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POLLUTANTS ARE DESTROYING OUR PLANET & OUR HEALTH…WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

POLLUTANTS ARE DESTROYING OUR PLANET & OUR HEALTH…WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

Unless you never listen to the news, pick up a magazine, or scroll though social media, you are likely to be aware of the many environmental issues faced by our society. From global warming and acid rain to climate change and plastic pollution…and sadly, the list seems to be growing all the time.

On a more positive note, awareness is growing too, and this is an absolute MUST in the world we live in.

 

A DOUBLE-EDGED ISSUE

The problem is surely twofold. On the one hand we are watching our planet’s decline as natural resources are increasingly depleted:

“Over the last few decades, the exploitation of our planet and degradation of our environment have gone up at an alarming rate…our actions have been not in favor of protecting this planet…”

On the other hand, these changes also have an immediate effect on our own health. “Stress” is a huge factor in modern living: whilst some of this is due to factors such as work ethics and the monumental influence of technology, environmental stressors also play an increasingly large role:

“Environmental stress refers to how people or animals respond to physical, chemical and biological features of their environment. These stressors may include exposure to natural disasters, electromagnetic radiation, pollution, climate change, or noise. They can be pathogens that invade the body, causing a stress response, or features of your workplace like an uncomfortable chair. Whether one-time or long-term, environmental stressors cause strain on the body and mind.”

So surely we should be tackling this as a double-edged issue, and should be doing absolutely all that we can to protect both the future of our planet AND ourselves?

 

 

WHAT EXACTLY ARE THESE STRESSORS?

Actually listing the environmental stressors that are regularly affecting us paints a glum picture:

  • climate stress
  • air pollution
  • chemical stressors
  • plastic pollution
  • energetic stress
  • ergonomic stress
  • biological stress

CLIMATE STRESS may refer to those changes that only last for a season, or to an overall shift such as global climate change.

AIR POLLUTION is caused chiefly by the burning of fossil fuels. Pollution emitted from vehicles produces vast problems in this area.

CHEMICAL STRESSORS affect us on many different levels: the remains of pesticides found on our foods, ingestion of antibiotics, and chemicals found in cosmetics, air fresheners and cleaning products all contribute to chemical overload within our (already stressed) bodies.

PLASTIC POLLUTION is frighteningly abundant. Plastic is affordable and remarkably strong: it is a hugely prevalent, ever constant image in our “disposable” society. It is estimated that 500 billion plastic bags are used globally every year…

“whenever they are disposed, [plastics] take hundreds of years to decompose and their continued stay in the environment does great harm. When burnt, [plastic] pollutes the air, when disposed in the landfills it causes land pollution, and when dumped into the water it pollutes the waters”.

ERGONOMIC STRESS increases as our weekly working hours continue to go up. Endless hours sitting at a desk in front of a computer, over-doing manual work, too little physical exercise and bad posture all contribute.

ENERGETIC STRESS is caused by the various different wavelengths we are subjected to, from exposure to mobile telephones to use of microwave ovens…

“invisible but very real, energetic stressors can cause disturbances to the body and mind. The earth contains many different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that travel through time and space…all of these invisible rays can have an impact on our health and well being. 

BIOLOGICAL STRESS refers to any illness or allergic reaction we may encounter. As the years go by, it seems these are increasing, from incidences of eczema to a vastly increasing list of autoimmune conditions. Could this be a result of our body trying to fight the many other environmental stressors it faces?

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

In a generalised conversation about the welfare of our planet, it can seem incredibly daunting to try to do ANYTHING to better the situation. The facts are grim, and can seem insurmountable…

 

 

If however we break things down, and we realise that some of the above issues in fact overlap, then we can start to explore what simple changes we might make on a day to day level…

 

10 TIPS TO PROTECT BOTH YOUR PLANET AND YOURSELF:

1. Conserve energy: unplug electronic devices when you’re not using them; use warm (not hot) water for washing; use energy efficient light bulbs; consider replacing household appliances with more energy efficient models.

2. Reduce petrol pollution: walk or cycle to avoid using petrol consuming vehicles; at the very least use buses or trains to reduce petrol emissions from endless cars.

3. Avoid plastics: utilise reusable or recyclable packaging wherever possible; try (reusable) fabric bags for shopping; use paper straws; purchase a re-usable non-plastic water bottle; avoid plastic based wraps such as “Clingfilm” (which can leak toxins straight into our food). Click here for a great reusable, biodegradable, chemical-free food wrap.

