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Shopping For A New Rug? Head Spinning From All The Choices?

Here's an easy breakdown to pick the least-toxic rugs

#home, #interiordesign, #aesthetics, #piningforeverything. Can our homes literally please look like every decor hashtag we've ever followed on Instagram? Hands up if you think rugs are basically an expression of your soul, or if they're a necessity in your home to cushion the fall of little ones. Whatever your reason, I bet you want a rug that's both beautiful inside and out. The world of rugs is ginormous, and even picking a pattern that you want can be daunting, no less trying to figure out which material is the safest and least toxic. We've broken down the most important things to look for in a safe rug, so you can just focus on the design that completes your home.

Why a non-toxic rug is best

Little feet wobbling on the rug, happy dogs snoozing on the rug, and a tired human laying on the rug. You and your family spend A LOT of time at home, and most likely, without you knowing it, a lot of time with any rugs in your home. Rugs are one of those things in your home that surprisingly can contain a multitude of different harmful chemicals to given them desirable qualities like resisting every stain in the entire world. While these qualities are great, the chemicals used are not. Chemicals can include phthalates which are known endocrine disruptors and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS which can cause negative cardiovascular, endocrine, immunologic, reproductive and developmental effects (1).


What we want to avoid

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): VOCs are released as gases from chemicals used to produce rugs and can cause eye, nose and throat irritation (4). The primary source of VOCs when it comes to rugs is the glue used to hold rug components together (4).
  • Synthetic primary materials: These materials include plastics like polypropylene, nylon and synthetic rubber which can contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates (3).
  • Dyes: Many toxic chemicals are used in order to get the beautiful, bright colors we love in rugs (4). This is especially the case for wool rugs, as wool naturally resists color and is normally treated with harsh chemicals to make it hold the dye (3). We should note that this is just the case for conventionally dyed wool rugs. Many companies focused on health are now using safer chemicals and methods to dye rugs (3).
  • Glues and other adhesives: These are the main source of formaldehyde, a chemical that can cause ear, nose and throat irritation from short-term exposure and can potentially lead to cancer after long-term exposure (5).
  • Perfluorinated Chemicals: While stain-resistance might be all the rage, rugs that are stain-resistant or water-resistant are actually extremely bad for your health. Perfluorinated chemicals are used to give rugs these seemingly amazing properties, but can cause changes to fertility and negative neurological development in children (3,6). If you see the words 'waterproof' and 'stain-resistant' on a rug label, it's basically code word for "stay away! I've been treated with PFAS!"

Where these chemicals might be hiding

There are three (yes, three!) main areas that you should be concerned about when purchasing a rug. We've listed the best materials to look for when purchasing a rug to avoid the most toxic chemicals.

  • Tops of rugs. When looking for rugs, choose rugs that are primarily made of these materials (2).
  • Backing: If you've ever flipped over a rug wondering if it was reversible and saw a lattice-like, rubbery-looking, non-slip surface, that's the backing. Not all rugs have backings (for example flatweave and hand knotted rugs don't), but for rugs that do, look for backings that are made from hemp, cotton, or natural latex, instead of PVC or petroleum-based latex (3).
  • Rug pads: Rug underlay pads are usually put under rugs without backings to keep them from slipping or moving around. Rugs that have a backing usually do not need an underlay pad. Again, look for underlay pads made from hemp, cotton or natural latex and stay away from PVC or petroleum-based latex (3). Usually unless the label specifically says what the backing is made from, you can assume that it's a synthetic latex, which might likely contains phthalates (3).

Keep your eye out for these certifications for safer rugs

  • OEKO-TEX: This is an independent textile testing institute. Their products are certified-free from formaldehyde, heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates and other chemicals that cause harm to the body (7). You can search up their certified products here.
  • GREENGUARD: All certified GREENGUARD products meet stringent emissions standards based on established chemical exposure criteria (8). Their products also take into consideration the sustainability of a product (8).
  • Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS): This certification covers the entire supply chain, from the production of cotton all the way until the product reaches you in the store (8). Again, harmful chemicals are not allowed and a strong emphasis is placed on ensuring that products also do not contain chemical residues (8). All GOTS products contain 95 percent certified organic fibers (9).



