30 Environmental Tips
Introduction tip: Protect our collective future.
At MammAlive, we consider ourselves to be stewards of the Earth and have written our own Environmental Creed. We invite you to take a moment to read these two statements from it. Consider writing them down to inspire you to create your own personal version, as a reminder of our shared responsibility for planetary wellness:
“I realize that human well-being is derived from the wellbeing of the earth and its elements – soil, trees, food, water, air, weather patterns and biodiversity of species.”
“As I coexist with other species, I have a responsibility to protect their habitat and survival. In considering the welfare and survival of other species and how my actions impact them, I protect our collective future.”
Daily through the month of April, MammAlive will be sharing the Top 30 Environmental Tips to help reduce breast cancer risk. Please share them with your sisters, daughters, mothers and friends, as well as social media using the hashtag #breasthealthchallenge.
For more information, visit www.mammalivefoundation.org and www.mammalive.net.
1. Find alternatives to chemical fragrance Body care, cosmetics, cleaning products and home scent products can contain hormone disrupting phthalates, often listed in the ingredients as “fragrance”. Replace them with unscented products or 100% pure essential oils. Be aware that some products marked as “unscented” can still contain scent-masking chemicals so contact the manufacturer to inquire or visit www.EWG.com to find companies that use natural scent.
2. Keep hazardous substances out of your drains and toilets Whether they are medications, paint thinners or toilet cleaners, these chemicals may adversely affect the environment. Water treatment facilities may not be able to prevent them from entering our waterways, fish, wildlife and drinking water, and adversely affecting our health.
3. Take shorter and cooler showers Hot showers expose us to more volatile contaminants than cold showers. Reduce time spent in chlorinated water such as public pools and hot tubs. Choose outdoor pools, lakes or saltwater pools wherever possible.
4. Consider a solid carbon block filter in your kitchen tap and bathroom shower This is important if your tap water is chlorinated or may be polluted by upstream sources of pollution such as a sewage treatment plant.
5. Do a kitchen audit for PFAS Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) act as endocrine disruptors and can be found in items such as non-stick cookware, food wrapping and microwaveable popcorn bags. Replace these items with heat-resistant glass, lead-free ceramic, steel-clad and cast iron cookware, and glass or ceramic food storage containers to reduce ongoing exposure.
6. Purchase organic produce whenever possible Check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list on the Environmental Working Group website (www.EWG.org). Industrially farmed produce and genetically modified foods are often sprayed with pesticides and herbicides and may contain glyphosate. Glyphosate has entered all aspects of our environment from food to water to air. Glyphosate has been found to be carcinogenic, toxic and endocrine disrupting.
7. Reduce or avoid char when grilling foods Char contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) known to cause mammary tumours and reproductive harm. Other sources of PAHs include fumes from asphalt and combustion of organic matter such as fireplaces, stoves, cigarettes and vehicle exhaust.
8. Ditch the plastics For any food or beverage use, if you must use plastics, choose #1, 2, 4 and 5 as they are less toxic. Avoid polycarbonate water bottles with #7 which may contain bisphenol A (BPA), #3 which is PVC and #6 which is polystyrene because they may leach substances that act as hormone disruptors.
9. Find chlorine bleach alternatives In washing machines, the kitchen, dishwasher and bathroom cleaners, chlorine-based products can release chloroform, believed to be a carcinogen. Use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning along with essential oils such as lemon and pine. Use natural sunlight or lemon juice to lighten clothes or look for oxygen-based bleaches and non-toxic soap based stain removers.
10. Choose eco-friendly period products Endocrine disrupting phthalates are present in most sanitary napkins. Organic, scent-free pads and tampons, cotton, hemp or cloth pads and silicone menstrual cups are healthier for our bodies and the planet. If you use Period Underwear products, do your research to avoid endocrine disrupting PFAS by visiting sites providing studies such as www.mamavation.com.
11. Choose natural fibres and materials Look for upholstery and linens made from untreated materials. Fabric treatments like “shrink proof”, “wrinkle proof” and “waterproof” generally contain toxic chemicals. Sleepwear, mattresses and furnishings are often treated with flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs or “forever chemicals”) which are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to completely eliminate from our bodies. They have been shown to bioaccumulate in our tissues and breast milk, affecting our hormonal system and causing reproductive harm.
12. Remove outdoor shoes to avoid tracking toxins into your home Pesticides and other toxins can enter your home when tracked in on the bottom of your shoes. To minimize the spread of toxins, place a doormat on the outside of each entrance and remove shoes upon entry. Also be sure to vacuum and dust regularly to reduce the buildup of toxins in your household dust, flooring and carpeting.
13. Use paints, stains and sealants labeled “Low” or “No” VOC Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can pollute the air in your home and some VOCs can cause cancer. Health Canada provides guidance about reducing VOCs in your home in this infographic:
14. Do your research on flooring, wall coverings and windows
When buying new items or upgrading your home, be aware that polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is found in flooring, wall coverings and windows. The strong odours you smell when you open up many new items such as yoga mats, shower curtains and flexible toys come from the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If you cannot avoid their use, be sure to create good ventilation or place them outside during this time. Flexible plastics also contain a class of chemicals called phthalates. To avoid exposure to these endocrine disrupting compounds, look for natural, untreated materials or alternatives such as nylon and search for manufacturers of PVC and phthalate-free products whenever possible.
15. Assess your radiation risk We are all exposed to both natural and man-made sources of radiation from a variety of sources on a daily basis during our lifetime. Medical imaging, cigarettes, airplane travel, computer and television screens, are just some of the contributing sources. To help protect ourselves from incremental levels of global radiation due to nuclear accidents and nuclear warheads, we can eat foods high in antioxidants such as matcha green tea, goji berries and blueberries, as well as brown seaweeds such as kelp and wakame.
