Archive for the ‘health’ Category

the sound of sleep

July 6, 2008

For years, my boyfriend used an air conditioner to drown out the noises of the city, just to get (and stay) asleep. It wasn’t something I was accustomed to, but I learned to get used to it. But then I started thinking about how much energy sucking that air conditioner did, 365 days a year. We tried one of those noise machines with the varying sounds: rainforest, jungle, waterfall, plain old white noise. The problem with those things is that they’re a recorded loop of sound. Whoooosh Whoooosh (hic) Whooosh. You can hear the slight skip where the loop starts again. Focusing on that hiccup is not conducive to a sound night’s sleep.

Finally we found a sound machine that works. The Marpac SleepMate 980A Electro-Mechanical Sound Conditioner (quite a mouthful, but if you want to experience one, just click the link). It uses a small internal fan to make a whooshing sound. So now we’re using a lot less energy and sleeping like babies. Whoooosh Whoooosh zzzzzzZZZZZZZZ


the dirt on cleanliness

June 26, 2008

I’m not a germaphobe, but I know plenty of people who are. And producers of antibacterial soaps and chlorine bleach like to perpetuate the fears that these people have about dirtiness. Unfortunately, the chemicals that make these products “effective” can be harmful to your health.

Take triclosan, for example. This compound has been added to a lot of products in the last few years, from dish soap to toothpaste (treehugger has a good list here). Triclosan is not only a suspected carcinogen, it also can lead to antibacterial resistance. Just like with some antibiotics, antibacterials like triclosan and triclocarban work in a specific way to kill off bacteria. Over time, the bacteria mutate and become immune to the compounds. This has been demonstrated in a study examining triclosan’s effect on bacteria such as resistant E coli.

Some believe that a slightly dirty home environment is better for one’s immune system than a super clean home. There have even been studies linking overly hygienic environments to the development of allergies. And one study in rats helps support this “hygiene hypothesis.”

So what does one do to stay clean in an unclean world?
Good old soap and water is just as effective as antibacterials.

Here are some recommendations:

If your on the go and in a pinch and need a hand sanitizer, try one of these health-friendly options:

Side note: I wrongly badmouthed Purell while in Yellowstone (it was in all of the latrines) thinking it contained triclosan, but its active ingredient is ethyl alcohol (which doesn’t have the baggage of triclosan, though I can’t speak for its other ingredients).

living off the health of the land

June 11, 2008

I’m a fan of Mark Bittman, the NY Times columnist, foodie, and minimalist chef. I’m even more enamored now that he’s written about some practical advice about eating less meat. Without getting all political or ideological, he offers some easy tips on incorporating more healthy veggies and alternatives to meat in your meals. Here it is in today’s Dining and Wine section of the Times.

Also in the Times, an answer to those who eschew organic because of the price: plant your own! That is if you’ve got the land, of course. Most of us city dwellers don’t have the luxury of a patch of earth to dig into. But there are community gardens, if you’re feeling so ambitious. If you do decide to start your own victory garden, you’ll have to do some research. Here are some sources for organic vegetable gardening:

survive the summer swelter: part 1

June 10, 2008

It’s not even summer yet and it’s in the high 90s along the Eastern Seaboard. What does one need to do to get by in this heat?

block the sun

stay hydrated

  • Make sure you’ve got your water with you in one of these reusable beauties:
    • Klean Kanteen
    • Sigg (they’ve got a new hot/cold version to keep that water cold in the summer heat)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of survive the summer swelter with tips on how to keep your cool, eat well, and fight off the bugs…

clearing up the fish fog

June 6, 2008

Trying to figure out which fish are okay to eat can be tricky. So many questions enter my mind when attempting to decide on the fish I’ll consume. Does the fish I’m about to eat contain mercury? Is it overfished? Is there trawling involved, which damages the sea floor? Are other sea creatures getting unintentionally trapped in the nets?

One little tool which helps in the decision process is the handy Monterey Bay Aquarium fish card I carry around with me. On their Seafood Watch site, you can order a free pocket fish card of your own (or more for friends, if you’d like) or just print one out for your particular region. They break it down simply: Best Choices, Good Alternatives, and Avoid. If you’re curious about a particular fish, you can also search their online database.

And if you’re really curious, they’re hosting a webcast next Friday, June 13th where they’ll talk about how to cook and eat the fish that are sustainable and how you can be an advocate for our oceans.