References

  1. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp.asp?id=1117&tid;=237
  2. https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/best-nontoxic-rugs
  3. https://www2.mst.dk/Udgiv/publications/2016/08/978-87-93435-98-8.pdf
  4. https://healthybuilding.net/blog/274-sorting-out-the-vocs
  5. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=218&tid=39
  6. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/pfc/index.cfm
  7. https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/business/certifications_and_services/ots_100/ots_100_limit_values/ots_100_limit_values.html
  8. http://greenguard.org/en/about.aspx
  9. https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html
Roundups

Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaners

products you can buy to make your bathroom squeaky clean without dangerous fumes

Nobody likes doing it, but it's got to be done! Cleaning the bathroom doesn't have to be gross or involve lots of chemicals with dangerous fumes that leave your eyes teary and your head hurting. You can use an all purpose cleaner on most surfaces in the bathroom, but sometimes you need a little extra oomph to get rid of hard water stains and mold or mildew. Every now and then we also find ourselves needing to clear the drains too! We checked out all the lists and figured out which bathroom cleaning products are the safest and effective.

In addition to these products, we also love using a simple non-toxic all purpose cleaner and have lots of DIY cleaner recipes for getting your bathroom squeaky clean.

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Healthy eating should be about more than just healthy ingredients! While there are many different specific diets, most definitions of healthy eating involve choosing fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits. Refined grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and other unhealthy ingredients are left off the plate. But if healthy ingredients become contaminated with harmful chemicals, are they really healthy? It is time for healthy eating to incorporate more than just ingredients. Healthy eating should also include how the food is packaged and what materials the food comes into contact with while it is being processed, cooked, and stored.
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Roundups

The Best Non-Toxic Dish Soaps

Healthy, safe, and effective grease-cutting dish soap power

Updated for 2021!

Get your dishes clean without worrying about the chemicals in your dish soap. We rounded up the top 6 dish soaps without toxic chemicals or preservatives that are well-reviewed and easily available. You're welcome! We've had some questions about whether parents need a separate soap specifically for bottles and dishes. With these 6 picks, you can be rest assured that they will work well on your dinner plates but are also safe enough for baby bottles and toddler dishes. Also, for all the dishes you choose not to hand wash, take a peek at our dishwasher detergent roundup.

a) Attitude Dishwashing Liquid

b) Aunt Fannie's Microcosmic Probiotic Power Dish Soap

c) Better Life Dish Soap

d) ECOS Dishmate Dish Liquid

e) Common Good dish soap

f) Cleancult liquid dish soap

g) Trader Joe's Dish Soap Lavender Tea Tree


We rely on EWG's consumer databases, the Think Dirty App, and GoodGuide in addition to consumer reviews and widespread availability of products to generate these recommendations. Learn more on our methodology page.

*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

Roundups

Eco-Friendly and Reusable Gift Wrapping Ideas

Spread holiday cheer without creating waste!

Since this is a safe space we can admit that one of the best parts about the holidays is the presents, right? But the amount of wrapping paper we go through every year is just insane... and most of it isn't even recyclable! Unless "recyclable" is specifically mentioned on the label, you'll have to throw used wrapping paper into the trash. And sometimes, we could do without that mountain of used wrapping paper after presents have been opened, even if it is the recyclable kind.
That's why we wanted to find the best wrapping options that could actually be recycled or reused year to year! Check out these great alternatives to tranditonal wrapping paper!


a) 2 Pieces Christmas Canvas Tote Bags Buffalo Plaid Check Shopping Bags

b) joywrap

c) Hallmark Recyclable Kraft Wrapping Paper

d) Eco-Friendly Reversible Wrapping Paper

e) Hallmark Reusable Fabric Gift Wrap

f) Hallmark Black and Red Drawstring Gift Bag Set


g) Furoshiki Reusable Gift Wrapping Cloth


h) Organic Cotton Reusable Gift Wrap (Set of 3)

i) Brown Kraft Paper Jumbo Roll

Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, and fun gifts for your home chef? We created a gift guide this year for those people on your list who love cooking and hosting. Whether it's elaborate dinner parties or weeknight meals, these gifts are sure to bring some joys in the new year. We looked for gifts that avoided waste (like a stovetop popcorn maker), or that avoided harmful chemicals (like a cast iron skillet), or that could bring a little fun into the kitchen (like these fabulous cloth napkins).

