Healthy Living

Three Bad Habits That Kill Me

mommy greenest bad habits yoga photoAs I posted a few weeks back, I’m not the eco police. I try to inspire people to positive changes, rather than harangue them. After all, my tagline is “healthier living, less judgement.” But we all have bad habits. Although mine isn’t the best thing for the environment, the damage is fairly minimal and contained. Can you guess what it is?

While you’re wondering, here are three bad habits that I can’t keep quiet about any more—because they affect me, too. Are any of them yours?

I can’t keep quiet about these three bad habits—because even though they’re not mine, they affect me and my family. Are any of them yours? 1. Using carcinogenic styrofoam plates. Why, people? Even if you have to buy tree-killing paper, that’s better than buying Styrofoam, which isn’t recyclable, takes 500+ years to break down in the landfill, and is carcinogenic.

2. Dousing your lawn with pesticides. Pesticides are poisons—literally. They’re linked to asthma, allergies, neurological disorders, autism and even cancer. And when I walk on your lawn, I unwittingly track poisons into my family’s life. Please help me stop doing that by not spraying that crap everywhere.

3. Infusing my world with your synthetic perfumes, candles, cleaners and air fresheners. These scents make me—and 34 million other Americans who are allergic to synthetic fragrance—sneeze. They often include terpenes, which can react with ozone in the air to form carcinogenic formaldehyde. But if you don’t care about my health, consider this: Studies have found that phthalates in synthetic fragrance can make you fat. Yes, really.

I would never say these things out loud, of course. I lead by example, remember? So at a party, when a buffet table contains stacks of Styrofoam plates, I take finger food that I can hold on a napkin. I try to remember to take my shoes off at the door so my home stays clear of pesticides. And when you show up to yoga after spraying yourself liberally with eau de carcinogen, I simply move my mat.

Unfortunately, bad habits tend to be stronger than any example I might make.

You buy the same brand of plates you’ve always bought. You spray your lawn with the brand your dad recommended. You clean your house with the chemicals that smell like the ones your mom used when you were a kid.

I know, because I did, too.

You’re afraid to change one thing, because if you do you feel like you’ll have to change everything. So you don’t change anything at all.

I was, too.

Now I know better. And as I learn more, I’ve changed most of my bad habits for the better.

So here’s my confession. Ready? After years of unloading still-dirty dishes washed with natural sudsors, I switched back to a conventional dishwasher brand. And yes, my plates now sparkle, but I feel guilty every time I make a special trip to the market to buy the soap.

Yup, that’s my eco sin: Chemical dishwasher detergent. But there are countless other things I’ve shifted, to make my world (and yours) just a little bit healthier.

What habits can YOU change—and what stays the same? Please leave a comment below. Thanks!


  • Granny

    You can call me Granny, anytime. I have 6 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren. I have a few extended families as I live a thousand miles from my family. I am known as Granny in my small Texas town. I have so many nice neighbors. I was rescued this morning when I went to town to get feed for my animals. The roads were a sheet of ice. I made it in, OK, but on the way back I slid off the road into a ditch. A neighbor was following me and he pulled me out and followed me home. His teenage son then emptied 450 lbs of feed from my truck into the feed bins. I usually do it myself, but the help (in this cold, was wonderful. People are so good and, I believe, if we expect good things, they happen.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Community in action! That’s wonderful. And you are definitely influencing a LOT of people–I hope those grandchildren listen to you and follow your lead in your healthy lifestyle! 🙂

  • Granny

    A few thoughts. I clean my home with baking soda and vinegar. I use a steam mop to clean my floors. I use beneficial nematoads on my lawn and gardens and never use chemicals. I pull weeds and never spray. I have shut-offs on things like toaster oven, microwave, to save on electricity. I use battery operated timers to save on water. I never use the microwave to cook food as I understand it kills the enzymes. I wash dishes by hand and use magnets in the laundry instead of laundry detergent. Occasionally I will add a little baking soda or borax on my jeans. I do love a little chocolate and watch too much television. I have a cell phone but only for emergency. I have three dogs and 7 cats. I use homemade and natural herbs to deter fleas. I have always believed that to march or protest things that I don’t believe in would be better served if I were to set an example and just do what I believe, myself. I’m sure that I can learn a lot more about how to save our environment and enjoy Mama Greenest and all of her suggestions.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      What a great comment, I am going to share on our Facebook page. This is my favorite part: “I have always believed that to march or protest things that I don’t believe in would be better served if I were to set an example and just do what I believe, myself.” Yes!!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

      • Granny

        Rachel, You do a good thing. I appreciate that you are always positive and encouraging in your way of presenting healthy living. We are living in a challenging time and, I believe, that love, and positive efforts will carry us through. Protesting, complaining and negativity have never accomplished anything. I enjoy your column. Granny

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