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Eco-Living what it is, what we can do, and why it’s so important

Oct 31, 2023 06:57AM ● By Malissa Stawicki
Malissa Stawicki sitting on a kitchen counter holding up a glass jar.

Malissa Stawicki

Eco-living has become such a popular topic and big business today. Some common buzzwords associated with it are “eco-friendly,” “eco-chic,” “green,” “planet-safe” and “sustainable living.” But what does it really mean, how do we incorporate it into our daily life, and why is it so vital?
Let’s start with what eco-living is:
Eco-living is an environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle that is meant to protect and preserve the planet, humans and all life. We do this by living in harmony with nature and reducing our negative impact on the planet, which is largely from pollutants, gases, radiation, manmade chemicals, drugs and waste products.
There are many kinds of pollution that affect all life and our planet; let’s break them down. The seven biggest polluters by industry, according to a 2022 report, and their greenhouse gas emissions per year are as follows:
1.     Energy (electricity and heating): 15.83 billion tons
2.     Transport: 8.43 billion tons
3.     Manufacturing and construction: 6.3 billion tons
4.     Agriculture: 5.79 billion tons
5.     Food retail: 3.1 billion tons
6.     Fashion: 2.1 billion tons
7.     Technology: 1.02 billion tons
A study published in 2021 shows there are five main types of pollution troubling our health and planet: air, water, soil, light and noise. However, the three that pose the biggest threat are air, water and soil pollution.
1.     Air pollution – contributed to 8.7 million deaths globally.
2.     Water pollution – 14 billion pounds of plastics are dumped into the ocean each year (polluted bodies of water contributing to 1.5 million children’s deaths).
3.     Soil pollution – about 400 million tons of hazardous waste are generated globally every year, which seep into our soil.
The World Health Organization calls air pollution the “single biggest environmental threat to human health.” Air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil, was responsible for 8.7 million deaths globally in 2018. And countries using the most fossil fuels to power homes, vehicles and factories are suffering the highest death tolls.
What We All Can Do to Help Humanity and Quality of Life on Our Planet
There are many ways we can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Not only will it help sustain life, but it will also help us all live healthier and have a better quality of life.

Produce less food waste

If we all collected our food scraps and composted them, it would significantly reduce garbage from landfills. If you have a yard, chickens will eat most food scraps and give you eggs! Or you can introduce worms in your garden; they eat everything and fertilize your soil, feeding your trees and plants. For more information, the Arizona Worm Farm has classes to help you get started and other fun classes.

Grow your own food

You don’t even need a yard to grow food; you can sprout in a small kitchen. With a little more space, you can grow your own microgreens. Sprouts and microgreens are two of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Everyone should have seeds and know how to sprout. Sprouting is easy, fast and a sure way to be sure you don’t starve in the event of a food shortage. Of course, if you have a yard, growing some food would be a smart, healthy and fun thing to do. There are many local organizations that offer classes. SpoonLive offers free classes on sprouting and other food prep. The Urban Farm has classes on growing and maintaining fruit trees, and you can purchase organic seeds at the Great American Seed Up.

When possible, get off pharmaceutical drugs
Pharmaceutical drugs have side effects, and in most cases are a Band-Aid approach to health and not the long-term answer. “Let food be thy medicine” said Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine. This is, of course, a more challenging and difficult subject, but Arizona is a great place to live for alternative health care. Pharmaceuticals are biologically active substances designed to cause pharmacological effects in living organisms. They are clearly having a negative effect on all living organisms, including humans and ecosystem health, as they have found their way into our water systems and soil. It's essential to dispose of pharmaceuticals responsibly. Do not flush pills, patches, ointments, vitamins, samples, pet medications or prescription drugs down the toilet or put down the sink. Contact your local pharmacy or medical office, as they may have medication disposal kiosks where these items can be discarded in a responsible fashion.

Stop using and buying toxic products
Personal care items such as antibacterial soaps and artificial perfumes, as well as toxic cleaning products, can cause significant health problems and also contaminate our air, water and soil. It is so easy to find and make homemade cleaning products and natural perfumes, and this can make such a positive difference for not only your health and that of your family’s, including your pets, but also the health of our entire ecosystem. Support local stores that sell organic products, such as organic mattresses and bedding. One great local resource is Organic Living.

Buy and support local
Don’t buy produce in packaging; buy local and get away from processed foods. Most everyone knows that genetically modified foods are bad for our health and are making people sick. Only buy organic or from local farmers using such practices. Farmers markets are a great place to buy quality products and produce.

Save on transportation waste
Use public transportation whenever possible, carpool and/or ride bikes/electric bikes. Find ways to travel less and buy less online. If we all started to live more minimally, consume less, and make more things at home, that would help a lot.

Recycle everything you can
Don’t throw things away that can be recycled, such as paper, boxes, glass, plastic and tin cans. Unwanted clothing and household items can be donated to organizations, such as local homeless shelters and thrift stores. Old electronics should be recycled responsibly. Do some research and find the best place for your used equipment; for example, and
Use clean/renewable energy/resources (resources that replenish naturally over time)
Generating renewable energy with the sun is easy to do here in Arizona. If you own a home or have a lot of land, why not look into solar? It could save you money, provide you power if the grid goes down, and would produce less pollution.
Other renewable resources include wind, water (hydropower) and the Earth’s heat (geothermal). These are also nontoxic and non-pollutants that have far lower emissions than burning non-renewable fossil fuels. Reducing fuel dependency and importing it would certainly reduce pollution.

Eco-living should not be a political argument, but a human experience we all should want to embrace, engage in and support for the greater good. Hopefully, this article will inspire more action and show how vital it is for not only life on our planet, but to thrive as healthy populations.

Malissa Stawicki is the co-founder of Natural Medicine and Detox, in Phoenix. To set up an appointment, call 602-307-0888. For more information, visit Sign up for the newsletter to receive updates on free in-person classes from Stawicki on how to have the best health with food.