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Environmental Issues And Your Health: Why Where You Live Matters



In the event of major environmental disasters like the Deep Water Horizon oil spill or the similar BP Great Australian Bight spill, we hear a lot about the impact of such pollutants on the ecosystem. This is important information, demonstrating how man made disasters can devastate entire economies – consider the state of fishing in the US Gulf after Deep Water Horizon. But what we don’t always hear about are the effects of such disasters on human health and wellbeing.

In fact, it’s not just major environmental disasters that can cause ill health, but also pervasive pollutants such as car exhaust or factory byproducts that can impact your health and risks of future disease. This is why asking about your home and work environments should always be a part of your medical history. Doctors can more accurately predict health outcomes when they know what your daily life is like.

The Long Term Health Impacts Of Oil Spills

It’s now been over five years since the Deep Water Horizon spill and doctors are only just beginning to recognize some of the health-damaging outcomes associated with this event. One unexpected problem stems from the use of an oil dispersant called Corexit used to clean up the spill.

Follow-up on communities touched by the oil spill has revealed that although Corexit was used to reduce the likelihood of oil related health problems, the treatment also proved toxic. The impact on human health is so severe that it has even been dubbed BP Syndrome.

Those affected by this syndrome – including fishermen, their children, and even grandchildren – have symptoms including neurological problems, weight loss, severe allergies, heart, kidney, and liver problems, and even seizures and paralysis. Where these people live and where they work is integral to understanding their health risks.

Everyday Environmental Hazards

Of course, most of us don’t live and work in the midst of post-oil spill conditions, but that doesn’t mean our daily lives are risk free. Rather, most of us spend time in at least mildly toxic environments. Consider your local air and water quality, for example. Everything from lead in the water to dust and mold can cause health problems.

Young children are especially vulnerable to lead, which can cause reduced IQ and other neurological and behavioral issues. The recent contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan is another example of how especially marginalized populations are most likely to be exposed to environmental toxins.

Preventing Environmental Illness

What can we do to prevent worsening of these types of health problems? Typically known as environmental illnesses, such conditions can be reduced by increasing our commitment to reduced vehicle and factory emissions. It’s also important that all homes be inspected for lead paint, as children may accidentally ingest it and develop lead poisoning.

It’s also important that we continue to push for alternative energy sources, especially in light of all the oil spills experienced in the last few years. Clean energy sources like wind turbines and solar power are far preferable as they pose no environmental risk, yet most countries are still hesitant to embrace these energy sources fully.

Proper air filtration and appliance upkeep can also help to reduce the likelihood of environmental illness on an individual level. Always make sure wood burning stoves are properly ventilated and that older buildings have been renovated to remove any traces of asbestos. While both of these issues may seem largely invisible, they can cause difficulty breathing and even lung cancer. Asbestos in particular can cause a subtype of cancer known as mesothelioma.

So many of the substances we encounter and rely on each day contain carcinogenic substances and yet the government continues to license and rely on these products. Some of these products are unavoidable, but with increased awareness you can opt out of using luxury items that might pose a risk to your health. Even small steps can help reduce your risk of health problems down the line.


Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness



Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move



Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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