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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 January 11, 2021

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

Affordable, relaxing, and healthy, oil diffusers are gaining popularity with people everywhere due to their extensive benefits. Oil diffusers work through the simple process of oil diffusion, which uses heat to turn oil into a vapor that is then spread around a living space. Diffused oil can have several relaxation and health-related benefits, including safe scent-dispersion, mosquito and mold defense, stress relief, and more!

Read on for 11 hidden benefits of using oil diffusers.

1. Safe Scents That Make Sense

Unlike candles or air fresheners, oil diffusers release cleansing molecules into your air that work to purify it, not overload it with unhealthy chemicals. Electronic diffusers also do not pose the fire risk that candles do. Plus, they contain the added feature of interchangeability, which means you change oil types for different scents and health benefits.

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2. Stress Relief

Several lab studies have confirmed that diffusing essential oils like lavender have been shown to reduce stress and help relieve anxiety in medical patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that oil diffusers can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

3. Improved Sleep

Diffused oil has relaxing properties that can help people of all ages fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly. Electronic diffusers not only have the option to mix and match different oil blends (Try a lavender, Bulgarian rose, and Roman chamomile blend to help with insomnia), they also run at a gentle hum that helps relax an agitated mind. Many also come with an auto shut-off feature to help conserve oils once you have fallen asleep.

4. Appetite Control

Much like gum, oil diffusers can help stimulate the senses in a way that works to curb appetite. New research has shown that diffused peppermint oil can help curb appetite by inducing a satiety response within the body. Diffused peppermint oil has also been shown to increase energy.

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5. Bacteria and Mold Killing

When essential oils are diffused in the air, they break down free radicals that contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. Eucalyptus, thyme, and tea tree oils are especially good for this purpose. Diffused oil is also highly effective when it comes to combating fungal yeast threats, as the oil help makes the air inhospitable for yeasts such as mold. Pine and red thyme essential oils are best for combating mold.

6. Decongestion and Mucus Control

Ever tried Vick’s Vapo-Rub? Its decongesting powers come from active ingredients made from the eucalyptus tree. In principle, oil diffusers work the same way as Vapo-Rub, except they diffuse their decongesting vapor all around the room, not just on your chest or neck. Oil diffusers have been known to cure pneumonia in lab mice.

7. Mosquito Repellant

Nobody likes mosquitoes — but when the trade-off means using repellants full of DEET, a toxic chemical that can be especially harmful to children, mosquito control can often seem like a lose-lose. However, scientists have shown that oil diffusers can be used as a safe and highly effective mosquito repellant. Studies have shown that a diffused oil mixture containing clove essential oil and lemongrass essential oil repelled one type of Zika-carrying mosquito, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, at a rate of 100%.

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8. Pain Relief

While applying oils directly to areas of your body may be the most effective way to alleviate pain, diffusing essential oils can also be an effective means of pain relief. When we inhale healthy essential oils, they enter our blood stream and can help internally relieve persistent pain from headaches, overworked muscles, and sore joints.

9. The New Anti-Viral

Research into the anti-viral effects of oil diffusion is now just gaining steam. A recent study showed that star anise essential oil was proven in medical experiments to destroy the herpes simplex virus in contained areas at a rate of 99%. Another study showed the popular DoTerra oil blend OnGuard to have highly-effective influenza-combating powers.

10. Improved Cognitive Function

Diffusing essential oils has also been shown to improve cognitive function. Many essential oils have adaptogenic qualities, which can work twofold in soothing us when we’re stressed, and giving our bodies a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down or sluggish. By working to level out an imbalanced mood, diffused oils also help us to focus. There are also several essential oils which have been shown to help balance the body’s hormones. With prolonged use, these oils can work to repair the underlying causes responsible for hindering cognitive function.

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11. Money Saving

With ten clear benefits of oil diffusers already outlined, there is one more that should now be obvious: using an oil diffuser will help you to save money. As an anti-viral, bug repelling, and stress-relief solution rolled into one safe product, an oil diffuser used with the proper oils will save you money on products you might otherwise be buying to help cure those pesky headaches or get your kids to fall asleep on time. If you’re wondering just how affordable oil diffusers can be, check the buyer’s guide to the best oil diffusers — you’ll be sure to find one that fits your budget!

Featured photo credit: Jopeel Quimpo via unsplash.com

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