Viewing entries tagged
environment

GREEN LIVING WITH BUILDING BIOLOGY

GREEN LIVING WITH BUILDING BIOLOGY

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Wellness is more than absence of disease, and a healthy home that truly nurtures one’s health is far more than a clean house with 5 star energy rating.

Our homes are a reflection of who we are. Every area of our lifestyles – what we eat, drink, touch, wear, what we use to build, clean and furnish our homes – is directly linked to our state of health and wellbeing.

Current research has shown strong environmental links to many prominent health issues including:

- Allergies -   Asthma and respiratory problems

- Recurrent colds and flu -   Depression and anxiety

- Headaches and migraines -   Insomnia and sleep disturbances

- Electrical sensitivity -   Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

- Chronic fatigue -   Autoimmune diseases

- Eczema and dermatitis -   Learning and behavioural problems

- Many forms of cancers -   Hormonal problems and infertility

According to Building Biologist Nicole Bijlsma, author of best-selling book Healthy Home, Healthy Family ‘in the past 30 years childhood allergies have increased by 400%, 1 in 4 children have asthma, breast cancer has more than doubled, sperm count has dropped by 50% and there is a 400% increase in testicular cancer’.

Could your home or workplace be making you sick? The unfortunate truth is yes. Read more about the top sources of indoor pollution here.

What is Building Biology?

Building Biology is a field of work promoting the use of healthy building principles to improve living and work spaces and the health of people who occupy them.

Post World War II, houses and buildings were erected quickly and cheaply as a means to rebuild Germany. After many people living and working in these houses and buildings soon became noticeably ill, and it was discovered that commonly used building materials and certain methods of construction were causing these health problems, now commonly known as ‘Sick Building Syndrome’. Sufferers commonly notice changes to their symptoms and health when moving from one building to another, and often symptoms improve when away from home or work.

Building Biologists address the home as a living organism, considering the home as the ‘third skin’- the second being our clothing. Building Biologists investigate potential health hazards in the built and surrounding environments, addressing factors like;

♣ electromagnetic radiation from nearby power lines, phone towers, smart meters, WIFI, household appliances and building wiring;

♣ poor indoor air quality from dust and mites, allergens, poor ventilation, heating and cooling systems, airborne germs, pollens, grasses and toxic mould

♣ household chemical exposure from cleaning and personal care products, fragrance and perfumes in air fresheners, pesticides and toxic off-gassing from synthetic furnishings, carpets and building materials.

♣ Water quality, proper building design, non-toxic and eco-friendly materials.

The problems created by “sick buildings” are complex, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed!

Check out next months blog for the top ways to curb indoor pollution in your home or workplace.


Bree Fisher   Building Biologist & Green Living Guru  BHSc (Naturopathy) Cert IV (Building Biology)

Bree Fisher

Building Biologist & Green Living Guru

BHSc (Naturopathy) Cert IV (Building Biology)


 
 

Zero Waste: Four Ways to Reduce Your “Garbage Footprint”

Zero Waste: Four Ways to Reduce Your “Garbage Footprint”

The problem with garbage is that it may be carted out of sight, but it’s certainly not disappearing. Reduce the amount you’re contributing with a few tricks to produce less waste in the first place. Between reducing the amount of rubbish you make and being sure you reuse and recycle the rest, you can make a difference. Plus, you may find that reducing your waste footprint can also be great for your bank account!

Invest in fewer higher-quality clothes and shoes

The cost of fast-fashion is huge. Besides the sweatshop labour, most of these clothes and shoes are so cheaply made that they can end up in the bin after only being worn a dozen times! This can add up to a huge amount of ‘stuff’ being disposed of in landfill every year. Try a “less-is-more” approach: avoid monthly trips to low quality fashion stores in favour of a few higher-quality, sustainably-produced staple pieces. There are now a number of clothing and shoe brands made right here in Australia that not only eliminate sweatshop labour, but boost local economies. Even if you must invest a little more up front, your clothes won’t fall apart after a few washings (bonus: you may find your closet less-stuffed). If you must get your shopping fix, check out consignment or second-hand stores - besides finding unique items, you may even save money in the process!

Reduce consumption of plastic containers and bottles

All of those takeaway containers and bottled drinks add up. Even if you recycle everything after using it, the recycling process itself requires plenty of water and energy. You can save money, trim your waistline and help the Earth by bringing more of your own food to school or work. When you’re at the grocery store, always look for products with the least amount of packaging and see if there’s a bulk-foods store near you. If reducing package waste isn’t reason enough for you, perhaps money is; buying in bulk is almost always cheaper.

