Plastic-Free July (and every month)

Why Avoid Plastic?

Avoiding plastic has always been something high on my agenda.

When I was a teen and a twenty-something, it was about protecting the environment –

  • not creating waste,
  • minimising the creating of single-use items, and
  • protecting our beautiful planet (in a very general sense)

As I have gotten older, and understood more about the environment and health, it has become even more important.

Here are three really big reasons to avoid plastics.

 

1. Pollutants from Plastics

Plastic bottles and containers can leach phthalates, xenooestrogens and other pollutant into the food, personal care or cleaning product with them.

This can play havoc with our health, as they interfere with our hormones (“endocrine-disrupting chemicals”).

What is more, they can also effect other animals that are exposed to them.

 

2. Plastic Polluting

Most of us already know about the piles of plastics in the oceans that form islands…

Our PET bottles, condoms, bags, and so on, all sweep the oceans and accumulate in certain areas.

As well, very small particles can break off plastic items (including synthetic clothing) to form microplastics.

These tiny pieces are a massice problem in the environment.

 

3. Killing Wildlife

One example is seabirds.

I saw a documentary where seabirds needed humans to help them survive.

 

Parents were feeding their young plastic that they had “caught” in the oceans…

Of course, the young were not able to digest it…

So it accumulated in their stomachs.

There were three big consequences of this.

a) The presence of the plastics in stomachs of the youing birds could leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals… which might have devastating effects on the species.

b) The birds were not being nourished properly – as plastic isn’t food!

c) The baby birds were heavy with all the plastic in their stomachs – which meant that as they headed out to sea, they would not be able to fly, and would then drown.

The scientists would catch the youngsters as they headed to the water…

And get them to vomit out all the plastic.

There was a surprisingly (and alarmingly) large amount of it!

By removing the plastic from their stomachs, they were being given the best chance to survive.

 

It was truly heartbreaking to see this.

So, what can you do about it?

Join the Challenge –

In my free Facebook group, we are doing a Plastic-Free Challenge.

Consider alternatives to plastic –

 

Choose Your Tactic

PlasticFreeJuly.org has compiled this great resource – download it here – then review it and choose which ones that you can action.

P.S. This is a great one to involve the kids with 😉

Time for New Habits

The end of the year is a time when we look to create new habits.

We reflect back on the year that we have had.

And decide what we would like to do differently.

Do you do that?

I do.

I love this practice and tend to do it way more often.

Here’s are 5 new habits that support health!

New Habit 1: Turn Off the Tech

Research shows that evening use of devices containing LED lights in their screens can have a large effect on our wellbeing.


Research out of Israel by Green, et al., discovered that 2-hours of evening exposure to these screens resulted in:

  • Increased waking through the night,
  • Poorer quality sleep, and
  • Suppressed melatonin production.

The effects were also seen the following day, with:

  • Increased sleepiness,
  • A decrease in the ability to concentrate, and
  • Reduced accuracy

Sleep in incredibly important not only for your mood and ability to concentrate, but also for your health and ability to tolerate environmental stressors.

So, when can you turn off the tech?

Habit #2: Easy & Breezy

Did you know that the air inside our homes can be 5-10 times more polluted than outdoors?

This is due to all sorts of reasons, from what we bring into our homes, to what our homes are made of, how we cook and what our pots and pans are made of…

And that is just for starters.

When we add pesticides, cleaning products and scented reeds into the mix, we are really cooking up a storm!

Then we’re there.

Breathing, eating, using the bathroom…

Sweating (or “perspiring” 😉 for those who don’t sweat), cooking, sleeping…

Everything we bring into our homes can affect the quality of the indoor air.

If our home is nicely energy efficient, it is very likely that it is well-sealed, keeping the indoor air in, and the outdoor air out.

This can lead to a build-up of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, house dust mites, mould spores, combustion gases and more.

To make matters worse, if you never exchange the air in your home…

It never gets diluted.

And –

That is how the indoor air can be so much worse than the outdoor air.

Where in your day can you open your windows and doors?

eco-health-solutions-nature

Habit #3: Healing Naturally

I always see nature as our baseline…

The ideal to which we strive…

The harmony and balance of nature is so supportive and healing.

The Japanese embrace this through their practise of Shinrin Yoku – or “forest bathing.”

The idea is that you wander out into nature, ideally under a canopy of trees, and sit or lay there for at least an hour.

