Canary In A Coal Mine
When I was in college, I entered a new medical system and had to start with a brand-new doctor. I had been a sickly child, and I was a sickly adult, so I saw this new doctor regularly right at the beginning. On about the third appointment (and the third case of bronchitis, or strep throat or whatever it was), he asked me what I was taking for my asthma. “Asthma,” I asked? He said, “what do you mean, nobody has ever told you you have asthma?” I didn’t know.
How many times I felt like a fish without water, struggling to breathe… now it all made sense.
After that moment, I began taking allergy shots and taking rescue medications for my asthma. But not only that, I also was put on a regime to rid my indoor environment of the dust mites and allergens that were plaguing me. It was during that time where I began to realize how much my indoor air affected my well-being.
Once I began thinking about how the dust mites were affecting me – and protecting myself from them in a variety of ways I will share with you in a later post – I started wondering if maybe other things affected me, too. I used to get rashes on my face from time to time, and it was always breaking out. So just to test a theory, I stopped using perfumed soaps and moisturizers, and started searching for a soap and a moisturizer that might stop my face from breaking out. At the same time I searched for make-up that wasn’t as caustic. It was a search that lasted several months, but eventually, I found products that worked, and my face stopped breaking out. That was about 19 years ago, and my face has been clear ever since!!
Over the next year or two, my awareness grew. I learned to look for natural products weren’t tested on animals, weren’t full of ingredients I didn’t need to be putting on my body, and were much more sustainable. I started looking for shampoo, conditioner, and other personal products.
After a few years of living in different homes through college and afterwards, I learned that there were other indoor materials that could make me sick: formaldehyde in the floors, lead in the walls, mildew on the ceilings…. all sorts of neurotoxins and volatile organic chemicals that don’t need to be there. And I learned how to get rid of them.
Can you guess where I thought about next? What went inside my body. I started cutting out processed foods and fast foods. (I also became a vegetarian, and maybe I’ll go into that at some point but now is not the time.)
The Nut Girl
Well, about five years ago I met a man who was the perfect man for me. We fell in love. And then… he moved in. And he thought I was nuts! No chemicals, no fragrances, no preservatives, no fast food… and what was this air filter always humming in the background? He thought I was nuts.
But the good sport that he is, he went along with it. He stopped using fabric softener, he started using my shampoo, and soon enough he fell in with my indoor environment.
And now? He can’t stand perfumes – sneezes when he smells them. We both get stuffed up when we eat something processed. We both break out when we used some hotel shampoo somewhere. We both truly like breathing clean air, using clean products, and eating natural food.
Some of you reading may think it’s crazy to live our lives this way. I think it’s crazy not to. Putting carcinogenic chemicals in your body, putting neurotoxins on your skin – it’s not enough to do these things because everyone else does. As an asthmatic, sometimes I feel like a canary in a coal mine. Well, here I’m a canary who has cleaned up those toxics so I don’t die. Please learn from me!
What’s The Point Of All This?
We have discussed building our communities, living locally, growing our own food, and generally playing our part to make the world more sustainable. But the truth is that my quest for sustainability began inside my home, the most local place of all. And once I paid attention to the air I breathed, the fluids I drank, and the environment I surrounded myself with, I stopped getting sick, my thoughts became clearer, and I looked and felt so much better than I’ve ever felt. I am a more effective human being that enjoys my life so much more!
So this is a challenge to start changing your indoor environment. Start at the root of your world, where your children live and breathe, where you family spends most of its time. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned over the years about how to green our homes.
Please sign up! Join us – for yourself and your whole family.
Ok, But What Is The Challenge?
To start greening your own home.
First, start paying attention to what you put on your body, in your body, and around your body. Right now.
And then over the next few months, put it all into practice: take solid steps to green your indoor environment.
If you don’t know where to start, follow my articles as I talk about what we’ve done over the next several weeks!
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Will You Do It?
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