Sometimes it feels as though a healthier home and planet is an impossible challenge because of obstacles ranging from hazardous chemicals in our food to a changing climate. But we and the planet are resilient and taking small steps at home and in our communities can have a positive impact on not just our families and the world around us but on our mental health as well. Here are four ways to make life safer and better for everyone.
Our homes often contain potentially dangerous products, from bleach and furniture polishes to paint thinners and drain cleaners. Even liquid laundry detergent packets can be hazardous, according to Health Canada: small and sometimes brightly coloured, the packets can be attractive to children and adults with cognitive impairments who can be seriously injured by swallowing the contents or exposing their skin or eyes to the product.
Check the Health Canada website for tips on the safe purchase, storage and use of household chemicals, including what to do in the case of exposure.
Mouldy carpets, expired medications, fish with high mercury content: these and other items can pose a particular risk to certain groups of people, including seniors and pregnant women. There are lots of ways to avoid exposure, according to Health Canada; for instance, regularly cleaning floors and household surfaces with a wet cloth or mop removes dust and dirt that could contain harmful substances like lead, which can affect children’s health.
Eco-friendly products for a healthier home and planet
Who wouldn’t want to help achieve a healthier home and planet by buying products labelled as eco-friendly? Problem is, merely slapping words like “green,” “sustainable” or “natural” on something is no guarantee that the item is any more eco-friendly than any other product. While there has been an increase in genuinely eco-friendly products, Canada’s Competition Bureau says there’s also been an increase in false or misleading environmental ads or claims, also known as greenwashing.
How to avoid being a victim of this practice? One way is to look for stamps of approval like the Canadian EcoLogo on everything from paint to paper and the Marine Stewardship Council certification logo on seafood. Find more helpful certification logos here.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Canadians are among the world’s top energy consumers, in part because we live in country that’s cold several months of the year. But consuming a lot of energy means contributing to climate-changing greenhouse gases. Fortunately, there are many ways of reducing our emissions at the individual level and that adds up to a healthier home and planet.
Where to start? Try simple things like not just driving less but driving smarter — improve gas efficiency (and help your bank account) by going easy on the gas and brakes, keeping tires properly inflated and regularly servicing your vehicle. You can also eat less meat and more vegetables because most meat production is energy intensive. More good ideas like these here.
Curious about the size of your ecological footprint? Try this calculator (warning: it may be guilt-inducing!)