The idea of Going Green may seem foreign if you are just becoming aware of how your lifestyle may be impacting your health and the world around you. Many of us have been raised to have an unquestioned trust in our government or the factions that supposedly certify products as safe, yet many products we have in our home, eat on a regular basis, or come into contact with routinely can be considered extremely toxic. These products, while touting a faster, easier, or more economical approach to the concerns of our day to day lives, can often make people quite ill.
I thought I was healthy so why do I have these allergies? Many people suffer from illnesses and allergies and don’t realize that how they are living and the products they are using in their homes may be contributing to their poor health. This is Indoor Pollution on a number of levels. Is the air in your home really safe or have you been filling it with chemicals to freshen, ‘clean’, or clear the air? Think you have a germ-free and squeaky clean home? Many cleaning products also contain well-known poisons. Chlorine is just one of those toxins and is present in many of the products you may be using, such as laundry, kitchen or bathroom cleaners.
Getting healthier and going green begins with awareness and making small yet consistent changes. Here are three simple steps I encourage people to begin with in my wellness classes:
1. Shop natural, fresh, and organic.
So few people seem to understand that canned and processed equals “dead” and generally full of preservatives, flavor enhancers, and chemicals when it comes to the food they eat. Dead food simply does not contain the health-supporting enzymes our bodies need for repair and recovery on a daily basis and over time will become weakened. Likewise, Monosodium Glutamate, also known as MSG, is added to thousands of products and is marketed as a “natural flavor enhancer”. MSG, however, is not a natural product– it is a chemical additive that can be considered highly toxic for some people. Read the labels, go for as little processing as possible, and buy organic whenever you can. Visit your Fresh and Farmer’s Markets for local, high quality produce.
2. Clean your home naturally.
Commercial cleaning products are very toxic and this is one area where person can ‘green up’ in virtually no time. Vinegar, for example, naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner and works well as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Just mix one part water to one part vinegar in a clean spray bottle and you will have a solution that will clean most areas of your home (and yes, the smell disappears as the solution dries.) Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits, and works well for shining brass and copper. Baking soda, in addition to being a great deodorizer, can be sued to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial abrasive cleansers.
3. Remove peripheral toxins from your environment and go as basic as you can.
The ‘fresh air’ sprays, elaborately scented candles, fabric fresheners and foaming carpet cleaners may also be polluting your home and making you ill. As simple as it may sound, if something has a warning label that states a product is flammable, instructs the user not to allow contact with skin or eyes, or to keep the product out of the reach of children, you may want to reconsider using that product. And your body may be trying to tell you something already. Toxicity sometimes manifests as mild to moderate depression, an on-going sense of feeling down, or general malaise which will disappear once the environment is cleared and the person can begin healing. Other times, stomach distress, allergic reactions, or even more severe physical issues will develop which may necessitate medical intervention.
As a child, I had debilitating allergies, was ill much more frequently than many other children, and would sometimes break out in hives. While I would try to explain to my mother that I knew certain things in the house were responsible, or that certain foods made me sick, she would dismiss my allergies and breakouts as “growing pains” and insist I was a “picky eater.” Allergies are the sign of a sick and weakened body. As an adult, I’ve healed most of those allergies (second hand cigarette smoke still shuts my bronchial system down, for example) and have substantial clinical proof that many of those products-some of which are now, thankfully, off the market– were indeed full of poisons.
Keep in mind that it takes time to heal after many years of ‘indoor pollution’, so be consistent and give your efforts a chance. And please don’t assume that any one action that you take does not make a difference for your health or the health of someone in your home.
Laura Garrison, Market Operations Manager, the Mid-Week Madeira Beach Morning Market