October 2012 - Our Daily Green

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Herbal remedies for healthy living

natural herbal supplementsAs foods become more and more processed, nutrients and vitamins are often lost. Many folks take natural herbal supplements to compensate for the nutrients lost through processing as well as to round out their intake with supplements not readily found in the daily diet.

The use of herbs for therapeutic or medicinal purposes is the oldest form of health care in the world. According to the World Health Organization, close to 80% of the world population has utilized herbal medicine for their health.

As folks become more and more concerned about the effects of synthetic chemicals from drugs, they are rediscovering different herbal remedies. Much of the pharmacy of scientific medicine originated with the herbal remedies of the past. In fact, nearly one quarter of the prescription drugs dispensed in the United States contain at least one active ingredient derived from plant material. Major pharmaceutical companies are currently studying the plants from the rain forests and other places for their potential medicinal value.

Interest in the United States had been growing in the recent years from the reported success stories from the use of herbs. There are herbal supplements that can alleviate the symptoms of a numerous conditions, from chronic fatigue, adrenal stress, sleeplessness, anxiety that so many individuals suffer from.

If you're concerned about synthetic solutions for medical problems, ask your doctor about the herbal remedies as an alternative.

Our Daily Green has been compensated for this post, but we only share information that we think may benefit for our readers. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Green America: Energy Efficiency, the Magic Bullet

republished from: Green America: Energy Efficiency, the Magic Bullet

10 Easiest Ways to Cut Your Energy Use in Half

1. Turn Off the Lights Save 2%*

Efficiency Poster
Be mindful about shutting lights off when you leave a room. If you have a forgetful family member or roommate, paste reminders on the switchplates or consider installing motion-detector switches.
ADVANCED: Replace your bulbs with CFLs or LEDs.

2. Install Ceiling Fans Save 19%

Install Energy Star ceiling fans in the rooms you use most often. They'll help keep you cool in the summer while your AC works less or not at all. In the winter, switch them to turn clockwise to circulate the warm air rising up to the ceiling back down into the room.
ADVANCED: Go with a white roof or install a greenroof, which will prevent heat loss through the roof in winter and cool your home down in the summer.

3. Show Your Fridge Some Love Save 4%

The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy-users in your home, and if it was built before 1993, it's a huge energy hog. Clean the coils of your fridge every six months to keep it running efficiently, and take up unused space with jugs of water, which hold in the cold. Eliminate a second refrigerator, if you have one.

4. Wash Clothes in Cold, Let Them Air Dry Save 9%

Washing clothes in cold water gets them just as clean as hot, and cuts your washer’s energy use in half. Drying your clothes on an outdoor line or indoor rack can save around $100 in energy costs every year.
ADVANCED: Water and energy use are intertwined: producing energy uses water, and providing clean drinking water requires energy. Take steps to conserve water everywhere in your home.

5. Upgrade Appliances Save 12+%

Appliances use 20 percent of the energy in the average US home. When it’s time to buy new appliances, look for the most efficient Energy Star model you can find. The biggest energy hogs in a home are usually the refrigerator (particularly if it was built before 1993) and clothes dryer.

6. Give Your Water Heater a Blanket Save 1-3%

Adding an insulating cover to your water heater can reduce heat loss by 24-45 percent. Also, turn your water heater down by ten degrees, if possible. If half of US households did so, it would prevent 239 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
ADVANCED: Upgrade to a tankless or solar water heater, and save 14% off your energy bill.

7. Plug Air Leaks Save 12%

Replacing windows is often the least cost-effective step you can take to save energy, so seal air leaks around doors and windows instead with caulk and weatherstripping. For tips on sealing and refurbishing old wood windows, see our article. Also, consider putting up insulating curtains, pasting low-e film to the window glass, and installing storm windows or plastic window films to further cut down on heat loss in winter.
ADVANCED: Get a RESNET or Home Performance with Energy Star audit to help pinpoint your biggest energy losses.

