8 Life Saving Benefits of Plants in Your Workspace

benefits of plants

It’s funny how our bodies respond instinctively to the air around us. Wander into a dense forest foliage and you’ll naturally find your body relaxing and your lungs getting ready to take a deep breath in, savoring the crispness of the air around you.

But in the office? Not so much. Can you even remember the last time you felt like taking a deep, relaxing breath…of stale, poorly-circulated office air?

Doesn’t happen often. And many of us just sort of take it all for granted.

Until you remember that we spend a huge portion of our lives – 8 hours a day, 5 days a week – breathing in that air. Then it start to matter – a lot.

Especially since we can improve the quality of this stale office air as well as transform our total working environment pretty darn easily – simply by adding more plants.

As it turns out, plants are a lot more than office decor – these leafy greens have the ability to improve productivity, oxygenate the room and keep us feeling happier in general.

They’re actually even more useful to the workspace than coffee!

How so, you ask? Let us count the ways – here’s 8 reasons why plants are an absolute essential in the office for both you and your coworkers!

Boosts Oxygen Levels

Everyone knows that without oxygen one can’t breathe, let alone function. When one is deprived of oxygen, one has less energy.

This is the main reason we yawn when we feel tired – the body tries to suck in a larger amount of oxygen from the air to keep us going!

Moreover, oxygen has been shown to have many more amazing health benefits.

Oxygen…

  • Improves Your Immune Function
  • Destroys Anaerobic Bacteria
  • Clears Your Sinuses
  • Reduces Pain
  • Decreases Inflammation

Now here’s where the plants come in.

All plants naturally take carbon dioxide from the air (that’s the stuff you breathe out) and produce oxygen from out tiny openings in their leaves.

Most plants however produce an average of 5ml (0.01 pints) of oxygen per day, whereas us humans need at least 50 liters (13.2 gallons) per day – I bet we don’t even get that much thanks to air pollution!

Still, even incremental increases in oxygen will help. There are also some amazing species of plants (see in the section at the bottom of the article) which produce up to 12 litres per day! Those are the ones you need in your both your home and office space to help keep you healthy with an abundance of oxygen.

Remove Toxins From The Air

The prevalence of air pollution in every city is undeniable, from industrial smoke stacks, car exhaust fumes, and even regular home cleaning products like air fresheners and bug spray.

Air pollution has been linked to a significant increase in lung cancer, respiratory conditions, allergies and even death itself.

On the bright side of things, our green friends of the plant world are highly evolved and have adapted ways to counteract these toxins that humans seem to accept living in.

Many plant species can absorb common air pollutants such as Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Benzene, Xylene and Trichloroethylene.

Spruce up your office space with the help of your green allies, who are more than willing to absorb all the nasty stuff from cleaning agents and city pollution!

Do Work Better

Yep! Plants will even improve the way you go about your work by enhancing your focus and productivity.

In a study carried out by Washington State University, a group of workers was placed in an office environment with plants and a group without. The experiment showed that those with the plants were 12% more productive than the control group.

Furthermore, 10% of the workers felt that the plants helped them to focus better on the tasks at hand. Just by sitting there, a plant can help you get more work done and do it better with more focus!

Improve Diligence

Looking after a plant actually imparts a sense of responsibility on the owner of the plant. If you don’t water it when required and give it some attention every now and then, the plant will likely die.

A good example of this is often used with alcoholics and drug addicts in recovery, who have a hard time maintaining commitments. The first task assigned to them after they’ve been dry for some time, is to care for a plant or two. It helps them to maintain consistency and develop diligence, which often falls away during their addictions.

Fostering a relationship with your green buddies in the office can help you to improve your diligence and help you to stick it through with other commitments in your life.

Stress Less

Our green friends come to the rescue, yet again!

A few studies have shown that plants can reduce stress levels.

One particular study revealed that those who worked at computers in a windowless environment with plants had significantly reduced blood pressure, compared to those that didn’t have plants in the same setting.

Having high blood pressure is often linked to stress and many other conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and more.

Reduce Pain & Depression

Having plants around means that you will experience less pain and feel more satisfied with your surroundings.

In a test done on 80 women who had undergone thyroid operations, half of them were placed in a room that had beautiful flowering plants.

Of those that were exposed to the plants, the hospital noted that their hospitalization time was reduced, they needed less pain killers, they experienced less pain, stress and tiredness, and they were far more satisfied with their experience than the other plant-less group.

If you feel unhappy in your work space, tired or in pain, try buying some plants to literally liven it up!

Make Work More Comfortable

Did you know that plants even help you to feel more comfortable?

I bet you also didn’t know that humidity plays a role in human comfort and that we need an ideal humidity of 30-60%.

Plants placed in and around office spaces contributed about 5% humidity. While this is small, it was just enough to boost the humidity levels of a computer lab in Washington State University from 25% to 30%, placing the users in an ideal humidity zone.

The Color Green

So we’ve been through all the benefits of plants, except for one that is largely overlooked: the color green itself.

In an intriguing experiment done on anxiety patients, an appropriate medicine was given in capsules of 3 different colors: red, green and yellow. In the group that had the green tablets, symptoms of anxiety were most improved and the amount of phobias the group had were reduced significantly.

Green was also shown to be more arousing, in terms of keeping one awake. All the more reasons to have a green plant next to you at your desk!

What are the Best Workspace Plants?

Now that you know why you should have green companions by your side in your work space, check out these green beauties that are easy to grow indoors, emit loads of oxygen and suck up harmful toxins out the air!

Snake Plant

best office plants

A Snake Plant or more commonly, a Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, can give off 1/6th to 1/8th of your daily oxygen supply at night!

It’s also very effective at drawing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air, all of which are toxic to human health.

Areca Palm

best office plants

If you thought the Snake Plant was impressive, just hold on a moment! The Areca Palm is capable of emitting a quarter of your daily oxygen supply alone.

Get four of these in your office space to fully oxygenate your air, add some green and absorb harmful toxins.

Peace Lilies

best office plants

Peace lilies are gorgeous, easy to grow and only need a small pot to be happy.

These beautiful flowering plants smell great too, but their best qualities are the way they absorb Ammonia, Benzene, Formaldehyde and Trichloroethylene from out the air!

Chinese Evergreens

best office plants

Chinese Evergreens have most commonly been adopted in China for their potent ability to take out vast amounts of pollution from the air.

They also require very little maintenance, enjoying shade and just needing a bit of water every so often to keep the soil moist.

Golden Pothos

best office plants

If you feel intimidated by the idea of having a plant and don’t know if you have a green thumb, have no fear! The Golden Pothos is a small but very forthcoming plant that grows exceptionally easily.

It can take many chemicals out the air too and is a common first time garden plant for those who are just starting out. Give it a go!

You can also put one of these in a hanging basket if you’d prefer and they will trail down like a vine. This can increase their total surface area and amplify their toxin-absorption rate.

Gorgeous plants, right? And they even boost the oxygen supply, suck up pollution and improve the quality of your life for the greater good – and all they ask for in exchange is some water and sun. You won’t get a better deal from any other living creature, trust us 😉

So what are you waiting for? Pop down to the nursery today and acquaint yourself with some frondly buddies!