I see so many benefits of this…

  1. You get to breathe fresh natural air, instead of indoor air
  2. Being in nature in this way can allow you to discharge accumulated EMF – it is a form of grounding
  3. I suspect that the air you breathe is full of natural antimicrobials – let’s face it, trees survive in a forest because of their natural antimicrobials
  4. If you do this free from devices, it can be deeply relaxing, which can be incredibly healing
  5. It can help us to reconnect with nature – which traditionally we have always been well aware of

I have seen research some years ago now, that found that the benefits of one-hour of forest bathing last for 7 days.

So even if you live in the city, you should be able to carve out an hour a week to do this.

Where can you create some time to be in nature?

Habit #4: Be a Labels Sleuth

Whilst there is a lot to learn about reading labels, there is a lot you can learn by doing this.

If you took a moment to review the labels of products as you pick them off the shelf, you might be surprised at what you see.

If I could encourage you to eliminate one ingredient…

It would be fragrance (also listed as perfume or parfum).

By cutting out fragrances, you could reduce your daily chemical exposure dramatically because…

Fragrances require so many chemicals to make them!

There are loads of other ingredients you can omit, too…

But fragrances are the best place to start.

Also, some products don’t necessarily have an ingredients list…

So, this is where you can put your nose to use and have a sniff of it.

Tip: toilet paper and sanitary products are often fragranced…

Instead, you may choose to focus on an ingredient in food.

Which ingredient are you going to target?

eco-health-solutions natural

Habit #5: Need or Want?

When you are about to make a purchase, stop and think:

Do I actually need it?

If not, then consider why you want it.

The goal here is not to accumulate too much “stuff.”

Accumulating can lead to issues in terms of safety (trip-hazards), pests, dust (and house dust mites) and may even become a hygiene issue if cleaning becomes difficult.

We created a rule many years ago that you might like to adapt or adopt…

For every item that we buy, we need to pass on three to charity.

When I do this, I tend to really get into it, and often can fill a large garbage bag with goodies that would benefit from a new home.

It is surprisingly liberating to pass things on to charity…

What can you put in place, so you remember to ask, “Do I really need it?” when making a purchase?

5 New Habits

There you go – there are five new habits to propel you towards a home or workplace that supports your health.

Let me know how you go with them!

 

Would You Like More Help? Book a Hidden Hazards Hotline Call here >>

 


References:

A. Green, M. Cohen-Zion, A. Haim & Y. Dagan (2017): Evening light exposure to computer screens disrupts human sleep, biological rhythms, and attention abilities, Chronobiology International, DOI: 10.1080/07420528.2017.1324878

Handy Essential Oils

Handy Essential Oils to Use Around the Home

I wanted to share with you some handy essential oils that you can use with ease. 

essential oils pests

I don’t like conventional pesticides they are neurotoxins, many of which were developed for use in warfare!

Instead, I like to think about “pests” as a critter in the wrong place. Thus my approach is aversion. I would rather they chose not to be there, than be killed.

What works for cockroaches?

Cockroaches absolutely dislike pennyroyal essential oil.

I am not sure why, I love its minty aroma.

All you need to do to keep them out of cupboards is to put a few drops on a cotton ball and place this in your cupboard.

essential oils smells

Essential Oils and Smells

Smells around the home can be unpleasant – but less so than “air fresheners” that add to the particulate matter in the air, and coat everything with a synthetic fragrance.

Whilst my favourite strategies are to:

  1. Remove the source of the odour, and
  2. Open doors and windows and exchange the air.

But sometimes there is a need to help “manage” the smells.

 

In this instance, I am referring to the bathroom/powder room/toilet. You know what I am getting at… 😉

And for Bathroom Smells?

An essential oil that works wonders for this is tea tree essential oil.

You can make up a small spray bottle with water and a few drops of tea tree and use this as needed.

Obviously, opening doors and windows is always a good option. 🙂

essential oils and sleep

Essential Oils and Sleep

Many people recommend lavender essential oil to assist with sleep.

I don’t.

Ever.

I have heard from many people over the decades which I have used essential oils find that lavender “hypes them up.”

 

To help get a good nights’ sleep, a good routine is important.

Here’s what I suggest:

  • No later than 7pm each evening, turn off wi-fi and all devices (including phones and tablets)
  • After your evening meal, go for a short stroll. In Chinese medicine, it is often recommended to walk 100 steps after dinner
  • Avoid phone calls and conversations
  • If you have a lot on your mind, “dump” it onto paper to clear it from your mind
  • Journal or make your days’ gratitude list
  • Meditate or pray

What to Use for Sleep?