8. Use Your Programmable Thermostat Save 10%

Nearly half of US homes already have a programmable thermostat. Dig out that owner’s manual and learn how to use yours to maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. Program your thermostat to turn itself down or off when you’re sleeping or are at work or school.
ADVANCED: Get a RESNET or Home Performance with Energy Star audit to help pinpoint your biggest energy losses.

9. Air Dry Dishes Save 3%

Using your dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand can save water, but if you let the drying cycle run, you’re wasting energy and money. Skip the drying cycle and let your dishes air dry. Newer, more effective and efficient dishwashers allow you to skip the step of pre-rinsing your dishes before you load them in the dishwasher.
ADVANCED: Run your dishwasher (and your clothes washer, for that matter) at night, during off-peak hours. It’s our country’s peak demand that determines the expansion of dirty coal-fired power plants.

10. Eliminate Phantom Load Save 5%

Many electronics still suck energy even when they’re turned off--such as powering that little clock on your microwave when it’s not in use. Unplug your electronics or plug them into a power strip and switch it off to save on this “phantom load.”
ADVANCED: Use a Kill-A-Watt meter to measure the energy use of appliances and gadgets, even when they’re turned off. You can also keep track of your home’s entire energy use with a whole-house energy monitor.

* Approximate energy savings based on the average home using 11,000 kWh electricity and 19,000 cubic feet of natural gas per year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Noodle & Boo Giveaway!

One of the great "perks" of being a Circle of Moms Top 25 Ecofriendly Blogger is that Our Daily Green gets to share exclusive giveaways with our readers. Here is this week's giveaway... for eco-friendly baby bath products. Just go over to the Circle of Moms site to enter. Good Luck!

Noodle & Boo "The Works" Giveaway ($100 Value)

By The Circle of Moms Editors

Source: Noodle & Boo
When it comes to baby bath times, we're always on the lookout for gentle, safe, and effective bath products. That's why we're thrilled to partner with Noodle & Boo this week to give away a bath set that's perfect for taking care of baby skin. 
Two moms will win "The Works" gift set ($100 value), which includes an extra-gentle shampoo, a soothing body wash, a super-soft lotion, an ointment for dry skin and diaper rash, an all-natural soap with aloe, and more! There's even a reed diffuser with a lovely light and fresh scent that'll make the bathroom (or your own bedroom) smell amazing. If your little ones aren't so little anymore, "The Works" bath set also makes a wonderful baby shower gift for an expectant mom.
To enter, Tweet or Pin your favorite Noodle & Boo product and include the hashtag #MyfavNB in your tweet or pin description.
Please note: You must enter before October 28th, 2012 at 11:59pm PST to be eligible. 
Check out the full list of rules here for more details.
Noodle & Boo is committed to creating the highest quality products using the finest ingredients. The line offers complete care for newborns, babies and children with eczema and sensitive skin. Ingredients are derived from natural resources and are 'certified organic' when available and safe to use. Every hypoallergenic formula is clinically-tested and dermatologist-tested to verify optimality for skin sensitivities. Products are also pediatrician-tested to ensure every consideration is taken to meet the needs of our youngest customers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Candy Free Halloween?

A recent survey on the Circle of Moms invited us to share hints for alternatives to candy on Halloween. When we had the chance to participate in this question, it was thrilling. We enjoy the Halloween celebration, even if we have issues with the candy, from both a diet and also a fair trade aspect.

The first year we did alternative Halloween, we knew everyone in our neighborhood. It was a brand new development and we had few trick or treaters.We bagged up homemade cookies and put an address label on the bag, knowing that as soon as our neighbors knew who it was, they would be at ease. As our neighborhood grew and we subsequently moved, we needed to be more clever.

We light a big fire in our fire pit to welcome and warm the Trick or Treaters. We've served hot apple cider and toasted marshmallows. As a gift, we have given coins good for ice cream at a local ice cream shop, cards good for a movie rental, and we've also given away small toys. The candy just gets to be too much for everyone.

