Sometimes you just wish there was a book about the specific issue you and/or your family are grappling with. Perhaps, for instance, you’ve found your children being chased by a giant cigarette lighter? Or you might be pregnant and have forgotten how to have sex? Or maybe you’re
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Over the years, switching to nontoxic products has become a popular trend. But, as moms ourselves, we understand how overwhelming it can be to consider a lifestyle change. We founded Branch Basics with the idea that simple swaps in your cleaning closet could be the jumpstart to living chemical-free.
For many people, the swap has been influenced by various headlines. One study compared cleaning your home with conventional products to smoking an entire pack of cigarettes every day. Additionally, the EPA has reported that indoor air quality is actually worse than outdoor air quality.
With every reason to make the swap, here is a beginner’s guide to non-toxic home cleaning. We call this process our Clean Sweep with just three simple steps.
Pull out all of the cleaners (and pesticides) you currently have in your home. Yes, even the dusty ones deep in the back of the cabinet! Once you have these out, review them for red flag words, like “caution, warning or danger.”
Cleaning companies are not required by law to list their ingredients, so any cleaners that are not transparent about their ingredients should be taken out of your home. Remove anything with parfum or fragrance, as the word fragrance represents a fragrance recipe that may have never been tested for safety. (Pro tip: You can use essential oils to make scents you like.)
Other common ingredients to avoid are:
- Perchloroethylene or “PERC”
- Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS”
- EPA registered pesticides like Chlorine
- Methylisothiazolinone “MIT”
- Benzisothiazolinone “BIT”
- Any of the Isothiazolinone family
- Ethoxylated Alcohols
Finally, toss your dryer sheets and fabric softeners if they’re loaded with carcinogens such as dichlorobenzene and benzyl acetate, respiratory irritants such as chloroform and benzyl alcohol, neurotoxins like linalool and ethanol, and endocrine disruptors such as phenoxyethanol and phthalates.
For any ingredient you are unsure of or don’t recognize, the internet has great resources like the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning, where you can look up health ratings from 1-10 (1 being the safest to 10 being the most toxic).
Another excellent tool is the Think Dirty® app, an easy way to evaluate ingredients in your beauty, personal care and household products. Just scan the product barcode and it will give you easy-to-understand info on the product and its ingredients. We recommend that household products have ingredients rated A on EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning or a zero on Think Dirty.
If you find products that have toxic chemicals in them, remove them from your home. If you aren’t ready to part with some of your products, put them in an airtight Sterilite container in your garage or backyard. This simple act of removal will improve your air quality immediately.
Now it’s time to streamline. Do some research and find items that are plant-based or otherwise naturally-based. Branch Basics offers a variety of nontoxic alternatives to popular household products, like laundry detergent and bathroom cleaner. The Honest Company created safe baby and beauty products. And Beautycounter provides safer skin care and cosmetics. You can even scour the internet for resources for homemade alternatives, too. If it feels overwhelming, start with your most-used products and work your way down the list.
Switching to nontoxic cleaning supplies is one of the easiest ways to start creating a healthier home and there’s so much information out there that can walk you through what should and shouldn’t be in your products. Simple swaps can make a big difference for your family.
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Amy Schumer's 'Growing' on Netflix is one of the most honest depictions of pregnancy we've seen on TV
For some celebrities, pregnancy is a time to retreat from the public eye and be more strategic about what they share online. They guard their personal lives a little closer, and their social media presence gets a little more curated.
But when Amy Schumer announced her pregnancy in October, she didn’t stop sharing. We saw—and heard, in some of her more graphic Insta stories—just how hard this pregnancy and the resulting hyperemesis (an extreme form of morning sickness) have been on Schumer.
Schumer’s humor has always been real, and her new Netflix special, Growing, is one of the realest descriptions of pregnancy I’ve ever seen on my TV.
As a mom who didn’t glow as much as I groaned through my pregnancy, I laughed so hard I cried. And as a mom of a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I cried tears of relief.
In one hour Amy Schumer simultaneously made me feel seen and helped me see a happy future for my son, and I can’t thank her enough.
[Warning, light spoilers ahead]
Amy Schumer: Growing | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
The Netflix description for this special describes it as “both raunchy and sincere” and that’s totally accurate. If you’ve seen Schumer’s previous Netflix special, you know you can’t watch this until the kids are in bed.
In Growing Schumer proves that pregnancy didn’t make her a different person or take the curse words out of her vocabulary. She is who she is, she just happens to be becoming a mom, too.
And becoming a mom has not been easy. Schumer’s description of yeast infections, and vomiting and hemorrhoids and all the parts of pregnancy that nobody puts on a felt letter board gave me flashbacks and validation.
In Growing, Schumer is saying that it’s okay not to love being pregnant and that it doesn’t mean you don’t love that baby growing inside you. It’s a message more women need to hear because it’s hard to see photo after photo of smiling mamas sporting cute bumps and wonder if you’re the only woman who doesn’t love feeling someone sit on your bladder.
That feeling (the emotional one, not the bladder one) made me feel alone in my pregnancy, but it’s been three years since I wondered if there was something wrong with me. These days, I’m more worried about whether my son, who is now a preschooler, will grow up to think there’s something wrong with him.
As the mother of a kid on the spectrum, I gasped when Schumer explained that her husband, Chris Fischer, is too. I sobbed when she described some of her husband’s quirks, because I see them everyday in my son.
I don’t want to spoil the special too much, but let me tell you this: In revealing that her husband, the father of her future child, is on the spectrum, Schumer gave me so much hope.
I’m so grateful that Schumer (and Fischer, who must be on board with this) shared that bit of info because sitting there in front of my TV all the versions of my son’s future that got erased when we got our ASD diagnosis came flooding back.
I could see him as a grown man, and he wasn’t alone. He was falling in love with a partner like Schumer. He was becoming a father like Fischer. He was happy (and different, in the way Schumer describes her husband) but he wasn’t alone.
Schumer’s trademark raunch isn’t for everybody, but her authenticity and vulnerability sure is for me. For 60 minutes I watched a woman stand alone on a stage and I felt less alone.