This quick Fluoride Action Network video shows us some of the major concerns of fluoride in drinking water. Check out the warning label on your toothpaste tube. It notes that the amount of fluoride in a single brushing (.25 mg) should not be swallowed, and if so, the label says you should contact a Poison Control Center. Interestingly, that's the same amount that's in an average glass of tap water. Learn more and watch: http://www.fluoridealert.org/
As most of you will be aware, Saoirse sets off at the end of the month for his pilgrimage to India.
While he is away promoting this community, it would be great to get as much media attention as possible. Through this we can attract new members and build local Freeconomy communities across the world.
To do this, I'm looking for some stories to support magazine and newspaper articles. If any of you have had any amazing sharing experiences through the Freeconomy community and would like to have your story printed in your local newspaper (or maybe even the national press!), please email me.
I cannot promise to answer you all individually, but you can be assured I will read every story and use many of them. However if we do decide to use yours you will definitely be contacted beforehand.
If you could put the area you live in as part of the subject line, I would be grateful (i.e. Manchester Freeconomy Story).
Please include your story, along with details of any local newspapers so that I can build up a database of potential publications to contact.
Alternatively, if any of you have ideas for magazines and newspapers to contact then please share them with me too. Any help with this is valued and appreciated.
Have a wonderful week and I look forward to reading your uplifting stories.
Caution: Killing Germs May Be Hazardous to Your Health
Our war on microbes has toughened them. Now, new science tells us we should embrace bacteria.
By Jerry Adler
Updated: 4:08 PM ET Oct 20, 2007
Behold yourself, for a moment, as an organism. A trillion cells stuck together, arrayed into tissues and organs and harnessed by your DNA to the elemental goals of survival and propagation. But is that all? An electron microscope would reveal that you are teeming with other life-forms. Any part of your body that comes into contact with the outside world—your skin, mouth, nose and (especially) digestive tract—is home to bacteria, fungi and protozoa that outnumber the cells you call your own by 10, or perhaps a hundred, to one.
Their ancestors began colonizing you the moment you came into the world, inches from the least sanitary part of your mother's body, and their descendants will have their final feast on your corpse, and join you in death. There are thousands of different species, found in combinations "as unique as our DNA or our fingerprints," says Stanford biologist David Relman, who is investigating the complex web of interactions microbes maintain with our digestive, immune and nervous systems. Where do you leave off, and they begin? Microbes, Relman holds, are "a part of who we are."
Relman is a leader in rethinking our relationship to bacteria, which for most of the last century was dominated by the paradigm of Total Warfare. "It's awful the way we treat our microbes," he says, not intending a joke; "people still think the only good microbe is a dead one." We try to kill them off with antibiotics and hand sanitizers. But bacteria never surrender; if there were one salmonella left in the world, doubling every 30 minutes, it would take less than a week to give everyone alive diarrhea. In the early years of antibiotics, doctors dreamed of eliminating infectious disease. Instead, a new paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports on the prevalence of Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which was responsible for almost 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005—about twice as many as previously thought, and more than AIDS. Elizabeth Bancroft, a leading epidemiologist, called this finding "astounding."
As antibiotics lose their effectiveness, researchers are returning to an idea that dates back to Pasteur, that the body's natural microbial flora aren't just an incidental fact of our biology, but crucial components of our health, intimate companions on an evolutionary journey that began millions of years ago. The science writer Jessica Snyder Sachs summarizes this view in four words in the title of her ground-breaking new book: "Good Germs, Bad Germs." Our microbes do us the favor of synthesizing vitamins right in our guts; they regulate our immune systems and even our serotonin levels: germs, it seems, can make us happy. They influence how we digest our food, how much we eat and even what we crave. The genetic factors in weight control might reside partly in their genes, not ours. Regrettably, it turns out that bacteria exhibit a strong preference for making us fat.