Another concern with distributing candy is how the chocolate is sourced. Both Hershey's and Nestlé  have run into problems for using cocoa sourced with child labor. Hershey recently committed to sourcing 100% of their cocoa from fair trade farmers by 2020, but until then, the chocolate can be from anywhere, including those that utilize child labor.  Nestlé promises more fair trade chocolate products chocolate products by pledging to make more chocolate products with fair trade cocoa when fresh supplies become available.

With such loose commitments, most chocolate from these giants still will be sourced with child labor, which in my opinion, is not the best way to celebrate a holiday for children.

For more ideas, visit the Circle of Moms.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day: Spotlight on Oxfam #PowerofWe

Oxfam research shows that big land deals in poor countries are leaving people homeless and hungry. Families are being unfairly evicted from their land and left with no way to grow food or earn a living. Land grabs are big business for rich investors – with a big cost for poor people.

1. What is a land grab?

Land acquisitions become land grabs when they violate human rights, fail to consult affected people, don’t get proper consent and happen in secret. Land grabbers overlook the possible social and environmental impacts of the land deal.

2. What’s the problem with big land deals – isn’t investment a good thing?

Responsible investment is an important part of fighting poverty. But big land deals are happening so quickly and on such a large scale that poor people are more vulnerable to the injustice of land grabbing than ever before.

3. So what does this mean for people living on the land?

Where land grabs occur, communities lose the land they rely on to grow food and feed their families. Their homes, jobs and livelihoods are taken from them – sometimes violently – and there is nothing they can do about it.

4. Why is there such a high demand for land?

High food prices and a demand for new fuels have both played a part, making land a more profitable investment. Combined with an increasing demand for food, this makes land seem like a pretty safe bet for savvy investors.

5. Who’s involved?

From Guatemala and Indonesia to Liberia and Sudan, land is being looted by investors of all shapes and sizes. Governments, food exporters, tourism providers, Wall Street speculators – the list goes on.

6. But if investors use the land to grow food, won’t it work out ok in the end?

Investment in developing countries is desperately needed. But not investment that deprives poor people of their access to land and natural resources. Most investors intend to export the food they grow back to rich countries. Others will use it to meet huge biofuel targets for the developed world. They’re making the hunger problem much worse.

7. Is there a solution?

Yes. The World Bank not only funds many large land deals, but also influences how land is bought and sold. We need it to freeze big land deals and set a fair standard for others to follow – protecting the rights of poor people while encouraging positive investment to fight poverty.

Take action

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Help Yourself Kickstarter Project

Do you think it would be cool to be able to take a walk in the park and stop and pick an apple or fresh veggies/fruit for FREE? 
Watch this short video about how you can support this unique project in Massachusetts. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Breastfeeding Moms Boot Nestlé from Maternity Wards (reprint)

As part of our alternative support for Breast Cancer awareness month, Our Daily Green wants to share tips towards prevention and finding a cure. Being aware has happened. One suggested way to lower the risk of breast cancer is to breast feed.

If breastfeeding is healthier for babies, why are hospitals pushing corporate infant formula? How a growing number of states and cities are banning marketing in the maternity ward.
Mother breastfeeding by Amy Bundy-555.jpg
Photo by Amy Bundy.
From TIME magazine’s provocative photo of a mother breastfeeding her toddler to the recent controversy surrounding an American University professor who breastfed her baby while teaching a class, how we feed babies often attracts its fair share of media attention. 
But while news coverage often focuses on what are perceived as personal choices related to infant feeding, an important piece of the puzzle is often missing from their analysis: the intrusion of massive corporations into the relationships between patients and health-care providers, and the subordination of public-health considerations to profit margins. 
Fortunately, advocates and activists are joining forces and putting a spotlight on this missing piece of the puzzle. And momentum is building as hospitals across the country—including all of those in Massachusetts and Rhode Island—are telling the infant-formula industry to take their marketing pitches elsewhere.

Science or sales pitch?

