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Your Health and the Health of Your Environment: Increasing Your Wellness, Improving Your Everyday Environment

I decided to study Permaculture when I realized, what is all the exercise worth if my environment is toxic? Climate change and the health of our environment are issues that can seem too big to handle. Where can we start to tackle such problems? Right in your kitchen and bathroom! Through our purchasing power, we play a role in the fate of our own environment each time we go to the grocery store or cosmetics counter.


Personal Care: It has become important to be aware of what types of chemicals are inside your everyday products such as shampoo, facial cleanser, shaving cream, deodorant and body lotion, to name a few. These common products often contain several chemical preservatives such as Parabens (methyl, butyl, ethyl propyl), Pthalates, Benzophenone and others that are too long to type out. These chemicals in particular are also known as ‘endocrine disruptors.' This means that these chemicals interfere with the hormonal function of the body, affecting growth, metabolism and reproductive fertility. Researchers have discovered certain chemicals have effects that are related to breast cancer and various other diseases.

The skin is considered the largest organ in our body that provides a barrier as the first line of defense that maintains hydration and guards against outside threats to the immune system. Though the skin serves as a formidable blockade to bacteria and viruses, it is capable of absorbing elements at its surface. Absorbing chemicals at the skin's surface offers no form of filtration and can immediately affect the natural chemistry of our body. Chemicals applied to the skin are directly absorbed through its permeable cells and consequently enter the bloodstream. Think about how the nicotine and birth control/hormone patches work. In visualizing this simplified version of our physiology, you can imagine what effect your favorite lotion might have on your long term health. Your body's direct contact with these toxins is indeed a topic of concern, but also consider this causality: when the soap is washed out of your hair and combines with the water from your shower those chemicals just entered our water supply.

Household Cleaners: Cleaning products are probably the most toxic item you would find in your home. We must consider what happens when these chemicals are combined with our water supply, food sources and other substances in our landfills. Items that were once biodegradable will not break down safely once combined with chemicals. Laundry products are a major source of pollution and can cause problems that include skin allergies, lung and eye irritants, not to mention the high level surfactants that enter our waterways and change the surface tension of water. Dryer sheets alone contain several chemicals that are on the Environmental Protection Agency’s hazardous chemicals list. Some all purpose cleaners contain chlorinated phosphates, dry bleach, petroleum-based surfactants and other ingredients that are all toxic additions to our environment. Cleaning compounds in general have been linked to brain fog, dizziness, headaches and even the development of mental illness. In my opinion I had heard enough and compelled to make a change!

As an alternative, 'green' cleaning is actually much more affordable and convenient. Simple ingredients like vinegar, borax, baking soda, lemon juice and castile soap will efficiently attend to many of your cleaning needs. If that is too rustic for you, there are many reputable companies that are producing nontoxic alternative products, just read the label!

This past holiday season I wanted to share this passion with my friends and family by making simple body care items out of ingredients from the kitchen. It was so rewarding to see the excitement and surprise when my homemade sugar body scrub or salt foot scrub performed better than the store bought product and helped form the realization that synthetic ingredients are not as beneficial for one's health. Here's my recipe!

:Sugar Body Scrub Recipe:

raw cane sugar olive oil lavender essential oil sage essential oil rose hips oil


By Kristen Rubio

Kristen Rubio is a fitness and health enthusiast! Originally from southern California, she grew up as an athletic swimmer and water polo player through college at UC Irvine. Certified in Pilates through the Kane School of Core Integration in NYC, she observes individual body patterns to create a program that will help her client's optimize their movements in daily life and other forms of exercise. Her personal experience with Pilates resulted in a complete physical transformation. Consistent practice brought muscle tone and deep core strength that allowed flexibility and stress release through proper breathing on a daily basis. Kristen uses Pilates principles to enhance her cycling and yoga practice.

References: Living Green by Greg Horn