5 Body Friendly, Eco Friendly Period Products (And How They Stack Up)

eco friendly period products

Once a month, millions of women around the world quietly rush off to restrooms, bemoan the loss of their favorite panties, or furtively whisper to the closest female around, “hey, do you happen to have a tampon?”

And if you’ve experienced the latter, you may have felt a flush of pride at being a woman when you see how complete strangers can come together to find a feminine hygiene product for a fellow female they’d never met before.

It’s a beautiful thing.

A far less beautiful thing, though, is what’s actually in that tampon (or the typical menstruation pad). And how many of us stick it in or near our most vulnerable private areas without a second thought.

It may come as a shock to you that women used to function just fine without these feminine products we now take for granted. We look at the wonky contraptions that women of the past wore for their monthly flows and marvel at how primitive they were.

eco friendly period products

But actually, from both an environmental and body health point of view, we’re the primitive ones.

What do you mean when you make that statement? I mean that using these plastic pads or tampons comes with a heavy price on our planet and our bodies. Women in the “dark ages” never paid such an expensive price as the women of today largely do.

Are Tampons Bad for You?

Let’s take a moment to consider what actually happens when we use a tampon or pad…

Firstly, from farming the crop to making the final product, both tampons and pads are riddled with heavy chemicals. If you had the choice, would you want to put toxins such as mercury on or inside your private part? Or any part of your body?

Probably not. But the fact of the matter is – there’s a lot more to the typical tampon and pad than pure, white clean cotton, like…

Mercury

Mercury is still used in specialized pesticides called mildewcides for farming cotton, and many other fabrics that are susceptible to fungus .

Most standard pads and tampons are made up of cotton and rayon (bamboo), which have both been sprayed with mildewcides and other toxic pesticides that are based off of heavy metal contaminates.

Bleach

Secondly, the pristine white color comes from bleaching in the refinement process, which tampon companies use for purification. While bleach may destroy germs and bacteria, it also has equally damaging effects to our bodily tissues, destroying them and causing cancer.

Tampon and pad manufacturers began to stop using chlorinated bleach, opting for hydrogen peroxide alternatives instead. These alternatives proved to be only moderately less toxic and because of that, companies claim that they are “safer to use” and even “eco-friendly.”

In fact, they cause DNA damage which can lead to cancer, particularly when combined with the heavy metals (that are already sprayed all over the materials before they undergo bleaching). Hydrogen peroxide itself was also shown to cause internal warts in rats – I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy getting a wart of any kind up in there!

The “Extras”

We’re still not done – you know all those extra features that some tampons and pads provide? Yup, we’re talking odor neutralizers and fragrances to help hide the scent of menses.

These don’t come from roses – in fact, they’re a veritable chemical soup of artificial colors and like BPA, BPS, polyethylene (PET) and polypropylene.

These plastic compounds, especially when heated (as they would be when in contact with your vagina) have proven to cause hormonal and endocrine disruption. Even worse, they’ve been linked to everything from infertility to cancer.

All of these horrid toxins enter your body through the membranes of your most sensitive orifice, wreaking utter havoc. You think your PMS is bad because you were born that way? Think again.

The bus doesn’t stop there though – let’s quickly consider the environment…

When you dispose of a pad or tampon, it will go to a landfill or a sewage treatment plant. That seems harmless enough, right? Until you tally up the vast quantity that lands up there, every. single. day.

Most women get their periods between the ages of 11 and 14, and menopause occurs roughly between age 45 and 50.

On average, women will go through about 25 pads/tampons per month, usually more.

That’s about 35 years of having your period, which will add up to over 10,000 pads/tampons being used in your lifetime!

Considering there are over 3 billion women on the planet, that is an immense amount of waste that will sit in a landfill! When cotton and many other textiles go to the dump, they release toxic compounds into the soil and heavy metals, like mercury in gas form.

These toxins eventually condensate into rain clouds to form acid rain, which erodes the environment, kills wildlife and contaminates both air and water.

Not to mention the damage done to the soil and our environment just from harvesting cotton in the first place.

Each year the cotton industry makes 20 million tons of cotton.

To produce 2.2 lbs of cotton, it takes 5283 gallons of water! To top it all off, cotton makes up about 2.4% of agricultural activity on the planet, but it accounts for 24% and 11% of insecticide and pesticide sales globally.

Ready to make the switch to something that does not support this industry or try to kill you?

Good. Let’s get started – there are a lot of options out there!

What are the Best Eco Friendly Period Products?

The last section was depressing. So it’s time for some good news: When it comes to eco friendly period products, there are really great options out there.

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since menstruation aprons and now have access to a range of period products that aren’t only darn convenient but also better for your body and the environment.

Here are the best eco friendly period products – and how they stack up!

Organic Tampons and Pads

Organic tampons and pads are a great baby step towards helping yourself and the environment become cleaner!  The cotton in these will not be sprayed with chemicals although plastics and cleaning chemicals may still be a cause for concern.

Pros:

  • They’re convenient
  • They work well
  • They’re mercury free
  • No pesticides
  • They use less water to produce
  • They’re biodegradable (if not bleached)

Cons:

  • They may still contain plastics or bleaching agents.
  • They’re still disposable and will still land in the dump (unless you bury them in your yard…).
  • They’re more expensive than regular ones and you have to keep buying them.

Organic Cloth Pads

A cloth pad is similar to an ordinary pad in principle. You use it to line your panties and it catches your flow. The difference is that they are far more comfortable and you don’t throw them away.

You keep washing them in between using clean ones. Many kits come with a plastic bag or container that you can use to store dirty ones in your bag while on the go, which may or may not be an issue for some women.

Pros:

  • Ultra comfortable
  • No pesticides
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Non-disposable
  • Biodegradable
  • They last up to 5 years

Cons:

  • You have to hand wash them in cold water and wait to dry every time you change one.
  • Dirty ones can smell if carried in your purse (essential oils can help cover that up!).
  • The upfront cost may be expensive for some – a kit of 6 can average $100.

The Menstrual Cup

While this may sound a little obscene, it’s actually one of the most eco-friendly options available. A menstrual cup is a little cup that you squeeze slightly before inserting into your vagina, like a tampon.

It then fills up, after which you take it out and empty the contents down the toilet or sink. You then need to rinse the cup with water before reinserting, and voila!

Be sure to wash your hands well before handling it. If you spend lots of time out, you may need to buy a second one, as it won’t be so easy to wash it in a public bathroom. Also you will want to boil them at least once a month to keep them sterilized.

Note: I have to admit that this is my personal favorite option – I’d even go so far as to say that these little cups totally changed my life (at least during my periods). So a big thumbs up for menstrual cups!

Pros:

  • It works like a charm – up to 12 hours of total protection
  • As comfortable as a tampon
  • Cost Effective
  • Non-disposable
  • Recyclable
  • Lasts up to 10 years
  • No pesticides
  • Made from non-toxic silicone

Cons:

  • Takes a bit of practice
  • Can be messy to handle
  • Makes a suction noise when inserted
  • Requires a bit of maintenance, like boiling once a month
  • Yoga inversions aren’t recommended with these since they can cause queefing

Organic Period Panties

Organic period panties are exactly what they sound like: You get panties that are lined with organic cotton wool. These are great for those with a lighter flow or at the end of the period when you don’t know if it’s over yet or not.