This year, we have highlighted many products by many Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) owned/founded brands. Buying from these brands is a great way to support economic opportunities in BIPOC communities and celebrates diversity in the sustainability space. Additionally, since climate change is an urgent issue with so many health impacts, we are also highlighting brands that are Climate Neutral certified. That means that the brand has committed to measure, offset, and reduce the carbon they emit. We believe that consumers and companies must work together to embrace and make true commitments to diversity and sustainability. Look no further for the ultimate gift guide!

$: Under $50

Handheld milk frother

This stainless steel milk frother is the perfect way to warm up your milk (or milk alternative) without having to sacrifice counter space! Whether you're drinking coffee or matcha, this it the perfect tool to take things up a notch.

Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes (BIPOC brand)

Want to eat less meat, but don't know how to make vegetable dishes stand out? Step up your cooking game with delicious recipes from this unique cookbook from Bryant Terry. Bryant is renowned for his activism and efforts to create a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system, so this cookbook is right up our alley.

Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution (BIPOC brand)

Looking to up your whole grain intake? Expand your baking skills with Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution. You'll be amazed how a simple cookie can change texture and flavor based on the flours you use. Learn about the world of ancient grains like buckwheat, sorghum, rye, barley, and heirloom wheat and bake some delicious treats.

GreenLife Bakeware Healthy Ceramic Nonstick, Muffin Pan

This ceramic baking pan by GreenLife is non-stick without harmful chemicals and comes in a bunch of cute colors. Weekend muffins are calling you!

Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top Popcorn Popper

Microwave popcorn is expensive and the bags are coated in Teflon like chemicals, but it's so convenient. Enter this amazing popcorn maker. You'll never look at microwaved popcorn the same way after you use this Great Northern stovetop popcorn popper! It's stainless steel body perfectly cooks kernels to tasty perfection.

Heath Ceramics large coffee mug

Elevate your morning coffee with this beautifully crafted mug from Heath Ceramics. It comes in many lead-free glazes and is as sturdy as it is beautiful.

$ $: Between $50-100

Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker

Sunday brunch just got so much better with this waffle maker by Hamilton Beach. Most waffle makers use a Teflon-like coating in their waffle makers, but this waffle maker uses a ceramic non-stick. It's really easy to use and the ceramic grids pop out for easy cleaning.

Diaspora Co. Single-Origin Spices (BIPOC brand)

Spices can make or break a dish, which is why we love upgrading our spice drawer with this set of single origin spices from Diaspora. We love that they pay a living wage to partner farmers and their partner model allows them to provide quality control that results in fresher, more delicious spices. That also means that they can also better control potential contamination and test for lead contamination. They are also working on organic certification for their partner farms.

Emile Henry Deep Food Storage Bowl

Who says food storage has to be boring? Beauty meets function with this deep food storage bowl by Emile Henry. The cork top serves as a fruit bowl, while the lower level with vents and darkness acts as a mini pantry to store root vegetables and onions.

Siafu Home Congolese Napkins

The scalloped edge and fun pattern of these napkins make them a great hostess gift! These are screen printed by hand in Kenya and are a great way to add some color to your table.

$ $ $: Over $100

Graf Lantz Felt Placemats

These sturdy place mats will protect your table from the messiest of eaters! The merino wool material is naturally water and odor resistant, and also offers amazing thermal protection.

Olivewood Serving Board

These hand-carved cheese boards are made from a single piece of olivewood, which means no glues or adhesives are added to the wood. They are the perfect backdrop to your next charcuterie board.

East Fork Serving Bowl (Climate Neutral certified)

This handmade pottery serving bowl from East Fork is perfect for all your serving need- whether it's for movie night popcorn or a salad at a dinner party for 10!

Brightland Olive Oil Duo (BIPOC brand)

There's a reason you've seen Brightland all over social, it's high quality olive oil and beautiful bottle make it a star! The Duo set is the perfect way to try two of their most popular flavors! The olives come from a family-run California farm that does not use pesticides and is committed to organic practices.

Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet

Le Creuset is known for it's quality and beautiful color choices and this enameled cast iron skillet is no exception! This pan will last you a lifetime and is naturally non-stick enough for scrambles and fried eggs. No Teflon chemicals needed.

Fellow coffee Pour Over Coffee and Electric Kettle

This Fellow electric kettle and pour over set are perfect companions for your coffee! These products don't contain any plastic and will make you feel like a certified barista.

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