5 actions you can take right now

June 5, 2008

1. Slow global warming: Urge your senators to push for clean energy
2. Protect children from airborne lead with stricter EPA standards
3. Stop mountaintop removal coal mining
4. Save Yellowstone and The Greater Rockies from coal mining
5. Stop the clock on species extinction

The endangered Philippine eagle

Mountaintop removal coal mine in WV
(Vivian Stockman)

how much good would good wood do?

June 5, 2008

One of the biggest contributors to climate change is deforestation. And if we don’t pay attention to the labeling on things like paper products (tp, napkins, stationery), building materials, or furniture, we won’t know if we’re contributing, too.

When my boyfriend and I were renovating our kitchen last year, one of my criteria for cabinets was that they be made from FSC-certified wood (The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent organization that certifies if manufacturers of tree-based products are sourcing materials from sustainably managed forests). We did some initial shopping at big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. When I’d ask the sales people if they had any cabinets available in FSC-certified wood, they didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. So we had to do some research.

Luckily, we found Neil Kelly Cabinets. We really expected that their prices would take us way over budget, since their cabinets are FSC certified and contain low to no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But we got an estimate. Surprisingly, their prices were on par with those at the big box stores. The un-eco-friendly part is that we had them shipped from the West Coast. (Can you say huge carbon footprint? Well, I guess it’s smaller than if we would have ordered cabinets made in China).

They’re not only responsibly made, they look really great, too.

When buying any wood or paper products, look for the FSC seal.

Pledge to buy good wood here.

my own private omnivore’s dilemma

June 2, 2008

It can be tough being an omnivore these days — but it’s not hopeless. Even before reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I considered the impact of my culinary choices and thought of myself as a responsible eater. Buying from the farmer’s market when I could, buying organic as much as possible, eating what I thought was meat from humanely treated animals (it’s not always so easy to tell, sometimes you’ve got to take a leap of faith).

But since reading the book, I’ve made another change to my diet. I’m only eating grass-fed beef. If you don’t plan on reading the book, trust me, grass-fed is not only healthier, it’s easier on the animal (they really can’t digest corn, which is what they’re fed the bulk of their penned-up lives), and the environment — especially if the beeves (yes, in farmer’s parlance that’s plural for beef) are pasture fed.

So this past Saturday my boyfriend and I went to a BBQ and brought our own hot dogs to accommodate for this new eating choice (see above). They were Applegate Farms Organic Grass-fed Hot Dogs (can’t ya just picture pastures full of hot dogs grazing on grass?), and they were pretty damn tasty. We got them at our local Fairway supermarket. They may be available at your local grocer. You can also buy ’em on their site.

On to a different animal. The pig. I love pigs. They’re so cute, and so tasty! (Sorry to the vegetarians reading this post. I think I felt a collective cringe and sigh from you.) I don’t eat pork that often, but when I do, I’d prefer one that’s had a relatively happy life. So we turn to Niman Ranch for their quality products. And they’re pork bratwursts are even more delicious than the aforementioned hot dogs. A slight spicy bite from the ginger and spices, and like they say on their site, they’re great on a roll with mustard.

You can get Niman Ranch products on their site, and sometimes on Amazon. You might be able to get them at your local Whole Foods or other supermarkets. And if you live in NYC, they’re available at Fairway.

brush-a-brush-a, then recycle

May 30, 2008

The American Dental Association recommends we use a toothbrush for about 3 to 4 months and then replace it. Instead of amassing a collection of used toothbrushes to reuse for cleaning the crevices around the toilet, or worse, just tossing them in the trash, there’s Preserve by Recycline.

The toothbrush — designed with the help of dentists — is made mostly from recycled Stonyfield yogurt cups (#5 plastic, which comes from various partner organizations, one of which is right here in Brooklyn). And when it’s time for a new brush, you can send them back to Recycline in a postage-paid envelope they provide. They’ll integrate them into plastic lumber for park benches and decks.

You can buy them in bulk or sign up for a toothbrush subscription on their site to ensure you get a new toothbrush every 3 months.

They’re also available at:
eConscious Market

setting intentions

May 29, 2008

welcome to the first edition of supereco.
so what’s it all about?
everyone who hasn’t been living in a bunker underground for the last few years has heard about “green,” “eco-friendly,” “sustainable,” or “LOHAS*” and nowadays there’s a wealth of info out there on the subject. i hope to support all of these great resources out there which help us reduce our negative impact on the planet and our health. i’ll be posting things like product reviews, tips, and the latest news on all things eco-friendly.

supereco: listen to your conscience, it’s telling you to preserve your health, serve the planet, and conserve our natural resources.

*LOHAS=lifestyles of health and sustainability. check it out here.