For the most cases, these panties are meant to be used with a pad, tampon or menstrual cup to ensure you don’t mess your clothes.

There are a few other varieties on the market that use high-tech fabrics which absorb moisture, quick dry and remove odors, but these will be made with synthetic materials that are not safely biodegradable.

They are, however, far less disposable and will last the same time as ordinary underwear.

Pros:

  • 100% no messes
  • Comfortable
  • Eco-friendly (unless synthetic)
  • Free of pesticides (unless non-organic)
  • Lasts ±2 years on average
  • Biodegradable (if organic without synthetics)

Cons:

  • Does not substitute pads or tampons unless you have an incredibly light flow.
  • Can be expensive

Special Sea Sponges

You might not believe this, but sea sponges are also used as a natural solution for periods. I’m talking about those fuzzy creatures that grow in coral reefs!! They have been used for thousands of years – even by Cleopatra who preferred them to all other options available to her.

These sea sponges are very soft and squishy. You just twist them or squeeze them a bit before inserting them. They’re highly absorbent and when they’re full, you just take it out and let it soak in water until clean before pushing it back in.

Many women actually claim that they are super comfortable, but doctors warn against some of their lesser known dangers. These sponges feed off bacteria when alive and after being harvested, often contain bacteria as well as sand.

Parts of the sponge can also break off and stay inside you, which may lead to an infection later.

Infections can occur with anything you stick inside your vagina though, especially if you nick yourself – be careful!

These effects can be ameliorated if you soak them in something antibacterial to wash them (like 1 drop of lavender oil diluted in lots of water) but they will still contain sand. Also, never boil one as this makes them hard and impossible to use.

Pros:

  • Very comfortable
  • Renewable (they can keep growing and being harvested from the sea)
  • Lasts up to 6 to 12 months
  • You only need one at a time
  • Safe for you and the planet
  • Toxin-Free
  • Highly absorbent

Cons:

  • Contains bacteria and sand
  • Needs to soak for 10 mins in between uses

So what’s the best option? Well, it depends on you and your needs but out of all the above options, my hands down most recommended is the menstrual cup. It’s simply the best from a healthy, budget-friendly and environmental point of view.

But no matter which one you choose from the above – rest assured that they’re all a better pick than the typical tampon or sanitary pad. And by making the switch, you’ll be doing your bit to help yourself and the planet each and every time Aunt Flo comes to visit!

8 Best Non Toxic Air Fresheners

non toxic air fresheners

Let’s be honest. Non toxic air fresheners aren’t the first thing you think about when you start to green your home. I certainly didn’t. In fact, I totally forgot about it. It’s almost as if you get so used to certain scents in your home that they completely escape your notice.

That’s how integral scents are to our daily lives. The smell of a place can leave a very strong first impression, whether stepping into a home, a restaurant, an office or a public bathroom. And after awhile, they become a part of that place – just like any other physical fixture.

So it’s no wonder so many of us become dependent on conventional air fresheners to make our interiors smell more appealing, but it’s time to ask: does the typical air freshener truly “make your air fresh”?

Is My Air Freshener Toxic?

To answer your question: yes, it most likely is.

Let me put it to you another way. Before we even get down to discussing what’s inside these insidious products, research has proven that air fresheners are outright unhealthy for many people.

One report reviewed air fresheners and a number cleaning products, revealing that they give off both primary and secondary air pollutants. Both these types of air pollutants have been proven to contribute to the onset of severe asthma and allergies.

Air freshener manufacturers are not bound by law to state the ingredients on their packaging. So it’s not surprising that they take advantage of this to sneak in a few ingredients that you really don’t want you and your family to be sniffing on a daily basis.

Like what ingredients, you ask? Here’s a few of the most common offenders found in your average air freshener…

Phthalates

In a study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 12 everyday household air fresheners tested positive for containing Phthalates.

Phthalates are chemicals that are shocking for our health. They have been shown to cause cancer, hormonal imbalances, endocrine disruption, birth defects and reproductive problems.

These chemicals have also been linked to a majorly increased risk of Sudden Infantile Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is a condition used to describe an infant that suddenly dies “inexplicably” or “without a known cause.”

Here are 5 different kinds of Phthalates found in air fresheners and what they do in your body:

  • Di-Isobutyl Phthalate (DIBP) negatively affects the way male genitals grow.
  • Di-Isohexyl Phthalate (DIHP) has shown to damage reproductive organs in preliminary research.
  • Di-N-Butyl Phthalate (DBP) is recognized in California and the US National Toxicology Program to decrease fertility and cause sterility.
  • Di-Methyl Phthalate (DMP) in animal studies also proved to be toxic to their reproductive organs.
  • Di-Ethyl Phthalate (DEP) disrupts hormones as well as both male and female genital development.

In other words, every time we want to make the room smell good, we’re damaging our reproductive organs and our lungs!

That’s not all though…

Terpene

Terpene was also discovered to be present in air fresheners. However, when this toxic compound is exposed to the air, it forms Formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde, as you may already know, is infamous for causing cancer and killing most living tissue it comes into contact with. It has also been implicated as one of the leading causes of leukemia!

1,4 Dichlorobenzene

1,4 Dichlorobenzene is another common ingredient found not only in deodorizers, but in insect repellants too. In a case study done on 1000 American citizens, it was found that 98% had this toxin in their urine and 96% had it in their bloodstreams!

In mouse models, 1,4 Dichlorobenzene causes liver cancer and tumor growth. It has also been associated with advanced lung problems and many more degenerative health effects.

These toxic ingredients are just a few of many more that are used to contaminate your air with “freshness.”

What are the Best Non Toxic Air Fresheners?

Now that you know all the bad news – what’s inside the common air fresheners we use on a daily basis – it’s time for a little good news: there are oh, so many natural alternatives you can use.

To be honest, the first time I deep dived into all the nastiness found in air fresheners – I felt sick. And then when I read about the huge variety of natural alternatives that have been open to us all along – I felt stupid.

But those feelings didn’t last long. Once I started actually using non toxic air fresheners, it became so very apparent that this is one household product that’s incredibly easy to replace with a green, natural option. And then I just felt triumphant.

And that last feeling is what I want to leave you with. So without further ado, here’s a roundup of the best non toxic solutions to actually freshen up the air!

Pure Essential Oil Sprays

An essential oil spray is the most convenient alternative to adopt as it is the closest to a deodorizer spray. Many organic brands readily sell these handy sprays, but they are also very easy to make yourself.

Depending on what types of essential oils you use, you can also deter many insects from out your interior!

To make your own, fill a spray bottle with water and add 5 to 20 drops of one or more of your favorite scents into it. Strong essential oils like citrus and clove will need less, softer scents like lavender will need more.