With the many benefits of breastfeeding touted by the Surgeon General and other public-health officials, why would hospitals send a new mom home with a bag full of formula?
Consider this: Across the country, up to 72 percent of health-care facilities with maternity units distribute so-called infant formula to new mothers in industry-supplied “discharge bags,” complete with formula samples, coupons for formula, and marketing materials.
With the many benefits of breastfeeding touted by the Surgeon General and other public-health officials, why would hospitals send a new mom home with a bag full of formula? Because the infant-formula industry, which is worth $3.5 billion in the United States alone, knows there couldn't be a better marketing tool than hospital freebies that are seemingly endorsed by health-care providers.
Studies show that women who receive infant formula samples in maternity wards are more likely to stop breastfeeding sooner and less likely to breastfeed exclusively. Though all major health care organizations recommend that infants be breastfed exclusively through six months, only 16.3 percent of moms nationwide achieve this goal. Experts agree that one of the obstacles to exclusive breastfeeding is ubiquitous infant formula marketing.
Soccer Moms Face Off Against Monsanto
An initiative on the ballot in California to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms seems likely to succeed.
Certainly, families should make their own decisions about how to feed their babies, taking into account a variety of life circumstances and personal preferences that might make them elect to use infant formula instead of breastfeeding. But as far as practicing evidence-based medicine goes, it makes sense for health care providers to recommend the option that is best for their patients’ health. That recommendation is seriously undermined by infant-formula marketing in health care facilities, highlighting the conflict between the ideal goals of hospitals (health) and goals of formula manufacturers (profit). As one humorous comic put it, discharge bags seem to send the message, “Breast is best, but you probably can’t do it.”
This issue strikes a chord that goes beyond this particular product. We look to our health care providers for scientifically based medical advice, not for a sales pitch. So many aspects of our lives are commercialized, from schools plastered with advertisements, to bridges, highways, and roads named for the corporations that make the highest offer. Still, at the very least, shouldn't our relationships with our health care providers be spared from the encroachment of values that turn every human interaction into one of buying and selling? Shouldn't we be able to trust that our doctors, nurses or midwives are offering us advice that is best for us, not best for the bottom lines of deep-pocketed corporations?

The struggle for a marketing-free maternity ward

Last fall, Rhode Island became the first state in which all maternity hospitals voluntarily eliminated industry-sponsored discharge bags.
Fortunately, we are starting to see change on this issue, thanks to many years of work by committed public-health advocates and activists. Recently, Public Citizen, the organization I work for, launched a campaign calling on health-care facilities to stop allowing the distribution of infant-formula samples to new moms. More than 15,000 people have signed Public Citizen’s petition calling on the three major manufacturers of infant formula—Abbott, Mead Johnson, and Nestlé—to stop using health-care facilities to market their products. Some states are leading the charge to get infant formula marketing out of hospitals.
Last fall, Rhode Island became the first state in which all maternity hospitals voluntarily eliminated industry-sponsored discharge bags. This summer, Massachusetts followed suit, with all 49 of its hospitals ending formula marketing on their premises. Massachusetts advocates overcame significant obstacles: In 2005, then-governor Mitt Romney forced the state’s department of health to overturn regulations that would have banned formula discharge bags from hospitals. Most recently, 28 of New York City’s hospitals voluntarily agreed to stop distributing infant-formula marketing materials to new moms.
The movement to ensure that health care facilities promote health, not corporate profits, is gaining speed. It’s time for hospitals across the country to say “no more” to corporate interests encroaching on patients’ access to quality health care.

Elizabeth Ben-Ishai adapted this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. She is a Senior Researcher and Campaign Coordinator at Public Citizen.

YES! Magazine encourages us to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Earth-friendly doesn't have to mean foreign (guest post)

High gas prices and the threat of global warming have led many buyers to sincerely care about the gas mileage in the cars they buy. This generally leads them to Japanese or German cars, which have historically had the best gas mileage. However, American car manufacturers have stepped up to the plate since their reconstruction, and offers many excellent and fuel-efficient cars that cost less and run better than their foreign competitors.