Our well-meaning war on microbes has, by the relentless process of selection, toughened them instead. When penicillin began to lose its effectiveness against staph, doctors turned to methicillin, but then MRSA appeared—first as an opportunistic infection among people already hospitalized, now increasingly a wide-ranging threat that can strike almost anyone. The strain most commonly contracted outside hospitals, dubbed USA300, comes armed with the alarming ability to attack immune-system cells. Football players seem to be especially vulnerable: they get scraped and bruised and share equipment while engaging in prolonged exercise, which some researchers believe temporarily lowers immunity. In the last five years outbreaks have plagued the Cleveland Browns, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California, where trainers now disinfect equipment almost hourly. The JAMA article was a boon to makers of antimicrobial products, of which about 200 have been introduced in the United States so far this year. Press releases began deluging newsrooms, touting the benefits of antibacterial miracle compounds ranging from silver to honey. Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, issued an ominous warning that teenagers were catching MRSA by sharing cell phones. Gerba is a consultant to the makers of Purell hand sanitizer, Clorox bleach and the Oreck antibacterial vacuum cleaner, which uses ultraviolet light to kill germs on your rug.
To be sure, MRSA is a scary infection, fast-moving and tricky to diagnose. Hunter Spence, a 12-year-old cheerleader from Victoria, Texas, woke up one Sunday in May with pain in her left leg. "I think I pulled a calf muscle," she told her mother, Peyton. By the next day, the pain was much worse and she was running a low-grade fever, but there was no other sign of infection. A doctor thought she might have the flu. By Wednesday her fever was 103 and the leg pain was unbearable. But doctors at two different community hospitals couldn't figure out what was wrong until Friday, when a blood culture came up positive for MRSA. By the time she arrived at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi—by helicopter—her temperature was 107 and her pulse 220. Doctors put her chance of survival at 20 percent.
Hunter needed eight operations over the next week to drain her infections, and an intravenous drip of two powerful new antibiotics, Zyvox and Cubicin. She did survive, and is home now, but her lung capacity is at 35 percent of normal. "We are seeing more infections, and more severe infections" with the USA300 strain, says Dr. Jaime Fergie, who treated her at Driscoll. In many cases, there's no clue as to how the infection was contracted, but a study Fergie did in 2005 of 350 children who were seen at Driscoll for unrelated conditions found that 21 percent of them were carrying MRSA, mostly in their noses. Then all it may take is a cut … and an unwashed hand.
And there are plenty of unwashed hands out there; Gerba claims that only one in five of us does the job properly, getting in all the spaces between the fingers and under the nails and rubbing for at least 20 seconds. Americans have been obsessed with eradicating germs ever since their role in disease was discovered in the 19th century, but they've been partial to technological fixes like antibiotics or sanitizers rather than the dirty work of cleanliness. Nancy Tomes, author of "The Gospel of Germs," believes the obsession waxes and wanes in response to social anxiety—about diseases such as anthrax, SARS or avian flu, naturally, but also about issues like terrorism or immigration that bear a metaphoric relationship to infection. "I can't protect myself from bin Laden, but I can rid myself of germs," she says. "Guarding against microbes is something Americans turn to when they're stressed." The plastic squeeze bottle of alcohol gel, which was introduced by Purell in 1997, is a powerful talisman of security. Sharon Morrison, a Dallas real-estate broker with three young daughters, estimates she has as many as 10 going at any time, in her house, her car, her purse, her office and her kids' backpacks. She swabs her grocery cart with sanitizing wipes and, when her children were younger, she would bring her own baby-seat cover from home and her own place mats to restaurants. Sales of Purell last year were $90 million, so she's clearly not alone. There's no question it kills germs, although it's not a substitute for washing; the Centers for Disease Control Web site notes that alcohol can't reach germs through a layer of dirt. Alcohol gels, which kill germs by drying them out, don't cause the kind of resistance that gives rise to superbugs like MRSA. But they're part of the culture of cleanliness that's led to a different set of problems.
In terms of infectious disease, the environment of the American suburb is unquestionably a far healthier place than most of the rest of the world. But we've made a Faustian bargain with our antibiotics, because most researchers now believe that our supersanitized world exacts a unique price in allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases, most of which were unknown to our ancestors. Sachs warns that many people drew precisely the wrong conclusion from this, that contracting a lot of diseases in childhood is somehow beneficial. What we need is more exposure to the good microbes, and the job of medicine in the years to come will be sorting out the good microbes from the bad.
That's the goal of the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year multinational study that its advocates say could tell us almost as much about life as the recently completed work of sequencing the human genome. One puzzling result of the Human Genome Project was the paltry number of genes it found—about 20,000, which is only as many as it takes to make a fruit fly. Now some researchers think some of the "missing" genes may be found in the teeming populations of microbes we host.
