Who knew sunscreen could be so controversial? But, as with most products containing chemicals brought to us by cosmetic companies, it's all to common today. So what are the best products available? What do we look for and how do we best protect our families from the possible harmful effects of too much sun?
We know the sun’s radiation, UVA (long wave) and UVB (short wave, most damaging) rays cause free radicals to increase in the skin. Sun exposure damages cellular DNA, increases the signs of aging and increases risk of skin cancer. But before you run inside and put your caftan and XL brimmed chapeau on, that awesome star of our galaxy has some major benefits to health also. Let’s chat about a couple of those first.
Vitamin D. It’s actually not a vitamin at all, it’s a hormone. (Background: In the 1930’s the dairy industry began fortifying milk with “vitamin” D) Vitamin D is vital in mineral metabolism, supports the immune system and is essential to bone health and growth making it especially important to developing children. Recent studies demonstrate the importance of healthy levels of Vitamin D and a wide range of benefits to our health, specifically a reduction in risk of colon and breast cancer. Recent trends show Americans to be deficient in vitamin D due to the use of sunscreens which block the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin and the overall decrease in outdoor activity. To increase your bodies vitamin D hormone, simply get direct sun (meaning without sunscreen) skin exposure for about 20 minutes per day. Your body will naturally produce the hormone vitamin D you need. Vitamin D supplements can be taken daily for those not wanting the direct sun approach, in addition to a diet rich in foods that support Vitamin D production such as wild salmon, organic free range egg yolks and mushrooms.
Be Happy. Sunlight makes us happy. Like the chemical reaction in the body that causes the hormone, vitamin D to be produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight, the body has similar reactions that release other hormones and signals to the brain and body. Sunlight exposure helps regulate our sleep cycle, decrease stress and depression. Making a short daily dose of sun part of your wellness regime can be life changing.
So, what about skin protection for everyday exposure or the pool days of Summer?
Here are some tips and guidelines to ensure protection from exposure to harmful rays as well as potentially harmful chemicals commonly found in sunscreens:
Clothing, the first line of defense: Shade and protective clothing including hats, shirts and sunglasses are among your first lines of defense. Sunglasses or water googles with UV added protection for the eyes is also strongly advised for children and adults alike.
Stay out of O-Zone: Avoid sun exposure on high ozone days which can increase free radicals, skin damage and exacerbate problems with breathing.
Liberal Application: Apply a BROAD SPECTRUM, (Block both UVA & UVB Rays) Sunscreen often and a LOT of it. Tests reveal, in order to have maximum protection, sunscreen must be applied in a large dosage that delivers the product completely over the skins surface. Half the “dosage” only gives half the protection.
Don’t get High on Numbers: Resist the temptation to get caught up in a numbers game when choosing sun protection. Products boasting SPF 50 do not always translate to greater UV protection or that you can stay in the sun longer. Go for an SPF in the 30 range, apply often and take breaks from direct exposure by seeking some shade.
NO SPRAY Sunscreens: Deep breath. This is a hot issue for me. Spray sunscreens should be banned from existence. Harmful chemicals are inhaled and can enter the bloodstream through the lungs with the possibility of causing damage to vital organs. In addition, many sunscreens contain powder, talc and other micro, nano properties that can be harmful if inhaled. The FDA recently banned all SPF (nano) from loose mineral powders, due to this health risk, but exempt small companies to make the change until December of this year. (Say what?) If you must use a spray, please refrain from applying in public places as it will put others at risk.
No Mixing: Don’t mix Sunscreens and Insect Repellants. It’s simply a toxic chemical cocktail. Use light colored clothing in addition to layering your mineral based sunscreen first, then apply your deet-free insect repellant. (More on that another time.)
No-Go Ingredients: Refrain from using any sunscreen product (including lip balms) containing these commonly used chemicals:
Oxybenzone and/or Octinozate- Both have been shown to cause reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption and hormone mimicking activity in humans. These chemicals are highly toxic and pose significant risk to people as well as animals and aquatic life.
