Advertising
Advertising

How to Take Steps to Make Your Home a Plastic-Free Environment

How to Take Steps to Make Your Home a Plastic-Free Environment

Plastic is all around us.

If you take a look around yourself, you’re likely to see a plethora of plastic in just about every place you look. Sitting here at my desk, I’m typing on my laptop’s plastic keys, and my glasses’ case has a hard plastic shell. The throw blanket nearby is made of microfiber, as are the base of my birds’ cage, my curtain rods, and the pens in a cup nearby. Plastic is all around us, and it’s toxic.

Advertising

Many studies have discussed plastic’s negative, poisonous effects on the natural environment, and more information surfaces every day about its effects on our bodies as well.

Bisphenol-A (or BPA) has been recognized as an endocrine-disrupting chemical since the 1940s, yet it’s a building block in polycarbonate plastic products made all over the world. Most commonly, it’s found in disposable water bottles and food packaging, the linings in cans, and even in the PVC that lines water pipes in most homes. It’s estimated that over 90% of North Americans have BPA in their blood and tissue, and unlike other toxins, BPA not only sticks around indefinitely—it accumulates. It can even be transferred from mothers to their unborn children, and traces have been found in the bodies of fetuses and newborns.

Advertising

“It’s an endocrine disruptor and in numerous animal studies it’s been linked to cancer, infertility, obesity and early puberty,” says Anila Jacob, M.D., M.P.H., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. “The CDC has found this chemical in 93 percent of people they have tested,” she says. 

What Can We Do About It?

It’s unlikely that any of us will be able to completely eliminate our exposure to plastic, as we run into them every time we leave the house, but we can make wise choices about the items we bring into our homes. Choosing products made of glass, wood, ceramic, and other natural materials is of vital importance to your well-being, and you can start living a healthier, more plastic-free life today.

Advertising

Eliminating Plastic

Unless you have a significant amount of cash to toss around, it’s not advisable to throw out every piece of plastic in your place in one fell swoop and replace it all with healthier alternatives. Much like getting rid of a wardrobe that you’re no longer happy with, eliminate one piece at a time and replace it with something new. You can also be more aware of the choices you make when you’re out shopping so you can minimize your exposure to these toxins.

  • Every time you finish a jar of something, whether it’s pasta sauce, jam, baby food, or pickles, save the jar: wash and dry it thoroughly, and then use it to store things instead of using plastic containers. These are ideal for dry goods, leftovers, craft supplies, pet food, and more.
  • Stop using disposable water bottles. A one-time investment of $20 or so will get you a stainless steel or glass drinking bottle that will last the rest of your life. That’s a far cry better than constantly shelling out cash for bottled water, and is healthier for both you, and the environment. Tap water is more highly regulated than bottled water, but you can always use filters for extra cleansing if you like.
  • Skip the acrylics and polyester clothing and wear natural fibers instead. Poly-cotton blends might be a little more wrinkle-free, but what’s a little ironing when it comes to your health and well-being? Clothing made of plant-sourced fibers like cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, corn, soy, etc. can be found just about everywhere now, and these fibers are just as beautiful, durable, and stylish as their plastic alternatives. Those in colder climates can go for ethically-sourced wool for warmth, and make sure to dress in layers.
  • Do your research. Check out websites like lifewithoutplastic.com to get an idea of the many different options that are available for everything from lunch boxes and toys to shaving razors, hair brushes, and  toothbrushes.
  • Examine everything. Check labels on your clothing, your children’stoys, and all of your personal care products to determine how many items are made with plastic synthetics. Check labels before buying anything new, and if materials aren’t listed for something you’re interested in, contact the company.
  • Replace your personal care products. If you find that any of your body care products, from deodorants and moisturizers to nail polish or baby care items, contain pthalates, toss them out. Your wardrobe won’t impact your health quite as much as the chemical toxins found in these products (since they’re applied directly to your body), so it’s best to replace these sooner rather than later.
  • Transfer purchased products. If your juice comes in a plastic jug, transfer it to glass bottles as soon as you get home and recyclethe container it came in. The same goes for any other item you’ve bought that’s wrapped or contained in plastic—get it into a healthier container asap. When you go shopping, be sure to bring your own reusable fabric bags as well.

Dr. Erika Nikiforuk N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor) mentioned the importance of detoxifying your life on the White Lotus Integrative Medicine homepage:

Advertising

“Minimizing the use of plastics, especially in the kitchen, is critical to good health. Chemicals found in plastics are powerful inhibitors of endocrine and reproductive health and can have effects on adults and children alike.”

Take a few moments every day to be mindful of the plastic items you come into direct contact with. It might be helpful to keep a notebook handy so you can jot down your observations about the items you surround yourself with, and hold near your body. Or in it, for that matter; like plastic tampon applicators, dental floss, and ear plugs.

Some people might argue that they have to use plastic items because the alternatives are too expensive, and buying cheap plastic products from dollar stores and low-budget shops is far more affordable. In those situations, it’s important to consider the alternatives: investing in health for the long-term is well worth a few extra dollars. After all, what’s more expensive? Shelling out a few more dollars for glass cups instead of plastic ones? Or paying for infertility and cancer treatments?

We could all do with a little less plastic in our lives, and eliminating even a third of the items we have in our homes can improve our health and well-being.

More by this author

Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of 20 Online Resources for Free E-Books 10 Books to Help You Polish Your English & Writing Skills 10 Things That Even You Can Do to Change the World

Trending in Home

1 10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home 2 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of 3 5 Reasons Why Tidying Your Room Can Change Your Life 4 25 Really Cool Cat Furniture Design Ideas Every Cat Owner Needs 5 Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

Advertising

When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

Advertising

By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

Advertising

Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

Advertising

For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next