10 Achievable Resolutions to Protect Your Family’s Health
By Sydney Evans and Ketura Persellin
"Lose weight." "Exercise." "Save money."
Those annual post-holiday, guilt-fueled mantras aren't only tiresome but are also usually doomed to fail. Eighty percent of resolutions fail just weeks into the new year. That's not surprising: They may seem simple, but they usually mean sustaining major lifestyle changes over the long haul.
So we've come up with a year's worth of resolutions to help you build a healthy environment for you and your family—bite-size challenges, each focusing on food, cosmetics and your home. The feeling of fulfillment and happiness that follows will keep you motivated, and who knows? Maybe along the way you'll find success with some of those other age-old resolutions.
1. Clean up your water. If you think there's just water in your water, think again. Many contaminants may be in your tap water at levels that are legally allowed but could pose some health risks, especially to young children. Find out what's in your water in the EWG Tap Water Database and then consult the Water Filter Buying Guide to find an inexpensive filter. Make sure to use a BPA-free water bottle to take your water with you on the go.
2. Clean up your food. More than 10,000 additives are allowed into Americans' food. Some of them present serious health concerns, and they're found in every aisle of the grocery store. Check out EWG's Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives, and choose at least one to cut out entirely. The EWG Food Scores database is a great place to find out which foods may have these additives.
3. Let your hair down. You make it a point to buy special personal care products for your kids, why not choose those you can feel completely confident about? Consult our Skin Deep® cosmetics database to identify a safer children's shampoo to switch to in the new year. While you're at it, look for EWG VERIFIED™ hair products for yourself that meet EWG's strictest standards for health without any of our chemicals of concern. If you'd like a stretch goal, consider giving up the most caustic hair products—relaxers and straighteners, particularly keratin treatments, which often contain formaldehyde.
4. Breathe easy. Upgrade your air filter to improve air circulation in your home and remove airborne pollutants. Use a high-quality filter and replace it at least every three months—more often if you're renovating or if there are other unusually dusty conditions. At least once a month, clean dust buildup from the filter.
5. Clean gently. We typically use household cleaners that are far stronger than needed. Resolve to eliminate the harsh ones you use on your dishes and laundry. Then move on to other cleaners, if you're so inclined. Try one of our DIY cleaning solutions or consult our Guide to Healthy Cleaning to find less harmful products. They're better for your health and for the environment.
6. Kick the antibacterial habit. Antibacterial products take the idea of cleaning to an extreme, to the point of combatting important "healthy" bacteria we all need—especially children—and causing a proliferation of the kind we don't want. Instead, look for ordinary cleaning supplies to use, or a plain old-fashioned hand soap that's EWG VERIFIED™—made according to our strictest criteria for transparency and healthfulness.
7. Wrap it up better. Additives may not be the only toxic ingredient in your food. Food wrappings and containers, particularly those made of plastic, may leach harmful chemicals. Challenge yourself to see how much toxic food packaging you can avoid. Start by eliminating PFAS-containing fast food containers from your life or replacing plastic baggies and lunch boxes with reusable glass and steel containers.
8. Avoid mystery ingredients. Eliminate one of the biggest unknowns in many consumer products: fragrance, a vague term that could mean one or more than 3,000 different chemicals. Some companies are moving toward greater transparency by disclosing the ingredients they use, and some are eliminating fragrance altogether. Make it a habit to read product labels and avoid buying those that don't disclose their fragrance ingredients. You can also refer to EWG guides to help you find healthy alternatives.
9. Eat organic. Recently, a groundbreaking study showed that eating more organic foods, rather than those treated with chemical pesticides, may reduce your risk of cancer. You may not be able to switch overnight to an all-organic diet, though. You can start slowly by buying organic just for the produce on the Dirty Dozen list on EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.™
10. Detox your makeup bag. You may not be ready to ditch your high-end cosmetics just yet, but consider auditing what you use most often and switching them out, one product at a time, using our Healthy Living app or this cheat sheet for guidance. The last thing you want is your kids playing make-believe with something containing carcinogens or developmental toxicants. Here's how to find less harmful products for them.