Friday, October 20, 2017 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality During Healthy Lung Month
Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, recently contacted us here at [1THING] and was kind enough to guest write a great feature article for Healthy Lung Month. She has some interesting information about indoor air pollution and offers ways to improve the air quality in your home and office, which can also improve your health. Check out what she recommends:
Though it’s what most are aware of, outdoor land and air pollution like that from exhaust and industrial waste are not the only factors impacting the health of the environment, which in turn affects the health of our bodies. Indoor air quality is composed of the number, or lack-thereof, of pollutants, both natural and man-made, that contaminate the air of homes, workplaces, and other enclosed buildings. Americans spend on average 20 hours per day indoors where they are inhaling oftentimes stale, unfiltered air, so it is essential that those spaces are just as clean and pure as we hope and expect our outside air to be.
Indoor air pollution can lead to multiple health issues from simple eye, nose, and throat irritation, to pneumonia, cancer, and even death, dependent on what one is exposed to. Mold growth, for instance, can cause respiratory issues and enhance the effects of asthma or COPD for those who already suffer through those afflictions. Meanwhile something seemingly minor like cooking and heating the home with solid fuels (wood, charcoal, peat, pellets, etc.) is attributed to 4.3 millions premature deaths each year. Identifying recurring symptoms like dizziness or headaches while in your home or place of work is the first step to combating and preventing a serious health hazard. However, some illnesses like mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, don’t develop noticeable symptoms for years, so taking steps to improve air quality is recommended no matter the current state of your health.
Often produced from what is brought into the home, pollutants come in the form of particulate matter, toxins and chemicals. Ultimately, improving indoor air quality comes down to source control, and improving or installing a ventilation system. Sources like dust collecting in a long pile carpet, pollen from flowering indoor plants, second-hand smoke, or an unnatural ingredient in an air freshener have simple fixes of cleaning more often or removing certain products from the building. Other sources, however, are more complicated and may require renovation. Mold is usually caused by water damage or a leak; asbestos is found in old homes where products containing the mineral are deteriorating; and radon is most often a result of a leak in the basement and requires a pipe to reroute the gas away from the home. If symptoms persist even after finding what you believe is the source, natural ventilation like opening windows, or a more costly approach like an HVAC system may be necessary.
We only have one body and one life, so take notice of any changes to your health when you move into a new home or office, or start frequenting a new building. Indoor environment is equally as important as outdoor when it comes to health.
Monday, October 3, 2016 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
Honey bees support billions of dollars in agriculture. But today, a major decline in honey bee health has put agriculture, healthy lifestyles, and worldwide food security at risk.Many of the nutritious fruits and vegetables we enjoy require honey bee pollination – approximately 1 in 3 bites of the food we eat! The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, growers, conservation groups, manufacturers, consumer brands and other key partners with the goal of reversing recent declines in honey bee health and ensuring the long-term health of honey bees and other pollinators.
More information is available at Honey Bee Health Coalition.
Thursday, March 31, 2016 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
Monday, March 21, 2016 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
Paint Recycling Easier than Ever in Colorado
Colorado’s paint stewardship program is making paint recycling convenient for households and businesses statewide.
The Colorado PaintCare program began last summer as a result of a bill signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper in 2014. The bill was supported by many stakeholders, including paint manufacturers, who established the nonprofit PaintCare to run similar programs in seven other states and the District of Columbia. The key goal of the program is to establish locations all over the state where households and businesses can take back unwanted, leftover paint all year round.
PaintCare Colorado started in July 2015 with just over 100 paint drop-off sites, but the program now has 142 convenient locations and will continue to add more sites. Most of these locations are at paint retailers or hardware stores that have volunteered to take back paint. These drop-off sites are open year-round during each retail location’s regular business hours and accept all brands of paint, stain and varnish for no charge. Additionally, PaintCare offers a free large volume pick-up service for households and businesses that have accumulated at least 300 gallons of paint.
The program also helps relieve local governments of some of the costs of handling paint and paying for those costs through either taxes or waste management fees. PaintCare helps household hazardous waste facilities interested in working with PaintCare by covering the costs for paint transportation and recycling the paint they accept.
PaintCare transports the collected paint from the drop-off sites to processing facilities where it will be remixed into recycled-content paint, used for energy recovery, made into other products, or in the case of some unrecyclable paint, it will be dried out and properly disposed.