Retinyl Palmitate (vitamin A)- Research shows retinyl palmitate acts as a photo carcinogen, speeding up the development of skin tumors and legions on sun, UV radiation exposed skin. With sun exposure alone, free radicals are are formed and damage to DNA strands occur which contribute to the cause of skin cancer. With the presence of vitamin A, that skin damage increases, including tumor and lesion growth, compared to those without vitamin A. In my own research over the last several years, I examined the findings of studies such as this one and strongly believe retinyl palmitate should not be used in sunscreens, skin lotions or other applications for sun exposed skin. It can take 10-15 years for this type of research to reach mainstream and be “applied” to products. I want you to be informed now. Read your labels carefully.
Best choices for sunscreens are mineral based, zinc oxide & titanium dioxide. Despite the fact sunscreens and loose powder mineral makeup with SPF contain nano particles which carry a risk of inhalation, mineral based sunscreens are safer and less toxic, making them a better choice than chemical sunscreen varieties. Zinc oxide is king. Keep in mind the sunscreens that cause you to look like Casper, have lower levels of nano sized particles in them. We can all stand a ghost effect in the name of health and true anti aging benefits can’t we?
Some of my trusted, personal favorite sunscreens in my beach bag for kiddos include California Baby Sunscreen stick which I love for the easy application to the kids face and shoulders, Aubrey Organics is a brand I totally trust. The SPF lotion goes on a little thick and white so the kids may bark a bit, but this mom loves its protection!
Not only is Renee one of my BFF’s, but her SPF is also a bestie to my skin!
If you would like to dive into the deep end of sunscreens a little deeper, check out the newly released, in time for “No-Fryday” (Friday prior to Memorial Day) Environmental Working Group’s “Guide to Safer Sunscreens”! You can find the complete reporthere which includes awesome information including ratings on the sunscreens they tested.
Wishing you a moment to close your eyes and feel the sun on your face.
When it comes to food, my motto is, “You are what your food eats.” A healthy diet isn’t about deprivation, rather it hinges on eating the right things. After all, food is our best medicine, and food that’s been grown free of toxins and chemicals is essential. With that in mind, I wanted to share a list of my top 15 favorite foods for helping you and your family achieve optimal health.
1. Avocados - A perfect source of essential fatty acids and unsaturated fats, a great source of folate, with more potassium than bananas, avocados are a nutrient dense food, high in phytochemicals, carotenoid, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B-6, fiber, and glutathione. Studies show salads and salsa eaten with avocados increase carotenoid absorption. Served with eggs, salsa, and black beans in the morning, tossed in a fresh green salad for lunch, or chopped into quinoa for dinner with a squeeze of lemon, it’s a fruit that compliments just about anything.
2. Kale - A rock star in food circles and rightfully so. Kale is high in antioxidants and vitamins including Vitamins K (1,020%!), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. It’s also a great source of minerals including: calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. As if that wasnʼt enough, kale also contains the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin (fights macular degeneration) and polyphenols (awesome free radical killers). Oh and it’s good for your bones, reduces cancer risk, and helps about every single bodily function. How can you top that? It’s best prepared raw by massaging the leaves to tenderize or slightly cooked.
3. Raw Organic Cacao Nibs - Scoring a 621 on the ORAC scale of antioxidant power (blueberries have a score of 65), cacao is a key to health. As the magical bean that begets chocolate, cacao nibs (at least 70% cacao) can be added to protein shakes, baked goods, topped on organic plain non-fat yogurt, or mixed with nuts and seeds for a mid-day snack. Note: This nutritional value information does not apply to chocolate candy or candy bars. (Darn.)
4. Mushrooms - Used for thousands of years in medicines, mushrooms are a powerhouse immunity builder, cancer cell killer, and healer of cardiovascular and liver problems. Mushrooms are high in Vitamin B and naturally possess anti- inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Cooking enhances their potency in most varieties, so sauté with fresh minced garlic and dig in!
5. Salmon - Salmon is natureʼs ultimate source of omega 3 fatty acids, DHA, and astaxanthin. But only Wild Alaskan/Pacific Coho, Russian River, or Sockeye, please. And be sure to purchase from a responsible source and do your part to conserve.
6. Flaxseeds - With a shift in focus within the health community on more Omega-3 fatty acids and less Omega-6s, freshly consuming ground flax seeds is an easy way to balance the ratio. (The research is especially promising for Omega 3ʼs ability to block hormone-related cancers.) Flaxseeds are proven to reduce LDL cholesterol and lower average blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The best source is organic, freshly ground. Use within 20 minutes of grinding. Ground flaxseeds and flaxseed oil with DHA are also a wonderful alternative to fish oil.