Essential oils also come with multiple benefits when inhaled in the air. A few examples of some great smelling ones include:

  • Lavender: has antiseptic, antimicrobial and sedative-like properties, often used to soothe and calm the nerves.
  • Rosewood smells like roses and has been shown to improve moods, alleviate tension headaches, boost memory and even has some aphrodisiac properties (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
  • Sandalwood also calms your nerves, has antimicrobial properties and gives you mental clarity. Above all, sandalwood has the ability to lower blood pressure and reduce coughing fits!
  • Frankincense has been used since biblical times and for plenty of good reasons. Also an antiseptic substance, it can decrease acne, wrinkles, scarring, indigestion and general pain.
  • Mint helps to repel pests, alleviate pain from swellings, help the heart and is also antimicrobial.
  • Eucalyptus opens the airways in the lungs, helping you to breathe better. It also has many antibacterial properties.
  • Lemongrass helps to alleviate many different types of pain, aside from smelling great! It can reduce headaches, stomach aches, digestive issues and muscle pain, while also giving you more energy at the same time.

Aromatherapy Diffusers

An aromatherapy diffuser is any kind of device that takes a drop or two of essential oils and disperses the smell potently in the room.

It can be as simple as boiling a pot of water and adding a few drops in or you can get a specialized stand that heats the oil another way.

Here are some common types of aromatherapy diffusers:

Candle Diffusers

These are by far the most common aromatherapy diffusers. Typically, a ceramic oil burner of this nature will have a hollow or space at the bottom where a candle is placed.

A small bowl is suspended above the candle, in which you can place certain types of diffuser crystals or a carrier oil. A few drops of your favorite essential oil are then added to the bowl for a lovely smell that lingers around.

You’ll want to use a beeswax based candle in the spirit of being non-toxic too (refer to the section below).

Light Bulb Ring Diffusers

These resemble a ceramic ring which fits around an upright light bulb. The ring has a catchment lip where you can drop your essential oils into, allowing the smell to diffuse off the heat of the bulb.

Electric Diffusers

Also known as humidifiers, these are electronically powered devices that send out a fragranced mist into the air. You get ones that are essential oil based and that do not use chemicals in their mixes.

Car Diffusers

Oh, and we can’t forget about the car! These are small portable versions of electric diffusers that plug into the cars cigarette lighter port. Many of them use a vinegar-water mix, which you can liven up with a drop of any essential oil.

Scented Beeswax Candles

Scented candles are another great way to make a room smell amazing. Be careful though – many scented candles are made with toxic waxes and use artificial fragrances, both of which are linked to harmful side effects.

Instead, opt for natural candles that are made with organic soy or beeswax. Look out for wicks that are made from lead, as combusting these will also create air pollution. Natural candles will use essential oils and other natural ingredients like coconut shavings to scent the room and burn longer.

Improved Ventilation

The best air freshener of all time is proper ventilation. Open the windows for a quick dispersion of even some of the most awful smells.

This works even better if you have some pleasant smelling plants placed just beneath the windows outdoors, such as jasmine or honeysuckle.

Get Indoor Plants

Speaking of plants, there are a few indoor plants that indirectly contribute to air freshness by giving out masses of oxygen. Oxygen helps to keep the air cleansed and feeling fresh.

One of the best producers of oxygen is the Snake Plant. It was shown that one snake plant can produce 1/6th of your oxygen supply alone! That means if you were placed in a room without any oxygen, six of these plants can make enough to keep you alive, no problem.

Potpourri

Flowers, herbs and spices have been hung up and dried for centuries to improve the smell in the home. Fresh basil, lavender, chamomile, citrus peels and mint are just a few examples.

You can easily purchase potpourri in bags or make your own with your favorite flowers and herbs. Add a few drops of essential oils to enhance the flavor and then place bowls or sachets of it around your living environment for a pleasant odor.

Pomanders

A pomander is either a lemon or an orange that has pricked with many clove studs. They smell citrusy, warm and are entirely natural.

Engrave thin lines in the fruits skin to release more of the pleasant odors contained within. You can also get creative and make patterns this way, using them as ornaments!

Odor Absorbers

Certain substances absorb odors directly from the air. Placing baking soda in a bowl in the smelly parts of your house or the bottom of your garbage bag can help to absorb unpleasant smells. This works equally well when placed inside your fridge.

There you have it! Avoid toxic air fresheners and rather go for one or more of the above non-toxic solutions instead. It’s damn easy to do and you, your body, your family and your environment will be happier off about it in the end!

Bentonite Clay Detox: How Does It Work and Should You Do It?

bentonite clay detox

You already know that bentonite clay is great for soothing irritated skin and clearing out pores. But bentonite clay detox? That’s still very much an underrated function of this highly versatile clay.

Which is a shame since bentonite clay (also known as montmorillonite clay) is an extremely potent detox tool that’s gentle enough to be included in pretty much everyone’s health arsenal.

Plus, using clay for healing and health benefits is not a new thing. It has been adopted by many cultures across the globe, from South America to Central Africa to Oceania,  for centuries (likely a lot longer) as part of their traditional healing process.

But why, you ask? Well, let’s take a deeper look at the benefits offered by a bentonite clay detox!

What is Bentonite Clay?

Before we go any further, we might as well start with the basics, mainly: what even is bentonite clay?

Bentonite clay is largely made up of volcanic ash. It’s typically grey or creamy in color with both a neutral smell and taste.

And just in case you were wondering – bentonite clay isn’t made up of anything called “bentons.”

Its name actually stems from one of the biggest sources of bentonite clay – Fort Benton, Wyoming. Its other name – montmorillonite – has a similar origin, having been taken from the Montmorillon region of France, where the clay was first discovered.

And its the unique properties that this clay posses that gives it its detoxing abilities…

How Bentonite Clay Detox Works

Lucky for us, it doesn’t take a PhD in molecular chemistry to understand how bentonite clay works. Here’s what you need to know about what a bentonite clay detox does for and in your body!

Firstly, it has colloidal properties, which means that it can disperse itself over a large surface area and infiltrate the body effectively. This is ideal for detoxing all your cells, cleansing them right through even down to a genetic and molecular level!

Secondly, bentonite clay is composed of many essential minerals which create a negative charge in its natural state. This allows it to bind to the majority of toxins which all herald a positive charge.

Moreover, bentonite clay will actively seek out these toxic particles. Any of you who did a bit of chemistry will know that negatively charged particles are very desperate to latch onto positively charged ones, to complete them on an atomic scale.

Lastly, this clay has the ability to swell when in contact with liquids. When it does this, it absorbs all the toxins readily from out of the liquid, purifying it. Since the body is made from more than 70% water, I’m sure you can imagine that this is a winning detox solution.

For all the same reasons, this clay is used not only for health, but also to clear out toxins from industrial waste water. Plants also benefit from this clay as it absorbs toxins from chemical sprays and pollution without damaging the pH of the soil.

13 Health Benefits of Bentonite Clay

The benefits of bentonite clay highlight not only why it makes such a great detoxifier but also why it ought be used for everyday health in general!

Removes Heavy Metals

This is what most detox programs aim to achieve! Bentonite clay is so effective at removing heavy metals from the body because of its negative charge. It readily binds to mercury, aluminium, benzene, cadmium, lead, and many more.