Paint manufacturers created PaintCare, a nonprofit organization to run recycling programs in states as they pass paint stewardship laws. Through PaintCare, the paint industry sets up drop-off locations for unused paint, arranges for recycling and proper disposal of the paint, and conducts outreach about proper paint management. Learn more at: www.paintcare.org/colorado.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
Did you know that indoor pollution can be as bad as, or even worse than outdoor pollution? When our houses are sealed up for the winter, the lack of ventilation keeps the air inside, along with all the pollutants. You are probably familiar with how colds and flu spread in the winter from being in enclosed environments, but take a moment now and think of all the different things in your house that might pollute your air too. Things like your gas stove, your wood stove/fireplace, household cleaners like scented detergents or bleach, your carpet, mattress or sofa, building products and paint, and even old places of water damage, can all be affecting your air quality in your house. When the house is sealed up and fresh air doesn’t have a chance to circulate, the particles from these items build up and can affect your health. Just because you can’t see it like a dusty shelf, the air you are breathing can still be dirty and unhealthy.
So how can you remedy this? Open windows on those warmer days and let the air circulate through the house. Use the range hood vent when you are cooking at the stove. Have your fireplace or furnace regularly serviced so you know it is working properly. Try air purifiers. Use low VOC paint. Use dehumidifiers in damp basements. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Smoke outside. Houseplants help clean the air, so make sure they are well cared for.
Healthy Air at Home
Indoor Air Quality Stats
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
10 Tips for Indoor Air Quality with a great graphic
There are other simple changes you can be made to green up your indoors and cut energy costs (January 10 is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day) and other household costs. Small changes can make a big impact!
-Replace drafty or unsealed windows.
– Ask your utility company about getting a home audit to see where energy might be leaking.
– Program a thermostat to your schedule to minimize heating your home when you aren’t home.
– Use power strips to make it easy to turn power off to numerous items at once.
– Use a hot water heater blanket to insulate your water heater.
– Run dishwasher and washing machine only when full.
– Turn the faucet off when you are brushing your teeth, shaving, etc. You can save gallons of water!
– Turn lights off when you leave a room.
– Set your computers to hibernate mode when not in use, or get in the habit of shutting them down nightly.
– LED bulbs save energy, so next time you need to replace a bulb, switch to LED. They last longer too.
– Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. It’ll help contain the plastic bag clutter in your house and it helps save the planet from pollution and saves birds and other wildlife too!
– Buy reusable plastic, glass or stainless steel containers and bring water from home. Stop buying bottled water (it’s usually tap water anyway!). If you do buy bottled water make sure to recycle the bottle!
– Use nontoxic cleaners for cleaning, laundry, body care etc. If it has a strong smell, or a warning label, it’s toxic! It is easy to find earth safe, nontoxic cleaners in your local supermarket, or just use plain old baking soda and vinegar.
Paper or Plastic?
Water Bottle Pollution
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
So you live a green lifestyle all year long. You recycle, you minimize your impact by bringing your own bags and using a reusable cup for your morning coffee, you drive a low emission car, and program your thermostat….you are set, right? Did you consider ways to green the holidays???? It doesn’t have to be difficult to make a difference!
* An obvious way would be to buy recycled wrapping paper, but you could take it a step further and use your old newspaper, or wrap it in another gift, such as a tablecloth, a scarf or a reusable shopping bag.
* As for the tree, real or fake? Cutting down trees and branches for decorations kills or injures trees, but a lot of the fake pine stuff is made from PVC which is toxic and energy intensive to make the plastic which releases gasses. There are fake pine decorations made from polyethylene which doesn’t carry the same health risks. Or use a potted real tree that can be planted in the spring.
*If you do use a real tree, be sure to give it new life at the end of the season! Mulch it or chip it. For more ideas check out the National Christmas Tree Association and learn how to recycle it.
*LED lights are easy to find and will use a fraction of the energy that lights used to use. Use a timer for outdoor lights so they don’t stay on all night!
*Try upcycling! Get a little creative and turn something discarded into something usable. Recycle your old candles, revamp glass bottles and jars, or turn old cookie tins into new fabulous gift tins. Pinterest.com is full of great ideas, just search UPCYCLE. There are thousands of ideas, surely one appeals to you and your skill level.
Glass Bottles and Jars
Give cookie tins a new life
*Give green. Instead of giving someone another dust collector, donate to a charity that you or your recipient believe in. It’s a win-win! Some ideas to get you started:
Gifts that Give More
70 Years of Family Farming
*If you do shop, shop local. Support the businesses in your local community, spend less gas driving all over. Art and craft shows are prevalent this time of year and you can support a local artist and give a gift of something thoughtful and artful. Pottery bowls can be esthetically pleasing and functional, or a hand knitted hat is stylish and warm.
*Eco friendly gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Try gift cards for a group of friends to take a cooking class together. Make some jelly or jam, or bread that can be frozen for later. Be really green and give a worm composter so less food waste goes into the landfill. Try cloth dish towels and napkins as a gift to replace the paper ones. Give a fancy reusable water bottle or coffee/tea travel mug. Be super practical, and give LED bulbs or a blanket for the hot water heater. Reusable shopping bags are handy too! Programmable thermostat. Bus/train passes. Glass storage containers. A basket of nontoxic cleaners. Beeswax candles.