7. Seeds & Nuts - From almonds and walnuts t0 pumpkin and sesame, seeds are bursting with nutrients as they are ready to sprout new life. Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, amino acids, iron, phosphorus, vitamins, and protein, they are seriously good for you. Almonds and walnuts offer awesome health benefits with omega 3s, and the filling unsaturated fat makes them a great snack food that provides protein and antioxidant power.
8. Quinoa – A perfect seed (not grain) , quinoa is easy to cook, high in fiber, and a good source of non-animal protein (11 grams per half cup!) It’s super versatile and perfect for on the go, add kale and your set.
9. Broccoli – This green veggie is one of the best cancer blockers around, as it modifies natural estrogens into less damaging forms and increases enzymes that fight free radicals and carcinogens. It’s high in Vitamins C, K, Folate, and Choline; minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium; and powerful phytochemicals that stimulate the bodies immune system. I have heard first hand, Doc's at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston tell their patients suffering from cancer to eat organic brocolli as much a spossible! It's powerful enough to battle cancer cells! Everyone should eat at least 3-4 servings per week, and never over cook (mushy broccoli is not just less health, it’s a bummer).
10. Green Tea & Matcha- Studies have shown the antioxidant power in one cup of green tea, especially polyphenol-rich Matcha, to be superior in improving immunity, aiding digestion, and fighting the signs of aging. There’s also evidence that the high antioxidant levels of green tea are associated with reduced cancer risk. (I drink a cup every night!) Caution regarding your source. Choose only organic, Japanese green teas that have been tested for radiation and heavy metals such as lead and aluminum.
11. Garlic & Onions – High in Sulfur compounds and antioxidants, these bad breath boys will blow out your arteries (in a good way), assisting in the reduction of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Consuming them can also help treat hair loss (allicin) and help fight cancer. Garlic is a natural anti-bacterial and antibiotic that is 100 times more effective than two commonly prescribed antibiotic drugs. Stinky garlic is also an anti-inflammatory.
12. Turmeric – An excellent anti-inflammatory, liver cleansing, anti-cancer food, turmeric has received lots of well deserved recognition of late. I eat turmeric daily, fresh in my morning protein shake. Ginger is fellow root star with common properties and digestive enzymes to boost its power pack.
13. Wheatgrass – Weighing in with twenty times more density than other veggies, and containing 103 vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, wheat grass is seriously nutrient rich. It’s especially high in Vitamins A, B Complex, C, E, and K; beta-carotene; and chlorophyll which helps to detoxify the body and build immunity. Wheatgrass is best taken as a freshly juiced shot (I add mine to my daily protein shake), but be sure to ease into it, as drinking too much too soon can hit you with a hard and fast release of toxins.
14. Lentils – A great substitute for animal protein with 9 grams of protein per half cup, plus heart healthy folate, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, lentils are a seriously healthy, easy to cook go-to food. Toss in soups and salads or eat alone as a side dish. They cook, start to finish, in about 20 minutes! This is one of my pantry staples… you canʼt go wrong.
15. Purified Water – Yes, I know it seems obvious, but you can not cook, live, or be truly well without clean, purified water. Use it in your teas, coffees, soups, to wash your vegetables and fruits, boil your pasta, steam your veggies, and soak your beans. It is the single most important ingredient in healthy food.
Hereʼs to using our fork for our health!
On Earth Day, I attended a viewing of the documentary, Trashed produced and narrated by Academy Award winning actor, Jeremy Irons. Just a few minutes into the film, I was struck by how much its message instantly resonated with me. I guess you could say the story of trash, is my story… itʼs your story… Trash is evidence of who we are, where we have been, what we ate, drank, clothed ourselves in, read… It’s our legacy, these computers we used, cars we drove, toys no longer wanted. Todayʼs trash is tomorrowʼs waste pollution, and that waste pollution is killing us.