These heavy metals are commonly found in our modern environments, silently accumulating inside of our bodies and aiding the development of chronic lifestyle diseases.

Everything from car exhaust fumes to the pesticides sprayed on our foods has them, but fortunately bentonite clay is a cost-effective solution to drawing them out the body!

Kills Bacteria

Bentonite Clay has demonstrated a potent doctoring effect, helping to boost your immune system by annihilating a variety of bacteria!

Some of the bacteria it kills are the infamous E.Coli, which causes horrible stomach upsets, as well as the nasty Staphylococcus Aureus.

The clay’s power did not falter even in the face of penicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus Aureus, which usually is a one-way ticket to suffering multiple rounds of antibiotics through mainstream health protocols.

Draws Out Fluoride

Yes, finally a cheap, potent solution for getting rid of fluoride out our drinking water!

Bentonite Clay binds to fluoride and removes it from our drinking water. It can also remove it from your body if you drink it or from parts of your brain if you use it as a face mask.

If this news doesn’t make you jump up and down with joy, then you probably don’t know that fluoride is the only ingredient in many rat poisons, and that it contributes to a vast number of neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s Disease.

Eliminates Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins, such as Aflotoxin B1, are molds found on peanuts and some grains. These toxins tend to accumulate in the body for years and eventually create cancer.

Thankfully, bentonite clay also binds onto these nasty guys and escorts them out without batting an eyelid!

Tones the Skin

Bentonite clay’s benefits aren’t only internal – which is why this clay is famous for beautification purposes. And studies back it up.

In fact, scientists have shown that Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, (the second most abundant compound found in Bentonite Clay) was effective at tightening the skin, making it a great natural toner.

Treats Skin Conditions

Those fortunate enough know how soft the skin becomes after having a mud bath at a spa. Bentonite Clay does that and more!

Studies observed that this clay began to reverse symptoms of allergic reactions and dermatitis in patients who used it like a face mask.

It reduces inflammation, itching and redness, as well as imparting many needed minerals back into the skin. This shows great promise for those who suffer from eczema and psoriasis too.

Heals Wounds

In a study carried out on a group of unfortunate rats, bentonite clay proved to be highly effective at healing their wounds!

The basis of wound healing relies on trace minerals, which become enzymes and components of scabs and more. Clays are a rich source of these metals and thus help to rapidly improve wound recovery.

Cleanses The Colon & Reduces Constipation

A huge problem for those who suffer from chronic constipation is a build-up of fecal matter in their colons. Mainstream options for getting rid of this toxic matter include heavy use of OTC laxatives or worse, colonic irrigation.

Luckily for those people, bentonite clay casually waltzed into the colon and binds to this toxic matter, helping to flush it out in no time!

1 tsp of bentonite also holds up to 224mg of magnesium and 1293mg of potassium! Both of these minerals have been proven to work as a great natural laxative without any negative side effects.

Boosts Available Oxygen Supply

Since bentonite attracts positively charged particles, it can bind to excess hydrogen in the body. This is fantastic news, as excessive hydrogen is often used to make compounds like hydrogen peroxide or HO, which have been shown to produce cancer.

Furthermore, there will be more available oxygen and less HO, which improves immune function, energy levels and decreases overall stress.

Has A Wealth of Essential Minerals

Bentonite Clay contains an average of 76 different trace minerals, metals and elements, all of which are crucial to help our body manufacture enzymes and more!

Alleviates Digestive Problems

Drawing out heavy metal toxins takes pressure off the liver and also helps to keep your microbiome populated with healthy bacteria (which can be damaged in the presence of heavy toxicity).

In this way, along with restoring minerals, bentonite clay can help your digestive system to run smoothly.

Protects Against UV Radiation

When used as a face or body mask, bentonite clay provides effective protection against UV radiation. These effects are largely due to the iron oxide content of Bentonite in combination with its expandability.

Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth

Bentonite Clay already prevents cancer indirectly by removing aflotoxins and reducing excess hydrogen from our bodies, but it actually stops the growth of specific cancer cells too!

In a study done, it was shown that cancer cells in the central nervous system were inhibited by bentonite.

How To Do A Bentonite Clay Detox

When it comes to a doing a bentonite clay detox – you’ve got options. Here are 5 easy ways to detox with bentonite clay!

Drink It

Mix 0.5 to 1 tsp of bentonite clay in a glass of water, stir well until dissolved and then down it fast! Do not do this more than once a day.

Bathe In It

An easy option to reap the benefits of a bentonite clay detox while giving yourself a spa bath pampering is to throw in a quarter cup of the clay into your bath water and use it as a soaking treatment.

This allows the clay to bind to the toxins that are dispelled from your skin. Plus, your skin will be silky smooth, less inflamed and hydrated afterwards.

Do A Mouthwash

Did you know that the mouth is one of the most vulnerable areas of the body when it comes to harmful bacteria and toxins?

So why not start the bentonite clay detox there?

It’s simple to do and all it consists of it is taking a bentonite clay in water mixture and swizzling the solution around in your mouth like a mouthwash.

Spit it out after a minute and don’t swallow.

This helps the clay to bind to and remove unhealthy substances and bacteria build-up around the teeth, tongue and gums.

Apply As A Face Mask

An easy way to detox your facial skin and pores of build-up and gunk is to do a bentonite clay face mask.

Using clean spring water, mix 1 tablespoon of clay with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Blend it until a smooth thick paste forms and then apply it liberally to your face. If you have a skin condition, apply it to the affected areas too.

Spot Treat Detox

This area-specific method of bentonite clay detox doesn’t just apply to your face – you can also use a clay mask for areas of your body that can really use a “clearing out.” Like your hair, for example, when its in need of a clarifying treatment or even your armpits.

The armpits, in particular, can be perfect for a bentonite clay detox especially if you’ve been a heavy user of drugstore deodorants and anti-perspirants and the chemical soup they contain, i.e. aluminum, phthalates, parabens, etc.

Not only does an armpit detox help soothe rashes and irritation as well as cut down on odor and sweat – but it also helps draw toxins out of this area, which is a lymph node and a major part of your immune system.

Bentonite Clay Detox Precautions

Bentonite is very safe to use, but you should be aware of a few precautions before you proceed, especially if the below apply to you…

Metal teeth fillings

Since bentonite clay absorbs heavy metals, be careful about ingesting it if you have metal teeth fillings. Rather bathe in it or use face masks.

Reduced Zinc Count

Bentonite replenishes trace minerals and absorbs heavy metals. But it also takes zinc out of your body, so make sure to take a helpful zinc supplement (like zinc picolinate) while ingesting this clay.

Detoxing In General

It’s always best to discuss a detox with your doctor first and to take it easy. Detox reactions can feel like you have a flu, amongst other things, so you may want to do a slow transition rather than piling on with the clay!

Don’t Inhale

Several studies show that directly inhaling bentonite clay promotes the risk of lung cancer cell growth due to increased aggravation from the fine particles. It was not intended to be snorted or inhaled in other words!