Compost food scraps

Keeping food scraps out of the garbage has several benefits. Besides lowering the total volume of rubbish you’re producing, your kitchen scraps can be put to work! When done properly, composting produces rich black soil that will make your garden plants stronger and healthier. Talk to an expert to learn how to properly set up your compost station. When done correctly, it provides an odour-free way to dispose of all plant-based kitchen scraps (to keep the stink out, meat and dairy byproducts are a no-no). Compost also keeps dry leaves and cut grass from the lawn out of the garbage heap too.  Another feel-good benefit of compost is that the process actually fixes carbon out of the atmosphere, shrinking your total carbon footprint. Even if you live in an apartment without a garden, municipal composting may be available in your area.

Make sure you properly recycle electronics

Electronic waste is some of the most environmentally damaging stuff we produce. Keep old TVs, computer screens and phones out of the landfill by practising proper recycling techniques. Occasionally (but not always), you may have to pay a small fee, but you can make this up with some of the other money-saving tips in this list. A little bit of cash is a small price to pay to: 1) reduce the seepage of heavy metals into the ground and water and 2) reduce the demand for materials like copper to be freshly strip-mined.

As more and more people becoming environmentally conscious, the “zero waste” movement continues to grow. Do your own research and see how you can help do your little bit – who knows, you might even start your own movement!  

Author: Natalie Millis

Author: Natalie Millis

 

Seven Environmental Documentaries to Watch Now

Seven Environmental Documentaries to Watch Now

For all the curious Earth and nature-lovers out there, here’s a list of fantastic films that showcase the wonder of our world while discussing some of the most important issues of our times, and - perhaps most importantly - what can still be done. If you don’t already have a good reason to start practising a more eco-friendly lifestyle, you may find it on this list.

Blue, Directed by Karina Holden

Named for the way our planet looks from space, this documentary is about the most important life-giving force on earth: namely, our oceans. What once was imagined to be a vast, inexhaustible resource is now starting to show the strain of half a century of widespread industrial fishing and pollution. Exactly how much trouble are our oceans in and what can be done to avert a total collapse? Watch this startling film to find out.

Chasing Coral, Directed by Jeff Orlowski

Coral is the “rainforest” of the ocean: a place where some of the highest number of species exist together. Just like the Amazon, our planet’s corals are also in serious peril. This movie doesn’t just talk about the bleaching of the Great Barrier reef, however: it also captures the jaw-dropping beauty of these spots and offers the possibility that it might not be too late to save our corals.

Plastic China, Directed by Jiuliang Wang

This shocking story follows a family living next to a plastics recycling plant in China. With vivid imagery, you’ll see just how much of this stuff we’re dealing with not only in China, but on Earth as a whole. Spoiler alert: it’s not going away any time soon.

The Age of Consequences, Directed by Jared P. Scott

If you know people who won’t change their ways with traditional arguments about climate change, this might be the documentary to show them. Featuring political leaders like Madeline Albright, the story focuses on the politically and economically destabilising consequences of extreme weather and other by-products of climate change. The spectre of mass migration and war is just one of the reasons provided by this film for all of us to take action before it’s too late.  

The True Cost, Directed by Andrew Morgan

How do fast-fashion powerhouses like H&M get their clothes to stores so cheaply? While many of us may have a vague idea about “sweatshops”, this doco takes the viewer on an unflinching journey through the lifespan of trendy clothes. Follow this season’s fashions from the runway through your closet and finally into the rubbish bin. Watch it and you may never be able to enter a cheap clothing store without thinking about the dark side to our throwaway clothing culture.

Before the Flood, Directed by Fisher Stevens

If you want eyewitness testimony to how climate change is affecting every corner of the globe, look no further than this timely documentary. Possibly most famous because it was produced by US film superstar Leonardo DiCaprio, the film deserves to be taken seriously on its own merits. The footage took over three years to film across dozens of countries. Besides discussing the problem, Before the Flood also does something crucial: it outlines concrete steps that can be taken to help build the social and political will it will take to avert climate disaster.

The Breakthrough in Renewable Energy, Directed by Martijn Kieft

Although it’s not exactly creatively titled, if you’re looking for something with a slightly more upcast tone, this doco by Netherlands group is a great way to end this list. It’s all about the growing viability of renewable energy. You see, the main barrier - that of economic cost - is finally shifting away from traditional non-renewables like coal and gas and politicians are taking notice! Among other nations, Australia’s journey towards a more earth-friendly tomorrow is featured.  

Author: Natalie Millis

Author: Natalie Millis