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Creating the Green Home: Balancing Health and Sustainability


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Creating the Green Home: Balancing Health and Sustainability

  1. 1. Creating the Green Home: Balancing Health and Sustainability NEXUS Green Building Resource Center, Boston 12.13.08
  2. 2. What is a Green, Healthy Home? <ul><li>You don’t have to worry about toxins or hidden dangers to your health or your kids </li></ul><ul><li>You can be completely comfortable and knowledgeable about the products you buy, use in your home and live with </li></ul><ul><li>You minimize your impact on the earth by engaging in sustainable practices </li></ul><ul><li>You are thinking about what’s best for all of life in the long term </li></ul>
  3. 3. Name That Toxin! <ul><li>VOC’s </li></ul><ul><li>PVC </li></ul><ul><li>PBDE </li></ul><ul><li>PFOA </li></ul><ul><li>BPA </li></ul><ul><li>Pthalates </li></ul><ul><li>Chlorine </li></ul><ul><li>… And more! </li></ul>
  4. 4. Where can I find these chemicals? <ul><li>Plastics </li></ul><ul><li>Household cleaning products </li></ul><ul><li>Cosmetics </li></ul><ul><li>Furniture </li></ul><ul><li>Electronics </li></ul><ul><li>Food </li></ul><ul><li>Water </li></ul><ul><li>Air </li></ul>
  5. 5. Toxins and Toxicants in the Home: where can they be found? <ul><li>Mattresses ( Flame retardants, formaldehyde ) </li></ul><ul><li>Under the Kitchen Sink (VOC’s,acute poisons) </li></ul><ul><li>Carpets (Solvents, PFOA’s, neurotoxins) </li></ul><ul><li>Toys (Plastics, Lead, Hormone Disruptors) </li></ul><ul><li>Plastics (BPA, Pthalates, PVC) </li></ul><ul><li>Electronics (PBDE’s) </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Care Products (allergens, hormone disruptors, carcinogens) </li></ul><ul><li>Mold/dust (captures particulates of the above) </li></ul>
  6. 6. How do they behave in our homes? <ul><li>Offgas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We breathe it in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Affects nervous system, respiratory system, indoor air quality, outdoor smog </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Particulates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free floating, invisible, attach to dust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We inhale, touch, eat </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can stay in our system and affect health of the entire body over time </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What happens after we’re done with them? How do they behave in the environment? <ul><li>From production to emission to exposure to disposal, these chemicals alter and negatively impact life on earth </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic…in albatross </li></ul><ul><li>PFOA’s…in polar bears </li></ul>
  8. 8. There is no “safe” level of toxins in the body. <ul><li>Our bodies must juggle many potential health burdens </li></ul><ul><li>Known dangers: lead, arsenic, formaldehyde, dioxin… carcinogens, hormone disruptors, allergens, more </li></ul><ul><li>Unknown risk factor </li></ul><ul><li>Chemicals found in babies, humans, animals, plants, food- all over the world </li></ul><ul><li>Do we want to risk it? </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Body Burden (ewg) <ul><li>Complex chemical cocktail </li></ul><ul><li>What happens when we put these together? </li></ul><ul><li>Persistence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sticking around, in our body and on the earth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bioaccumulation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increases exponentially </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Synthesis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combinations are mysterious and sometimes deadly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Potentiation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contact with one can make another more harmful </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Other Environmental Dangers in the Home <ul><li>Electromagnetic Fields/Radiowaves </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Electronics, Computers/TV’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electric Appliances- refrigerators, stoves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Microwave </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wireless Technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cellphones/towers/antennas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portable phones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mold/Dust </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Where did they come from? <ul><li>Industrial revolution </li></ul><ul><li>Created POP’s </li></ul><ul><li>(fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals developed for warfare) </li></ul><ul><li>molecular approach as opposed to behavioral </li></ul><ul><li>No precautionary principle for chemicals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Innocent until proven guilty </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. The Precautionary Principle… <ul><li>“ When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Safer Alternatives for You and for Kids <ul><li>Choose all green/organic personal care products (soaps, shampoos, makeups) </li></ul><ul><li>Choose eco-friendly cleaners that are kidsafe </li></ul><ul><li>Replace plastic with wood or silicone, bottles with glass </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t renovate with conventional materials, or conventional paint- use area rugs, no-VOC paint, and innovative green building supplies and décor </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize time near electronics such as computers, tv’s, and routers </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize cellphone use, especially with children! </li></ul>
  14. 14. Safer Alternatives, cont. <ul><li>Clean regularly to eliminate dust buildup or mold </li></ul><ul><li>Try not to bring PVC (polyvinyl chloride) products into the house </li></ul><ul><li>Use a water filter in your sink and shower, don’t buy bottled water </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid drinking, eating and heating food in plastics as much as possible </li></ul><ul><li>Eliminate exposure to formaldehyde by not choosing pressed wood or treated wood products </li></ul><ul><li>Eat whole and organic, locally grown foods </li></ul><ul><li>Always choose the organic, non-synthetic option whenever possible! </li></ul>
  15. 15. How to create sustainable lives? <ul><li>Sustainability: </li></ul><ul><li>Living in such a way that preserves, protects and restores our health, communities and environment, and does not compromise life for future generations. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Questions to ask <ul><li>What is this item made of? </li></ul><ul><li>What resources and chemicals are needed? </li></ul><ul><li>How much energy? </li></ul><ul><li>How is it grown? </li></ul><ul><li>How are people employed in the process? </li></ul><ul><li>Does this item create waste or pollution? </li></ul><ul><li>Where does the waste for this item go? </li></ul><ul><li>What impact does that waste have on the environment? </li></ul><ul><li>Will it be near you, or other people? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What impact will it have on those people? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What transportation is required? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Eco Ethics <ul><li>Could Earth support all the world’s people at my standard of living? </li></ul><ul><li>Do good things come from each dollar I spend? </li></ul><ul><li>Do other species or people struggle or suffer as an indirect result of my lifestyle? </li></ul><ul><li>Should I be allowed to consume more than others? </li></ul><ul><li>Are wars being fought over resources I use? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I support corporations or industries that damage the environment or exploit workers? </li></ul><ul><li>Is my lifestyle in alignment with my values? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Greening your home 101 <ul><li>Change to Compact Flourescents (CFL’s) or LED </li></ul><ul><li>Get a programmable thermostat </li></ul><ul><li>Unplug </li></ul><ul><li>Drive less- Walk/Bike More </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid turning on the hot water tap (sink, washer, dishwasher, shower) </li></ul><ul><li>Buy something used instead of new (or, buy less in general) </li></ul><ul><li>Use canvas bags at the store- all stores </li></ul><ul><li>buy local organic food - “eating is voting!” </li></ul><ul><li>Compost </li></ul><ul><li>Invest in renewable energy </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid plastic packaging- bring your own! use an alternative, or cook at home </li></ul><ul><li>Hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer, Avoid conventional dry cleaners </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t idle your car </li></ul>
  19. 19. When you make green choices: <ul><ul><li>Your awareness about issues improves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your health improves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You’re setting a good example </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Money going to a good place </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Saving money in long run </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaving some food, goods, services for others in other parts of the world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helping slow warming, preserving our future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making a statement about the value of life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improving your quality of life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reducing demand for harmful exploitative businesses and products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Letting people know what matters to you with your dollar or your voice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaving some resources..and hope! for future generations </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. resources <ul><li>Learn more… </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>www. myfootprint .org </li></ul><ul><li>www. healthandenvironment .org </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Take action… </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Where to buy… </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>