Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Simple ideas for cleaner living

I'm really into this clean living stuff, it's true.  I try not to be pushy about it with friends and family, but I'd like to think that I have influenced one or two people to try doing things a bit differently in their lives.  Maybe to shop for organic produce, or stop using tupperware.  Every extra little thing people do in their lives to avoid toxins, and to be kind to the environment, is awesome.

It's the simple and obvious ideas that can make a huge difference.  The following is a list of simple things that everyone can aim for, to live a less toxic life, and to be less wasteful of our resources.  Some of it is a recap from earlier posts.
  1. Replace your kitchen plastic.  You knew I would go there first.  It doesn't have to be all at once the way I did.  I fearlessly dropped $400 because I'm just that crazy!  But just start out small, and take your time with it.  Buy a couple of containers you can use for food storage, and a stainless steel container you can take your lunch to work in.  Replace a couple of your cooking utensils.  Replace your plastic cutting board.  Replace your plastic kettle with an all stainless steel kettle.  Check out IQ Living on the Danforth, they've got everything you need there.  Cut down on plastic wrap -- use tin foil and wax paper.  Reuse jars for food storage.  Avoid canned food, as the cans are lined with BPA.  Generally cut down on or avoid eating food or drinking liquids from plastic.  This includes take out containers, water bottles, and disposable coffee cups.  The take out food containers are tough to avoid, unless you just start taking out food from your own kitchen.  Replace your water bottles with the Klean Kanteen Reflect, and buy yourself one these babies for your coffee.  Is the coffee at your workplace brewed using those plastic disposable K-cups?  Stop drinking that coffee immediately, it's SO unhealthy and toxic for the body, and it's an atrocious waste of resources.  Take your new ceramic mug with silicone lid, and go on down to Starbucks.

  2. Buy natural beauty and hygiene products.  Of course.  Remember, our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs the products we use into our tissue and blood.  The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database should be bookmarked on your browser, because it's such an incredible resource to help you shop cleaner.  Shop at the health store, read labels, buy products with less ingredients.  Avoid any product that says paraben.  Avoid any product with fragrance/parfum, unless it specifically says the fragrance is from natural sources, or essential oils.  Stop using perfume, you smell way more beautiful just as you are.  Some companies I really love, and are generally clean, yet still really fantastic, are: Green Beaver (Canadian company), Kiss My Face, Soap Works (love the Cucumber Calendula!  And they're a Toronto company), Giovanni (for hair stuff), and Hugo Naturals (though I always check the Skin Deep database before buying their stuff).  I buy a lot of my products on Well.ca, which is in Guelph, and offers free shipping in Canada.  They have tons of clean selection -- just click on the green & natural link.  I also go to Whole Foods and the Big Carrot on the Danforth.  Both have a large beauty and hygiene section, including cosmetics.

  3. Buy things with less packaging.  So much of our consumer goods are way over-packaged.  Christmas was a pretty big eye opener.  I made it a specific mission to buy things that were not overly packaged, and I did very well.  But I certainly received some gifts packaged in a ton of plastic and paper, and I felt sick to my stomach at the waste generated.  Just be more aware of this when you're shopping.  Avoid plastic where possible.

  4. Buy organic produce and naturally raised meat.   I won't go too much into this, as I wrote extensively about it in previous posts: Salad With a Side of Hormones? and Convenience Food.  Simply, you want to avoid pesticides on your produce, and hormones and antibiotics in your meat, because they disrupt your hormones, leading to all kinds of serious health problems.  You also want to avoid genetically modified organisms.  Support your local farmers.