A case in point is the new Dodge Dart. In addition to being made in America using a minimal waste facility, it is much smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient than anything else Dodge makes. Like the original Dart, it is affordable and light, intending to compete with foreign cars in terms of fuel efficiency and longevity. Unlike the original Dart, it has very low emissions, especially in terms of ground-level ozone and other industrial pollutants. With an excellent emissions reduction package and advanced catalytic conversion system built in at engineering, it is the small, affordable and earth friendly alternative intended to power Dodge through energy-uncertain times.

Dodge DartDodge has even put this technology to use in its sedans, such as the Dodge Avenger. Taking a cue from the Dart, it is much lighter than previous models, with aluminum replacing steel in much of the bodywork. Additionally, the engine has been tuned and refined so that gas is burned more cleanly and fully, reducing the waste going out the tailpipe. This ultimately makes the vehicle both fuel efficient and practical, and the low weight helps with handling and top speed in addition to being good for the environment.

Chrysler has also gotten in on the action. Partnering with Nissan in 2010, they began to borrow technology and learning from the company to increase fuel efficiency and decrease weight. The end result is the 200 series of Chrysler cars, which are small, light and efficient sedans that compete with Japanese cars in terms of fuel mileage while having American style size, luxury and comfort. The 200 series was designed with an eye towards rising fuel prices, and as such it has many innovative design changes intended to lower the weight and make the engine run more efficiently. The end result is a vehicle that is economical to drive and good for the environment in addition to being a very comfortable and high quality sedan.

Jeep too has gotten in on environmentalism - a far departure from its trail-destroying, gas flaming roots in the off-roading realm. Bowing to high gas prices and criticism from environmentalists, modern Jeeps are smaller, lighter and better at burning fuel than their predecessors. Efforts have been made to replace steel with aluminum where possible, and compact SUVs like the Compass offer greater than 20 miles per gallon even in congested cities. Mostly this is done by having four-wheel drive turn off when not needed and by having the engine burn the fuel completely, releasing less waste products and getting more out of each drop.

The end result of all this hard work by Chrysler/Dodge is that you as a consumer are able to choose the car you want without having to worry about its environmental impacts. Even if you want a large Jeep, Dodge or Chrysler, dealers like Lou Fusz can help you find one with good fuel mileage that was built in an environmentally friendly and sustainable fashion. Lou Fusz has sold these vehicles for many years and knows them inside and out, as well as how to get the most fuel out of each and every one. Therefore you should not have to compromise with a small, slow or unsafe car just to do right by the environment - Lou Fusz can help you find something better!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why Your Health Is Bigger Than Your Body (reprint)

YES! Magazine allows us to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License

New findings explain how politics, economics, and ecology can help or hurt our bodies.

posted Aug 21, 2012 
Feet photo by Julie Urban
Talking with Dr. Ted Schettler is probably unlike any conversation you have had with your physician. Raise the topic of breast cancer or diabetes or dementia, and Schettler starts talking about income disparities, industrial farming, and campaign finance reform.
The Harvard-educated physician, frustrated by the limitations of science in combating disease, believes that finding answers to the most persistent medical challenges of our time—conditions that now threaten to overwhelm our health care system—depends on understanding the human body as a system nested within a series of other, larger systems: one’s family and community, environment, culture, and socioeconomic class, all of which affect each other.
It is a complex, even daunting view—where does one begin when trying to solve problems this way?
63 Cover
Click here for more articles from It's Your Body, the Fall 2012 issue of YES! Magazine.
Schettler is an exceedingly logical thinker, and his vision for a more evolved kind of health care came from the down-to-earth experience of helping to clean clam flats along the St. George River in Maine during the 1980s. “I was living and practicing on the coast there, and working with a local organization to clean up the river because we had these rich clam flats that had been closed for years because of periodic spikes of E. coli. If anyone ate the clams they would get very sick.”
Meanwhile, paper mills were dumping dioxins into other rivers nearby, and Schettler learned that fish from those rivers sometimes had even higher chemical levels than fish caught in urban harbors. But factory bosses claimed that regulating waste from the pulp mills would cost community jobs, which prompted dozens of young factory workers to protest. Schettler, despite being steeped in traditional medicine, was unable to ignore these interrelationships: a degraded natural environment, a precarious local economy, and perennially sick people. “These things—the effect of the environment on peoples’ health—were never discussed at the medical conferences,” he said. “So it caused in me a major re-examination.”
Schettler went back to school, earned a master’s degree in public health, and began applying a scientist’s rigor to his wide-ranging pool of interests. Since then, he has researched connections between poverty, iron deficiency, and lead poisoning; insecticide use, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease; income disparities and asthma.
He calls this new approach to medicine “the ecological paradigm of health.”
“It sounds like tree-huggers or something,” Schettler said in an interview. “But I mean ‘ecological’ in the sense that there are these multiple systems, one within the other—a family within a community, within a society, within a culture—and that’s the way ecologists tend to talk about ecosystems. It’s accepting up front that humans do not stand apart from the environment. We’re a major species, along with the mosquitoes and fish and trees and bacteria. And there are all of these wonderful interrelationships.”