Trash is growing at an infinite rate, yet our resources are extremely finite. Increasingly, we’ve become a largely “throw away” society, not giving much thought (or care) to how our Earth home is affected by we things we casually toss out daily. But what happens to all of that trash stuffed into plastic bags and left at the curb, thrown on the ground, dropped in the lake, or dumped at the end of a road somewhere? Does it go away just because we can’t see it anymore? Of course its doesnʼt… we know that, but what we might not realize is the life-altering impact it’s making.
Today, there is more plastic in our Earthʼs oceans than life. In the North Pacific Gyre, (one of the five gyres, or ocean convergence cycles, found on Earth) plastic outnumbers one of the most basic sea life forms, zooplankton, 6 to 1 and covers an area twice the size of Texas. Less than 10% of plastic trash is recycled. While, industrial chemicals, oil, fertilizer, and pesticides pollute streams, rivers, oceans, and ground water, they are also polluted by trash.
From trash that began as a super market bag that blew in the wind to reach a body of water, litter that surged with afternoon rain showers down a street to wash down a storm drain, or waste once sitting at waters edge in a landfill or dump site now floating on a wave nearby, an astonishing amount of the stuff makes its way into our waterways. Fish and sea animals mistake plastic for food, get tangled in its path, and take on its toxic chemical properties now broken down into the water, sand, and air around it. In many towns all over the world, people dump trash in the same water where they bath, wash their clothes, and hydrate.
Plastic waste is indigestible (not by us or by the earth) and it’s making people and our planet sick. The beginning point of plastic is crude oil, with 5% of total crude oil or petroleum production used to make plastic. The crude oil is broken down and/or combined with other chemicals such as toluene, ethylene, and benzene — a known carcinogen used to make styrene, polyester, and plastic.
Plasticizers such as phthalates are added to make the plastic flexible. These phthalates are suspected carcinogens, containing endocrine disrupting chemicals that have devastating effects on amphibians, fish, mammals, and humans.
There is no safe plastic. The EPA reports that, “every bit of plastic ever made still exists.”
Sadly, the same is true of the toxic effects it has on life. When humans and other living species are exposed to these chemicals, they bio-accumulate in fat cells. Just as the toxic effects of trash and waste pollution ripple down and are seen for decades in every living thing on Earth, our bodies pass these toxic chemicals on to our children as well. In fact, studies have shown up to nine generations of offspring can be effected by the DNA-altering, endocrine-disrupting, cancer-causing, neurological-damaging chemicals in plastics.
This madness must stop.
But how do we reduce plastic use in our daily lives when it is so prevalent? Here are eight easy and effective ways to start:
1. Ditch Plastic Water Bottles. Instead of Plastic Water Bottles, invest in an under the sink Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter and use as your primary water source. To keep drinking water handy, switch plastic water bottles for glass or stainless steel and store them for easy grab-n-go in the fridge. Many glass and stainless steel bottles have plastic lids and covers, so be sure to hand wash in warm soapy water. Never put any form of plastic in the dishwasher or microwave, no matter the labeling, as it can increase the plastic’s ability to leach into your body.
2. Go For Glass. Serve kiddos real glass, ceramic, or stainless steel drink ware, cutlery and dishes. Life Without Plastic has great options and ideas. And while you’re at it, ditch the paper napkins and grab some fun 100% cotton drink napkins. They are perfect for lunch boxes!
3. Buy Safe Baby Bottles. Use glass baby bottles, and make sure the nipples are phthalate, BPA, and PVC free. The same rule applies for Sippy Cups, teethers, and pacifiers.
4. Ditch Plastic Toys. Make your home “rubber” ducky and small junkie toy free. A majority of these “cheapie toys” contain BPA and are made of PVC and heavy phthalates…(The whole yellow ducky in the bathtub framed with the PVC-laden shower curtain has always freaked me out.)
5. Buy in Bulk. This one takes a little extra work, but it makes a huge impact. When grocery shopping, buy bulk items when possible, and bring your own glass containers or fabric bags to the store for filling. The cashier only needs to pre weigh your container to deduct weight difference. Instead of plastic produce bags (most programs will not recycle them) opt for mesh produce bags, natural cloth bread sacks, and shopping bags.
6. Revamp Your Pantry. Use glass containers to store pasta, rice, nuts, cookies, and pretty much anything else you can think of in your pantry. Anything you can put in a “Ziploc” plastic bag (leftovers, fruits, veggies) and freeze, you can put in a glass Pyrex container instead. Just top with parchment paper, close with plastic lid, and freeze.
