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March 23, 2012 by Laura and Alison

One More Reason to Go Green

Healthy Living is Green Living

We know that green living is better for our planet and can even save us some money, but it’s also good for our health. Choosing to be energy efficient, to recycle and use organic, natural products is not simply an earth-friendly lifestyle choice, it’s also often associated with living a healthy life. Here are a few examples of how green thinking can also mean healthy everyday living.

All Natural Cleaning Products: Most natural cleaning products are biodegradable, nontoxic, chlorine-free, and petroleum-free – all good for the planet, but also very good for you. Conventional household cleaning products contain harsh chemicals including ammonia and phenol, which can irritate your skin and lungs, and cause headaches. These products are also one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution. So instead of cleaning your home, you’re actually polluting the air you breathe! To avoid exposing yourself to these hazardous pollutants, look for non-toxic, environmentally safe household cleaning products, which clean while being gentler on your body.

Buying Organic: Organic food and cotton are grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, soil fumigants, and fertilizers. According to climatecrisis.net “organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms,” therefore removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – good for the planet as we face global warming. As for your health, this one is pretty obvious; traces of all those chemicals used to farm your food are still present when you put that food in your mouth. Even rinsing fruit and vegetables under the tap won’t remove all of the toxins that have literally been absorbed into them. Simple common sense tells you buying organically is the healthier choice. Clothes made from organic cotton are not only farmed without use of chemicals, but are not treated with chemicals during the manufacturing process. Twentieth century inventions like ‘permanent press’, ‘wrinkle free’, ‘stain resistant’, and ‘flame resistant’ all rely on fabrics that have been heavily treated with chemicals. Why wear the products loaded with chemicals next to your skin when you could wear pure, natural cottons and fabrics?

Turning off and unplugging electrical appliances: In addition to conserving energy and saving money, turning off and unplugging appliances when not in use may also have health benefits. Electronics generate electric and magnetic fields (EMFs), which can potentially cause serious health problems. While the studies about the effects of EMFs are ongoing, it isn’t wise to expose yourself to them for long periods of time. Think especially about appliances in the bedroom, where we all spend many hours sleeping.

Recycling: By reusing products or buying used products you’re conserving raw materials and saving the energy a manufacturer would use in the creation. You may also be exposing yourself to less chemicals and toxic fumes than buying new. Consider that smell that we often associate with something new – like the smell of a new car or new furniture – what you’re actually smelling are chemicals. Many of the chemicals used in manufacturing these products, such as formaldehyde, toluene and benzene, are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) that, through a process called “off-gassing,” release toxic fumes into the air. The majority of VOCs will off-gas over time, so consider buying used to reduce your exposure.

One tip to keep in mind, not everything that’s considered green is good for your health. Recycling is a wise, eco-friendly choice, however if you’re recycling a material that contains toxins or needs to be used with a toxic substance, you may be doing more harm than good. For example, recycling waste such as wood chips and shavings into chip board sounds like a good idea, but to bind the shavings together sometimes a resin containing formaldehyde, a highly toxic material, is used. Another example seen recently on television was an “eco-friendly” suggestion to use surplus building materials to create a lamp with PVC pipes. Placing a light bulb inside a PVC pipe, causes the toxic chemicals in the PVC to be heated therefore releasing toxic fumes into the air—not a healthy suggestion.

The term ‘green’ has become a catch-all word that seems to promote an overall lifestyle and covers many different ideas. For many people green living and healthy living are one in the same, but until that’s true for everyone, you may still need to do some research on your own. However, with a little bit of research there is no reason you can’t be green and healthy!

You may also enjoy:

Green from the Inside Out

The Simplest Way to Go Green

Simple Steps for a More Healthful Home

 

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