SPONSORED BY Dr. Bronner’s
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“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
-Jane Goodall, primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace
We shape where we live just as much as it shapes us. Our home is a reflection of who we are, who we aspire to be, and what we value in our lives.
Think about your room. Maybe you have photos strung on the wall capturing precious moments. Maybe the way you line your shelves offers insight into your hobbies and passions. Even the color scheme in your room reflects your individual taste and style. Consider your furnishings, your bedding, the products you clean with – what’s the story you are telling through your belongings in your space? And how does your personal space impact your well being and that of the planet?
Here are a few things to think
Your bed: “We spend approximately eight hours a night sleeping—almost one-third of our lives. As we sleep, our bodies heal, rest, and rejuvenate. But our mattresses and bedding can contain toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems, adding unnecessary work to the task of rejuvenation and potentially limiting the body’s innate ability to preserve our health.” ~Madesafe.org
Your cleaning products: Cleaning may not be fun, but it’s even worse when the ingredients in your products leave harmful chemical residue in place of dirt and grime. “Certain chemicals in cleaning products have been linked to fertility problems, birth defects, increased risk of breast cancer, asthma and respiratory disorders, and hormone disruption. What’s more, there is no federal law requiring cleaning product companies to list all the ingredients in their products on the label. Products you clean your home with shouldn’t contain toxic ingredients in the first place.” ~Women’s Voices for the Earth
Your furnishings: Something else we might not think about is our furniture, what we use to decorate our homes or dorms. Furniture coverings, paint and even air fresheners contain VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals) like cleaning products. What’s more, furniture foam, and carpet padding contain flame retardants like TDCIPP and (PDE’s) Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (unless you live in San Francisco, which was the first city to restrict flame retardants). Exposure to these harmful chemicals are linked to cancer, reproductive and nervous system issues and thyroid problems.
On a more optimistic note, you can start taking steps to make your home a more sustainable and non-toxic place. To make our living space sustainable, we need to call on our creativity to rethink the status quo. And today, that’s exactly what we want to challenge you to do.
Taking responsibility for the space we live in prompts us to reconsider how we influence the other environments we operate in. If everyone transforms the way we structure our individual homes, it will add up to form a broader mosaic of buildings and communities that are designed to promote an environmentally and socially responsible way of life. Doesn’t that sound like a worthy goal to strive towards?
Note: Here is a resource page from Humboldt State University’s residential life office that might inspire you on your campus!
Let’s start with the place you spend most of your time, your bed! Whether sleeping, studying, reading, or hanging out, we spend about 25 years of our lives in our beds. Yet, there are harmful toxins hiding in conventional mattresses and bedding that emit gases over time, releasing dangerous chemicals into your body and the air. Not to mention, sleeping on bedding made with conventionally grown cotton or synthetics like polyester increases your chemical exposure further. Though conventional cotton only accounts for 2.4% of the world’s cropland, it is responsible for 24% of global pesticide use. Conversely, organic cotton is grown without pesticides or herbicides and is not genetically modified.
Start to think about your bedtime routine and how you might reimagine it once you become an informed consumer.
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Minimalism is a lifestyle that is growing in popularity all over the world. Contrary to what some may believe, minimalism is not about being in scarcity – it’s simply about keeping and purchasing only what adds value to your life, and making space for other things that are meaningful to you, like experiences and relationships. If what you own doesn’t serve a purpose or make you happy, it’s worth re-thinking its place in your life.
So how is minimalism good for the planet? For one, finding joy in fewer items in a world seemingly dedicated to consumerism can substantially slow climate change. According to a study published in the Journal in Industrial Ecology, what people purchase is responsible for up to 60% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Secondly, by being a conscious consumer and thinking about what you really need in your life, you will naturally consume less, preserving earth’s finite and precious resources. Thirdly, you will be mindful of your purchases, investing in good quality, socially- and environmentally-responsible products that can serve you for a long time. For example, you might want to discard the cleaning products that are harmful (do so through the local hazardous waste drop off in your community – see here for more info) and keep a multi-purpose castile soap, like the one from our partner Dr Bronner’s or make one yourself. One simple lifestyle change can have such a profound impact on your life, mindset and the world.
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In 1976 a bill was passed called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to protect people and planet from harmful chemical exposures. Yet, some 62,000 toxins escaped testing and most can still be found on the market. Since 1976, over 22,000 chemicals have been introduced without any testing for public or environmental safety.
Many of these chemicals can be found in our everyday products including those we clean with. Companies are not required to list ingredients on labels, so we wind up vulnerable to many undisclosed toxins. As consumers, we must be informed in order to make healthy choices and demand that companies make human and environmental health a top priority. TG partner, Women’s Voices for the Earth has dedicated many years to amplifying women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemical that harm our health and communities. Check out their website here to see how they make this vision a reality! And just so you get a sense for a company that is living its values take a look at the Cosmic Principles of our partner Dr. Bronner’s!
It’s very simple (and economical) to make your own cleaning products from common household items like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, organic castile soap and organic essential oils. Time to roll up your sleeves and make a simple DIY cleaning product. Find out just how easy and effective green cleaning can be!
Upload a PDF Document with your responses, photo or drawing, and a full report on how your DIY process went. Include a screenshot of your social media post. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address and school.