The annual “Green Issue” of the Fernie Fix is such a great opportunity for all of us to check-in with what we have been doing to green-ify our lives and learn more about what we might be doing to promote health in ourselves and for our planet. Why is this important? Well, it is clear that what we absorb from the world around us impacts our health. Everything we put on our skin, everything we breathe into our lungs, and everything we put into our stomachs and digestive tracts has the potential to either support the function of our cells or interfere with proper function. When dysfunction occurs as a result of a buildup of toxins, it can show up in our lives in many ways, including obesity, hormone disruption, fatigue, and accelerated aging. The list of potential toxins around us can be pretty overwhelming so I think it can be helpful to first look at the things we can control and then tackle only one or two things at a time in order to create lasting change. There are five areas where we can make changes in our daily lives that can have a significant impact on our body’s function at the cellular level (while also reducing the toxic load on the planet):
In Fernie, we are very lucky to have clean mountain air but you might still consider incorporating an air purifier into your indoor environment, particularly if you have a baby, someone with respiratory issues or allergies or an immunocompromised person in your household or if you work with toxins (hair stylist, painter, etc.). Air purifiers are not all created equally so look for one that at minimum has a HEPA filter and a charcoal/carbon filter to trap petroleum-based gases. Some also report good success with ith UV filters or ionizers. Do your research and pick one that fits your specific needs as well as the size of the space you need filtered.
Every day we drink 2-3 L of water and it is vital for the function of every cell in our body. Unfortunately, water often contains either chemicals such as pesticides, heavy metals or organisms that can be toxic to our bodies. The first step in setting up a water filtration system is to figure out what is in the water in your area that needs to be filtered out and then finding the best solution for those specific needs. You also want to consider waste, any energy required to filter your water, and longevity.
I talk a lot about making good choices around the food that you put into your body, choosing organic when possible, sticking to good quality meats, and avoiding processed food when possible but even beyond all of that, I think that it is important to consider how far your food has to travel to get to you. Most of us live in a place where we have a shorter growing season, so it is really difficult to avoid food grown in California or Mexico but why not just try? Just try to focus on foods that are grown in BC and Alberta, that are seasonal, and that are grown using sustainable farming practices. Think about where your food is coming from. If you want to choose organic produce, the Environmental Working Group has released their “Dirty Dozen” list for 2021 which is a good place to start.
Reducing, replacing, or eliminating plastic products can be very difficult, time-consuming, expensive, confusing, and overwhelming. It’s all around us. We cook with it, store food/water in it, put it on our bodies, on our babies’ bums, play with it, and even sleep on it. Plastic comes in many different forms, and some are more harmful than others, disrupting hormones potentially resulting in male and female infertility and even increasing the risk of certain cancers. Beyond the direct impact on us, we need to consider what happens to it once we are done with it. How does it break down and what chemicals are released when it does? In order to tackle plastic, I would just encourage you to consider, with every purchase, what an alternative might be. Could you use glass storage containers instead of plastic? A stainless steel water bottle instead of a plastic one? A mattress that doesn’t contain plastic for your baby? Could you fill mason jars with bulk hand soap rather than get a new plastic pump every time? Every small step makes a difference.
There has been an increasing awareness around moving towards clean(er) products to use on your body, including (but not limited to) shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothpaste, skincare, and makeup. As a result, there are almost infinite options when it comes to choosing what to try, ranging from economical to very extravagant. There are many great resources that provide comparisons and information on what ingredients to watch out for, including the Environmental Working Group, so that is a great place to start. I would also look at what is being produced locally, and even consider substituting something simple rather than a complex product (coconut oil as moisturizer). Become ingredient-savvy and start reading those labels.
The move towards greener and more sustainable living is ongoing as we move through life so there is no way to address all of this and be done with it. As we learn, we evolve. Unfortunately, not all of these options are available to everyone. Health should not be reserved for the privileged so if you find yourself easily able to make these changes, then figure out how you can help those who aren’t as lucky. If you provide services think about how you can make your services/care/products more available to those with limited access. If you find yourself wanting to make these changes but overwhelmed by the cost/energy/difficulty accessing any of it, don’t sweat it. Try just one small thing if you can. If even that is too much, check in next month or a few months from now. Even something as simple as spending more time outside can improve your health. We are human beings and our circumstances are always changing so we have to meet one another (and ourselves) where we are. Happy Spring!