The following is a guest post by Paige Wolf. Her bio follows.

From BPA in plastics and asbestos in crayons to misleading “natural” labels — it can despair even the most conscientious consumer. But it is possible to make green and healthy living a regular part of your lifestyle without breaking the bank and going insane. Here are a few simple tips:

Create a plan for saving and splurging that evens out your budget.

For instance, you may want to pay more for an organic mattress but save on cheap organic sheets from Target and a secondhand bedframe. My family saves a ton of money by getting the vast majority of our clothing secondhand, which allows us to spend more on organic food staples. Yerdle.com and local Buy Nothing Project Groups are treasure troves for free items!

Organic Foods

When it comes to organic food, start with the items your family eats the most and the items most likely to contain chemicals of concern. The Environmental Working Group releases annual lists of the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” — the fruits and vegetables most and least likely to contain pesticides. You can download a handy app to keep track, and you’ll usually notice that apples, berries, and stone fruits like peaches tend to top the dirty list. It’s also a good idea to go organic with anything where you eat the skin. Notice that avocado, kiwis, and pineapple are on the low pesticide risk list, partly because you’ll be removing that inedible rind where much of the nasty stuff lives.

organic veggies

Get rid of anything with a strong fragrance or chemical smell.

It’s a likely sign of endocrine-disrupting phthalates. Common culprits: plastic shower curtains, plug-in air fresheners, and most scented candles. Also try to pare down non-stick cookware and plastic from your kitchen. Don’t put heated food in plastic — in fact, don’t heat plastic, period.

Shop retailers that do the research for you.

Check out the wide variety of online shopping hubs that specialize in eco-friendly and healthy goods. Each retailer has its own set of standards, but they are certainly good places to start for better products. For various needs, visit com, rodales.com, luckyvitamin.com, thrivemarket.com, mightynest.com, and greendepot.com. And don’t miss the sales and coupon codes!

Use your voice to enact political change that will make a difference on a larger scale.

Vote for candidates with strong environmental initiatives. Write letters and send e-mails, from complaints about your school district’s lack of recycling to petitions to the federal government. Get things off your chest and use your voice to feel empowered.

Lead by example.

We can’t control the world around us, but we can control what we do in our own space. It can be hard when you have close friends and family who aren’t sympathetic to your eco-consciousness. Try to reward their positive behavior, telling them how clever and environmentally savvy they are!

Pat yourself on the back.

Remember that perfect is an unattainable goal, and everything you can do makes a difference.

About Paige Wolf

Paige

Paige Wolf is a publicist, author, and green living expert who uses her media savvy and personal moxie to promote manageable eco-chic living. Paige is the author of Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt and the owner of Paige Wolf Media and Public Relations, a B Corporation certified eco-friendly PR firm focused on sustainable clientele. Paige regularly appears on television as a green living expert and writes about green living and parenting for several publications. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two children, and American Hairless Terrier. Visit www.spitthatoutthebook.com for her blog on making green living practical, manageable, and affordable.

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