Archive for the ‘Waste’ Category

You are what you eat is pretty obvious. However, I’ve been thinking about where the chemicals we put on our bodies end up. You know, the toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, make-up, hair spray, gel, shaving cream, cologne, perfume, lotions, and various other products to numerous to name.

As it turns out, when these chemicals are washed down the drain the water company can’t completely remove them from the waste water before it is discharged back into our streams and eventually the ocean. And this isn’t to mention the other substances that we use like synthetic hormones for birth control and various household cleaners. These chemicals end up right back in our food and water. It’s a tough realization, but there is no “away” to throw your waste. We are literally what we put into the environment: chemicals. There is no separation: the human system is just a sub-system of Earth’s system.

Even people that have been eating organic and using only natural body products test positive for the majority of cancer causing and bio-accumulative substances that we pump into our air, land, and water by the ton. I wonder what the statistics are for autism and various other maladies of the nervous system and how it might correlate with us increasingly using the environment as a toxic waste dump. Many young people even have chemicals in their bodies that were banned before they were born.

I discovered that you can get most of your hygienic personal care done with just a few ingredients: baking soda and apple cider vinegar are the main two. For shampoo, try one tablespoon of baking soda for every cup of water. Conditioner: one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for every cup of water. Make sure to mix both vigorously. Toothpaste: use only a very small amount of baking soda. All of these have worked great for me. You would be surprised how soft your hair is and how proud your dentist is of your teeth. I have yet to try the recipe for deodorant, but will soon.

It’s amazing how the corporations have marketed to us their poisonous products that really don’t work that great anyway. These products are bad for us, bad for the environment, and bad for society. It’s funny how things work out. All we needed to do to start living more sustainably was to look around the kitchen.

Another way to think about this (or a motto to live by?): if you wouldn’t eat it, then don’t put it on your body or down the drain.


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This disaster has happened in a very visible way and allows us to make some connections to the larger industrial system that created it. In a way, this is just the event we needed to kick start more environmentally sound policies. With at least 6 million gallons of oil spilled or leaked so far, this is shaping up to be the worst oil spill in US history. However dreadful this is, we should remember that each day our current socioeconomic system wrecks far more damage to the vital ecosystems that support us.

Since babies are on my mind I’ll give you just one example of our overly wasteful system. In an earlier post, I noted it takes over 7 billion gallons of oil each year just to make disposable diapers. Our use of these environmentally destructive diapers ever year is at least 1,000 times worse than this spill, yet it’s not making the headlines The fact that Americans throw away 18 billion diapers per year (570 per second) that last for another 300 years, is a travesty, but yet just one example of a myriad of environmental shockers. Where do we think these diapers go? Worse yet, some waste facilities incinerate them and put all of their chemicals and toxins into the air, which find their way back into our food chain. Ahhh….!

As oil becomes scarcer, we are going to ever greater lengths to get our hands on it. This is because our entire industrial system relies on this cheap and abundant source of prehistoric sunlight. A crisis like this can be an opportunity to make connections that people otherwise would not have though about. Most of the time, our impact is obscured and not visible enough for anyone to care. The environmental movement of the 1970s succeeded in part because we were fighting against pollution that we could all see and agree was bad. However, the movement now underway is much more difficult to see and act on because the toxins, pollutants, greenhouse gases, and piles of trash are not seen or felt on a daily basis. This makes it tough for people to understand why things are so dire.

We need to take this opportunity to rally the changes that must happen at all levels of society: we need new laws and business models to create a sustainable future. Do we really think we can keep consuming at this rate? Do we really think the entire planet can munch through resources the way Americans do? We need to rethink our society and this is as good of an event as any to do so.

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TerraCycle – Upcycling trash into new products – awesome! http://ping.fm/DQrBJ

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