A little while back, I wrote about some home improvement books we picked up from Amazon, and I’d planned to read them and post what I thought about each book. I’ve finally finished one of the three, Super Natural Home by Beth Greer, so I’ll just give you a rundown of what’s in the book, what I thought was interesting, and what I thought wasn’t so interesting.
When I bought the book, I was thinking it’d cover some ways to make home improvements that were environmentally friendly and personally healthy. Which it does and it doesn’t. The book is really more about getting rid of household things (e.g., cleaners, personal hygiene stuff, food, and even furniture) that contain harmful chemicals or ingredients. The book also provides plenty of suggestions and information about how to integrate healthy and non-harmful replacements into the household. So it’s more focused on things like DIY kitchen cleaner than DIY natural lighting. Even though I was expecting something different, the book turned out to be pretty informative on things I hadn’t really thought about.
The book is split into sections, including ‘What Goes in You’ (Food) and ‘What Goes on You’ (hygiene products), and each section discusses products to avoid (e.g., sodium laurel sulfate in toothpaste, MSG in food). It’s at times a little overwhelming how many potentially harmful ingredients there are in so many of the things we use regularly, but the book does point out that you can’t quit using the products in question all at once (or it’d be extremely hard to do so). However, there are some pretty easy starting points, such as not drinking bottled water and getting a non-BPA water container to drink filtered water from. (I recently got us some Klean Kanteen bottles made of stainless steel instead of plastic.)
One slightly questionable aspect of the book is the harmful ingredient issue. The things deemed harmful by the book are largely either unregulated (chemicals in hygiene products) or regarded as safe in certain amounts (pesticides used in farming). The book does reference studies that suggest the harmfulness of the ingredients, but a certain amount of the argument is based on a better-safe-than-sorry mindset. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing–I’m more inclined to believe not ingesting chemicals is safer than doing so. In any case, there are lots of references and suggestions for further reading that I imagine support the book’s claims (although I haven’t checked any of them out yet).
Overall, I think the book includes some helpful advice and information that you can’t get on the back of the shampoo bottle. We’re trying to be more aware of what’s in the things we buy and looking for alternatives to things that could be harmful. (I’ve even started washing dishes with baking soda and cleaning the countertops with vinegar and water.) So even though it wasn’t exactly what I expected, there’s plenty of information in the book that makes it worth having.
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Things I’ve learned from the book:
*Try to avoid plastics containing BPA. The verdict seems to still be out on this one (here and here), but like I said earlier, I’d rather be safe than sorry. This means avoiding drinks in plastic bottles (water, soda, etc.) and some canned goods (which are lined with an epoxy containing BPA). We’re drinking filtered water at home and staying away from sodas.
*Look out for MSG and its many euphemisms (see here). We’re spending even more time looking through the ingredients at the grocery store and trying to avoid things that contain ingredients we can’t pronounce.
*Some non-organic vegetables are more harmful (potatoes, peanuts) than others (onions) because of the level of pesticides used. We’ve joined our local organic CSA and are eating as many vegetables as we can that are grown locally.
Disclaimer: We weren’t paid or perked for writing about this product. We just wanted to share it with you!