Our Health and Ecosystem Health

Currently getting over a case of Lyme disease, Schettler notes that the condition wasn’t even on the radar three decades ago. Likewise, West Nile Virus. And dengue fever, first identified in the late 18th century, has soared since the 1960s, now infecting up to 100 million people worldwide each year.
“Can there be any doubt that human health is enormously dependent on ecological systems that we are having a major influence on?” Schettler says. “It’s all one world. Our tendency to describe the natural world as something without humans is part of the problem.”
When economic inequality gets this wide it has an adverse effect on people’s health.
Such a holistic approach to human health is often received as heresy within traditional medicine, but Schettler is hardly a Don Quixote tilting at windmills. He has testified before the U.S. Senate about links between Parkinson’s and pesticide use. He has been interviewed on public radio and co-authored two oft-quoted books, Generations at Risk: Reproductive Health and the Environment and In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development. Both explore Schettler’s belief about the environmental underpinnings of a host of disorders, from learning disabilities to cancer. And both lay out the limitations of Western medicine in coming up with clear causes and effective treatment.
Breast cancer is a prime example. Dissatisfied with research into the origins of the disease, Schettler began to wonder whether chemicals found in cancerous breast tissue actually encouraged tumor growth. He found that a girl’s exposure to DDT before the age of 14 corresponded to a greatly increased risk for breast cancer later in life. “If we’re looking only at adults, we’re missing this important window of susceptibility,” Schettler says. “But in medicine we weren’t going there. We were responding only to the illness. I was interested in its origins.”
Food is another favorite “wedge issue,” a way of examining diseases like diabetes in relation to agricultural policies. Schettler, noting America’s current epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes, began examining not only blood sugar levels in children but also the neighborhoods in which they lived. He found that many did not have a single market selling fruits and vegetables.
That led his musings a step further, to inquiry into the agricultural policies guiding food into stores. Which flowed naturally into an examination of conditions for agricultural workers who, it turned out, had high rates of cancer.
In Schettler’s analysis, each of these factors—the mass production of processed food, the lack of easily accessible fruits and vegetables, the health condition of farm workers—is fused with the others: “It’s fine to give people dietary advice, and advise them to exercise—in this country we have a long history of telling people how to change their own lives,” he says. “But it’s not just a matter of an individual making a poor choice. It’s what our system has provided to them, so it needs to be changed at the systems level. Diabetes and obesity are big-ticket items with huge implications for the federal budget.”
Thinking that way, it’s no stretch for the physician to segue into a discussion of federal farm subsidies for chemically produced foods. Or, on a more personal level, to question colleagues in health care about their failure to advocate for changes to the food served in schools.
Schettler’s approach touches everyone: He asks school districts that cut physical education programs as soon as budgets get tight, “What’s the message we’re giving to kids? This is really troubling. We’re facing an obesity and diabetes epidemic that’s going to overwhelm our health care system. And if there’s one thing that we should be doing it’s stressing the importance of diet and exercise for young people.”
You might think that a physician like Schettler—unafraid of skewering sacred cows wherever he finds them—would be a lightning rod for criticism. And indeed, the American Council on Science and Health issued a sharp rebuke in 1999 after Schettler attacked a report issued by the organization (and co-authored by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop) for its stand on phthalates: “The American Council on Science and Health is disappointed, but not surprised, by activists’ continued attempts to discredit a panel of well-respected, nationally and internationally recognized scientific and medical professionals,” the statement said. “Once again, there has been an attempt to shift attention from sound science to misrepresentations and half-truths.”
Other than this, there is virtually no public criticism of Schettler’s work. And even that fracas left him singularly unperturbed.
“Some of these chemical groups might label me an ‘enviro’ but that’s about it,” he said. “Still, this is an area of great debate—whether our job is merely to identify and treat disease or whether it is also to be advocates in public policy.”
Clearly, Schettler has made his decision. “You really do get into down-and-dirty politics here. That’s where this all plays out.”

