What scares you? 4 tips to soothe enviro-fears

pregnantThis Halloween, two OEC staff are pregnant with a first child and another has embarked on the process of adopting an infant. For these parents-to-be, talking about the “silent epidemic” of toxic chemicals in daily life or the weather extremes of climate change can be scarier than a haunted house.

But to protect our health, we also need to protect ourselves from too much stress! Being “haunted” by environmental worries is not good for parents, babies, or for anyone. So, in the spirit of treats rather than tricks, here are some ghost-busting tips to help you stop worrying and take control.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 11.23.28 AMWe’ve selected worry-free tips based on three plasma streams of power:

  • No money worries: these tips are cheap or free
  • No trade-offs: these tips address water, climate and toxics all at once
  • No going it alone:  as you embark on practicing these tips, rest assured that OEC is working alongside you on solutions across the state that we hope will lead the nation.

Tip one: Go fragrance-free

trickortreatWhy: The “fragrance” in cleaning and personal care products may contain any of more than a thousand different chemicals—and none are listed on the label. Some of those chemicals can trigger allergies or asthma, interfere with hormones, or “sensitize” you over time to develop skin or respiratory problems. Many of these chemicals are derived from fossil fuels; others are chemicals of concern to healthy rivers and streams.

What: Go fragrance-free when you can. If you need a place to start, giving up air fresheners and dryer sheets can make a big difference (Check out these DIY natural air fresheners).

OEC is helping: we encourage early childhood education centers to adopt fragrance-free policies, and are working with big purchasers to insist that their suppliers use safer ingredients.

Tip two: Shed your shoes indoors

shoesWhy: As you take those first four steps in through the front door, nearly all of the “stuff” on your shoes comes off: street smut that can include heavy metals, pesticides and more.

What: You can avoid exposing your family simply by wiping your shoes or taking shoes off at the front door. It’s good for your health and your floors will need scrubbing less often, saving you water and energy.

OEC is helping: OEC works with city planners on the design of water-filtering features that act as  “door mats” of a sort to keep toxic run-off from pavement out of our waterways.

Tip three: Let the kids skip a shower

Why: Dermatologists say it’s better for our health, especially for sensitive young skin, to shower less than daily. You’ll save water, get less exposure to any chemicals in personal care products, and send less of those chemicals down the drain to waterways. Delivering clean, hot water takes power; less water means less energy.

What: If the kids or spouse or even you don’t relish a shower, skip it. Consider a sponge or washrag refresher as an compromise.

OEC is helping: At OEC, we developed a program to help nursery owners share their best water-saving and other efficiency practices.

Tip four: Plug in to the power of the strip

vampireWhy: “Vampire” appliances are all those TVs, entertainment systems, coffee makers, printers, cell phone chargers and other devices that suck power even when they’re not in use. These “always on” appliances cost Americans $19 billion a year according to PG&E!

What: If you plug them into a power strip, you can get in the habit of cutting the power when you’re not using them. Saving energy also means less toxic pollution from fossil fuels—better for our waterways and our health.

OEC is helping: Did you know that a third of Oregon’s electricity still comes from burning coal? OEC is working with Renew Oregon on a ballot measure that would transition our state to cleaner sources.

Bonus tip: Read more about Halloween candy made with deforestation-free palm oil, and feel good about your efforts to protect tropical forests: the “lungs” of our planet!
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