You can estimate your radiation dose from natural and man-made sources using this tool: https://www.epa.gov/radiation/calculate-your-radiation-dose.
16. Reduce dirty electricity Hire an electrician to inspect your home and eliminate loose or poor connections, replace poorly made switches, replace dimmer switches with regular off/on switches, and make sure the wire between the meter and your electrical box is wide enough so it doesn’t bottleneck high frequencies. Consider purchasing high frequency filters to plug into your electrical outlets to reduce dirty power. Some studies show that electricity and electromagnetic fields are linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer. Magnetic fields could enhance cancer cell growth by blocking the protective effects of the hormone melatonin, which also plays an important role in regulating your
17. Open your windows and buy houseplants Indoor air pollution is often worse than outdoor air pollution. Improve ventilation and remove indoor sources of pollution. Start with venting the gas stove, broiler, grill and fireplace to the outdoors and avoid wood burning fireplaces and stoves. Indoor plants can help improve air quality. Some of the best include the spider plant, snake plant, peace lily and dracaena. Look for those which are safe for your pets and can grow indoors in low light settings such as bedrooms and bathrooms.
18. Have your basement checked for radon Radon is an odorless but dangerous radioactive gas that can compromise lung and breast health. The breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soils and rocks produces radon that can seep into well water and indoor air. Test the lowest occupied level of buildings where radon can accumulate to high concentrations (https://radiationsafety.ca/laboratory-services/home-radon-testing/).
19. Write a letter Use your voice in whatever way you can to influence manufacturers and government policy. Sign petitions created by organizations like
www.environmentaldefense.ca or create your own on sites such as Change.org, iPetitions or Avaaz. Use social media to raise awareness and support environmental causes that affect you and the planet.
20. Repel pests with herbs, spices and essential oils instead of pesticides Avoid pesticide use both inside and outside your home. Garden pests, as well as ants, fleas and lice, can be treated with natural products that you may already own. Visit www.beyondpesticides.org for fact sheets on how to companion plant and/or use earth friendly products.
21. Grow your own food If planting your garden in a raised bed, use fresh soil from a reputable source. Test your soil before you plant an edible garden if you have any reason to suspect soil contamination on your property or pesticide use by previous owners or neighbours.
22. Celebrate EARTH DAY – Plant at least one tree each year to help restore the forests which are lungs of our planet. Plant a bee or butterfly garden. Learn more about endangered species and to protect wetlands and conservation areas in your region. Consider donating to an environmental organization such as www.onetreeplanted.org. Spend some time “earthing” daily by standing on the ground with bare feet. Enjoy the therapeutic benefits of “forest bathing” or walking in nature and take the time to hug a tree. Try the yoga Tree Pose, rooting yourself to Mother Earth and outstretching your arms like branches to the sky.
23. Use electric or manual yard equipment Gasoline powered equipment such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers and snow blowers emit a disproportionate amount of pollution as they tend to lack emission reduction equipment. If you use manual equipment like push mowers, rakes and shovels, you get to skip the gym.
24. Keep EMFs at a safe distance Reduce your exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) by keeping devices away from your body. EMFs become 80% less powerful at a distance of 2½ feet (75 cm) so move cell phones, screens, power bars, radios and even lamps away from where you spend long periods of time, especially where you sleep. Walls do not stop EMFs. Know where your smart meter, electric panels, Wifi and routers are located so you can arrange your room to avoid them. Unplug devices when not in use and turn Wifi off at night. Consider getting your home inspected for EMF levels or purchase a meter (such as Trifield or Gauss) to check your home for problem areas.
25. Keep cell phones away from your body/head If possible use a regular landline, as even cordless phones emit high frequency fields. Use speaker mode or air-tube headphones, rather than wireless headphones and minimize or avoid use of bluetooth. Disable 5G access on your phone and turn off data when not in use, as well as while taking longer car trips, so your phone is not constantly searching for a signal.
26. Consider alternatives to the birth control pill The pill and hormone replacement therapies can increase the risk of breast cancer. After they leave your body and enter our waterways, they can disrupt aquatic life and contaminate drinking water. Learn about holistic ways to balance your hormones by visiting www.mammalive.net and www.mammalivefoundation.org and working with a naturopathic doctor.
27. Reduce your reliance on canned goods The linings of many canned goods contain BPA, BPS, phthalates and other hormone mimickers. Look for alternative packaging, such as glass. Buy flash frozen produce, batch cook and freeze foods like legumes, buy only fresh or frozen vegetables and berries, and enjoy fresh, unprocessed food as often as you can.
28. Adopt the precautionary principle Assume that when an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if science has not fully established a cause and effect relationship.
29. Act locally, think globally You have the power to transform the planet as a consumer. Consider the environmental impact of the products you purchase and how they ultimately affect our health. How far did they travel? Who made them? How much water and what chemicals were used? Where did those chemicals end up? Who is affected? Do you have what you need and need what you have? How often do you make impulse purchases to grab a good deal, as opposed to shopping with purpose? Does the ease of online shopping make it more tempting? Buy locally, live more simply and choose businesses with high standards that generate a positive benefit for the planet such as Certified B Corporations (www.bcorporation.net).
30. Stay Hopeful Try not to become overwhelmed. Take small steps each month and share your knowledge to empower others to make changes too. For more information on the many ways to improve breast health and reduce your risk for breast cancer or its recurrence, visit www.mammalive.net and www.mammalivefoundation.org Consider signing up for the 12-module Healthy Breast Foundations program which covers many more ways to reduce your risk for breast cancer or its recurrence – from environmental to dietary, physical, mental and spiritual elements.