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The Deal With Eco-Friendly Products: Put to the Test

The Deal With Eco-Friendly Products: Put to the Test

We don’t often stop to think about cancer and other potential bodily harm when we’re out shopping for household items, and if we do have any reservations about purchasing a non-green chemical product, our inner dialogue goes something like this: “I barely use this anyway;” “just this once;” and, “I wear gloves so I’m protected.” Besides, those green and “all-natural” versions are expensive, and they don’t even work as well. Right? The more expensive part may sometimes be true (although worth it in the long run), but the latter is a common misconception. Eco-friendly products are more gentle than their caustic counterparts, so in some cases they may require more use, but there are tons of alternatives to the corrosive chemicals we use around the house that work just as well, if not better. Such as white vinegar – the most amazing all-purpose cleaner with absolutely no harmful qualities.

These things we tell ourselves when purchasing mainstream household products from brand names we deem authoritative, like “I barely use this so it won’t hurt!”, could be dangerous self-talk. Our minds are conditioned by a lifetime of advertising to buy products based on the lowest price and the biggest brands. Logic does not play an immediate role in a snap-decision. Elements such as wording, color, even font, are factors in how and why you are drawn to specific products. “Voted #1 Stain Remover” appeals to our consumer mind much more than a higher priced alternative claiming to be “natural” or “eco-friendly”, which for some reason makes us think it won’t work as well. But we don’t consider the long-term consequences of the harsh products we use at home. And if we stop to rethink our “I barely use this!” excuse, we realize how many products we really do use in actuality, even if many of them are on occasion. Our skepticism on eco-friendly products could very well be the death of us.

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On the bright side, more and more people are starting to shop for green products, and more and more companies are jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon. You don’t necessarily have to go to Whole Foods to find natural products anymore, as even mainstream grocery stores and drugstores are starting to carry them. And big name brands are coming out with more and more green and eco-friendly products. Recently while shopping, I came across one of those new “green” products by a big name brand. It was an eco-friendly water and stain repellent, called Hydro-Lok by Rainguard. I’d never seen it before, and I was curious about its eco-friendly label and whether it really worked. I decided to put this “eco-friendly products are safer and work just as well as any other product” claim I’m making to the test, and single out this product as an example. So, being the detective-at-heart that I am, I tried it out for myself, and researched whether it really lived up to its leaf-decorated “100% Eco-Friendly” label.

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Rainguard Label - Eco-Friendly Products

    With some research, I found out that Hydro-Lok is a single component nano-based superhydrophobic treatment. This basically just means that it’s a water repellent made of fluoropolymers. Fluoropolymers are also known as “super plastics”, which given their name, led me to do some research on them and their safety concerns. What I discovered was that there have been decades of research done on fluoropolymers, and they have been identified as safe by US and international regulatory agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority. Some concerns over PFOA have been raised, which is a chemical used in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, but I found out that it is removed in the final stages of production and studies show that PFOA is non-detectable in products containing fluoropolymers. So it does in fact look as if Hydro-Lok lives up to it’s claim of not containing any harmful solvents. It is also a non-flammable product, and it is breathable. Rather than coming in a pressurized aerosol can as many water and stain repellents do–which have been proven to negatively impact the environment, are dangerous to human health and create hazardous waste–Hydro-Lok comes in a spray bottle. The product page on Rainguard.com states:

    “At Rainguard, we have long adopted strict environmental standards in all the products we make as well as in our everyday operations. None of our products produce volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that exceed the strictest air emission standards in the country – the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Further, we strive to manufacture products which do not contain any known cancer causing chemicals or hazardous by-products. Our products will not harm children or pets, and do not require the use of painting safety equipment or respirators. Over the past year we have moved aggressively to ensure our products meet LEED credit requirements.”

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    Good to know. So now that I trust the safety of the product, I decided to test its dependability. Hydro-Lok recommends its usage on materials and items such as leather, canvas, metal surfaces, patio furniture, wood, boots, gloves, tents and more. After some research I also found out that people have even used it successfully on UGG boots. So I went ahead and tried it on my own UGG boots, a pair of white shoes, a cushion, and a white (faux) leather jacket. Water beaded off and did not stain as promised, and I even tested out ketchup on the white shoes and jacket, which wiped off without a stain. The only item I tried it out on that I wouldn’t personally recommend is cotton clothing. I tested an old sweatshirt–both coats of the product took a very long time to dry, and the ketchup left a stain, although very faint.