 

8 Facts That Will Make You Want to Stop Using Plastic for Good

There is no doubt that plastic is everywhere – in our homes, in our landfills, and in every nook and cranny of our environment.

In fact, about 8 million metric tons of it will end up in our oceans this year alone (one metric ton equals 2205 lbs.), and with more plastic being produced in the first ten years of this century than was produced in the entire 20th century, there is no end in sight.

With all the disposable packaging, plastic toys, plastic bags and other plastics which will be manufactured and discarded, there is good reason to consider reducing, recycling and removing plastic from your life now more than ever.

Not only is plastic an environmental nightmare due to how much of it ends up in our oceans, streams, rivers and forests, it is also toxic to you and your family.

Since nearly all plastic contains poisonous chemicals of some kind, it may be doing more direct damage to your health than you realize, and the manufacturing of it also adds chemicals to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat.

Not convinced? Here are 8 facts that will make you want to stop using plastic for good.

It doesn’t rot

stop using plastic

One of plastic’s biggest advantages as a container for foods and liquids also makes plastic an environmental disaster – namely, it isn’t biodegradable.

In fact, most plastic water bottles take between 450-1000 years to decompose, so most of what you see floating in a river or ocean today will likely be around for generations to come.

Even biodegradable plastics made of cornstarch or other plant material take around 6-months to decompose, which, while vastly better than 450-years, is still not great.

The bottom line? There are things which are good to leave around for our future generations and plastic rubbish is not one of them.

It can give you cancer

Plastic is loaded with toxins, and even “safe” plastics may be posing a potential health risk. Not only do many plastics contain bisphenol (BPA), but heavy metals, phthalates and other carcinogens as well.

In the case of BPA’s and phthalates, both are known endocrine disruptors, which are leached from plastics into foods, onto skin, and into the air. These can not only put us at risk for cancer, but are associated with reproductive issues, low sperm counts, weight gain, early onset puberty in boys and girls, and the list goes on.

Sure, there may be other cancer-causing influences in our modern society, which some may say simply cannot be avoided.

However, does it really make sense to NOT avoid that which CAN be avoided, thereby lowering our overall cancer, etc., risk?

As anyone who has ever experienced cancer themselves, or had a loved one suffering from it can attest, the answer is a resounding “NO!”

It kills marine life

stop using plastic
Image via Litter Action

Plastic in our oceans is more than a mere unsightly inconvenience, it also wreaks havoc on the lives of marine birds, fish and mammals. Many seabirds, for instance, will commonly mistake indigestible plastic trash as food, which they then consume, and die slowly of as it fills their stomachs and they can no longer eat real food.

This also occurs with fish and even whales, who take in plastic particles when they feed on plankton and krill which have plastic particulate floating amongst them.

Finally, fish, birds, sea turtles and marine mammals can become trapped in beer can rings, fishing line, and other plastic hazards which can then drown them, or young wildlife can become encircled in plastic, which does not grow with them and slowly cuts into them.

These scenarios all lead to one thing: Slow, painful death for the creature, and lower populations of endangered species—and all avoidable, were we to not dispose of plastics in the environment.

It poisons the earth

Plastic is toxic stuff, and the same BPA’s, phthalates, heavy metals, formaldehyde and other chemicals which can disrupt your endocrine system, cause chromosomal damage, and endanger you and your family can also leach into the soil.

This means that food grown in contaminated soil will also become contaminated, as will any wildlife in proximity to – and downstream of – areas where plastic is disposed of.

Plastic particulate can also become airborne, and there may be real danger of it being in the air we breathe, meaning that not only can it get onto our skin, into our pores, and be ingested, it can also be taken in through our lungs, as well as the lungs of wildlife and pets.

It requires crude oil to make

Petroleum itself is an ecological nightmare, with the destruction caused from its extraction being just the tip of its toxic iceberg. Since about 4% of crude oil goes into the making of plastics, we can be assured that even though we may be taking other measures to decrease our carbon footprint, continuing to use plastics will ensure that there is a call for fracking, oil drilling and oil refining.

So, even though you may drive an electric car, ride a bicycle, or use public transportation, there is still that dashboard made of plastic, plastic bike helmet, and plastic water bottle you take with you on the bus which are continuing to require crude oil to be mined.

The good news is, there are other plant-based plastics starting to make their way into product packaging and other areas where traditional plastics are used, although plant-based plastics still require crude oil enhancement (about 30%).

Producing it can also affect food supplies, and due to a lack of cost-effectiveness for industries, is taking time to catch on.

Plus, in the case of junk-food manufacturer Frito-Lay scrapping plans to use a plant-based bag for their Sunchips, the plant-plastic made too much noise, which they figured their customers would not like. Really? Potato chip bags too noisy? Let’s hope there are worse things to worry about than such a horrid inconvenience as that!

It poisons our water

Just as heavy metals, formaldehyde, BPA’s and many other dangerous chemicals are leached into the soil from plastics, the same happens in our waterways.

To make matters worse, about 83% of water samples tested worldwide showed positive results for plastic particulate, which is due to anything from the wearing down of plastic carpeting which produces airborne particulate, to synthetic clothing being washed and breaking down into particles which then enter the water ways.

Not only can this produce chemical toxins which affect fish, wildlife and human health, plastics can also harbor dangerous pathogens which can then cause illness and the spread of disease.

Most people don’t recycle

Of the 33.6 million tons of plastic discarded each year, only around 6.5% of it is recycled. The rest either goes into landfills or into the environment, which means more needs to be made from raw material to keep up with the demand.

Not only does this increase our carbon footprint and keep the petroleum industry happily researching new pristine areas to destroy with fracking and drilling, it also means more landfills are needed as current locations are filled, and can no longer be used.

Ironically, the mining of landfills could prove to be a multi-billion-dollar industry, with it being estimated (as of 2011) that there is about enough plastics in landfills which, were it converted to liquid fuel (i.e. back to petroleum), it could produce the equivalent of 139 barrels of crude oil – about enough to fuel all the cars in Los Angeles for an entire year.

Plastic is toxic to manufacture

Producing plastic creates pollution, as well as requiring fossil-fuel to make. When plastic resin is produced, a dilute aqueous caustic solution is used to scrub ethylene as it is polymerized, which produces a caustic solution, which is a high-volume environmental toxin.

This is in addition to other emissions released during the refining process (nickel, ethylene oxide, benzene, and more), and in concentrations of about 100 times what it takes to make similar products from glass.

Plastic manufacturing is also dangerous to workers, who not only have much more direct contact with chemical toxins than does the public, but also have explosions, toxic-cloud vapors and chemical fires to be concerned with.

And of course, not only do such explosions, fires and cloud vapors affect workers when they happen, but entire areas around plastic manufacturing plants need to be evacuated when such disasters occur, and most of the residue from the occurrence remains in the environment for hundreds of years after.

So even though that bottle of purified water may seem innocent enough, and you personally may do your part in ensuring that it ends up in a recycling bin and not on the beach, you may still want to re-think your decision to continue using it.

While plastics may be everywhere, and seemingly impossible to remove as a health hazard for you, your family, the environment, and wildlife, the removal of them needs to start somewhere – and the sooner the better.

