Sustainable Living is Not Trendy

If I hear one more time how “trendy” being “green” has become, I might explode. Wake up and smell the shade-grown-fairly-traded-coffee people.

Sustainable living is not trendy; it’s a thoughtful, responsible way to live. It’s not just about putting your plastic bottles in the recycling bin; it’s about realizing that you should avoid the plastic bottle all together. It’s about really thinking about your impact on your community, your city and your world.

The converse of living sustainably is living in a way that is depleting the very things we need to survive. We need clean water, clean air and healthy food for our continued existence on this planet. Currently, the worldwide population and global demand for these resources are both greater than ever.

I know it’s not always easy. I also know that it’s imperative to make the effort.

There are all sorts of complex issues that people a lot smarter than me debate ad nauseum. But I believe if you use your God-given common sense, you’ll get it right most of the time.

For example, would you use a product in your home when the label says it’s harmful to humans and animals? Common sense says no. The next time you pick up a canister of Clorox wipes, read the label. Not only does it warn that it’s harmful to humans and animals, the two ingredients listed, dimethyl benzyl ammonia chloride .145 per cent and dimethyl ethyl benzyl ammonia chloride, are pesticides.

Would you put lotion on your baby if you knew it contained a known carcinogen? The next time you reach for your favorite Johnson & Johnson baby care product, does it contain a lot of ingredients you’ve never heard of? According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic safety database, Johnson’s Baby Lotion Aloe Vera & Vitamin E contains ingredients that cause cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity and allergies, among other things. Take a look at all your cosmetics.

Common sense dictates if the product is harmful for my body then the health risks are prevalent throughout the life span of the product. So, the product isn’t just bad for me, it’s bad for the workers who manufacture it, the community that lives by the manufacturing facility and the environment.

Take polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl). The health risks of PVC are prevalent throughout the life span of this plastic. From the manufacturing process, the use and the disposal, PVC causes health risks for the communities near the chemical plants, our children and our environment.

“PVC plants are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color, making the production of PVC a major environmental justice concern. Communities surrounding vinyl chloride facilities suffer from groundwater and air pollution. In 1999, the federal government measured dioxins in blood samples taken from 28 residents who lived near PVC facilities in Louisiana. The testing revealed the average resident has three times more dioxin in his/her blood than the average U.S. citizen. Workers at PVC plants may face life-long health risks from exposure to cancer causing vinyl chloride and other hazardous chemicals used to make PVC. These health risks include angiosarcoma of the liver, lung cancer, brain cancer, lymphomas, leukemia, and liver cirrhosis.”

Source: Center for Health, Environment and Justice

I am all about Simple Tips for Green Living but I think we need to dig a little deeper and understand that we are all connected.  What we do locally affects someone else regionally. And that effect spreads nationally and, ultimately, internationally.

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