    Overall, it was easy to use and worked just as well as other non-eco water and stain repellents I’ve used in the past, most of which came in an aerosol can. Even though aerosol cans are harmful, we often think they work the best because of the fine mist they produce during application, whereas a spray bottle will likely saturate an item and leaves droplets. This was initially worrisome when I thought about the fact this product came in a spray bottle, but in this case saturation was a necessary step in application, and the droplets left behind could be wiped away after drying for 30 minutes. So does this product compare to non-eco-friendly products in terms of dependability? Yes. Is it more expensive than many of its predecessors–yes a little–but was it worth it due to the safety and environmentally-friendly factors? Yes. And the same goes for all of the green and natural products I use at home, such as laundry detergent, dish detergent, disinfectants, shaving cream, toothpaste, etc. Some of them are by green brands like Seventh Generation, others natural or eco-friendly products by big name brands. Even CVS brand sells organic cotton balls and such! I sure do pay a little more for these products most of the time, but my health and the environment are worth it.

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    I make sure I stay aware of the health concerns of anything I buy that will come in contact with my skin or be breathed in, and I’m usually careful not to purchase products that are known to be harmful to the environment. But I don’t think this way a hundred percent of the time. I sometimes catch myself reverting back to old products when the store I’m at doesn’t have a green or natural alternative, or to save money. But as of today I’m going to take a stand and only buy eco-friendly and health-conscious products from now on. Just think if everyone did this–it would be a giant step in the movement towards better health and a greener Earth. And it all starts with one small step–ourselves.

    Featured photo credit: 53/365+1 Mopping/Dave Crosby via flic.kr

    More by this author

    Chloe Spencer

    Online Marketing Specialist, SEO Expert, Millennial Entrepreneur and Professional Writer and Speaker

    Were You Born to be an Entrepreneur? Why You Should Ditch the Toxic World of Beauty Products Mop and Bucket - Eco-friendly Products The Deal With Eco-Friendly Products: Put to the Test

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    Published on November 14, 2018

    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

    With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

    For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

    In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

    Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

    Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

    It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

    For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

    Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

    Symptoms of Fatigue

    Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

    • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
    • mental blocks
    • lack of motivation
    • headache
    • dizziness
    • muscle weakness
    • slowed reflexes and responses
    • impaired decision-making and judgement
    • moodiness, such as irritability
    • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
    • reduced immune system function
    • blurry vision
    • short-term memory problems
    • poor concentration
    • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

    Causes of Fatigue

    The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

    • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
    • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
    • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
    • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

    Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

    Medical Causes of Fatigue

    If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

    Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

    Anemia

    Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

    Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

    There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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    This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

    Diabetes

    Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

    Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

    Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

    Thyroid disease

    An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

    Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

    • Lack of sleep
    • Too much sleep 
    • Alcohol and drugs 
    • Sleep disturbances 
    • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
    • Poor diet 

    Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

    • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
    • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
    • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
    • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

    Psychological Causes of Fatigue

    Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

    • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
    • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
    • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

    How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

    Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

    1. Tell The Truth

    Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

    To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

    Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

    The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

    One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

    • How you feel
    • What time of day it is
    • What may have contributed to your fatigue
    • How your mind and body reacts

    This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

    2. Reduce Your Commitments

    When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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    If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

    When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

    Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

    3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

    If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

    Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

    If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

    Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

    Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

    4. Express More Gratitude

    Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

    It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

    Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

    5. Focus On Yourself

    Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

    There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

    But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

    We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

    6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

    Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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    Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

    The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

    Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

    7. Take a Power Nap

    When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

    Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

    This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

    8. Take More Exercise

    The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

    Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

    The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

    You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

    9. Get More Quality Sleep

    To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

    Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

    My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

    10. Improve Your Diet

    Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

    Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

    On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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    To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

    Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

    Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

    11. Manage Your Stress Levels

    Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

    When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

    Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

    My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

    12. Get Hydrated

    Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

    Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

    If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

    The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

    The Bottom Line

    These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

    If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
    [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
    [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
    [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
    [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
    [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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