Author: Melanie

The Facts About Water: Part I

Pure Drinking Water

The most important part of any diet is pure water. Water is a major constituent of our body and we need to consume it daily just to stay alive. Proper water consumption provides multiple health benefits, however the water we drink must be pure if we are to receive those benefits without serious compromise.

Straight from the Tap

In the 1960’s, when we Baby Boomers were growing up, most Americans drank water straight from the tap. Public drinking fountains were ubiquitous and no one carried bottles of water around with them, as they do today. At that time many municipalities had long since been adding fluoride (an industrial waste byproduct from aluminum manufacturing) to their drinking water, since it had been touted as a preventive for tooth decay.

My mother, unlike most of her contemporaries, was well aware of the quality of  tap water, therefore it was not used as drinking water in our home. So what did we do for drinking water? I will tell you….. A large patented “water purifying stone” was placed in an approximately eight-gallon glass bottle of tap water. The bottle was then left for a prescribed period of time (usually several hours or overnight), during which the stone would draw many of the various contaminants and additives, including fluoride and chlorine, out of the tap water.

With all the pure water needed in our home for drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, and cooking and baking everything from scratch, this rather primitive procedure had to be carried out several times a week. Then, after a certain number of uses, the stone would need to be replaced. Looking back, I am amazed to think of how well we managed to deal with this process (kudos to my mother!), which at the time we accepted as a necessary part of life. Thankfully, by the time I was in my mid-teens, we had emerged from the “stone age” into the comparative ease and convenience of a counter-top filter. It was the most effective, reliable unit available at the time.

Today, the issue of mandatory government fluoridation of our drinking water is a controversial one. Many concerned parents and other citizens are speaking out against it. The American public is now largely aware that their tap water is loaded with microorganisms and toxins, including traces of dozens of pharmaceuticals (the U.S. government does not require drug testing of tap water or bottled water) and a long list of dangerous industrial chemicals. Glyphosate, for example, is the key ingredient in Roundup, Monsanto’s widely used broad-spectrum herbicide. Our home state of California allows 1,000 parts per billion of glyphosate in drinking water. That is 1,000 times more than a recent study has shown to proliferate the growth of breast cancer cells in women by 500% to 1300%.

With growing public concern over the safety of tap water, more and more people have turned to bottled water, believing that they are getting a healthy alternative. Unfortunately, however, in most cases bottled water is a poor choice. There have been several controversies over the years regarding various brands of bottled water not actually being what they are represented to be. In 1999, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published the results of a four-year study in which researchers tested more than 1,000 samples of 103 brands of bottled water. Despite advertising claims, the researchers found . . . .

 
 

Get Off the Bottle

With growing public concern over the safety of tap water, more and more people have turned to bottled water, believing that they are getting a healthy alternative. Unfortunately, however, in most cases bottled water is a poor choice. There have been several controversies over the years regarding various brands of bottled water not actually being what they are represented to be. In 1999, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published the results of a four-year study in which researchers tested more than 1,000 samples of 103 brands of bottled water. Despite advertising claims, the researchers found . . . .

“An estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle—sometimes further treated, sometimes not.”

So while there are companies that do provide a clean, high quality product, many do not meet their advertising claims or even an acceptable standard. Because bottled water is defined as a food, it comes under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whose requirements are not nearly as stringent as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates tap water. And yet, although the EPA and Congress regulate over 100 pollutants and 91 chemicals through the Safe Drinking Water Act, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson acknowledged when still in office that American water fails to meet public health goals, and water pollution law enforcement is unacceptably low.

Even the highest quality bottled waters are compromised by the plastic bottles that leach phthalate (a highly toxic synthetic substance commonly used to make plastics more flexible) into the water. Refilling and reusing plastic water bottles is an unwise practice, since the older the bottle gets, the more phthalate it leaches. Heat triggers the release of much more phthalate from the plastic into the water. It is impossible for the consumer to control the way their bottled water is handled before it reaches the supermarket shelves, but if you do drink bottled water, don’t store or leave it in a hot car, or sitting in direct sunlight, or you will surely end up drinking a very toxic cocktail. If you notice that your bottled water has a bitter taste, stop drinking it immediately. Then recycle–do not reuse–the bottle!That brings us to yet another serious issue with bottled water. So many people fail to recycle the empty bottles, which then become waste for the landfill, creating and exacerbating a major environmental problem.
 
