In 2013 Mama Glow and The Environmental Working Group launched a non-toxic pregnancy guide. It was a rubric for mothers and families looking to make better choices for their families, homes and the world. We have always proudly stood by and given our critique of non-toxic products for their safety and efficacy. There are so many home cleaning products out and rarely do we endorse a full line but Branch Basics is a brand whose products from packaging to the experience are all about getting the job done, and not at the expense of your health. We caught up with the Branch Basics founders: Allison Evans, Kelly Love and Marlee Nelson to learn more about their journey, philosophy and what makes their products so good.
I know Allison transformed her life to reclaim her health starting with diet. What was the aha moment that led her to detox her home?
It wasn’t an aha moment per se, but really the positive effects I witnessed after a summer of living in a truly clean environment. I had made considerable changes in my diet and was on a powerful food-based supplement program, but it wasn’t until I moved to the Texas Hill Country to live in Marilee’s home, one completely free of all toxic pesticides, cleaners, fragrances, etc. My body transformed before my eyes, years of chronic pain lifting as the weeks went by. At summer’s end, I was a different person and I simply couldn’t deny that the missing link had been moving to a home with no harmful chemicals that undermine health. I was determined to keep up the healing, so I returned home and threw out all toxic products. After continuing with this lifestyle for over a year, I had my second natural menstrual cycle of my life (first was in 6th grade!). A few years later, I conceived easily…and two years later, I’m pregnant again! I’m so grateful for the knowledge of not only the power of diet, but of our environment.
As mothers, what is your advice for other mothers and others who find the idea of upgrading their home cleaning supplies a daunting one?
What’s daunting is dealing with chronic headaches, sinus infections, “allergy” symptoms, skin problems, behavioral and fertility issues…cancer! All of these things can be linked to environmental factors and our homes are some of the most toxic places. Much of this is due to the products we bring inside of our homes, ironically to clean. If you know your WHY, it’s is much easier to make changes because you’re aware of how powerful they can be for you and your loved ones. By removing all toxic products, you are helping to create a safe haven of your home, the place you spend the most time.
There are a ton of non-toxic cleaning agents out there, what makes Branch Basics unique?
When it came to formulating our product, human safety was our number one priority. Unfortunately, so many “green” cleaners out there still use EPA-registered pesticides and/or synthetic fragrances that can be harmful to the health of our homes. When it came to formulating our Concentrate, we refused to cut corners on our ingredients, even if that meant moving to a new chemist or pushing a formulator to think outside the box. We spent over a year and over a hundred iterations to ensure safety and efficacy. What has been the most rewarding is to hear from customers that have tried numerous other “natural” cleaners and are completely blown away by the power of our product! That makes all the long nights and endless stain tests worth it.
What are some unexpected but handy uses for your products?
Our foaming wash is an amazing eye makeup remover! It will safely remove your eye makeup product without any irritation to your eyes or skin, which is pretty hard to find! Also, the foaming wash is great for shaving and even washing your jewelry and makeup brushes! We also love using our All-Purpose spray to wash dishes! Once you get used to spraying versus using a gel product, you’ll wonder how you ever did it any other way. The All-Purpose is also amazing for pre-treating stains!
What are the must-haves for fertility and expectant moms hoping to reduce their toxic load?
Before we talk about must-have products, the absolute best way to reduce the toxic load of your home is to ensure you are completely REMOVING toxic products! That means making a Clean Sweep, getting them out of the house (not just stuffed deeper under a cabinet or in a pantry!). Ironically our homes have some of the most polluted air quality around. The EPA found indoor air to be 2 to 5 times higher in pollutants than outdoor (1,000 times during and for several hours after use of some chemicals), which means the very places we consider our safe refuge paradoxically expose us to the greatest amounts of potentially hazardous pollutants. We suggest tackling the major culprits first:
- Remove Pesticides: Make a Clean Sweep of all pesticides from your home (think sprays for roaches, wasps, bed bugs, ants). Take a box, gather them up and take em out!
- Remove toxic cleaning products: (any products with words like CAUTION, DANGER or HAZARDOUS, any products that don’t list their entire ingredient lists, and all products with synthetic fragrance.
- Get the Guide: Use EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning as a great guide.
- Research Ingredients: Check out questionable ingredients on EWG Skin Deep Database. Type in ingredients to see their toxicity score. EWG rates ingredients on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the least toxic and 10 being the most toxic. On this database, we recommend ingredients with a “1” rating.”
- Get savvy: Use Thinkdirty app―this user-friendly app allows you to scan items at the store using your phone. It will give you an on-the-spot rating and info on the product and cleaner options. On the thinkdirty app, we recommend products with a “0” rating.”
- Remove all fragranced products from the home – (scented candles, stationery, wall plug-ins, air fresheners, and dryer sheets).
- Remove plastics – chemicals called plasticizers or phthalates and BPA mimic estrogenic activity which can interfere with our hormonal system and block naturally occurring estrogens.
- Remove plastics that are in contact with food. Use glass for food storage
- Remove soft plastics from the house such as vinyl shower curtains
- Green your Beauty Routine: We also urge those hoping to get pregnant or expectant mothers (actually just everyone in general!) to take a close look at their personal care products. Remove all skin and body care products with synthetic fragrances and then use guides above to check other ingredients.
There are so many small steps you can take today to reduce your toxic load, we hope these steps can help you on the road to creating a healthier home!