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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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:

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“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.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

More Time Management Techniques

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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