Inequality Makes Us Sick

Wherever Schettler turns his focus, drilling down to the root causes of illness inevitably means confronting social problems, foremost among them economic inequality. 
How Does Inequality Define the Health of a Nation?
Richard Wilkinson discusses inequality and the effects it can have on a country’s citizens.
Take lead poisoning: Poor diet leaves children from lower-income families more likely to suffer iron deficiencies. And an iron-deficient diet allows more lead to be absorbed in the intestinal tract, transporting more of the damaging metal to the brain and leading to increased neurological impairment among kids whose families are least able to counter those effects.
“If you just address the lead itself, without looking at diet and social circumstances, you don’t get very far,” Schettler says. “So yes, it’s important to make sure that kids aren’t being exposed to excessive amounts of lead and neurotoxins, and we need to keep doing that work. But we also need to be looking at housing, income disparities, the food system, energy production—things that are likely to have a bigger impact on a larger set of conditions and diseases.”
In short, poverty leads to increased exposure, which is exacerbated by heightened vulnerability (in this case, the iron-deficient diet) and an impaired ability to respond—“a toxic triad,” Schettler calls it.
The link between socioeconomic status and poor health is widely acknowledged. But perhaps less obvious is the finding that income disparities within a community also appear to have a deleterious effect, making one family susceptible to illnesses that another living in the same area—but at a higher income level—might escape.
As proof, Schettler cites research on asthma that found poorer kids—even when symptom-free—had higher levels of inflammatory markers in their blood than youths from wealthier families in the same neighborhood. Meaning that it took fewer irritants to push the poorer children over the threshold into a full-blown attack. Once sick, they were also less resilient—that is, less able to quickly recuperate—than wealthier children, either because they lacked treatment at home or were unable to get to a doctor.
“Higher income is protective—even in the same community,” Schettler says. “That’s why it’s so concerning to see this income gap in America now. We know it’s setting the stage for adverse health outcomes for people. Is that class warfare? Well, yes. When economic inequality gets this wide it has an adverse effect on people’s health. That’s what the literature tells us. We shouldn’t shy from saying it.”