I think we need to keep our bedrooms as free from anything that the body needs to deal with – and for many of us, we have already had enormous toxicant-exposures through the day.

For this reason, I think it best not to use essential oils.

However, if you are keen to do so, I recommend sweet marjoram and sweet orange.

Chamomile may also be helpful.

Let me know your thoughts.

#essentialoils #handyessentialoils #naturalpesticide #smells #sleep

 

 

 

 

Sick Building Syndrome: Is Your Workplace Healthy?

“Sick Building Syndrome” is a term that has been around for a few decades to explain how and why people are affected by their buildings. As a building biologist, I am frequently assessing the health of buildings (whether they are sick or not) and how they may impact upon the health of the occupants – be that at home or at work.

Guest author Jennifer Bennett discusses sick building syndrome in relation to the workplace.


Sick Building Syndrome: Is Your Workplace Healthy?

Does it sometimes seem like everyone in your office is coming down with something?

Are you and your colleagues constantly coughing and sniffling, or complaining of headaches, dizziness and nausea?

Or perhaps you’re just really tired all the time?

And yet, when 5 o’clock rolls around and you’re on your way home, you start to feel a lot better.

You might be thinking that you just hate being at work!

Could it be more..?

However, there may be something other than burnout or a bad bout of the flu to blame.

If you’re experiencing odd symptoms that disappear when you go home, your building may well have a case of Sick Building Syndrome.

This is a somewhat mysterious condition that causes general feelings of ill health in occupants of a building, including headaches, aches and pains, skin irritation, fatigue and shortness of breath.

The precise causes of Sick Building Syndrome haven’t been identified, but the general consensus is that it’s a symptom of environmental problems within a building.

People first started reporting Sick Building Syndrome in the 1970s, when economic pressures and oil embargoes forced architects and engineers to design more airtight office buildings to cut energy costs.

As a direct result, indoor air quality drastically worsened, as polluted air became trapped in buildings rather than being recirculated outside.

Chemical pollutants such as VOCs and biological contaminants such as mould then gradually rose in concentration, resulting in the health problems in employees that we now call Sick Building Syndrome.

Poorly designed ventilation systems also resulted in uncomfortable temperatures and high humidity levels, which can further encourage mould growth.

What is the Impact?

A poor working environment doesn’t just have health implications – it can also have a profound economic impact on businesses.

Sick Building Syndrome drastically reduces productivity, with poor indoor air quality estimated to cost employers around $15 billion a year in worker inefficiency and sick leave.

It’s also been noticed that Sick Building Syndrome is most common in open plan offices, and it’s unlikely to be a coincidence that employees in open plan offices also take on average 62% more sick days than those in cellular offices.

It’s clear that something needs to be done.

This infographic…

Paint Inspection have designed this infographic to tell you everything you need to know about this important topic.

Covering everything from the symptoms and causes, to the costs to businesses and some actionable solutions, we’re sure you’ll leave this blog feeling more equipped to deal with your unhealthy office building!


About the Author

Jennifer Bennett is the Content Writer at Paint Inspection, a UK-based coating inspection and surveying company.


Want to learn more about how you can create a healthier workplace?
Book a call so we can create a plan for you. >>


Pests – Managing Them In The Garden, Chemical-Free

Pests: What Are They?

When you really stop and think about it, pests are critters in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They are important parts of nature and they do play a role however, we don’t always want them in our gardens. I have lost countless seedlings and a lot of fruit crops to pests, so I get it!

For this post, I am also going to broaden this concept of “pests” to plants as well – weeds and the like.

But How Can We Manage Pests Without Chemicals?

There are many ways that we can do this.


dandelion

WEEDS

Instead of Round Up or other glyphosate-based* products, pull them up by hand (or with a hand tool).

Alternatively, you can simply use steam or boiling water.

Most steam mops can be taken outside and used to steam the pavers and any places where weeds are growing.

*If you want to read more about Glyphosate, grab your copy of the e-Mag here. Stephane Seneff wrote an article in it. 🙂


snails

SNAILS

There are ways to deal with snails without poisoning them.

Snails like to slide along surfaces. They can’t slide across rough surfaces.

So, sprinkle sawdust around the plants you want to protect.

NOTE: You do need to reapply this after it has become wet (frost or rain).


aphids

APHIDS

Oh! Aphids!!!

Did you know that ladybirds FEAST on these?

One strategy is to plant lots of plants that attract beneficial insects.