And the microbe project—which as a first step requires sampling every crevice and orifice of 100 people of varying ages from a variety of climates and cultures—is "infinitely more complex and problematic than the genome," laments (or boasts) one of its lead researchers, Martin Blaser of NYU Medical School. Each part of the body is a separate ecosystem, and even two teeth in the same mouth can be colonized by different bacteria. In general, researchers know what they'll find— Escherechia (including the ubiquitous microbial Everyman, E. coli) in the bowel, lactobacilli in the vagina and staphylococcus on the skin. But the mix of particular species and strains will probably turn out to be unique to each individual, a product of chance, gender (men and women have different microbes on their skin but are similar in their intestines) and socioeconomic status and culture. (Race seems not to matter much.) Once the microbes establish themselves they stay for life and fight off newcomers; a broad-spectrum antibiotic may kill most of them but the same kinds usually come back after a few weeks. The most intriguing question is how microbes interact with each other and with our own cells. "There is a three-way conversation going on throughout our bodies," says Jane Peterson of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "We want to listen in because we think it will fill in a lot of blanks about human health—and human disease."
The vast majority of human microbes live in the digestive tract; they get there by way of the mouth in the first few months of life, before stomach acid builds to levels that are intended to kill most invaders. The roiling, fetid and apparently useless contents of the large intestine were a moral affront to doctors in the early years of modern medicine, who sought to cleanse them from the body with high-powered enemas. But to microbiologists, the intestinal bacteria are a marvel, a virtual organ of the body which just happens to have its own DNA. Researchers at Duke University claim it explains the persistence of the human appendix. It serves, they say, as a reservoir of beneficial microbes which can recolonize the gut after it's emptied by diseases such as cholera or dysentery.
Microbes play an important role in digestion, especially of polysaccharides, starch molecules found in foods such as potatoes or rice that may be hundreds or thousands of atoms long. The stomach and intestines secrete 99 different enzymes for breaking these down into usable 6-carbon sugars, but the humble gut-dwelling Bacterioides theta produces almost 250, substantially increasing the energy we can extract from a given meal.
Of course, "energy" is another way of saying "calories." Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University raised a colony of mice in sterile conditions, with no gut microbes at all, and although they ate 30 percent more food than normal mice they had less than half the body fat. When they were later inoculated with normal bacteria, they quickly gained back up to normal weight. "We are finding that the nutritional value of food is pretty individualized," Gordon says. "And a big part of what determines it is our microbial composition."
We can't raise humans in sterile labs, of course, but there's evidence that variations between people in their intestinal microbes correspond to differences in body composition. And other factors appear to be at work besides the ability to extract calories from starch. Bacteria seem able to adjust levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite and metabolism. Certain microbes even seem to be associated with a desire for chocolate, according to research by the Nestlé Research Center. And a tiny study suggests that severe emotional stress in some people triggers an explosion in the population of B. theta, the starch-digesting bacteria associated with weight gain. That corresponds to folk wisdom about "stress eating," but it is also a profoundly disturbing and counterintuitive observation that something as intimate as our choice between a carrot and a candy bar is somehow mediated by creatures that are not us.
But these are the closest of aliens, so familiar that the immune system, which ordinarily attacks any outside organism, tolerates them by the trillions—a seeming paradox with profound implications for health. The microbes we have all our lives are the ones that colonize us in the first weeks and months after birth, while our immune system is still undeveloped; in effect, they become part of the landscape. "Dendritic" (treelike) immune cells send branches into the respiratory and digestive tracts, where they sample all the microbes we inhale or swallow. When they see the same ones over and over, they secrete an anti-inflammatory substance called interleukin-10, which signals the microbe-killing T-cells: stand down.
And that's an essential step in the development of a healthy immune system. The immune reaction relies on a network of positive and negative feedback loops, poised on a knife edge between the dangers of ignoring a deadly invader and over-reacting to a harmless stimulus. But to develop properly it must be exposed to a wide range of harmless microbes early in life. This was the normal condition of most human infants until a few generations ago. Cover the dirt on the floor of the hut, banish the farm animals to a distant feedlot, treat an ear infection with penicillin, and the inflammation-calming interleukin-10 reaction may fail to develop properly. "Modern sanitation is a good thing, and pavement is a good thing," says Sachs, "but they keep kids at a distance from microbes." The effect is to tip the immune system in the direction of overreaction, either to outside stimuli or even to the body's own cells. If the former, the result is allergies or asthma. Sachs writes that "children who receive antibiotics in the first year of life have more than double the rate of allergies and asthma in later childhood." But if the immune system turns on the body itself, you see irritable bowel syndrome, lupus or multiple sclerosis, among the many autoimmune diseases that were virtually unknown to our ancestors but are increasingly common in the developed world.