Show Me the Progress

After spending 30 years as an emergency medicine physician, Schettler now serves as science director for two organizations, the Science and Environmental Health Network and the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. The latter is a partnership of some 4,000 health practitioners and scientists committed to promoting discussion of the connections between the environment and learning disorders, birth defects, infertility, childhood leukemia, endometriosis, and various cancers.
Admittedly, it’s a pretty bleak vision, this tangled web of social, medical, and political problems. And looking at it, you might expect Schettler to be wracked with hopelessness. Yet he is not.
“I actually think it’s a very important time in the world now,” he says. “There’s something here for everyone to do.”
He points to examples of significant change already underway within the health care industry itself, where the incineration of hospital waste has long been a leading source of dioxin emission. Hospital food, too—traditionally a fatty rotation of grilled cheese, burgers, French fries, and milkshakes—has been little more than “a joke,” Schettler says.
But since its founding in 1996, the international collective Health Care Without Harm has steadily been chipping away at these problems, and has now seen the closure of thousands of medical waste incinerators. It has initiated a Green Building program geared toward creating energy-efficient medical centers; and it has begun to change the way hospitals, with their enormous purchasing power, buy food to promote more locally grown and sustainable agriculture practices.
“The medical industry itself has been a great place to look at cleaning up,” says Schettler, who advises Health Care Without Harm. “Particularly as health care is almost 20 percent of the GDP.”
“I encourage people to recognize that they’re working in common cause with others,” he says. “Many people are carrying a common message, just coming at it from different angles.”Even as a high school student in 1950s Ohio, the seemingly mild young man showed a talent for leadership. (“Ted’s ability to organize his pals has made him a leader in the senior class,” notes his yearbook. “His sincere, fun-loving personality will draw friends to him.”) These days, Schettler puts those skills to work before crowds of students, researchers, and policy makers. Yet nearly every conversation circles back to same question: How is anyone to make a difference when confronted with Schettler’s vision?
By way of example, he cites Detroit, long a metaphor for urban blight, ingrained misery and societal failure. Though there is not a single major-chain supermarket within the city limits, Schettler focuses instead on a crop of urban gardens now dotting the broken blacktop. “People are starting to grow their own food, healthy food!” he exclaims. “There are wonderful things going on.” 

Claudia Rowe wrote this article for It's Your Body, the Fall 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Claudia has been an award-winning social issues journalist for more than 20 years. Her work has appeared in Mother Jones, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
It’s Your Body Yes! Magazine

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Our Daily Green goes Pink

With October comes the inevitable pinking of every consumer good imaginable. Our Daily Green is pinked to the peak. We honestly find all the pink aggravating, not encouraging. 

Why wouldn't a blog dedicated to healthy living and environmentally friendly choices be on board with all this pink? Well, we haven't even have to say "why" we're going pink and our readers know.This means that since the point of the pink is to promote awareness, the campaign has been successful. Pink needs to move past buying ribbon shaped merchandise in pink boxes and learn more about prevention and cures
Breast Cancer Action

In other words, Our Daily Green is not pink for the reasons thought. Quite frankly, we're pink because we are blushing with embarrassment at the trivialization of the insidious disease of breast cancer. We are not interested in catchy colors or cutesy slogans to make us "aware". We are past aware and concerned with cure, and want to use the word cure without being sued. We believe it's time to get past branding and marketing and participate in a meaningful way in the discussion.

We are now a volunteer for the Breast Cancer Action network, hoping to share their information and principles. We will have a weekly feature this entire month of October about different steps we can take together to learn about risk, prevention, care, and other facts. It's time to be serious about our breasts and protecting them.

From their website:
BCAction members across the country–and world–advocate for systemic changes to end the epidemic in three strategic areas:
1. Advocate for more effective and less toxic breast cancer treatments. We work to shift the balance of power in the Food and Drug Administration’s drug approval process away from the pharmaceutical industry and toward the public interest. Our independence from pharmaceutical company funding puts us in a unique position in the breast cancer movement to advance this ambitious goal. BCAction will always put the needs of women with breast cancer first and encourage the FDA to do the same.
2. Decrease involuntary environmental exposures that put people at risk for breast cancer. BCAction is committed to the precautionary principle of public health: First, do no harm. While many breast cancer organizations offer advice on how individuals can reduce their voluntary exposures to carcinogens, the policy changes needed to eliminate these exposures for everyone require a broader social justice approach that BCAction has always provided and will continue to provide.
3. Create awareness that it is not just genes, but social injustices — political, economic, and racial inequities — that lead to disparities in breast cancer outcomes. Discussions of the social determinants of health are beginning to emerge in a number of health fields, but the cancer world still focuses on genes and differences in screening patterns. BCAction has changed many conversations in breast cancer, and we will work to change this one as well, so that people understand the social justice lens in which breast cancer needs to be seen and studied in order to change the inequities in breast cancer outcomes.