Endocrine disruptors—they’re everywhere. And they mess with your hormones. They block or promote estrogen as well as other hormones, throwing off the balance. In some cases, they affect the levels of your hormones. In other cases, they affect the function of your hormones. If we encountered them only once in a while, there’d be little cause for concern, but because they’re so ubiquitous, most of us are receiving constant low-grade exposure, and that’s no good for hormonal health. And while it’s tough to completely purge all toxins from your life, you can significantly cut your exposure by making smarter choices. With a few simple swaps you can give your endocrine system the toxic vacation it needs to support your hormonal health along with the rest of you. Here’s how to clean up your late night and early morning routine—or about a third of your day:
1. Sleep Cleaner
The bedding you nuzzle all night long isn’t as fresh and clean as you think it is. Your sheets and comforters, particularly if they’re synthetics or synthetic blends, have been manufactured with an array of toxic ingredients, including endocrine-disrupting chemical solvents, flame-retardants, and even formaldehyde. Switching to bedding made of organic, untreated fibers that have been organically processed is an excellent way to instantly reduce seven to eight hours of nightly exposure. Ideally, bedding should be Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. If switching bedding to organic items all at once isn’t feasible, then transition a piece at a time, replacing worn-out items with cleaner, greener alternatives. In the meantime, you can start the switchover (and add a bit of a physical barrier) by covering old blankets and comforters with organic, untreated duvet covers.
2. Clean Up Your Mattress
They say we spend up to a third of our lives in bed, so the mattress you’re sleeping on matters. As with bedding, traditional mattresses can contain a veritable witches’ brew of dangerous chemicals, which waft and off-gas while we breathe ’em in all night long. My advice? Get a new mattress as soon as you can, and upgrade to the cleanest, greenest one you can afford. Take a look at eco-friendly suppliers like Keesta, Lifekind, Omimattress, Naturepedic, and Dax Stores—or consider an organic futon as an economical stopgap measure if you’re not yet ready to invest in a higher-end model.
3. Curl Up With a Healthier Pillow
Trade those petroleum-based foam and synthetic pillows for cleaner, more natural options. You might want to do the same with down pillows, which, though comfortable, often feature feathers that have been treated with bleach, formaldehyde, and chemical antiallergens. Instead, try resting your head on pillows made of buckwheat, organic cotton, organic wool, kapok fibers, or natural rubber. Cover your greener pillow with organic cotton pillowcases, and you’ll snooze cleaner, breathing in the night air rather than a toxic cloud.
4. Clean Your Water
It’s easy to absorb disruptive chemicals through your skin, so lessen the load by installing a water filter that attaches to your bath and showerhead. Better yet, consider adding a whole house filtration system to cover all your faucets and help to remove a significant percentage of common disruptors like chlorine, ammonia, atrazine, arsenic, perchlorate, and heavy metals. At a minimum, be sure to filter all drinking water and let water run for a minute or two (till it runs very cold) to flush the line before filtering. To find the right filter for your water and budget, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Water Filter Buying Guide.
5. Shower—Don’t Scour
The morning shower is for most of us a daily ritual, but please, take it easy on the industrial cleansers! Unless you’ve got a very dirty job, you don’t actually need to soap every last germ off your body—nor should you. Instead of covering yourself in anti-bacterial soaps, shampoos, and body washes that are loaded with harsh chemicals, faux fragrances, and detergents, switch to a mild, organic soap and “clean” personal care products. Use them all sparingly so as not to strip your skin of the good bacteria that keeps skin problems at bay, and always steer clear of products containing parabens, phthalates, DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. Need help finding healthier personal care products? The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a fantastic resource.
For more ways to avoid endocrine disruptors, check out my post on hidden sources of endocrine disruptors.