4. Eat natural, organic foods as much as possible: this will reduce exposure to pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Some studies also suggest that organic foods have higher levels of omega 3 fats, antioxidants and minerals.

“Scientists theorize that when plants aren’t coated in chemicals to help fight off pests and insects, they develop stronger compounds to protect themselves”.

By ingesting these foods we too will benefit from these disease fighting compounds, and therefore be in a better position to stave off environmental stressors.

5. Check labelling for presence of (plastic) microbeads: these are typically found in shower gels, exfoliators, toothpaste, cleaning products. The tiny plastic particles:

“can have a damaging effect on marine life, the environment and human health…due to their composition, ability to absorb toxins and potential to transfer up the marine food chain”.

[It is reassuring to know that since recent revisions in the UK, legislation has banned the use of plastic microbeads in the manufacture of some cosmetic and personal care products. Click here for more]

6. Aim to use NATURAL cosmetics: always try for those which don’t include chemical “nasties”. Take a moment to consider how many cosmetics you and your family use daily to realise the true power of this one, and consider how everyone of these is absorbed into the body. Cosmetic labelling is nowhere near as well regulated as food labelling, so it can be very confusing. Click here to access a simple and reliable chart of recommended natural products.

 

7. Avoid chemically fragranced products: body sprays and air fresheners are often rich in chemicals. Aim instead for natural fragrances such as essential oils, which actually provide health benefits. Also be aware of scented candles, some of which:

“produce smoke laced with almost as many toxins as those produced by cigarettes”.

Click here to learn more about the potential health risks connected to candles.

8. Consciously reduce “screen time” for all the family: aside from the impact on our mental health, theories on “energetic stress” are increasingly worrying. Studies suggest that constant exposure to the radio-frequency waves emitted by mobile phone radiation may be hugely detrimental to our health. Click here for my Top Tips to Detox from Tech.

9. Think posture, posture, posture: aside from creating muscular aches and pains, postural mal-alignment can be detrimental to digestion and respiration, and can even enhance chances of cardiovascular disease.

10. Let nature be your doctor: taking care of both physical and mental health by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and putting in place those stress management techniques which are relevant to you will minimise the need for (often chemically laden) antibiotics and medicines as you allow your body to live as it is supposed to.

 

OUR HEALTH AND THAT OF THE PLANET…

In terms of our own health, this last one is perhaps the most important message. The closer we adhere to the sort of life we were designed to live, the more able we will be to deal with those toxins that do creep in. Our bodies are meant to be constantly “detox”–ing, but in today’s society – where the overload of chemical stressors is rising day by day – our organs often don’t operate as efficiently as they should, and so struggle to rid themselves of these toxic substances.

Meanwhile, in terms of the wider issue of our planet, isn’t it time to sit back and take a good look at ourselves and the world we live in – the world we are creating for our children and grandchildren? By selecting  just one of the above pollutants, we can see the sheer enormity of the problem. Plastic waste is choking our oceans and is releasing toxic chemicals into our soil and into our air. Wildlife on both sea and land are affected by this constant flow of pollution from a vast array of plastic materials that many of us use daily: by default, we – and our children –  are suffering too.

There are so, so many small ways in which we can help, and even if each of those makes just a tiny difference, we have to hang on to the hope that a small effort from each and every one of us on this beautiful planet will be the start point for saving both the planet and ourselves.

 

ARE WE SUFFERING FROM A TECH OVERLOAD?

ARE WE SUFFERING FROM A TECH OVERLOAD?

Are you surgically attached to your phone? Or maybe it’s your kids that are? Does the sound of the Play Station or Xbox ring in your ears just a little too much? Are you physically able to ignore the “ping” or “whoosh” of a new email landing in your inbox?

We’ve all been there. Sitting in a meeting you sense your phone vibrate & feel the frustration of knowing you can’t look at it…yet. Standing in a queue, a little bored, you pull out your phone to fill those few spare moments (during which you could have actually switched OFF instead of logging ON…). Whether your “thing” is social media, Candy Crush or podcasts, the common thread is there: we simply can’t do without tech! Or can we?

 

TECH: GOOD OR BAD?