Eco Friendly Decor
Unique and Cheap Eco Friendly Gifts
Pinned Green Gift Ideas
Green Gift Ideas
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
Protect Our Winters (POW) is a non-profit environmental organization involving individuals in the global winter sport community and supported by companies in the business. It is the leading climate advocacy group for the snowsports community. The organization’s goal is to bring awareness to and fight against climate change by means of community based projects, advocacy, and educational initiatives mainly across the United States. Founded in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones (freerider), Protect Our Winters currently remains active in the mobilization of the snow sports community for issues regarding the effects of climate change.
Some of Protect Our Winters current programs include:
• Hot Planet/Cool Athletes: In partnership with The North Face and Clif Bar, this in-school climate assembly program, led by pro athletes, educates young students about climate change and inspires them to become the next generation of environmental leaders. For more information or to book an assembly, please click here.
• Climate Advocacy: Protect Our Winters’ goal is to mobilize the snowsports community to create the political will for climate action. They urge lawmakers to support strong climate policy, such as The Clean Power Plan. POW also convenes a diverse group of pro athletes, industry representatives, resorts, and trade groups to visit Washington to meet with lawmakers on key climate issues, focusing on the economic impacts on tourist-dependent economies and the hard data, while adding a unique perspective to the typical climate discussions with first-hand, personal accounts of climate impacts.
• POW Riders Alliance: The POW Riders Alliance is a platform for over 60 professional outdoor athletes to speak for the environment and opportunities are provided throughout the year for them to do so. View The Team Here.
Find out more about Protect Our Winters and learn what you can do to protect our winters for future generations by visiting http://protectourwinters.org/
Thursday, October 1, 2015 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
October is Energy Awareness Month.
Are you energy aware?
There are so many easy ways to save energy.
*Use a desktop lamp instead of overhead lights in your office to save energy.
* Inkjet printers use less energy than laser printers. They also create less waste.
* Turn your computer monitor off when you are away for 10 minutes or more to save energy, and turn it off when not in use.
* Recycling paper reduces water use by 60%, energy by 70% and cuts pollution in half. Plus it reduces the amount of new trees that are cut down.
* Fall is an excellent time for a home energy audit. This can help you save money on utility bills by showing where your house is inefficient energy wise. Insulation, air leaks around windows, doors and electrical sockets can zap your heating bill.
*Install a programmable thermostat to dial down the temperature when you aren’t home and save money.
*Open the curtains and let the sun shine in! It’ll help warm your house.
*When was the last time you changed your air filter on your heating system? Dirty filters slow the air flow, which makes the system work harder and increase your utility bill.
* Put an insulating blanket on your water heater.
*Turn off the lights! If you aren’t in a room, it doesn’t need to be lit. Simple task, yet it really adds up.
* Vacuum the coils regularly on your refrigerator so they run efficiently, and don’t overload the fridge or freezer. Allow room for the cold air to circulate.
* Check the seals on your refrigerator to make sure it’s keeping the cold air in.
* Use smaller appliances in the kitchen. Use a toaster over instead of the big oven, or hand wash dishes if you have just a few instead of running the dishwasher when it’s not full.
* Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when full. Use a line to dry clothes instead of the dryer.
* Always clean the lint filter on your dryer before every load.
* If something is plugged in, it is using electricity whether it is turned on or not. Use power strips to turn off things you don’t use often. There are power strips that you can plug your tv and accessories in and by turning one off, they all turn off.
*Unplug seldom used electrical items, like the hairdryer or the toaster. Plug in when needed.
It’s not hard to make a difference in your utility bill or the environment. Simple changes all make a difference.
What tip will you try today?
Sources and more info:
Home Energy Checklist
Task Lighting Energy Savings
Celebrate National Energy Month
7 Simple Ways to Save
Energy Saving Tips
And even more Energy Saving Tips
Thursday, July 30, 2015 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
It’s no secret that bees and other pollinators play an enormous role in our environment and ecosystem, but what exactly is pollination? According to Wikipedia, “Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma of the plant, thereby enabling fertilization and reproduction.” In other words, it is what allows a plant to flower or produce fruit, nuts or vegetables. Everything from celery to apples, to strawberries, melons and squash require pollination in order for food to be produced. Coffee is on the list too! What would happen without your morning coffee? With the decline in pollinators, a coffee-free world could become a reality.
Bees make more than just honey happen. And their numbers are declining. There are many thoughts as to why, but there are also lots of ways you can help save the bees, and other pollinators. Sometimes thought of as pests, bees, birds, bats, butterflies, moths and even flies are all considered pollinators. And it’s not that difficult to help save them!
Simple ways to help:
• Help create a habitat in your community. Even a tiny spot in your yard can be designated to be a bee or bird habitat.
