A Healthy Environment for a Healthy You!

earth on paper with pencil and eraser

A Healthy Environment for a Healthy You!

Even if you don’t believe in the theories about how global warming will affect our planet, there’s just no denying that we humans are leaving a huge impact on our world. And, as a naturopath, I’m learning more and more that the impact we have on our world conversely has a tremendous impact on our health.
I thought it fitting that this month’s newsletter focus on a few simple measures you can take to decrease your “carbon footprint” on the earth… And if making our world a better place to live is not incentive enough, minimizing the impact of pollution on your health should be!

Change your lightbulbs:
Consider changing your regular incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) which last several years longer and use only one quarter of the electricity as compared to regular bulbs. Although they are more expensive than conventional bulbs, and they require proper disposal since they contain mercury, they are certainly a “green option” that is relatively painless to institute.

Change the way you wash:
In our cleanliness-obsessed society, we wash everything even when it’s not dirty. Since the average load of laundry in a machine uses 40 gallons of water and washing and drying contributes significantly to the carbon emissions of the average home, consider doing one fewer load a week. In addition, use warm or cold water if you can. Run one large load of laundry instead of many small loads. Now that it’s warm, dry your clothes the old-fashioned way; on a clothes line. If you must use the dryer, remember to clear the link filter before every use to improve the efficiency of your dryer. Also, use the dishwasher only when it’s full. And, consider upgrading your washer, dryer, and dishwasher to more energy efficient models. Finally, turn off the tap while you soap up your dishes, brush you teeth, or shave.

Heat and cool your house efficiently:
Set a programmable thermostat to adjust heat and air conditioning according to your daily activity patterns (for example, lower the heat and AC at night or when you’re out for the day). You can also save money and reduce energy and carbon emissions by turning your thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in summer. Make sure that you house is well-insulated (weather-strip or consider replacing leaky doors and windows). One more thing: lower the temperature of your water heater a couple of degrees and use an insulated blanket to prevent heat loss from the water heater; you’ll save on electricity and you won’t feel the difference in your shower or bath.

Skip the excess packaging and paper:
Plastic can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade and contributes to harmful greenhouse gasses. So, take along your own bags to the grocery store. Drop off those bags you’ve been saving but never use at your to your grocery store to recycle. Also, avoid buying products with excess packaging. For example, buy large containers of applesauce and package it in reusable containers for your lunch. Let your vegetables roll around in the cart (you don’t need a bag for the lone avocado you bought). Give back extra napkins or ketchup packets you get at your favorite take out. Bring your own mug to Starbucks. Also, cut down on the junk-mail you receive by going to www.ftc.gov to remove yourself from marketing lists. Pay your bills online and save on paper (and the cost of a stamp)!

Get a water filter:
Bottled water is not necessarily cleaner or healthier. Water is heavy and transporting and bottling it has a definite impact on the environment. In addition, those plastic bottles we so readily throw away also fill our landfills. Consider a water filtration system so that you can use your local water. I recommend the brand Aquasauna which filters impurities and needs replacing only once every six months!

Turn it off when not in use:
Not only is it costly to your wallet, but it’s costly to our planet to leave electrical appliances on “stand-by mode”. Turn off your computer, TV, DVR, printer, and stereo when not in use. Turn off the light when you leave the room. If you have a hard time remembering, use an automatic timer switch for some of your electrical appliances and lights.

When getting around:
Walk or ride your bike if it’s at all an option. If not, use public transportation or, at least car pool. Cut down your trips to the grocery store by planning ahead. Don’t idle in traffic; if you’re in a jam, turn the engine off. Give your engine a tune-up (it can improve gas mileage by 4% or more) and make sure your tires are properly inflated. Avoid speeding, fast acceleration, and hard braking which waste gas.

The bottom line: we can all do small, but significant things, in our every day lives, to reduce our impact on this world… Start small and know that every step you take will make a difference to your world and the world in which your children and grandchildren grow up.

Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment. You are free to use the information in this newsletter or pass it on to others, but please keep it intact and credit it to Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND.

Dr. Leat Kuzniar ND
Dr. Leat Kuzniar ND

Dr. Kuzniar is a board member of the New Jersey Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is also a member of the Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians. She currently holds a State of Vermont Naturopathic Physician license (as New Jersey does not yet offer licensing for Naturopathic doctors).