That is the modern understanding of the "Hygiene Hypothesis," first formulated by David Strachan in 1989. In Strachan's original version, which has unfortunately lodged in the minds of many parents, actual childhood illness was believed to exert a protective effect. There was a brief vogue for intentionally exposing youngsters to disease. But researchers now believe the key is exposure to a wide range of harmless germs, such as might be found in a playground or a park.
The task is complicated, in part because some bacteria seem to be both good and bad. The best-known is Helicobacter pylori, a microbe that has evolved to live in the acid environment of the stomach. It survives by burrowing into the stomach's mucous lining and secreting enzymes that reduce acidity. Nobel laureates Barry Marshall and Robin Warren showed it could cause gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. But then further studies discovered that infection with H. pylori was protective against esophageal reflux and cancer of the esophagus, and may also reduce the incidence of asthma. H. pylori, which is spread in drinking water and direct contact among family members, was virtually universal a few generations ago but is now on the verge of extinction in the developed world. The result is fewer ulcers and stomach cancer, but more cancer of the esophagus—which is increasing faster than any other form of cancer in America—more asthma, and … what else? We don't know. "H. pylori has colonized our guts since before humans migrated out of Africa," says Blaser. "You can't get rid of it and not expect consequences."
Blaser questions whether eliminating H. pylori is a good idea. Someday, conceivably, we might intentionally inoculate children with a bioengineered version of H. pylori that keeps its benefits without running the risk of stomach cancer. There is already a burgeoning market for "probiotics," bacteria with supposed health benefits, either in pill form or as food. Consumers last year slurped down more than $100 million worth of Dannon's Activia, a yogurt containing what the Web site impressively calls "billions" of beneficial microbes in every container. The microbes are a strain of Bifidobacterium animalis, which helps improve what advertisers delicately call "regularity," a fact Dannon has underscored by rechristening the species with its trademarked name "Bifidus regularis." Other products contain Lactobacillus casei, which is supposed to stimulate production of infection-fighting lymphocytes. Many others on the market are untested and of dubious value. Labels that claim ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT ought to be considered a warning, not a boast. Bacteria swap genetic material among themselves, and the last thing you want to do is introduce a resistant strain, even of a beneficial microbe, into your body.
And there's one more thing that microbes can do, perhaps the most remarkable of all. Mycobacterium vaccae, a soil microbe found in East Africa that has powerful effects on the immune system, was tested at the University of Bristol as a cancer therapy. The results were equivocal, but researchers made the startling observation that patients receiving it felt better regardless of whether their cancer was actually improving. Neuroscientist Chris Lowry injected mice with it, and found, to his amazement, that it activated the serotonin receptors in the prefrontal cortex—in other words, it worked like an antidepressant, only without the side effects of insomnia and anxiety. Researchers believe M. vaccae works through the interleukin-10 pathway, although the precise mechanism is uncertain. But there is at least the tantalizing, if disconcerting, suggestion that microbes may be able to manipulate our happiness. Could the hygiene hypothesis help explain the rise in, of all things, depression? We're a long way from being able to say that, much less use that insight to treat people. But at least we are asking the right questions: not how to kill bacteria, but how to live with them.
Regulators and most medical professionals still insist you should just "take the shot and shut up. It's good for you." Even though there's overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
So many give in because they do not understand the full danger these vaccines pose, or they believe they have no other options available to them.
Some of you may think you can't opt out of vaccines on religious grounds because you do not belong to an organized religion or church that has specific religious "rules" about medical interventions.
This is not necessarily true, and it's very important to realize this point.
According to James Filenbaum, Attorney at Law,there has been a Supreme Court ruling on this issue , which provides a very broad interpretation of the meaning of religious exemption (which is allowable in all states, except Mississippi and West Virginia).
