Sunday, June 6, 2010

Poisoning Our Environment, Poisoning Our Lives

With the largest environmental catastrophe taking place in the Gulf, many people, including me, sicken with an awareness of what this could mean to both coastal and ocean waters. It will probably take years and many tears for the true scope of this tragedy to be known. BP is the villain in this drama, but make no mistake: We are all guilty. We just do it on a smaller scale.

For several generations we have demanded convenience over safety, guilty of wanting perfect lives, homes, gardens, lawns, travel. We have turned our logic off, listened to convenience providers' claims while ignoring the fact we have been poisoning our bodies and homes, as well as our earth, air, and waters.

Don't believe me?

It wasn't too long ago that we didn't mind spraying insecticides to get rid of mosquitoes and flies that entered our houses, or showed up at our outdoor gatherings and picnics. We sprayed over the heads of our family and guests, over our food and beverages, and ignored the fact that those spray cans contained poisons.

Teflon coated pans made cooking clean up a breeze. Now, most of us have Teflon in our blood. (see UCLA link below).

Those chemical fertilizers and weeding agents may produce perfect weed-free lawns, but they also kill all micro-organisms in the soil, not just broadleaf plants growing in the grass. And God help us, many do not follow label directions. Is it any wonder that in the last fifty years we seen changes in our children's health? Just recently learned 2,4-D the chemical that kills the broadleaf weeds, was first used in chemical warfare as part of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Does that make it bad? I don't know, but it does show you its potential power.

So what can we do? First off, we need to get smart and think about what chemicals you want around your family. If you choose to use a product, any product, READ THE LABEL and act responsibly. Follow directions and dispose of any remaining product as recommended.

Do we need all the chemicals we are using in our homes? No.

A few years ago, as I was using a popular cleaner in my bathroom, the smell made me choke and cough and my eyes watered. It made me think. When I was a child we didn't have all these must-have cleaners. Are we sure they are as safe as they claim to be? That's when I started searching for recipes for homemade cleaners, so I knew what was in them. Now I use vinegar, baking soda and limited amounts of ammonia (which can also make you choke and cough and your eyes water if used in too strong a strength) to clean my house. One good source I found was a list from Michigan State University. Not only is my house just as clean (I admit I don't demand a spotless house of myself), but I've saved money, too.

There are other ways we can reduce poisons in our daily lives if we are aware of the danger and seek out alternative methods to accomplish the task at hand. Hope I've started you thinking about the issue and how you can limit the poisons in your life.

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