  5. Remember the 3 R's.  Remember them all.  It seems really silly, but if we're talking simple, we need to go back to basics.  Reduce, reuse, recycle, in that order.  We all seem to have the hang of recycling, but I think we've become somewhat complacent with the other R's and rely on recycling to ease our conscience.  Recycling is not the be all and end all, especially when it comes to plastic.  The first R is the most forgotten, but probably the most important.  Example: Recently on a friend's Facebook page, he complained about the Keurig coffee machine at work with the single use K-cups, and another person commented that they don't feel bad about all the waste because the K-cups get recycled.  That really got me going, of course.  Single use items like that are ridiculously wasteful, and I see no way such waste can be justified.  They should never have been produced in the first place, but there are far too many rich, self-indulgent, and spoiled rotten people who need their items of convenience, that there is a demand for such crap.  I'm not even going to apologize about offending anyone on this point.  My workplace uses the K-cup brewing system and the single use creamers, and it makes me sick every time I go in the kitchen.  Reduce, reuse, recycle: Reduce your use first, then reuse what you can......then recycle that which you had to buy, and could not reuse.  That's how I look at it.  Okay, rant over.

  6. Eat less (or no) pre-packaged food.  You'll be saving yourself from eating so much toxic junk, sugar and preservatives, and you will feel better, look better, and live longer.  Not to mention, you'll produce much less garbage.  This is obvious and simple, but eating should be simple, with whole ingredients, and with things that last came from the earth, not a factory.

  7. Stop chewing gum.  Please go to this site and this site, and read about gum.  It's toxic.  You will never want to touch the stuff again.  The only safer alternative I have found is Glee Gum.

  8. Take good quality fish oil.  Omega-3 fatty acids are amazing.  I could write a whole post about this, actually, because there is lots to tell you.  The best quaility oil I have found is NutraSea from Ascenta.  From TheSpec:
    "Omega-3s decrease inflammation, which is essentially the underlying cause of many diseases.  They can help treat and prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure.  They can decrease high cholesterol by increasing HDL (good cholesterol), decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.  Omega-3 fish oils are a blood thinner and play a similar role to Aspirin without Aspirin’s unwanted side-effects.  They are great for supporting the brain and nerve function, thus helping with mood, memory and concentration in conditions such as menopause, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke recovery, students studying for exams, and depression and anxiety.  Research studies have compared omega-3 fatty acids to antidepressants such as Effexor and have found people in the fish oil group fared better than those on conventional antidepressants. In June 2010, Dr. François Lespérance at the University of Montreal, published his results from the largest study ever conducted assessing omega-3’s efficacy in treating major depression. They were published in the online Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The results proved omega-3 fish oils are an effective treatment for people with major depression. Omega-3s also help lower high blood sugar levels in diabetics. They help support joint health in those with arthritis, sciatica and musculoskeletal conditions. In those with chronic skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis, fish oils can help support the skin and decrease inflammation caused in these conditions.  Omega-3s also benefit auto-immune conditions such as Chron’s, Colitis, Celiac disease, allergies and any other condition where the immune system is hypersensitive."
  9.  See a naturopath to cure what ails you.  I'm telling you, it is the best thing I've ever done.  I am almost 100% past my physical issues with PMS.  Yes, it has taken a whole year.  But having the patience to allow your body to heal naturally will benefit you in the long run.  The body is so much more complicated than traditional medicine can treat.

  10. Buy products made here.  It's another obvious idea.  It can be really hard to do, because so much of our consumer goods are made cheaply overseas and shipped here.  We know all the implications of this: the child labour, sweat shops, the environmental toll, etc.  I know I can't be perfect with this, but I try to buy locally made as much as possible.  It supports our local economy, and cuts down on emissions to keep our earth a little greener.
This little list is by no means exhaustive.  There are so many things we can all do to have healthier lives and homes.  I'm still learning lots myself.  Some things just aren't in my means yet, and there are other things I just don't have the time to do at this point.  But I feel good about changes I have made in my life and routine, and my health has certainly benefited.  In terms of toxins, we're forced to fight an uphill battle to live clean, because that's just way our world is.  So if we can make an effort to avoid the things within our control, I believe we will be healthier, and possibly avoid disease and live longer.  I really believe this.

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