• Plant native flowers and plants. Bees are not attracted to exotic species, so that bird of paradise on your deck won’t do them any good. Try planting lupines, echinacea, penstemon, Rocky Mountain bee plant, black eyed susans, elderberry or indian grass in your garden. The list is long of native plants that will grow in Colorado. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/Garden/07242.html
• Cluster plantings of native flowers together to ensure continuous blooms.
• Avoid pesticides and yard chemicals as much as possible! One possible theory of the disappearance of the honeybee is from neonicotinoids, which confuses the bees nervous system and they are unable to find their way back to their hive, and they drop dead from exhaustion. Other garden pesticides can affect bees and other pollinators too.
• Try organic pest control techniques. Handpick worms and caterpillars off your vegetables in the garden, plant marigolds or calendula to act as a deterrent, or use plain white vinegar as a weed killer (spray in the morning on a sunny day). Dishsoap or dishsoap with oil in water sprayed on plants helps with aphids and other bugs (do not use in direct sun). http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/xcm221.pdf
• Keep the garden healthy from the beginning! Strong plants will help attract beneficial bugs and detract from the bad. Rotate your crops so the soil can recover. Use compost to enhance the soil, not chemical synthetic fertilizers. (Be cheap and save your food scraps and make your own compost! Make Compost) Pull unhealthy or diseased plants out immediately.
• Provide shelter for the bees and other pollinators. They need shelter from the wind and adverse conditions near food sources, trees or ‘shelterbelts’. Old logs, old foliage from plants (wait until spring to clean up), open patches of dirt and even a simple block of untreated wood with holes drilled in it can be a new nest for a bee! Bee Nest
• Make sure there is water nearby too! Bird baths can be too deep, so add some marbles or rocks to it so bees, butterflies and baby birds can get a drink without drowning. Remember to fill daily! Honeybee Watering Station Butterfly Puddling
• Next spring, try sprouting your own seeds too. Too often plants from the big stores are loaded with pesticides that affect the bees. More stores are starting to change, so look for labels on the plant to see if it does, or doesn’t, contain neonicotinoids. There are also petitions on line to sign to encourage your favorite store to make its bee friendly plants really bee friendly!
• Shop your local farmers market and buy organic whenever possible. Both practices help protect the environment that we, and the pollinators, live in.
• Celebrate National Honeybee Day on August 15. Learn more about bees, honey, bee husbandry and more at your local farmers market, local beekeeper or www.nationalhoneybeeday.com.
Friday, May 1, 2015 | By Sahari McCormick | No Comments
When was the last time you stopped and contemplated what you are eating or where your food came from? In our fast food society we’ve become accustomed to food in a package that’s quick and easy. But is it all ‘food’? You know, something your grand or great-grandparents could identify? When was the last time you looked at the ingredient list? I’m not talking calories or fat content….look at the list of ingredients and how many multi-syllabic words that appear on it!
Just for a week, try a challenge for yourself. Try to eat foods without a label! And see how you feel! Do you think more clearly? Have more energy? Less stomach distress? Bet you do. And now that farmer’s markets are coming into full swing in Colorado, this challenge can become even easier.
Why go to a farmer’s market? Or grow your own food??
1: Eat local. The less your food has to travel to get to your plate, the more nutrients it will retain! It also cuts down on fossil fuel emissions as trucks won’t have to transport it as far, and it won’t have to be ultra packaged so it saves on waste also. Get connected to where your food came from!
2: Eat seasonal. Eating seasonally helps your body stay in touch with your environment. Eating seasonally available foods will help reconnect with the cycles of nature.
3: Local farmers. Supporting your local farmer means supporting a neighbor. It helps feed their family, it helps them compete in the food marketplace, it helps them keep prices low since they don’t need to package and ship it and involve a middleman, and you can talk directly to them and find out how they grow everything! Know where your food came from!
4: Variety. Seeing the bounty of local foods at a farmers market can inspire you to try something new!
5: Community. You’ll meet neighbors you didn’t know you had!
6: Save the bees! The plight of the honeybee needs to be taking center stage now, and farmers understand this. No bees means no food. Learn how to save the bees and buy locally responsibly harvested bee products at your local market!
7: Free advice. Many farmers markets offer cooking demos and recipe ideas. And who better to get garden advice from than a farmer themselves? or a master gardener?
8: Flavor. Ever eat a fresh picked green bean? Or a tomato fresh off the vine? You can’t compare that to something that’s been sitting in a supermarket for who knows how long…..fresh is best!
9: Local economy. Keep your money in your neighborhood! Stay local, eat local.
10: Fun. Try it out! A farmers market is FUN. Amazing smells, pretty produce, gorgeous flowers, fresh food, neighbors, music…it’s a feast for the senses. Search one out for yourself today!
Colorado Farmers Market Association
Why Shop a Farmers Market
Save the Bees