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Holiday Awareness Tips

Awareness plus creativity can go a long way toward a healthier holiday! Here are a few tips and suggestions for making your home both beautifully festive and safely toxic-free this holiday season.


Poinsettias are officially a non-toxic plant, contrary to popular myth. They are, however, commonly sprayed with chemicals as part of the growers' height control program. Organically grown poinsettias are the best option and worth a call to your local greenhouse. (New York City, for example, boasts this greenhouse offering poinsettias and many other indoor plants that are organically grown.)

In addition, poinsettia plants contain a latex protein. People with a latex allergy can quickly become ill, and often don’t know exactly what they are reacting to when walking into a room containing poinsettias.


Christmas Trees:

Pesticides are used extensively in the growing of the traditional Christmas tree. While many of the chemicals will have been removed by exposure to rain and/or ultraviolet light, some will remain. Beyond Pesticides offers an excellent article on choosing a safe Christmas tree.

When possible, purchase an organic tree. Green Promise has made available this list of organic growers, which spans 22 states and includes suppliers of organic trees, wreaths, mistletoe, and other greenery. LocalHarvest offers organic mail order wreaths.

According to a December 2005 Natural Health Magazine article by Janelle Brown:

"Don't feel guilty about buying a tree," says Deborah Gangloff, executive director of American Forests, a nonprofit conservation organization. Holiday trees are grown as a sustainable crop; in fact, 1 acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen to support 18 people, and provides habitats for birds and wildlife. Buying an artificial tree isn't a better choice, since most faux foliage is made from earth-toxic PVC.

"The very best thing you can do is buy a live tree—not a cut tree, but a live tree, with a root ball," Gangloff advises.

Why not consider an alternative Christmas tree that's neither fake nor fir? Here are a few options:

  • Driftwood. Make your own display out of driftwood or custom order from All Driftwood Furniture.

  • Tumbleweed. This is an excellent possibility for those in the Southwest. See this article for tips.

  • Tree branches. Find your own branches or buy from Manzanita Burlworks. Secure the branch in a large ceramic pot. Add smaller branches to fill out. Add lights and ornaments, and enjoy!

Alternative Christmas Tree


Fireplace Logs:

Consider using eco-friendly alternatives for indoor fire burning. Options include:



Most candles contain paraffin, a petroleum by-product. Consider using 100% pure beeswax candles, available from sources such as:

Or try using other methods to create your own festive fragrance:

  • Make your own evergreen scent by diffusing or simmering pine essential oil.

  • Create your own Christmas fragrance using this recipe:

    3 cinnamon sticks
    3 bay leaves
    1/4 c. cloves
    1/2 sliced lemon
    1/2 sliced orange
    1 quart water

    Simmer on the back burner of your stove and replenish as needed!



"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

" age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

This site is dedicated to a true friend and mother — Barbara Dell Kessel (1929-2009)