Written by Brittany Shenk

You’ve signed the papers, the dealer hands you the key, and you climb in behind the wheel of your new car. You take that first deep breath of “new car” smell, and the fresh, bright fragrance fills your lungs.

Instead of turning on the radio and blasting your air conditioner, you may want to consider rolling down those windows, because that “new car” smell is really just the off-gassing of every chemical used to produce your new vehicle. Cars are manufactured with their windows up, so you’re essentially sitting in a chemical pod on wheels.

Air quality is a silent health hazard, we’re surrounded by chemicals in our lives that go unnoticed or unregulated. Living in a new home, driving a new car, sleeping on a new non-organic mattress are all examples of areas of our lives that are often overlooked as potential health concerns, but the off-gassing of the chemicals can have negative health impacts over time.

Green for a Reason, founded by Catherine O’Toole, is an educational platform “that empowers consumers to easily find environmentally safe, sustainable products, and involves experienced green professionals dedicated to building less toxic homes.”

I’m incredibly grateful to have Catherine as my guest on the ECOFEMINIST podcast this week. She shared her personal journey that led her to creating Green for a Reason, and talks about the importance of avoiding environmental chemicals for optimal health, her business goals, and she left us with five easy recommendations that we can all do today to help decrease our exposure to the  toxins in our environment:

  1. Have a mat outside your front door and another one immediately as you step inside – use this to wipe your shoes off to reduce the amount of chemicals your shoes drag indoors, such as grass fertilizers, flooring chemicals, etc.
  2. Take your shoes off and leave them near the front door, again, to avoid bringing those chemicals into your home
  3. Open your windows! Let that fresh breeze replace the stagnant air in your home or vehicle
  4. Avoid using synthetic air fresheners. Instead, use an essential oil diffuser with responsible, authentic oils
  5. Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets when doing laundry

We hope you enjoy this podcast episode (we certainly did). Check out Green for a Reason’s website for more information about Catherine’s business, and be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Curious about the air quality in your house? Jump on over to Digitalized House for more information on indoor air quality monitors, a company Catherine herself has stamped with approval. 

Catherine, thank you for being on the show and bringing awareness to an issue that is often ignored. Being mindful of our air quality and our exposure to toxins is crucial in maintaining a healthy body. You inspire us all.


Catherine O’Toole was born and raised in Ireland. After studying Fashion design in Ireland, winning a lottery Green Card to the United States, a successful 10 year career in the fashion industry in New York City Catherine left the United States and backpacked around the world by herself for 3 years. During her travels she met a Texan in the south of Spain and they returned to Austin Texas to live.

In 2011 Catherine was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. Catherine’s first diagnoses did not scare her into doing anything different but her second diagnoses was so severe that she knew she had to do something to help herself live, live longer and in a healthier environment. Based on research Catherine realized we were slowly poisoning ourselves tucked away in the security of our homes, our sanctuaries and destroying the earth we live on, we are unknowingly bringing toxic chemicals into our homes.  

Catherine believes we all can live in a healthy, beautiful, less toxic environment. The toxins we breathe in everyday are preventable. Every one of our individual efforts makes a difference to clean up the toxicity that is being emitted into the air we breathe. The good news is indoor air pollution is one risk that we can do something about.