Friday, October 20, 2017 | By Heather Rivera | No Comments
Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality During Healthy Lung Month
Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, recently contacted us here at [1THING] and was kind enough to guest write a great feature article for Healthy Lung Month. She has some interesting information about indoor air pollution and offers ways to improve the air quality in your home and office, which can also improve your health. Check out what she recommends:
Though it’s what most are aware of, outdoor land and air pollution like that from exhaust and industrial waste are not the only factors impacting the health of the environment, which in turn affects the health of our bodies. Indoor air quality is composed of the number, or lack-thereof, of pollutants, both natural and man-made, that contaminate the air of homes, workplaces, and other enclosed buildings. Americans spend on average 20 hours per day indoors where they are inhaling oftentimes stale, unfiltered air, so it is essential that those spaces are just as clean and pure as we hope and expect our outside air to be.
Indoor air pollution can lead to multiple health issues from simple eye, nose, and throat irritation, to pneumonia, cancer, and even death, dependent on what one is exposed to. Mold growth, for instance, can cause respiratory issues and enhance the effects of asthma or COPD for those who already suffer through those afflictions. Meanwhile something seemingly minor like cooking and heating the home with solid fuels (wood, charcoal, peat, pellets, etc.) is attributed to 4.3 millions premature deaths each year. Identifying recurring symptoms like dizziness or headaches while in your home or place of work is the first step to combating and preventing a serious health hazard. However, some illnesses like mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, don’t develop noticeable symptoms for years, so taking steps to improve air quality is recommended no matter the current state of your health.
Often produced from what is brought into the home, pollutants come in the form of particulate matter, toxins and chemicals. Ultimately, improving indoor air quality comes down to source control, and improving or installing a ventilation system. Sources like dust collecting in a long pile carpet, pollen from flowering indoor plants, second-hand smoke, or an unnatural ingredient in an air freshener have simple fixes of cleaning more often or removing certain products from the building. Other sources, however, are more complicated and may require renovation. Mold is usually caused by water damage or a leak; asbestos is found in old homes where products containing the mineral are deteriorating; and radon is most often a result of a leak in the basement and requires a pipe to reroute the gas away from the home. If symptoms persist even after finding what you believe is the source, natural ventilation like opening windows, or a more costly approach like an HVAC system may be necessary.
We only have one body and one life, so take notice of any changes to your health when you move into a new home or office, or start frequenting a new building. Indoor environment is equally as important as outdoor when it comes to health.
The National Wildlife magazine recently looked at the enormous toll that free-ranging domesticated cats take on wildlife in the United States. The latest study has conservatively concluded that between 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals are killed annually by cats, making them one of the largest human-influenced sources of mortality for birds and mammals in the country.
When domesticated cats prey on wild birds and other wildlife they are simply following their natural instinct. Ecologically, however, the effect of that predation is anything but natural and has even resulted in the wildlife extinctions. One thing we can all do to help solve this problem is to keep our pet cats indoors. Not only is this better for wildlife, it’s also better for our cats. Outdoor cats face threats from predators, cars and disease and as a result, have much shorter lifespans compared to indoor cats.
Here are our tips for keeping your indoor cat happy and healthy.
Keep Your Cat Active. It’s all too easy for an indoor cat to go stir crazy if it can’t work out that excess energy. The good news is there’s no shortage of awesome cat toys that will keep your cat moving. There are toys that look like mice, toys with feathers, battery-powered toys with flashing light and sound, laser pointers, toys that move, toys on strings–everything that you need to help keep your cat pouncing and stalking safely indoors.
Set up a Bird Viewing Station. Even well-fed pet cats still retain the wildcat’s natural attraction to small animals. You can indulge that attraction by setting up a bird viewing station inside. Simply install a cat window perch and put up a bird feeder or bath right outside the window. Your pet cat will have hours of viewing pleasure and the wildlife will be safe.
Let Your Cat Go "Hunting". In addition to toys, you can help your cat exercise its natural hunting instinct by hiding its favorite treats around the house. Freeze treats in ice cubes or use special cat treat puzzles and toys that make your cat work to extract its reward to offer hours of mental stimulation. These are the same enrichment tactics used to keep lions, tigers and other predators in good mental and physical condition in zoos.
Pets in Pairs. Few of us can be home all day to love on our cats, so consider getting a second cat as a companion. Having a buddy to run and play with can go a long way in keeping indoor cats happy and stimulated. There’s no shortage of homeless cats at your local shelter just waiting for someone to take them home.
Use Catnip. When cats rub on or chew catnip, it produces a mild natural high that is both harmless and temporary, but that is pleasurable to cats. Not all cats are affected by catnip, and it has no effect on kittens under six months of age, but if your cat does respond to it, it can be one more tool to help keep your indoor cat stimulated and happy.