 
That brings us to yet another serious issue with bottled water. So many people fail to recycle the empty bottles, which then become waste for the landfill, creating and exacerbating a major environmental problem.
 

Water Filtration

A high quality water filter is the best, most economical, and greenest answer to the need for pure drinking water. There are different types of filtration systems and the manufacturers should provide specs on exactly what contaminants each of their filters does and does not remove. I purchased an expensive unit in the late 1980’s from a highly reputable company that I have continued to deal with ever since. That filter, with proper maintenance, provided wonderful drinking water for twenty years, at which point technical advancements made replacement seem like a good idea. The system I use costs several hundred dollars to purchase, but can now be rented by the month (about $30 per month, after an initial installation fee), all parts and service included. I find renting to be the best option.

That brings us to yet another serious issue with bottled water. So many people fail to recycle the empty bottles, which then become waste for the landfill, creating and exacerbating a major environmental problem.

If you have been incurring the significant monthly expense of bottled water for drinking and cooking, consider investing in an effective, high quality filter from a reliable manufacturer. It will not only be much safer and far healthier for you and your family, it will also save you a lot of money.

Remember: Green Lifestyle Consultants offer referrals to reputable, reliable green service providers–those we know from personal experience have integrity and are on the cutting edge. We want our clients to feel confident and secure that when they spend their hard earned money, they are getting the best, most authentic green product and/or service available!  

Stay tuned for The Facts About Water: Part 2 . . .

The Big Air Filter in Your Home You Didn’t Even Know You Had

We all love the look and feel of clean carpets. It’s depressing to live with spots, stains, tracking, and flattened pile, and it certainly brings down the aesthetic atmosphere of a room. But did you know that your carpets and rugs provide more than a feeling of warmth and comfort, and softer acoustics? They also filter the air in your home.

We all love the look and feel of clean carpets. It’s depressing to live with spots, stains, tracking, and flattened pile, and it certainly brings down the aesthetic atmosphere of a room. But did you know that your carpets and rugs provide more than a feeling of warmth and comfort, and softer acoustics? They also filter the air in your home.

Indoor-generated  air pollution (a result of using toxic household or personal care products, cooking pesticide- and additive/preservative-laden foods, or even accidentally burning the organic toast or the organic dinner), as well as air pollution that enters your home through open windows and doors, and seeps in through cracks around closed windows and doors (fumes from lawn mowers and leaf blowers, toxic gardening products, vehicle exhaust, second-hand smoke, barbeque lighter fluid, fireplace smoke–especially from toxic manufactured logs, your neighbor’s toxic laundry product fragrances, etc.) is absorbed by your carpets and rugs, becoming trapped there. This process helps to clean your indoor air, that is until your carpets and rugs become saturated, at which point they stop absorbing and begin to emit those very same toxins back into the atmosphere of your home. Destination: your lungs!
 
A dirty carpet or rug is not just an eyesore. It’s toxic to you, and, by virtue of their being smaller and breathing in air that is closer to the floor, even more so to your children and your pets. Just as it is necessary to regularly replace a furnace filter, and to clean or replace the filter in an air conditioner, air purifier, or vacuum cleaner, we also need to keep our carpets and rugs clean, in order to maximize and maintain our indoor air quality. That brings us to the subject of how to get your carpets clean without the use of toxic carpet cleaning products, which would only compound the problem.
 
The carpet cleaning machines available for rental at supermarkets are a very poor choice. They are an inferior type of equipment and, unless never before used, are also loaded with residue from both the cleaning products and carpet contaminants from countless previous uses. Purchasing a brand new carpet steamer of your own offers the advantage of starting out with a residue-free machine, but these non-professional machines are not adequate to do a thorough job. While there are now many carpet cleaning businesses that claim to be environmentally safe, non-toxic, and effective, the only way to live up to that claim is to use only truly non-toxic, biodegradable products in equipment that is powerful enough to do the job properly.
 
