  So I’m on a mission to help moms like me, who are raising kids with disabilities, allergies and sensitivities, detox their family into a better life – AND find time to take care of mom. That means making short cuts that are simple and affordable. 

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    My Famously Fantastic Simple Weed Killer

    It is a Jungle Out There

    A few summers ago, when lawn services pushed warning flags of caution into suburban lawns (alerting children and animals alike to STAY OFF!) I headed out to pluck and cuss. My fingers and thumb engaged in a weed tug-of-war; with me being determined to prove which of us species was the stronger. Knowing that if I plucked only its little weed-neck, spidery roots would return with a vengeance in a matter of weeks.

    One season, I convinced myself the tiny green plants looked “quaint” growing between the bricks. I told myself I was going for the “cottage-y” look. When I returned from a vacation, my quaint brick décor was 23 inches high. Our home moved right past “cottage-y” and straight into “abandoned lot,” which I’m not sure the neighbors appreciated.

    There must be a better, and better-for-you, option than the herbicides we had sprayed over previous years. Staring at my 100-foot long brick walkway, I tapped my flip-flopped toes. How to make this…fun?

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    A Powerful Lesson of Mold

    That Nagging Voice 

    In the spring of 2000 I walked into the home for the first time and immediately knew something was wrong.

    I told my husband we needed to eliminate it from our house-hunting options, even though it was 5,500 square feet and would easily accommodate our eight children and three pets. We were preparing to move cross-country from Illinois to Colorado. Unable to find the right home, our realtor suggested we reconsider. “Think of the potential,” he said. My husband agreed. “It’s five levels. We’ll make it our own.” Chris’s optimism led me to a new vision for the house and how we might use it.

    A nagging feeling remained, but I pushed it down.

     We moved into the home in June. Within six months one of our children was diagnosed with a seizure disorder. Within a year our bird died and our dog was diagnosed with diabetes. Mood disorders surfaced in the kids. We were at the doctor repeatedly. I assumed it was the change in elevation.

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    Cutting Back on BPA | A Journey Worth Taking

    When I first heard about BPA and its potential to disrupt hormones, I was in disbelief.  After all, I had been drinking from plastic water bottles for years. Surely I would know if plastic- specifically bisphenol A- was harmful!

    However, after our health crisis in 2008, I learned to ask questions about the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. I learned not to assume anything when it comes to toxicity in our environment. 

    Because we were radically altering everything about our lifestyle, the thought of eliminating plastic was overwhelming. But I knew from experience that every change matters, no matter how small.

    Small Changes

    My first step was to eliminate plastic water bottles. After reading that it takes anywhere from 400-1,000 years for one plastic water bottle to decompose, I felt compelled to make the change. I learned that BPA-free didn’t necessarily mean toxin-free. Studies now tell us that the common substitute BPS (bisphenol S) may be just as hazardous. I transitioned to glass (with silicone sleeves) and stainless steel water bottles. They come in handy during the summertime in Arizona!

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    Game On! A New App for Your Small Changes

    What do you get when you combine 20 years of research, an innovative postdoctoral researcher and mobile technology? A handy new tool to empower change.

    What we recognize,we can change.

    The handy tool is Detox Me, a new smartphone app aimed to help the average consumer recognize potentially toxic chemicals found in many household and personal care products. Once hazards have been identified, users are encouraged to make simple changes that will decrease exposure and possibly prevent long term, harmful effects. The innovative scientist  behind this project is Jessica Helm, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Silent Spring Institute. She’s determined to bring the Institute’s research findings to a broader audience.

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    Not Ready to Embrace Nontoxic Living? That's Cool.

    Are you a little skeptical about 'nontoxic living?'  

    We get it. We used to be, too. We had thoughts like “If the products are on the shelf, they must be safe” and “if this nontoxic living thing is legit, why didn’t I know about it before now?” We used to go into the grocery store and think the organic strawberries were nothing more than a scam for more money. We filled our carts with personal care products and assumed they were safe because, well, why wouldn’t they be!?

     And most of all we would read stuff about nontoxic living and think “this is bizarre, crunchy, woo woo stuff.” And seriously, who has the time for this? Or the money?

    So you know what? It’s not wrong to think like this.

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