7. Shop Green. If purchasing packaged goods, glass or paper cartons always win over plastic, as you can repurpose them for future storage. In addition, choose produce free of bagging and containers such as fresh heads of lettuce, and tomatoes on the vine, and bulk potatoes, onions, and citrus (not the jumbo plastic bags of them). If produce is only offered in that form, I take it to the check out counter, have them ring it up, put it in one of my own mesh produce bags and tell the store to take care of the “trash” the produce has caused. It’s important to send the message loud and clear to stores, especially “health food” stores that should be leading the way in environmental responsibility, that you do not want trash with your groceries.
8. Get Smart About Tetra Packaging. The jury is still out on Tetra packaging, with conflicting stories of whether or not they can be recycled. Many are made of an aluminum, paperboard, or plastic mesh. Buy glass when there is a choice.
Ok, now let’s talk Pre-Cycling & Recycling. (You knew it was coming!) It’s good to avoid all plastic as a rule, but geez, letʼs face it, for now, plastic is everywhere. When it cannot be avoided, choose product containers that CAN be recycled (pre-cycling). But just because you see the “chasing arrows” sign on the packaging doesnʼt mean it is recyclable (confusing, yes?), so let’s make sense of it. Knowing the differences between different types of plastics and packaging can help our health and mother Earth.
You will find arecycle numberon the bottom of most plastics to help recycling center employees sort the goods. This number also tells us something. Here’s the breakdown:
#1: PETE – This plastic is typically used for water bottles, soft drinks, and packaging. It may leach carcinogens, so be very careful with heating it or exposing to UV rays, as both degrades the chemical bonds in the plastic. It is easily recycled, but should not be reused. Commonly recycled into polyester fiber, fleece and carpeting.
#2: HDPE – This isconsidered the best option for plastic with its ability to be easily recycled and to withstand UV light and chemicals without breaking down. It’s commonly used for household cleaning products, detergents, park benches, and picnic tables.
#3: PVC – Poly Vinyl Chloride is a bad boy. Commonly dubbed, “the poison plastic,” it is used in household items, industrial pipes, housing materials, garden hoses, medical blood bags and tubing, wire and cable insulation packaging, floor mats, and kid and pet toys. This plastic contains numerous toxins and should never be used or touched by children or expecting mothers. Warning should also be given for all clothing containing PVC such as “jelly” sandals. Less than 1% of PVC is recycled, making it disastrous for the environment as it sits in landfills. The use and manufacturing of PVC plastic should be outlawed.
#4: LDPE – This is low-density plastic, and it is just as it sounds (think film plastic, shrink wrap, dry cleaner bags, some household product containers). Although it is considered generally safe, it is almost never recyclable, meaning it’s destined to sit in a landfill (aka: our soil) for eternity. We can all easily refuse use of this plastic.
#5: PP – Polypropylene is a strong plastic with a high melting point, making it a favorite for yogurt (yogurt goes in hot- then refrigerated), take out food packaging, straws, medicine bottles, and syrup bottles. Check with your local waste collection agency to see if they accept this type of material. (Ed. Dallas County’s recycling program accepts plastics with the recycling symbol for numbers 1-7.)
#6 PS – Polystyrene is horrible. Full stop. Not only is it linked to endocrine system disruption and reproductive dysfunction but also lung cancer in factory workers using it in manufacturing. Polystyrene is highly toxic to our Earth and is found in alarmingly high amounts on our beaches, poisoning all marine life surrounding it. This is your typical take out material, Styrofoam cup/clam shell food containers, foam shipping packaging, and plastic picnic or sack lunch cutlery. It’s also used in homes for laminate flooring and insulation. Styrene should NEVER be heated, as it has a low melting point and can leach into food products. Hot food alone is enough to cause harmful chemicals to be ingested. Never allow a child to drink from a Styrofoam cup commonly used by fast food restaurants. Think of hot coffee served in a Styrofoam cup! Eeks! Please never consume or purchase products that use PS containers. Most home recycle programs do NOT accept this type of material, making it even more detrimental to the health of our society. (Ed. Dallas County’s recycling program does not accept Styrofoam products.)
