Have a healthy chemical free Christmas
With only a few weeks to go before we celebrate Christmas, we’ve done a festive round up of some quick wins to help you to enjoy the festivities with fewer chemicals in your Christmas favourites.
Eat some organic festive food
Christmas 2023 could be the year that some of us choose organic produce as it hits the mainstream at more affordable prices in many food retailers. If you only switch a few items such as carrots or onions, your Christmas dinner will have fewer ingredients with residual levels pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate.
There is evidence that adding some yogurt to your diet, perhaps a seasonal dip, may help alleviate the effects of micro plastics on our microbiome, including inflammation and allergies. Probiotics found in yogurts and other fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut can help alleviate gastrointestinal inflammation and allergies. Where possible avoid ultra processed foods and cook ahead using organic ingredients. And when it comes to cleaning the dishes afterwards, ditch the rinse aid in your dishwasher (some rinse aid and detergents leave residues that can disrupt gut immune and epithelial gut inflammation responses). Use lemon juice or water instead – we’ve tested it and our dishes are just as clean, and there’s no chemical smell when the cycle has finished!
Go paraben free with cosmetics and toiletries
Parabens are usually added to skincare and cosmetics products for their preservative and antibacterial properties. A growing body of evidence suggests parabens can indeed harm our health, especially during sensitive periods of development when hormones are working at force, for instance during puberty or pregnancy. Thankfully many brands offer ‘paraben free’ alternatives; they are easy to spot on the ingredients section of many product – they typically end in ‘paraben’, for example methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. There may be more than one in the ingredients of a single product. We recommend using the Yuka app which helpfully deciphers product labels and analyses the health risks of toiletry and cosmetic chemical ingredients.
Go organic with clothing
You can’t beat a nice pair of Christmas pyjamas or festive socks. There are plenty of choices of PJs made with organic cotton, and socks made with bamboo. If you give them a wash before wearing, add a filter to your washing machine to capture microplastics that might be released from garments in your wash made from synthetic fibres.
Go natural with home decor
Christmas is a time when we like to spruce out homes up a little to make them feel festive and cosy. There are lots of home décor items that use natural materials, such as organic throws and blankets. Most candles are made using paraffin wax, a biproduct of petroleum; this can include candles scented with essential oils or ‘naturally’ scents. Scent libraries used in candles can often be complex, and phthalates might be added to bind fragrances together and to extend shelf life.
As paraffin wax candles burn, they release VOCs such as benzene, dioxins, aldehydes and microparticles into the air. Phthalates used to add fragrance are also released into the air where they potentially could be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Common health problems associated with scented candle exposure include headaches, shortness of breath and coughing. Instead, choose candles made from natural ingredients such as beeswax and without chemical ingredients; they are a healthy alternative to paraffin-based candles and produce one tenth of the soot created by paraffin candles.
And who doesn’t enjoy a nice log fire at Christmas? Although log burners are a major contributor to indoor air pollution, burning well-seasoned or kiln dried logs will reduce the risk.