Sustainable Business Learning Community Conversations, Sep 2014 - Oct 2014

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Sustainable Business, Sept 4, 2014 Topic: Taking Action to Reduce Toxicity: What's the First Step?

Observations from last week’s conversation on Toxicity Awareness:

Awareness about toxicity is so important - awareness leads to better choices.

  • Tom has lawn and garden products (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) that are 20+ years old. They are clearly dangerous and he must get them to SOCCRA for safe disposal. He looks at these products and wonders, “what was I thinking??” His awareness is so much greater today than it was 20 years ago. , When you grow your awareness, it is often surprising when you look back and see what you used to do. Companies have made a lot of money selling these products and convincing us that we need them.
  • Baking soda works really well for cleaning and some people use it instead of toothpaste. But be aware - it can damage your teeth over time, so be careful not to use it too often.
  • Why are there so many different soaps for all parts of your body? Do we really need shampoo and body wash and face wash, etc? Are these scented products good for us?
  • Pesticides and fertilizers - why do we think it’s ok to put poisonous stuff all over our yard and expose ourselves and our neighbors to toxins? Some people even use “bug bombs” in their yards to rid them of mosquitoes, but are they aware of what these products do besides killing mosquitoes?
  • Did you know that the materials used for gloves and masks are rated as to how permeable they are?
  • Number of farmers with cancer is very high due to lifelong use of chemicals on their farmland. Even organically grown foods can be affected by nearby non-organic farms and their use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • We have to pay more for organic foods because they cost more to produce, but we are in a transition period. The prices will eventually come down and, additionally, we can expect to have lower costs in health related issues when people begin to eat more organically grown food.
  • New ideas and new technologies are often, at first, perceived as a fad. People thought that hybrid cars were a fad, but now they are becoming more and more prevalent and in demand.

Many people resist change. For change to happen, it takes community and strong relationships because change can be difficult without support.

Consumer culture is very powerful. Going against the conventional chemical products to return to non toxic older ideas goes against that culture; we think would be putting people out of business if we stopped using those kinds of products. Also, it is hard and requires more effort to dispose of toxic cleaning stuff.

Today's Topic: What can you do to take toxins out of your life? Where would you start? What would your first step be?

Here are some of the thoughts from the group:

  • Start with cleaning products (Denny’s Simply Clean products)
  • Replace anything with teflon. Use good quality cookware - it’s worth the investment.
  • Read labels on everything before using it (food products, cleaners, etc). If there are more than 3 ingredients, and you can’t pronounce them, don’t use it.
  • Use natural products for cleaning: A mixture of vinegar, lemon juice and water for a cleaner, borax to clean toilet, hydrogen peroxide to whiten clothes.
  • Replace scented products: Any scented product (like air fresheners and candles) have a chemical in them, and you are breathing that chemical in.
  • Rethink the necessity of body products like deodorant, shampoos and soaps. Can water and a good washcloth be sufficient?
  • Try to live close to work so you don’t have to be in a car so much. Walk, bike to work or use public transportation where available.
  • Find landscaping products that a good for your lawns and gardens and not toxic to yourself, your pets or any wildlife. Resist the mindset that you must use chemical fertilizers and pesticides and treated mulch. There are many healthy, non-toxic products available, and you can use fallen leaves for mulch. Also talk to a tree company - they could possible deliver non-treated wood chips to you for use as mulch.
  • Find out how to unclog plumbing without using harsh chemicals. One idea is to mix baking soda + vinegar, then use a plunger. Most importantly, check with a plumber first to make sure drains and pipes are installed correctly.
  • Listen to your body. It will tell you when it doesn’t like something. Burning eyes, coughing, rashes… your body is trying to tell you something!
  • Think about choosing furniture that is made with non-toxic materials next time you go to replace a chair, or sofa or rug.