Today is Earth Day 2010. This is perhaps one of my most favorite holidays of the whole year, as on this day the focus is normally less, not more. Almost all other holidays focus on more food, more stuff, more waste, etc.
As we celebrate this Earth Day, most of us are today aware that we are at a critical point on our planet. Climate and planetary changes are today an obvious and regular occurrence all over the world. It is no longer a bunch of theories by some scientists and not others. And while we may not all agree as to what exactly all the reasons are for many of the occurrences, we do know that something IS happening.
It is thus at this time more than ever, that we need to take our habits with a more serious and conscious approach. It is time to take accountability for our thoughts, words and actions to heal our planet for ourselves and generations to come.
Thus this Earth Day, I want to focus on one aspect of the Earth that is critical to our survival and that is fresh air. Below I will list some ways that we can increase our fresh air exposure, as well as touch upon on some ways you can help in keeping the air clean.
Are You Getting Enough?
How much of your day, each day is spent out doors? For many the answer will amount to a bunch of minutes added up as we go from one closed space to another. We live in our homes, we get into our cars on our driveways, we drive to more closed locations and at the end of the day, we come back home.
Some of us do get better with getting out doors when the warmer temperatures come, but our body needing fresh air is not a seasonal thing. We need to get a good amount fresh air each day.
There is no set amount of the “right amount” of fresh air we should get each day. Let your common sense kick in here, and just know that you need it. Whether it is a half hour or a half day, there are so many ways to spend time out doors and make it fun. Perhaps a jog, a walk, flying a kite, throwing a frisbee or even sitting outdoors can be the easiest and fun way to get out door exposure. Our lungs, skin and whole body benefit so much from fresh oxygen.
Now you may be thinking that it just can’t be that important to your health, after all you spend most of your life indoors and seem to be doing fine. But are you really fine? How often do you get respiratory tract infections like the cold, flu or bronchitis, etc? How about all the allergies and asthma rates that we have around in both children and adults. Our respiratory health is telling us that we are not fine. Getting sick with various infections is not supposed to be a normal part of life.
The Health Benefits of Fresh Air
High oxygen levels increase the efficiency of almost all the reactions in your body. From losing weight to sleeping better at night, fresh air is a key component. High oxygen levels in the body have also been linked to decreasing cancer growth and preventing cancers all together. Our skin benefits, our lungs benefit, and due to so many reactions that depend on oxygen, every system in your body benefits!
Indoor air and outdoor air both contain oxygen naturally, but the quality is not the same. Some people say that they don’t want to go outdoors or open their windows in the home out of fear of the pollution outdoors.
However, unless you live next to some combustion factory or it is a high alert smog day, I can assure you that the air outdoors is almost always better than that indoors. The reason for that is the concentration and dilution effects. Outdoors, there is a better dilution effect as more fresh air is available and thus the concentration of pollutants tends to be lower. Indoors, especially the air-tight way that most homes are built today, there is a higher ratio of pollutants to fresh air, and thus the air in your home is not high quality, unless it is regularly exchanged.
Freshen Up Your Home
Here are some tips to make the best of your indoor air.
1. Do not use ANY air fresheners.
We have bought into this whole idea that we need various chemical air fresheners thanks to the billions of dollars in advertising spent to make us feel that unless we have product “x, y, or z” we are missing out on something essential. Nothing in fact can be further from the truth. Air fresheners whether spray ones, plug-in ones, candle or other are first and foremost a huge waste of your money. No matter the brand name, whether Febreeze, Glade, Lysol or other – none are a safe option in the long run.
Secondly they are adding, yes adding chemical particles to your indoor air. And it would not be so bad if you aired out your house on a daily basis, but most of us do not. In fact, we think it is a waste to open the windows and “lose” the smell. Honestly I don’t know why these things are called air fresheners, when in reality they pollute the air, so “air polluters” would be a much more fitting name.
2. Open Your Windows
It is really that simple and free, and yet so few of us do this.
If you have odor problems, aside from doing little things like cooking certain foods with the fan on, or using a fan while in the bathroom, the simplest thing to do is open your windows. Ideally, our homes should be aired out daily all year round. Naturally some days may not allow for that, but even 5 minutes a day during a cold day, makes a HUGE difference to the quality of air inside your house.
The easiest thing to do is set a schedule or routine for opening up windows regularly with something else. Perhaps while you are making breakfast in the morning or dinner at night, before you begin open up a few windows and close when you are done. If it is a warm day opening up our windows in the early part of the day and even closing them in the evening is fantastic as it allows for a more thorough airing out.
3. Wash Smelly Clothes Right Away
Some people complain that having kids or spouses in the home playing some sport and bringing dirty equipment home, they cannot imagine life without an air freshener. However, it is all about our habits and what we get used to. Smelly gym or sport clothes should be washed right away – this is better for the clothes anyway. If this is impossible or not convenient, consider storing the things in the garage until proper washing can take place.
4. Establish a Hygenic Routine With Pets
The last biggest, unpleasant odor creators are of course our pets. However having pets does not have to mean turning your home into a chemical factory. Again, daily and thorough airing out of the house does wonders for freshening things up naturally.
If your pets have their own bed or rugs, wash those as regularly as needed. It is better for your pet too. A good idea is also buying cheap natural fiber rugs, and replacing them more often. With furniture, we of course have a few options, either not letting our pets on our beds and couches, which is more hygienic for you and other family members, or cleaning those regularly too.
Also, if you ever leave pets in the car, always remember to leave some of the window open. This is especially important in the warmer months. Aside from not doing so being dangerous to their life, it is healthy for them too.
5. Get an Indoor Air Purifier
If you have kids or other family members with asthma, or other allergies, or live in a particularly polluted part of town, you may want to consider getting an air purifier. There are many on the market today from relatively cheap, portable units, to built in systems that service your entire home.
While it may seem like a big investment at first, again depending on your habits, needs and area, this may prove to be one of your best investments for you and your family’s health. There are many models and types on the market today, so before you decide, just be sure to do your research well.
In the end, if there are 2 most important things to take away from this message today, they would be to open your windows and air out your house regularly, and get out doors to have some fun in the fresh air! No matter what season, what time of the day, these are simple, relatively free and important things we can each do for our health and wellness.