A wet carpet or rug is a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria, as well as being a soil magnet. So even steam cleaning with a non-toxic product can be a problem, unless the equipment reaches and maintains a sufficiently high temperature during cleaning, and is powerful enough to efficiently pull out contaminants, as well as sucking out enough of the moisture to allow for quick drying. Only a high level of professional equipment meets that standard and most carpet cleaning businesses don’t invest in it.
 
And what about the latest dry carpet cleaning method? According to our eminently reliable green carpet cleaning source, the dry method is not all it’s cracked up to be.
 
We have had our carpets and rugs cleaned for almost thirty years by a local company that has been cleaning environmentally responsibly since 1968. They use the highest quality non-toxic products in the most powerful, state of the art carpet cleaning equipment available, regularly upgrading to meet the highest industry standard. They are sensitive to their customers’ environmental needs and concerns.

If you are a client of ours living in our local Greater Los Angeles area, green referrals are part of the service we provide. If not, do the research, ask questions, and try to find a carpet cleaning service in your area that meets an authentic green standard. But keep this in mind: It costs more to use non-toxic, bio-degradable products and top quality equipment, and that cost must necessarily be passed on to the customer. So if you get a low quote, or see an unbelievable special offer from a company that claims to be green, be very, VERY wary. 

As long as cheap, toxic options are available in everything from foods, personal care, and household products, to household services of all kinds, they will make the healthy options appear overpriced. But, as is usually the case with any product or service, you get the quality, integrity, and results you pay for.  If, like so many of us, you’re on a tight budget and have never put green-cleaning your carpets on your ‘necessities’ list, you might want to rethink your budget, if at all possible, to make it a priority.

Because most new carpeting has been treated with toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process, we also recommend having your brand new carpets cleaned as soon as possible after installation to significantly reduce the chemical residues. If affordable for you, there are also ways to prevent any further off-gassing of the chemical residues remaining in your carpets, which will otherwise continue to off-gas for years.

Of course, it’s best to have carpets and rugs that are made with eco-friendly materials, using eco-friendly methods…..but now I am drifting into an area that is a subject for a future post…….

Are Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Really a Green Choice?

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CLF) do save a lot of energy, but, considering the health risks, are they an authentic choice for a green lifestyle?

CFLs contain mercury, which poses a significant cancer risk. If a CFL is broken, mercury is released into the atmosphere requiring special cleanup to protect the skin and, even more importantly, the lungs.  The EPA emphatically states that the amount of mercury is comparatively very small–too small to pose a risk even if released. However, it is required that CFLs be disposed of as hazardous waste. We are not allowed to just toss them in our own trash or recycle bins, yet many people don’t even pay attention to this regulation because of the sheer inconvenience.

In addition, scientific studies have recently found CFLs to emit high levels of ultraviolet radiation—specifically, UVC and UVA rays. In fact, the UV rays are so strong that they can actually burn skin and skin cells. In every bulb the researchers tested, they found that the protective phosphor coating of the light bulb was cracked, allowing dangerous UV rays to escape. Experts say the radiation could initiate cell death and cause melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers. The study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFLs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation. It was also found that incandescent light of the same intensity had no effect on healthy skin cells.

The researchers urged that consumers be careful when using compact fluorescent light bulbs, stating that their research showed it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover. The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, was a collaboration of Stony Brook University and New York State Stem Cell Science (NYSTEM).  

As we teach and strongly emphasize, there is more to a green lifestyle than saving energy. An authentic green solution does not involve proven health risks to oneself and family, nor does it support the environment in one way while threatening it in another.

LED bulbs are clearly a greener option than CFLs. They are also much pricier, but have a very long life.

We have used broad spectrum bulbs for years. They mimic natural daylight, coming as close as possible without the UV rays emitted by full spectrum bulbs. They cost a few dollars each, but also have a very long life. We’ve only had to replace them once every couple of years or so.