The holiday season is upon us. While you’re getting into the festive spirit by hanging up decorations or buying gifts for loved ones, there is chance that something not-so-festive could sneak into your home: toxic chemicals. Some of these chemicals have links to cancer, obesity, asthma and a slew of other health problems.
Here are some tips on how to create a jolly, and non-toxic, atmosphere in your home this holiday season.
Decorate the green way
Toxic chemicals can hide in festive items such as holiday trees, lights, and ornaments.
Phthalates can be found in plastic holiday ornaments, as well as scented items like candles. Phthalates are a group of chemicals linked to asthma, they can be a risk factor for diabetes, and one phthalate – DEHP – has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Scary stuff, but you can easily make your home smell like the holidays the natural way by using essential oils, cinnamon sticks, and evergreen branches.
When it comes to decorations, au natural is also best. Choose ornaments made of natural materials such as metal, wood or ceramic. Or, for family fun, make your own! Here are some ideas:
- Try crafting your own ornaments from things found in nature, like real evergreen branches, pine cones, chestnuts, sticks, twigs, pumpkins and gourds. You can compost these afterwards.
- Let your kids make decorations out of coloured construction paper. That way you can recycle the paper later.
- Re-use outgrown or worn-out cotton, linen or wool clothes to make your own holiday stockings or table runners.
One more thing to note: if you like to have a holiday tree, beware of fake ones– especially older ones – because they can contain lead and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). In California, most artificial trees are required to come with a warning label for this very reason. Research has shown that lead dust tends to leach out from fake trees over time. If you buy a real tree, ask your local tree farm if they use pesticides. If the tree still has roots, even better. You can plant it when you’re done!
Choose non-toxic gifts
From toys to electronics, there is a chance that whatever is on your loved one’s wish list, it might include nasty chemicals.
Looking for bubble bath, soap or other personal care products to give as a gift? These products can also contain toxic ingredients – some of which have been linked to cancer, allergies and other health problems. You can find a list of the Toxic Ten chemicals to avoid in personal care products by visiting environmentaldefence.ca/toxicten. Also read our latest report to find out how the five biggest cosmetics companies in Canada rank when it comes to toxics.
Kids are exposed to harmful chemicals when they put toys into their mouths. This is a concern because kids, and in particular babies, are vulnerable to environmental toxins because their biological systems are still developing. While shopping for toys, choose items that are made from natural materials such as wood, stainless steel and organic cotton.
Give the gift of nature
The best part of the holiday season is getting together and spending time with friends and family. It doesn’t mean we have to spend money, or bring unwanted chemicals into the home, to do so. Plan an outing such as skating, skiing or snowshoeing and take advantage of the beautiful nature in your area. Also, check out Environmental Defence’s Gifts for the Future to find meaningful gifts that inspire change and defend our environment.
By following the above simple tips, you can go a long way to making this holiday season festive and toxic-free. Want more ideas? Check out our Storify for highlights from our recent Twitter chat on the topic that we co-hosted with Green Moms Collective.
We wish you and your family a happy, and toxic-free, holiday season.
One lucky Family Food and Travel reader will win this fabulous set – open to CAN – ends 12/31
I try to use natural products when possible.
Julie G. says
I reuse bows on the presents and try to use recycled wrapping paper.
Fairly easily – no tree, no decorations and no turkey, and only give books as presents
Erin W says
I clean with my Norwex.
Have been using non toxic products for years now. Find you use less compared to toxic products.
We try to use non-toxic products in the house whenever possible.
Erika E says
I clean with a lot of homemade cleaning products so I’m able to keep toxins out.
Brandee H says
We are honest when people ask us what our son wants. We try to stay away from plastic toys. And this year we made felt decorations.
Victoria Ess says
By using non-toxic, all-natural cleaning products.
M Schmidt says
We always purchase a real tree from the University’s Forestry Department (not only is it non-toxic, but it is also harvested using the practice of good forest stewardship, with respect to the concepts of sustainable yield, biodiversity, and multiple use; and a portion of the tree sales are donated to the United Way).
Amy C says
I try to use non-toxic products.
Angela Mitchell says
I use many natural cleaning products for all my Christmas cleaning. And we also use reuable cotton bags to wrap our gifts in instead of wrapping paper.
i use a steam cleaner instead of harmful products nad try to use natural fresh ingredients in my baking and cooking
Elena S says
I try to make all our food from scratch and not use toxic cleaners
I use all natural cleaning products
Anna W says
We like to use newspapers to wrap our gifts and give mostly homemade gifts that are environmentally friendly. This year I am gifting homemade soy wax candles to my friends.
marlene smith says
i make organic homade cookies for christams
Mike Mottishaw says
‘reduce and re-use’ is a saying i try to apply daily, and i like all natural when possible of course!
GARRY S says
WATCH WHAT I CLEAN WITH
Sherry k says
I make bags for our gifts and we always clean with vinegar and water and soda
Kristina Ziegler says
I use Norwex products
Wanda Bergman says
I try to get everything organic if I can.
Giuliana Mariani says
I started using all natural products for my sensitive skin years ago and i have since incorporated all-natural and organic to my cleaning too!
we try to use natural products whenever possible
There are way too many chemicals in our environment without using them in our healthy & beauty products.
I use organic and natural products to clean, but my fav is still a vinegar and water spray bottle for quick clean ups
Carole B. says
vegan and organic lifestyle
Elaine R says
We use a steam mop for cleaning the floors.
Monique S says
We also use a stream cleaner to clean the floors!
Monique S recently posted..lnalloweentown:
literally want to be rich for the clothes
We only buy Christmas candles made in Canada and of 100% natural beeswax.
I use non scented lotions and natural household cleaners. I recycle all the holiday decorations and wrapping paper.
Jennifer Monteiro says
I prepare the food using natural ingredients.
Larissa V says
i clean my floors with natural products, and use norwex which has antibacterial properties and use just water!
Jennifer L. says
I only use non-toxic cleaners and other products in my house.
Caroline Moustache says
I avoid clothing softeners and use vinegar instead.
Caroline Moustache recently posted..Discount Code for Dryer Balls
Grace A says
By reading labels and checking things
Fiona Mullins says
Use natural cleaning products!
Tina L. says
I try to use natural products as much as possible.
Sara D says
I read the list of ingredients on cleaning products!
Nancy T says
I reuse bows, ribbons & gift bags that we’ve received from other people. We use my girls artwork papers as wrapping paper too!
L Cox says
What a wonderful prize this would be! Our whole family would benefit!
Beth R says
I recycle everything that can be recycled… which is most things!
We use all natural cleaning products and a real tree
Doreen Lamoureux says
I make my holidays non-toxic by not drinking alcohol :) :)
jenn g says
We make organic home baked goodies to give out as gifts.
I cleaned the house from top to bottom before our holiday company came using my steam mop. No chemicals for us!
Natalie yeoman says
I use a lot of homemade decorations
Christy Martin says
It is difficult but we start with an organic free range turkey.
Vanessa W. says
We like to clean our home with non-toxic, homemade cleaners and stay away from chemical air fresheners by using essential oils.
We use all natural cleaning products
kristen visser says
i try to use all natural cleaning products
Ashley Fryer says
I clean with vinegar.
liz l says
We use organic items