#7 Polycarbonate (PC) & Other – The catchall number 7 truly “catches all,” including BPA, Bisphenol A, and other toxic chemicals. Plastics with this number can contain a combination of the above plastics and are generally NOT accepted by recyclers. Sippy Cups and Nalgene containers are commonly labeled #7 and should not be considered safe.
Plastics that are not recycled, usually end up in landfills alongside all sorts of waste, where spontaneous, deep fires burn several times a day releasing deadly dioxins, methane gas, hydrochloric acid, and carbon dioxide into the air.
The most difficult scene in Trashed was shot in Vietnam, where we saw the absolutely horrific effects of Agent Orange in deformed fetuses jarred in glass containers of formaldehyde. I canʼt even type the words without tears. Agent Orange, created by bio-chemical giants, Monsanto and Dow Corning (creator of genetically modified seeds and organisms now over taking our food supply as well as deadly DDT) was a defoliant dropped by air over the jungles of Vietnam, effecting the land, water, and all living things in its path. Agent Orange contained dioxins which caused these atrocities. The chemicals contained in Agent Orange were held as a “secret” by its makers for many years. The same game is played today sacrificing the health human beings and animals alike. Chemical manufacturers, oil and gas companies, and makers of plastic do not tell us what is in the chemical cocktail that they end up burying and burning, often sending the same dioxin into the air and settling onto the water, grass, and soil. As a result the chemical enters our food chain becoming more concentrated as it goes. (Think air, grass, cow, human) These are the very same dioxins found in pesticides and herbicides. How could we possibly think that todayʼs overwhelming increase in allergies, asthma, leukemia, cognitive learning problems, ADD, and autism is not associated with these products and chemicals?
Our planet is now the “proud” owner of landfills the size of mountains, many overtaking the original land designated for it, farms, homes, and rivers just a stone’s throw away. The birds, flies, and stench from these landfills waft into adjacent neighborhoods like an unwelcome visitor. In the documentary, Jeremy Irons takes us to a farm adjacent to a landfill in York, England. The townspeople petitioned and picketed for relief from the toxic waste dump to no avail, as local government officials stated that the air, soil, and ground water were safe contrary to evidence otherwise (including cancer clusters and development problems in children). In fact, one study showed that living within 3 kilometers of the landfill resulted in a high incidence of birth defects. Jeremy took his own soil sample with results showing levels of toxins way over “acceptable” levels and all with links to the diseases afflicting the local people. I have always wondered about said “acceptable” levels of poisons, toxins, and cancer causing chemicals. On who’s child is that “level” acceptable?
I can remember, as a little girl, my grand father would burn trash in his trash barrel at the end of the road beside the edge of the pasture. I was mesmerized by the different colors it would emit into the air, not understanding that it was releasing PCBs, dioxins, and nano-particles to float over the land, perhaps settling on the nearby garden we ate from every day.
Many can see that we cannot sustain the current practice of burying our waste and therefore surmise that incineration is a logical answer. Millions of dollars have been spent in the race to build the perfect waste incinerator. But, as we saw in the film, the problem can be the same as my grand daddy’s trash barrel — PCBs, dioxins, fly ash, mercury, cadmium, lead and nano particles released into the air. A farm in a village in Greenland was completely devastated by the chemicals emitted into the air from a nearby waste incinerator. It seems, it worked for a couple of months, then broke down when the filter wore out. That filter was the only barrier between the deadly chemicals burned and the clean air outside. The gentlemen interviewed had lost his dairy output through contamination and was fearful for the health of his unborn child and expecting wife. The local authorities simply said that the contamination and poisoning could not be proven scientifically even though dioxin levels were shown to be 13,000 times over the acceptable amount. The government offered him no help or restitution. I assure you this story is not uncommon across our globe, perhaps in our own backyards.
Many manufacturers and authorities “hang their hats” on the statement that “it can not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, scientifically, that these or any chemicals cause disease in humans.” When dealing with human beings, saying something is absolute is almost impossible. We must change our criteria and shift the burden of proof of safety to the manufacturer, demanding full disclosure of all ingredients.
To our government officials everywhere considering incineration: It is not the answer. It is too costly, both in dollars and in health. Just ask Detroit.