We all know that there are massive advantages to technological advances in so many areas of our lives, but we must also be aware that the new digital world holds threats as well as benefits. A couple of years ago many people would have brushed this conversation aside, but today we have become SO tech dependent that most of us are at least a little concerned…

We are so attached to our tech, and so permanently “wired” (which, let’s remember, wasn’t even in the dictionary a few decades ago) that it’s easy to forget how not to be wired. We have simply become massively tech dependent:

  • we use our mobile phones, ipods, laptops, tablets, pc’s daily
  • we rarely travel without our satnav
  • we rarely shop in a shop: it’s all online
  • we’ve forgotten how to look up something in an encyclopaedia: it’s just so much faster on Google
  • God forbid we’d write a letter!! Emails are so much quicker

 

 

Don’t get me wrong: technology has allowed us to move forwards in leaps and bounds in endless ways, and it can be absolutely fabulous on many levels. But we really do live in a “one-click-society”, and it is taking its toll on both our mental & our physical wellness…

  • When we used to read maps, we had to use our brain to decipher & analyse. We had to be creative, & we had to utilise spatial orientation
  • When we used to shop at the supermarket, we often walked long distances up and down aisles with a shopping trolley (a mini cardio workout), & then we would carry several heavy bags at least as far as the car, & sometimes much further (muscle strengthening)
  • When we used dictionaries & encylopaedias we actually had to know the alphabet!!!
  • When we used to write letters, we had to use spelling, punctuation and grammar – now “Word” does it all for us

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF “CONNECTION”

And through all of this we & our children are slowly losing our ability to understand the real, tangible world around us…

We are also losing our ability to understand each other. We evolved to be tribal creatures: we lived in large groups and were naturally social creatures. (It is interesting to note that being forced into social isolation actually invokes our fight or flight mode as the brain recognises loneliness as a threat). Research actually shows that stress hormone levels tend to be higher in lonely people, and yet our “social” side today is oh too often engrossed in “social” media…which is anything but sociable.

We need to embrace tech and all it can offer us, but if we are also to maintain true “wellness” then we have to find a way to temper & to balance our use of it. [If you would like to download my “10 Tips To De-Tox From Tech”  click here].To top it all off, it IS addictive: social media & emails create an anticipation loop whereby we are eagerly awaiting the next “ping”. Most of the time, the awaited email doesn’t live up to our expectations, which then causes a dopamine dip, hence the dopamine loop:

anticipation > dopamine release > reality > dopamine dips > anticipation……& so on

All of this leads to anxiety.

Incidentally, the ‘Gaming Loop’ when our kids are waiting for the next “skin” on Fortnite is very similar…

 

 

Enough doom & gloom! There has to be a way out, yes? Let’s hope so…

 

OUR “MODERN” WORLD: PROGRESSION OR REGRESSION?

One of the less discussed aspects of this tech revolution is that the sheer speed at which things have moved forwards in technology just cannot be matched by man’s natural, linear ability to change. The rate of progression in tech is simply off the scale (90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years) & we just can’t keep up with that.

This, I believe, holds some of the answers. As science & electronics race ahead of us they remind us how primitive we still are in many ways, which suggests to me that we should embrace this. I firmly believe that many of the ‘old school’ habits & rituals that are fast becoming popular are doing so in reaction to this technological surge forwards that we just can’t match.

  • Meditation & mindfulness are now “in”: some of the earliest written evidence of meditation was in 1500 BC
  • The Paleo Diet is now very “hip”: it harks back to our primitive habits as hunter gatherers (believed to have originated some 1.8 million years ago)
  • Essential oils inhabit the modern mum’s medicine cabinet as natural remedies: they were used by ancient Egyptians, Greeks & Romans

 

 

GOING BACKWARDS TO MOVE FORWARDS

So what’s the solution? I think we need to move backwards to counterbalance the surge forwards: to utilise time tested rituals as our antidote to this modern world we live in.

  • If we become MINDFUL of our phones, we can consciously stop & think “would it be so terrible if I don’t open that text straight away?”
  • If we embrace the HUNTER GATHERER philosophy and habits our bodies will be so much better able to cope with the stress that tech (& plenty of other 21st century habits) provoke
  • If we take our shopping experiences back INTO THE SHOPS we will enjoy a tangible experience not a virtual one, and are more likely to be awake to (or mindful of) what we actually buy
  • If we are genuinely SOCIABLE with each other (rather than totally socially isolated on social media) we will make a move back towards tribal times & those healthy habits that genuinely heal body & mind…

 

Bill Gates said:

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”

Personally, I prefer Isaac Asimov’s view:

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom”

To me, the message remains the same: we NEED an antidote to tech, and at the risk of “over-quoting”…

 

 

If you feel it’s time to take action & do something about your own “tech habit” (or someone else’s), then do download my “10 Tips To De-Tox From Tech”: a highly actionable guide which provides a step-by-step process by which to get on top of digital dependence. 

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