The other method is to spray them with a detergent-water solution and then pick them off by hand.

Make sure you use a detergent that does not contain fragrances and chemicals.


OTHER IDEAS

  • Diatomaceous earth sprinkled around can kill insects
  • Bird nets over fruit trees will protect the fruit
  • Planting nasturtiums and garlic around tomatoes to distract birds and prevent insects, respectively
  • Don’t plant in rows – this is like setting up your garden for “pacman” to come along and chomp through everything
  • Owl ornaments can deter rodents
  • Plant extra, we all have to eat!


I hope you found that helpful. 🙂

I approach things from a precautionary standpoint.

Scented Reeds And Candles: My Opinion

What do I think of Scented Reeds and Candles?

Scented reeds and candles – peh! I have thought a lot about scented reeds and candles …and my opinion is very low.

Scented reeds and candles contain a cocktail of chemicals to make the “fragrance.” Many of these ingredients are known or suspected lung irritants (and remember, you are breathing these in) and some also contain suspected carcinogens (meaning that they may cause cancer).

Many candles are made from paraffin – a petrochemical.

Most of them contain wicks that contain lead.

Safer alternatives include:

  • opening windows to freshen the air instead
  • using unscented candles or even salt lamps for ambience
  • source candles that have lead-free wicks (remember, as a consumer, you have power, so ask your favourite companies… you will get the ball of change rolling)
  • if you tolerate essential oils (and many people don’t) then you can get scented candles that are fragranced with essential oils instead of chemicals
  • avoid incense
  • seek out non-GM soy candles – avoid palm oil (environment) and beeswax (for the bees)


For information about air fresheners (and scented reeds and candles do fall into this category, you may like to view this…

As well, there are a number of posts that explain fragrances in more detail:


And of course, if you would like assistance with reducing your exposure to chemicals and other hazards in your home or workplace, let me know.

You can book a call here >>

Home is the Most Important Place

Home is the most important place. It is our castle.

Home is our safety haven, our sacred space, our island in the midst of the world.

For many of us, the world can be a bit full-on. The onslaught of fragrances, noise, wi-fi, people, lights… it can be overwhelming at times.

Also, most of these things are out of our control.

The best thing to do is to have a healing, safe, and nourishing home to come back to.

A virtual Indoor Environmental Health Assessment Can Short-Cut Your Route to a Healthy Nurturing Space

By assessing your home with great care, and attention to detail, we can shortcut the agonising searching for information and hazards.

Whether it be:

  • electromagnetic fields
  • phone towers
  • neighbours wi-fi
  • the smart meter
  • air pollutants
  • indoor air quality
  • volatile organic compounds
  • lead and other heavy metals
  • drinking water contaminants
  • mould and water damage
  • personal care and cleaning products
  • and more!

By assessing your home, I can determine the hazards, the potential problems AND provide you with solutions.

Many of my clients experience not only peace of mind, but improved health after implementing the recommendations.

They know that they have made their home safe for their families.


Get in touch so we can arrange your assessment.

Ten Toxic Truths

Ten Toxic Truths

Toxic truth: lifestyle-related chronic disease is widely recognised as being one of the top underlying causes for death.

Epidemics and pandemics have been fuelled by high intake of sugar, fat, salt, alcohol, tobacco and lack of physical exercise. Along with this, is the involuntary exposure to the cocktail of industrial chemicals. The World Health Organisation are paying attention to this as they forecast a “tidal wave of cancer.”

The Shift in Thinking

Toxicology has shifted the scientific thinking. Previously the view was that “the dose makes the poison,” and now we are looking at windows of development and minute doses being extremely problematic.

No longer is toxicity about the dose – “the type of chemical, timing of exposure, the combination of chemicals and individual risk factors” all play a role in the toxic effects, says Prof. Marc Cohen.

Cohen identifies the 10 toxic truths to be:

  1. Everyone is Affected
  2. The Full Extent is Unknown
  3. Tiny Doses can have BIG Effects
  4. Biomagnification Occurs up the Food Chain
  5. Chemical Cocktails are Synergistic
  6. Bioaccumulation Occurs over a Lifespan
  7. Windows of Development are Critical
  8. Effects are Trans-Generational
  9. Risk is Unequal, Unjust and Greater for the Young
  10. Exposure is Unequal, Unjust and Accidents Happen

I encourage you to read the full article – here.


Do You Want Assistance Identifying All Things Toxic in Your Place?

Check our our Virtual Indoor Environmental Health Assessments here. >>