So, the answer must lie in reducing our waste and responsibly getting rid of it. With about 30% of our landfill trash comprised of paper, 18% of food scraps, and 16% of plastics… we can turn this around. Just ask San Francisco. The city has implemented a highly effective zero waste policy with the following mandates:
Recycle all paper, newspaper, magazines, junk mail, shoeboxes, chip and cereal boxes, paper grocery bags, and unwaxed paper products. Personal documents can be shredded and recycled.
Do not litter or dump anything. (There is zero tolerance for littering or dumping of any kind.)
Compost food scraps and yard clippings. (Sierra Club and Earth Easy provide good information and tips on composting.)
Pre-cycle & Re-cycle and plastics (including toothbrushes), aluminum cans, jars, glass, steel, and other waste products.
When faced with items that cannot be recycled, be sure you consider alternatives and/or understand how to properly dispose of them. Following are recommendations for the most common items:
Baby Diapers – And estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills each year (and will stay there for over 500 years). Instead use cloth diapers to avoid toxic chemicals. It seems like more work, but the cloth diaper systems and services available today are incredibly easy to use.
Batteries — Use re- chargeable batteries whenever possible, and never put used batteries in recycling or landfill trash. Batteries become toxic to soil, leach into groundwater. Many municipalities or hardware stores, such as Elliot’s, take them directly. I store my discards in a gallon container until filled, then turn into the city waste management department. CDs / DVDs – Re-sell or donate
Facial or Toilet Tissue — Use sparingly
Light Bulbs and Mirrors – Properly dispose of by dropping off at authorized businesses (Home Depot and Loweʼs will take CFLs.)
Paper Towels- Use re-usable cloth towels.
Hazardous Materials — Plastic containers used for motor oil, antifreeze, or other hazardous materials. Limit use. Contact your municipal services for help disposing of properly
Plastic Shopping or Trash Bags – Use re-usable cloth bags for shopping and paper bags for trash.
Plastic Wrap or Plastic Toys – Do not use or purchase.
Styrofoam Peanuts – When ordering products request low impact packaging.
Wire Hangers — Most Dry Cleaners will accept them back. Use wooden hangers. They last forever.
Old Medications — Contact your local municipality for information or drop off days for old medications (OTC and prescription). Remove label and recycle bottle. Never dump into landfill trash or flush down the toilet to enter the municipal water source returning to you in drinking water. (Locally, in Dallas, Doughtery’s and Preston Road Pharmacy (map to locate in your city) both accept old medications.)
Cosmetic Chemicals — Nail Polish, remover, and other cosmetic chemicals containing the "bad 5" should be avoided for the sake of your health, but if you have them, you should take them to the hazardous drop off location for paints, solvents, or industrial chemicals as they contain highly toxic formaldehyde, DEP, toluene, camphor, and acetone.
Yard Clippings — Never bag yard clippings, limbs, grass, or trimmings in plastic bags. This causes methane and green house gases to form. Most cities will compost them if you do not. Put in paper bags, and allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn to nourish the soil.
Pet Feces – Either flush down the toilet (depending on size of the pet), use in composting, or use biodegradable bags.Never put pet feces in the landfill or wash down a storm drain or gutter. (Did you know its against the law?)
Additionally, you can re-use or donate the following items:
Old Electronics, phones and Computers — Donate to a shelter, a charity, or use electronic recycle programs such as Best Buy’s.
I realize it seems overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little effort, we can make a difference. The first step is to evaluate your family’s current waste output and create a plan to reduce your daily impact on our planet. Educate your children on the importance of being a responsible steward of our Earth home. Once you have your own household plan in place you can go a step further and petition for stronger laws and legislation to protect our environment and our health. I know at the end of the day, Mother Earth will go on despite her aches and pains… it’s us and our children that will not fair so well. We need to heed her multitude of warnings, follow her signs, and turn the tide for a healthy world.
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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Holly Pellham Davis / Clean Fresh Living, Inc. unless otherwise noted. Information and articles are based upon personal experience, preference, analyzing research, research data and knowledge of Holly Pellham Davis or respective author, who retains copyright. The information on the website, or social media, is not intended to replace the advise or relationship with a qualified health care professional, is not intended as medical advice and should not be construed as an attempt to offer or render a medical opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of medicine.
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