Based on this, a parent's religious "beliefs" are sufficient to qualify for the religious exemption. "Belief" is defined as a faith that occupies a place in their lives, parallel to that held by the orthodox belief in God, or any sincere religious beliefs that are based upon a power or being to which all else is subordinate, and on which all else is ultimately dependent.
You would therefore qualify if you believe that not giving the vaccines is what you must do to follow God's will in fulfilling you role as a responsible parent, because your child's immune system is a creation of God, and to vaccinate would violate your faith in what God created.
The important rule here is that if a school district denies religious exemption, they are violating your federally protected civil rights under the first amendment by what is called "state action" and under federal law you are entitled to money damages.
However, you do need to find out exactly how the law is worded in your state, as each state varies in the amount and type of documentation you need to provide to use either the medical, philosophical, religious, or proof of existing immunity exemption.
Another thing to remember is to take full advantage of the VAERS reporting system (vaccine adverse event reporting system). If you or your child has suffered any kind of side effect from a vaccine, make sure your doctor reports it to VAERS. It's the only way to get more accurate data on the full extent of the problems. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of all side effects are ever reported, making these vaccines appear less dangerous than they really are.
As you look at this man's face, remember that even though you may not agree with his decision to avoid a blood transfusion at any cost, he stands as a representation of the human right to choose, and your personal right to refuse unwanted medical interventions of all kinds.
Dr. Sherri Tenpenny has been a contributing editor on the vaccine issue for several years. Many people throughout North America have likely heard of her, too, as she has offered her unparalleled insight on vaccines on countless health programs.
Her articles, such as "Expert" Believes Infants Can Tolerate 10,000 Vaccines and Smallpox Vaccines and Heart Disease, No "Coincidence", gives an idea of the range of her expertise and important insight. With "The Danger of Vaccines, and How You Can Legally Avoid Them" MP3, though, you will get all of the crucial information you need to protect you and your loved ones. What's more, you'll get it in a manner you can understand, and that's not "dry" but actually engaging to listen to.
If you are also interested in how and why vaccines themselves are dangerous, you should seriously consider Dr. Tenpenny's new video, "Vaccines: What CDC Documents and Science Reveal." You'll learn how vaccines can cause illnesses including autoimmune diseases, allergies, ear infections, and more. You'll discover the very real link between vaccines and developmental, learning and behavioral disorders in children. You'll find out how and why vaccine studies are seriously flawed. And much more: read more about Dr. Tenpenny's vaccine video.
Nearly ALL Children Can Qualify for the Religious Vaccine Exemption
There are, I believe, 19 states that currently allow a philosophical objection to vaccinations for school admission. Thanks to the incredible groups like the National Vaccine Information Center, it is likely more states may be added. Texas is likely to make the total 20 in the near future.
However, 48 states (all but Mississippi and West Virginia) allow for a religious exemption. There has been a supreme court ruling on this issue which provides broad interpretation of the meaning of religious exemption.
A parent's religious "beliefs" are sufficient to qualify for the religious exemption. The "belief" is defined as a faith that occupies a place in their lives parallel to that held by the orthodox belief in God or any sincere religious beliefs which are based upon a power or being to which all else is subordinate and on which all else is ultimately dependent
They qualify if they believe that not giving the vaccines is what they must do to follow God's will for them in fulfilling their role as responsible parents. Their child's immune system is a creation of God and that God has given their child and that to vaccinate would violate their faith in what God created.
The parents do NOT have to be part of a recognized religious organization. You don't have to join any church, you can be any religion at all. But if they are a part of an established religion (Catholic, Protestant, Islam, etc.) they can still have their own perceptions of what it means to follow God's will which may be counter to what that organization states.
The case is established with legal precedent at the US Supreme Court level. (United States Supreme Court in Sharon Levy vs. Northcourt cases)
The important rule here is that if a school district denies religious exemption they are violating your federally protected civil rights under the first amendment by what is called state action and under federal law you are entitle to money damages.
You can review one of the cases that helped set this law by clicking here .
