Take Care of the Earth and Yourself On Earth Day

Squash Flower in Honor of Earth Day

With Earth Day fastly approaching, I  have been pondering what should I write about. A list of 10 items on how to be kinder to the Earth?  Earth Day announcements from various not for profits helping to make our world a better place?  A gift guide to help you to change the world via your wallet or purse? None of these concepts seemed to resonate with  me for this day.

Over the last couple of weeks, three people that I know had  heart attacks.  Some  are close to me and others I know through others. The last in a series of three, died. Although, I did not know him personally, he was a vital and giving member of my community.  He was young (46) and in good health (so I thought), and left behind a family of four children.  One day here, the next day gone. It has rocked my little community.

This weekend after hearing the news, I took pause with my own life and thought how could people turn inward to enjoy the beauty and simplicity of the Earth on such a special day?  Most importantly, how can we take this time to  honor our own lives by taking care of ourselves. I knew that taking care of the Earth absolutely crossed path with taking care of ourselves.

Take the Time and Walk

Consider walking to do your errands rather than drive.  According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States.  Not only does walking help to make your heart healthy and helps to clear your mind, it reduces your carbon footprint.

Errands too far? Consider walking with a friend during lunch or after dinner.  Enjoy the smells of nature all around you. Want to start, but don’t have a walking pal, consider the American Heart Association’s Start! walking site.  Create your own walking path and find sole-mates to walk with.

Eat Organic Food

We live in a fast paced world. Grabbing food on the run and failing to eat a healthy diet.  Not only has our diets lead to an increased level of obesity and diabetes, we are poisoning our bodies with food laden with pesticides.  The Environmental Working Group states

“As acknowledged by the U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked with a variety of toxic effects, including:

* Nervous system effects

* Carcinogenic effects

* Hormone system effects

* Skin, eye and lung irritation

Pesticides are unique among the chemicals we release into the environment; they have inherent toxicity because they are designed to kill living organisms – insects, plants, and fungi that are considered “pests.” Because they are toxic by design, many pesticides pose health risks to people, risks that have been acknowledged by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.”

Children are at utmost risk due to the impact of pesticides on their tiny immune systems.  Buying organic food may not be an option for some of us.  It can be more expensive.   Knowing this, the EWG prepared a list of 47 fruits and vegetables ranking them based on the load of pesticides.   See the list here.   Out of this list, the EWG recommended buying only organic when purchasing the  Dirty Dozen Plus, which contain the highest load of pesticides. (For more information about the EWG’s shopping list, see here.)

Make your Home a Safe Haven

 

According to the EPA,

“In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.”

(For further information about Indoor Air Quality, see here.)

There are several factors which create  poor indoor air quality such as  increase levels of radon, formaldehyde in building products and furnishings, lead, mold,  pesticides, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, and asbestos in our homes. Exposure to these chemicals can increase our likelihood of asthma, cancer and developmental disorders in our children,  just to name a few.  (See the EPA’s listed  health effects for the above chemicals.)  Buy  building products that are SMaRT , Green Seal, or GreenSpec certified or thoroughly research their chemical content.

There are additional chemicals that we continue to expose ourselves to in our personal care products such as 1, 4 Dioxane, formaldehyde and others. The FDA does not regulate the cosmetic industry.   Before buying any personal care product, be sure to check out its level of toxicity on  the EWG’s Skin Deep database, which contains over 42,000 products in its database. (Suggested reading:  Stacy Malkan’s “Not a Pretty Face.” Quite an eye opening book.  Believe me, it is not a pretty picture.)

To make matters worse, we are making our houses tighter to reduce our energy consumption,and thus,  increasing our levels of exposure.  Consider increasing your ventilation through an energy recovery system.

Get Adequate Sleep

Everyone needs a good night sleep to feel refresh in the morning. According to Rubin Naiman, PhD, who  stated the following in his interview:

“Recent research has discovered critical links between inadequate sleep and a broad range of health problems including infections such as colds and flu, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Compromised sleep is known to be a critical factor in accidents ranging from ordinary motor vehicle mishaps to major disasters. Insomnia and sleep apnea also predispose us to clinical depression. In fact, a year of insomnia is the strongest known predictor of future depression.” (via Andrew Weil, M.D.’s website)

To make matter worse, we spend 1/3rd o f our day sleeping on toxic mattresses full of formaldehyde, flame retardants,and polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material.   The Mother Jones’ article, “Should You Ditch Your Chemical Mattress?”  revealed the following:

“In 2005, Walter Bader, owner of the “green mattress” company Lifekind and author of the book Toxic Bedrooms, sent several mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab. A memory-foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene.”