By doing your part and avoiding plastics whenever possible, it not only helps reduce your immediate impact on our environment, but tells manufacturers through loss of sales – the loudest message we can deliver to them – that plastics are no longer tolerated.

It also teaches and encourages future generations – as well as others around you – of the need to remove plastics from our world.

8 Bidet Benefits That Can Save the World (And Your Butt)

bidet benefits

Let’s talk about something we have all been doing nearly our entire lives, yet we rarely speak of – at least not in social circles. It is, however, a subject which is essential to our health, has an impact on the environment, and can be a real pain-in-the-rear if not performed properly.

So, what is this subject, you ask? Why, cleaning our bum, of course!

Ever since we passed potty-training 101, we have been doing things just as we learned them: As much toilet paper as it takes to get the job done, flush, and away we go.

But there have also been those times when it has been…uncomfortable to use toilet paper – such as when hemorrhoids flare-up, or when diarrhea has your private areas feeling raw and painful.

And how about those “but I thought YOU were picking up the toilet paper?” times which leave us sitting there wondering how to clean up without toilet paper, which is still at the store.

Or, there was that time when too much of the wrong kind of toilet paper clogged the septic system last summer—wheeeew, what a mess!

And we haven’t even gotten into the number of toxins, dyes and residues in toilet paper, which also requires the harvesting of trees to produce.

But there is a way to avoid such scenarios which you may have even heard of, and will likely end up loving, were you to give it a try.

What is this wonderful invention, you ask? A bidet!

Yup, one of those neat toilet fountains you’ve seen in the movies may be just what the thing you need to save the world – and your butt – every time you go to the bathroom.

Not convinced yet? Here’s 8 reasons to make you think otherwise…

Your health

Okay, so while it may be true that taxing your immune system with a little bacterium keeps it strong, healthy and in shape, there are limits as to how much is good – not to mention just how gross the area of interest can be.

By using a bidet, direct contact with fecal matter can be avoided, which keeps you healthy, clean and safe.

Even though you may be careful to wash your hands thoroughly after each time you go, it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any “splatter” during the cleaning process, as nasty as it sounds.

By using a bidet, not only are you avoiding touching an area rife with germs, and with only tissue paper between you and – well, you know what – you are also keeping waste matter inside the bowl, where it belongs.

Everyone else’s health

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: many people don’t wash their hands after visiting the loo.

And an uncomfortable question to follow: how many hands do you shake per day?

Even if you’re not exposed to too many handshakes, there’s no denying that what gets on one person’s hands has a way of getting around, whether through dollar bills, hand railings, door handles and so on and so on.

Well, for those of us who aren’t washing our hands – we’re passing along a lot more of ourselves than is polite, like fecal matter that can transfer over from not being properly washed off.

Not only is this gross, but it’s also dangerous since fecal matter can be a source of germs like Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus as well as respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease.

And you don’t need a load of feces to become a public hazard – just one single gram of human fecal matter can be harboring one trillion germs.

Know what can help cut down on the transference of this disease-laden, unwashed-off poo? Hands free bidets.

The health of the environment

Toilet paper is made from trees, and with Americans using some annual 36.5 billion rolls of TP per year, that adds up to a LOT of trees going down the drain – about 15-million of them, to be exact.

Add in the amount of water required to produce the paper (about 473,587,500,000-gallons), the power needed for production, packaging and fuel costs for transporting and distributing, and it is easy to see where some of our most valuable natural resources are ending up.

Plus, TP is usually treated with bleach, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrances, and BPA – all of which not only affect your health, but leach into the environment, where food supplies, water supplies, and wildlife are all affected.

And no, using toilet paper made from post-consumer waste is not the answer, since it is made from all paper, including what we would consider the “worst of the worst” so far as additives and environmental impact.

Bleached toilet paper also takes a long time to biodegrade, and can leave bleach residue and its by-products (dioxins and furans) behind.

By using a bidet and either eliminating or reducing your use of toilet paper, you can not only save trees, you can also keep dangerous chemicals out of our water, soil, and food supplies, and all while reducing your impact on other important natural resources.

Ease hemorrhoids

Oh, such a painful subject! And, as anyone who has ever experienced them can attest, using ANY toilet paper – no matter how soft it is – can feel like you are using 4-grit sand paper when you’re suffering them.

Not only is this uncomfortable, but it can prolong the length of time it takes your hemorrhoids to heal, so it keeps you suffering longer.

By using a bidet, you can clean yourself comfortably, thoroughly, and without causing further irritation, no matter how bad your hemorrhoids are. And, by laying off the 4-grit toilet paper, they can heal faster, so you are feeling better in less time.

Save your septic system

Toilet paper can be the bane of septic systems, and if you are one of the more than 1-in-5 households in the US who relies on a personal sewage system, you well know how crucial it is to use the correct toilet paper, and to not use too much of it.

By not allowing paper which is slow to biodegrade, or excessive amounts of paper whether septic-friendly or not, you can avoid the cost (or headache of doing it yourself) of having your system unclogged.

Toilet paper also adds more solid waste to your septic system, which means it needs to be pumped out and maintained more often. With a bidet, all you are doing is keeping the grass above the septic tank greener!

Save money

Toilet paper costs money, which you are literally flushing down the toilet. By investing in a bidet, the only ongoing expense is your water bill, which is minimal when you consider a bidet only adds about .5-liter more water per-flush over a conventional toilet.

The extra water is also only used when solid waste is disposed of. This means that even the least expensive toilet paper will still cost more than a simple cleansing flush from a bidet, so why keep dumping dollars down the drain?

It just may tickle your…fancy

No matter how soft the toilet paper, using it constantly can cause irritation. And, during any bouts of diarrhea or hemorrhoids, this factor can be compounded, making it hard to thoroughly clean an area in which it is tough to completely clean in the first place.

By investing in a bidet, you can avoid abrasions in what is arguably the most sensitive area of your body, and instead, enjoy a clean, refreshing, thorough rinse which will leave you confident that you got the job done, and all while being pain and irritation-free.

In fact, you may just find yourself giggling a bit when you try one!

It’s actually cleaner

The biggest reason that people give as to why they wouldn’t use a bidet is actually the biggest misconception of all: that bidets are less hygienic than using toilet paper.

This simply isn’t true. The fact is that cleaning your privates with water is a much more effective way of cleansing your privates – and all the folds, crevices, nooks and crannies – of waste matter.

On the other hand, cleaning with toilet paper isn’t always thorough, and you may just be carrying around more residue than you would care to know of during your day.

Grossed out yet? Great – time to try a bidet!

7 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Use Less Plastic In Your Daily Life

ways to use less plastic

You already know that disposable or not, plastic is one of the most environmentally damaging materials on the planet. You’re fully aware of its impact on our environment, health and carbon footprint. And of course, you want to stop using plastic.

But let’s face it: it certainly ain’t easy.

Especially when it seems that everywhere you look, there is plastic – plastic packaging, plastic bags, plastic car parts, plastic toys, and the list goes on.

