Although there is some debate over the health benefits of eating organic, the environmental benefits are clear. When you purchase organic produce, you are supporting organic farming methods, which eliminate the harmful use of chemical fungicides and pesticides.
Some of your favorite conventional vegetables and fruits may be among the most pesticide-laden foods on the market. Check out this list of "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables, and seek out the organic versions. Organic peanut butter and ketchup are other great items to add to your list — pesticide residues are frequently found in conventional peanut butter, and recent research has shown that organic ketchup contains almost double the antioxidants of conventional ketchup.
If you're wondering which kinds of produce have the least pesticide residue, the Environmental Working Group's "Clean Fifteen" includes: avocados, sweet corn, cabbage, sweet peas (frozen), onions, asparagus, eggplant, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, pineapples, mangoes, papaya, kiwi, grapefruit, and cantaloupe.
Organic Animal Products
Eating fewer animal products is beneficial to your health and also helps the environment. The EPA has reported that certain meats are contaminated with higher levels of pesticides than some plant foods, due to the diet the animals are fed. If you choose to eat animal products, try to purchase them from local, sustainable, and organic farms. Meats you should consider buying organically include beef, pork, and poultry. Some ocean fish carry a high risk of metal contamination, and many freshwater fish are exposed to pesticides from contaminated water.
By switching to organic dairy products, you can avoid the added antibiotics, artificial hormones, and pesticides used by commercial dairy industries. You get healthier products, while supporting free-range cows. Choose the organic versions of a few foods you often eat, and you'll help keep both your family and the environment stay healthy.
Reusable Canvas Grocery Bags
Paper or plastic? Neither. Opt for earth-friendly reusable canvas bags at the grocery store, and you'll save resources. Canvas bags are stronger and can hold more without ripping or breaking. More items in a bag mean fewer bags to carry and fewer trips to the store. And some grocery stores will cut the price of your bill if you use your own bags.
Nontoxic Cleaning Products
Many cleaning products contaminate our water and air, and contain cancer-causing chemicals. If your family has a history of allergies, asthma, sinusitis, and bronchitis, it's especially important to reduce the use of chemical cleaners in the home
. Green home products are safer to handle, reduce indoor air pollutants, and do not harm water supplies. The Citra Solv line of cleaners includes effective, green products. They contain no harmful chemicals, and even provide recipes on their labels for easy and inexpensive refills. You can make your own multipurpose cleaning products from white vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, and lemons to clean almost any area of your home.
BioBags are biodegradable baggies made from GMO-free corn. They break down naturally and quickly when exposed to nature's elements and microorganisms. They keep refrigerated fruits and vegetables fresher longer than regular plastic baggies do, and they're perfect for adding food scraps to the compost pile. These green baggies save money and the environment, and help with a healthy, natural diet.
Biodegradable Doggy/Litter Bags
Part of being a responsible pet owner is picking up and disposing of your pet's waste properly. It only makes sense to put biodegradable waste into something that will biodegrade along with it. Biodegradable doggy and litter bags are earth-friendly because they decay along with the waste into CO2, water, and humic matter. The waste and the bag can be thrown into a backyard compost pile to decompose naturally. Shovel a bit of dirt over the pile to keep down the odor and help it break down faster. NOTE: You should not use the resulting compost on a vegetable garden or any plants you intend to eat. You might also try a product called the Doggie Dooley, an in-ground septic system for dog waste, as an earth-friendly disposal method.
Disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose in landfills. Cloth diapers are a better option, but can harm the environment and your water bill. A new alternative is gDiapers, flushable inserts made of natural fiber that are 100% biodegradable. Once your baby does his business, the wet ones can be used for composting, while the brown ones are flushed down. That means everything flushed gets naturally re-absorbed back into the ecosystem, turning waste into a renewable resource.
Hemp Clothing and Linens
Choosing to wear or use products made from hemp and other organic materials is not only healthier for your family; it also helps protect the environment and wildlife. Hemp products are naturally hypo-allergenic, which is great for those who suffer from allergies. Clothes, linens, and mattresses made out of hemp are more durable, and they keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Hemp products are a practical and eco-friendly choice for clothing, bedding, and upholstery.
Bamboo Kitchen Products
Bamboo is one of the most easily renewable plants in the world, and is a fast-growing replacement for wood and petroleum-based kitchenware. Next time you are in the market for new plates and flatware, think bamboo - it's just as beautiful and durable. Instead of paper plates, choose natural bamboo disposable plates, which biodegrade easily. By choosing bamboo you are choosing to stop depleting our hardwood forests.
Natural Personal Care Products
When you use natural or organic personal care products, you are avoiding exposure to the chemicals and synthetic derivatives used in the manufacture of many conventional soaps, cosmetics, lotions, hair products, and deodorants. The additives, chemicals, preservatives, fragrances, and colorants in these products can be harmful not only to your body and health, but also to the environment. Be sure to screen your natural body products carefully to ensure they are fully organic and free of added scents and chemicals. If you're interested in making the switch, try the Bamford Bath & Body line of products, which are made with plant extracts and essential oils.