To top it off (literally), we add permanent press, pesticide laden cotton  sheets to the mix.  Do I need to tell you which chemical is added  to create those crisp permanent press sheets?  Formaldehyde.  Opt for a natural latex mattress or organic cotton one along with organic sheets.  I have an organic cotton mattress which we purchased eight years ago and my son has a natural Vivetex latex mattress.  (He did not like the cotton mattress and opted for a firmer mattress.)  We both could not be happier.

Laugh

I have always heard laughter is the best medicine. A University of Maryland study in 2000 revealed that laughter was good for the heart.

“The ability to laugh — either naturally or as learned behavior may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer,” says Dr. Miller. “We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list.” Dr. Miller says it may be possible to incorporate laugher into our daily activities, just as we do with other heart-healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.”

Dr. Miller concluded that we should watch something funny or read something humorous so we will not take ourselves too seriously.  I don’t know about you, but I enjoy  laughing.  Sometimes I laugh so much I wet my pants.  (This is one of the downfalls of giving birth to four children.  Urinary incontinence, to be polite.)

Count Your Blessings

Lastly, count your blessings everyday. We only have one life and one Earth.  Cherish each and every moment of both.  From both will spring bounty.  And while you are at it, make an appointment for a physical, mammogram, or whatever test you should be taking for your age.  Prevention is key.

Although I have barely touched upon how to take care of yourself in a Earthly manner, the above tips should get you going.  This post is part of the Green Mom Carnival about our thoughts about Earth Day being hosted by Alline at  A Passion For Green Business.  Check out what all the other green moms and mothers of the Earth have to say.

How do you take care of the Earth and yourself at the same time?

 


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Comments

  1. 4

    Peter Tornell says

    Shopping for a new bed can be a grueling experience.
    It is a jungle out there with so many gimmicks and misrepresentations.

    I have sold Hastens Beds for the past six years in California; in fact I was the Managing Director of California’s first Hastens store. Selling these fantastic beds has been nothing but a passion since day one.
    Why? Because I have been privileged for so many years now to witness what a profound difference a real good night’s sleep makes in our client’s lives. We do offer crib mattresses to. It is crucial to keep babies away from chemical flame retardants such as PBDE’s and Formaldehyde.

    For those of you who do not know, Hastens is the ONLY bed sold in America that contains nothing but 100% natural filling materials. Cotton, Wool, Flax, and Horse-Hair.
    A bed that uses foam as a filling material can NEVER be hypo-allergenic.
    The reason is that foam traps moisture, and with moisture comes mildew, mold, bacteria, ..A real Disneyland for bed bugs, bed and dust mites.

    I have seen everything from allergies that have gone away, to clients with severe to moderate pain issues that have found relief overnight in a Hastens. Obviously there are no guarantees for this. There have also been so many clients who never realized how much their bad sleep affected their daily activities. One thing that I CAN guarantee though is that when it comes to selecting a new bed for your health, a Hastens is your best shot.

    Don’t make the mistake believing that a more expensive Hastens bed is healthier for you. When it comes to the materials used it is all the same in all of them, so the health benefits are the same. You will spend 10 days per month (one third of your life) in natures own materials.
    When it comes to comfort, well you have to be the judge of that.

    Never buy a Hastens bed without trying it first. It is probably the last bed you buy in your life.
    I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding beds in general or Hastens in specific.
    If I can help you find a bed that is the right one for you, I have done my job.

    I have a sleep blog right here - http://www.best-rest.blogspot.com

    Feel free to email me anytime.
    Peter@hastensonbeverly.com
    Or visit us on the web.
    http://www.hastensonbeverly.com

    We ship beds all across United States as long as there is no dealer in your territory.

    Good Hunting!
    Sincerely,
    Peter Tornell

    • 5

      Green Talk says

      Peter, are your products’ organic such as the cotton or wool? In addition, I thought natural latex does not harbor dust mites or mold. Anna

  2. 6

    Lynn from OrganicMania.com says

    Anna,

    What a heartfelt post and what wonderful advice.

    Although I must say that I find some of this information so distressing and depressing that by the time I got to your “laughter” advice, I felt more like crying than laughing!

    Thanks for your contribution to The Green Moms Carnival!

  3. 11

    Kyle says

    Happy Earth Day – There’s a lot of doubt surrounding which methods/products are truly sustainable and which are just green washing. Check out our myth-busting video “What’s Your Big Green Lie?!” which gives a taste of the widespread ignorance of green issues including those surrounding hybrid cars and organic foods at http://www.biggreenlies.com.

  4. 12

    sommer says

    Anna, what a great idea to talk care of yourself on Earth Day and all year long. I need to sleep more that’s for sure! Great reminder.

  5. 14

    Healthier Living says

    Health is always a great wealth for all. Why we will not achieve this? In this consideration everyone wants to have good health. Let us build our healthier life with controlled food habit, discipline, keep pace with work, rest and or exercise. While Health is the root of happiness let us build a happier life.

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