No wonder it’s contaminating our oceans at the rate of around 8 million metric tons per year. And it’s not surprising that production of plastics in the first 10 years of this century is already surpassing that of the entire past century.

The presence of plastic looms large.

And there’s just little old you. And little old me. Up against a giant avalanche of plastic which is constantly offered to us as a quick and convenient solution to, well, everything.

To refuse takes so much work. So much effort and planning…but does it really?

Actually, cutting down on plastic is not that hard at all. Sure, you may not be able to completely excise it from your life. But there are several small steps you can take that are easy to do and have a huge impact on the amount of plastic you use in your daily life.

Here’s 7 simple ways to gently ween yourself from plastics – without suffering withdrawal symptoms!

Reusable grocery bags

According to the United States EPA, between 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used and disposed of worldwide each year, which is obviously a huge and unnecessary waste.

However, being wasteful is only the tip of the ecological iceberg when it comes to plastic bags, since they also account for the deaths of around 200 varieties of sea life, including fish, birds, mammals and turtles.

Add to this the fact that it costs more to recycle plastic bags than it does to produce new ones, and it is easy to see what an environmental disaster the use of disposable plastic shopping bags is.

And all you need to stop the cycle? Reusable shopping bags.

By simply investing in reusable shopping bags, you can help ease these statistics, as well as save yourself a little money along the way, since most stores offer a small discount for you to use your own bags.

And yes, the forgetting happens – which is the main reason most of us use disposable plastic bags in the first place.

An easy way to keep yourself covered most times is to store a super light ’emergency’ grocery bag like the ChicoBag  in your purse as well as several compactable bags in your car like BagPodz, which offers an awesome, convenient system. 

Even if you forget your reusable bags, there is nothing wrong with using disposable bags more than once, which are perfectly functional whether you have taken a few oranges home in them or not.

Sure, it is better to spend a small amount on reusable bags (and some stores even offer freebies with their logo on them), but every disposable bag you don’t use is one more not being produced – or being disposed of in the environment.

Insist on eco-friendly packaging

Want to get the attention of companies who insist on using plastic bubble wrap or Styrofoam packing peanuts to ship their products? Stop buying from them!

Even though Styrofoam and plastic are reusable as packing materials, most of it still ends up in landfills and waterways, which is not good for the environment, water supplies, or food supplies (and by the way, did you know that both the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer both refer to styrene a “possible human carcinogen?”).

Telling companies that you will be happy to return to them as a customer once they change their environmentally-damaging ways is a great way to encourage them to switch over to one of the many biodegradable options available, including starch peanuts, PaperNuts, or even just good-old wadded up newspaper – recycled, of course!

Most companies are concerned with their bottom line above all else, so by letting them know that your money will stay in your pocket until they stop the use of environmentally-damaging packing materials, they are more likely to listen and change their ways.

Skip the bottled water

Oh the convenience of being able to grab a cold bottle of purified water to take with you wherever you go—and then simply discard the bottle when it’s done!

But did you know that of the approximately 30 billion plastic water bottles used in the United Stated each year, only about 20% (at best) end up being recycled? Or that it takes around 3-times the amount of water to produce a bottle than it does to fill it?

And this is in addition to the toxins and BPA’s which leach out of the plastic and into the water, making it a less-than-healthy choice for you and your family.

By making a small investment in a glass, BPA-free plastic, stainless steel or ceramic reusable water bottle which can be conveniently refilled with filtered water, you can not only avoid contaminating our environment, but also reduce the carbon footprint of producing something which requires so much oil (about 67 million barrels of oil each year to produce, pump, transport and refrigerate), as well as avoid the endocrine disruption, weight gain, cancer and other health issues associated with plastic toxins.

Oof. That’s a lot of impact for such a small bottle.

Reusable produce and sandwich bags

Small bags are everywhere in our society, and the fewer of them you use, the fewer of them end up being discarded. Not only are there plenty of cloth, silicone – and yes, reusable plastic – options available, you can also use wax paper wrap, or even just a good old brown paper bag for your sandwiches and other lunch items.

Plus, there are convenient, washable, reusable produce bags for you to take with you the next time you visit the grocery store or farmer’s market. In fact, with so many reusable options available, why would you want to continue throwing money away on disposable bags? The cost does add up!

Bring your own coffee cup

A personal coffee cup made of glass, stainless steel, or even bamboo is not only an ecologically sound way to keep plastic coffee cups and lids out of the environment, using one will also keep your coffee warmer, make it less apt to spill, and can be pretty cool looking to boot!

Most coffee shops also knock the cost of providing you with a cup off the price of your coffee, and many will only charge you for a smaller coffee, no matter the size of your reusable cup, so savings do add up.

Say “No” to Straws

Do you really need that straw in your drink? Or for that matter, do you need a lid for your paper cup? When we consider that over 500 million plastic straws are used in the US daily – of which virtually none are recycled – we really need to ask ourselves…why?

By letting your waiters, waitresses and counter people know that there is no need for them to put a straw in your drink, you can do your part in reducing the number of straws thrown away each day – which, by the way, are enough to circumvent the earth 2.5 times, were they connected end-to-end.

And, if you do need a straw for any reason, why not reuse it? They are washable, and there is no reason for you to need a new one each time, since they don’t exactly wear out!

Plus, this is a lovely excuse to go ahead and gift yourself a gorgeous glass straw.

Reuse, recycle, and repurpose

Sometimes, try as we might, we simply end up with things made of plastic, most of which are “disposable” – or are they?

Some of plastic’s advantages are its durability and wash-ability, so even though an item is considered “disposable,” it is still likely that you can wash and use it again.

For instance, plastic shopping, produce and sandwich bags are all fine to use over and over, so long as they are clean and functional. Even plastic zip-ties can be used more than once, and plastic cups, silverware and plates are easy to wash and store for your next picnic.

And, have you considered using plastics for things other than their intended purpose? Yes, it is true – drink cups work great for starting seedlings, and plastic lids can be used as finger paint containers, or even as pieces of an art project.

And, there are any number of things to use pen tubes, yogurt containers and water bottles for – just use your imagination, and you will be surprised at the many uses you can come up with.

Lamps made from honey bear bottles? Sure, why not! And, even if you simply cannot think of anything more you can do with it, most plastic is recyclable, which not only prevents it from going into the environment, but creates jobs, reduces our reliance on oil, and reduces the need for new landfills as well.

So, with enough plastic already in the ocean to create a land mass large enough to be named its own country, action needs to be taken, and the sooner the better.

Even if you are not concerned with the destruction of wildlife, the creation of dead-zones in the ocean, and the overall unsightliness of plastic trash in our world, there is still your health and the health of your family to be concerned with, since plastic is full of toxic chemicals (cancer, anyone?).

So next time you go to the grocery store, consider either reusing the same bags you were provided on your last visit there, or better yet, get reusable bags to keep in the car to use over-and-over again.

And when you are at the coffee shop, even though that lid you are tossing may seem like a paltry addition to the landfill, consider how many other coffee patrons are passing through and doing the same thing – it adds up fast.

And, if nothing else, reuse, recycle, and repurpose – every bit helps!