Stop Door Dashing. Watch this segment on NatGeo WILD’s Pet Talk for tips on how to keep your cats from dashing out the door.
Let Your Cat Climb. Cat trees are a tried and true way of allowing your cat to exercise its urge to climb, and they come in all shapes and sizes to fit your space and decor. If you’re handy, you can even build your own.
Go for a Walk. Believe it or not it is possible to train your cat to walk on a leash. It’s easiest to start training your cat when it’s just a kitten, but even older cats can learn. Start by getting your cat used to wearing a harness for short periods of time indoors, then move on to attaching the leash and rewarding the cat with treats when it walks with you. Never pull on the leash. Once the cat is comfortable with the harness and leash, it’s time to try it outside. Start slowly, with just short trips outside and gradually increase the length of the walks as your cat gets more comfortable. If it’s too much of a challenge, work with a professional animal trainer. Remember, the idea of walking dogs on leashes once seemed weird, but now it’s the standard. We can do the same with cats.
Build a Catio. Another way to give your kitty some fresh air is to install a “catio.” A catio is an enclosed structure that you can install in your yard or on your deck or patio to give your cat some time outside without having to put it on a leash or putting wildlife in danger (or your cat in danger from wildlife).
Spay and Neuter. Always spay and neuter your pet cats. Intact cats can be driven by hormones to try to escape outside to try to find a mate. By spaying and neutering, you eliminate this added stress on your pet cat while at the same time minimizing the allure of the outdoors and eliminating any chance that it could contribute to the unwanted cat population.
Love Your Cat. Unlike their wild ancestors, domesticated cats crave human attention. Often the most effective way of keeping your indoor cat happy is to just pay attention to it. Snuggle your cat, pet your cat, and play with your cat every day. You’ll be surprised at how far a little attention from its human can go in ensuring your indoor cat’s wellbeing.
Mars, Incorporated, the world’s largest candymaker, made headlines in September with their $1 billion pledge to fight climate change. The money will go to renewable energy for their supply chain, projects that fight deforestation, support for small-scale farmers, and more efficient farming and shipping, among other big investments.
In the corporate sector, Mars is one of the major leaders on this climate change, and EarthShare member nonprofits have been there from the beginning to advance their sustainability goals.
Mars was already thinking about sustainability in the late 1990s when it began working with the Rainforest Alliance to figure out how to support small farmers and the tropical forests its ingredients are grown in. In 2009, management announced their entire cocoa supply would be Rainforest Alliance certified by 2020.
Mars also realized climate change was putting its business at risk. Growing regions have gotten hotter and drier, making it harder to grow ingredients like cocoa, peanuts, and coffee. So Mars decided to power their operations with 100% renewable energy, and join the Ceres BICEP Network, a group of businesses that advocate for stronger climate and energy policies.
Mars also worked with experts at another EarthShare member, World Resources Institute (WRI), to analyze their carbon footprint and develop sustainability targets. These targets take into account the latest science on the global carbon budget, water stress and other ecological limits. “We take our responsibility for our products and the supply chain behind them seriously,” said Kevin Rabinovitch, global sustainability director at Mars. “For us that means understanding the science not only behind those impacts, but behind the limits we must all learn to operate within.”
More and more American companies are following Mars’ lead, knowing that climate action is good for the economy and planet.
If you want your company to take strong action, download the Power Forward 3.0 report to learn how companies are increasing their clean energy efforts while improving their bottom lines. And If you’re a corporate sustainability professional, contact JP Leous at WRI to learn how their experts can assist companies with science-based environmental target setting.
Monday, October 16, 2017 | By Heather Rivera | No Comments
This is #1Thing that is Big Time Important when it comes to keeping Mama Earth / Austin area Clean! If you have left over medications, don’t toss them in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Keep them from getting into our land fills and bodies of water that will create problems w/ just about everything in the eco-system.
It’s hard to know what to do w/ them. There is ‘National Prescription Drug Take Back Day’ which is Saturday, October 28th from 10am-2pm. I have disposed of my expired prescription medications the past few years when I found out about this day. You can find drop off locations closest to you in the ATX area.Click here!
I also found out more cool #1Thing 411! Austin has 2 secured Drop-off Kiosks! wanted to spread the word.
Is your medicine cabinet filled with drugs or medications you no longer use? Expired prescription or over-the-counter drugs? Proper disposal of medicines prevents poisoning of children or pets and misuse of medication… also the poisoning of our Eco-System. This 1Thing is a HUGE HELP! We should all do this!! Here’s the 411 on the Drop-off Kiosks-
Drop-off Kiosks – What items can be disposed of?
Only medications from individuals can be accepted. Inventory from pharmacies or healthcare facilities is not accepted. Disposal bins are secured to the floor and double-locked.