James Filenbaum, Attorney at Law, Presented at the 2nd International Vaccine Conference
What They Don't Tell You About Vaccination Dangers Can Kill You or Ruin Your Life
After 30 years of intensive research, much has been learned about how brain cells work and what goes wrong when disease arises. One of the great enigmas has been the connection between vaccinations and certain brain disorders such as:
Gulf War Syndrome
More common neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's dementia and AL
As we learned more and more about how brain cells should work, we discovered that often normal processes, such as metabolism, could result in the accumulation of powerful chemical byproducts, called free radicals, that have the capacity to destroy these cells.
Free radicals, basically, are very reactive particles that bounce all around the cell damaging everything they touch. Most originate during the process of metabolism but can also arise from toxin exposure, irradiation and toxic metals. Because they are so destructive, cells have a network of defenses designed to neutralize them. This antioxidant network is composed of numerous components that include vitamins, minerals and special chemicals called thiols (glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid).
What Causes the Free Radicals
The idea that free radicals play a major role in all of the conditions listed above is now proven--the big question is why are so many free radicals being generated? In the case of autism, ADD and ADHD many came to support the idea that mercury derived from vaccines was the source of the radicals. And it was known that mercury could cause free radicals to be generated in large numbers within the brain. Evidence connecting mercury to the autism spectrum disorders, neurodegeneration and the Gulf War Syndrome is strong, but not exclusive.
Interestingly, all of these diseases also share another common event--over activation of a portion of the immune system.
It is important to appreciate that only a certain part of the immune system is overactive, because other parts, such as cellular immunity, are actually diminished. In some instances, as with the childhood disorders, the problem is congenital and in others it develops as a result of many factors such as aging, toxin exposure, poor nutrition and excessive vaccination itself. Mercury can impair immune function as well.
How Vaccines are Made
Basically, vaccines contain either killed viruses or bacteria, germ components, toxic extracts or live organisms that have been made less virulent--a process called attenuation. To stimulate an enhanced immune reaction against these organisms, manufacturers added powerful immune-stimulating substances such as squalene, aluminum, lipopolysacchride, etc. These are called immune adjuvants.
The process of vaccination usually required repeated injections of the vaccine over a set period of time. The combination of adjuvants plus the intended organism triggers an immune response by the body, similar to that occurring with natural infections, except for one major difference. Almost none of these diseases enter the body by injection. Most enter by way of the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, pulmonary passages or GI tract. For example, polio is known to enter via the GI tract. The membranes lining these passages contain a different immune system than activated by direct injection. This system is called the IgA immune system.
It is the first line of defense and helps reduce the need for intense activation of the body's immune system. Often, the IgA system can completely head off an attack. The point being that injecting organisms to induce immunity is abnormal.
Because more and more reports are appearing citing vaccine failure, their manufacturers' answer is to make the vaccines more potent. They do this by making the immune adjuvants more powerful or adding more of them. The problem with this approach is that in the very young, the nutritionally deficient and the aged, over-stimulating the immune system can have an opposite effect--it can paralyze the immune system.
This is especially prevalent with nutritional deficiency.
An early attempt to vaccinate Africans met with disaster when it was discovered that many were dying following vaccination. The problem was traced to widespread vitamin A deficiency among the tribes. Once the malnutrition was corrected, death rates fell precipitously.
Another problem we see with modern vaccines is that the immune stimulation continues over a prolonged period of time.
This is because of the immune adjuvants. They remain in the tissues, constantly stimulating immune-activating cells. With most natural infections the immune activation occurs rapidly, and once the infection is under control, it drops precipitously. This, as we shall see, is to prevent excessive damage to normal cells in the body.
What Happens to the Brain With Vaccination?
It seems the brain is always neglected when pharmacologists consider side effects of various drugs. The same is true for vaccinations. For a long time no one considered the effect of repeated vaccinations on the brain.
This was based on a mistaken conclusion that the brain was protected from immune activation by its special protective gateway called the blood-brain barrier. More recent studies have shown that immune cells can enter the brain directly, and more importantly, the brain's own special immune system can be activated by vaccination.
You see, the brain has a special immune system that operates through a unique type of cell called a microglia.
These tiny cells are scattered throughout the brain, lying dormant waiting to be activated. In fact, they are activated by many stimuli and are quite easy to activate. For our discussion, activation of the body's immune system by vaccination is a most important stimuli for activation of brain microglia.
Numerous studies have shown that when the body's immune system is activated, the brain's immune cells are likewise activated. This occurs by several pathways, not important to this discussion. The more powerfully the body's immune system is stimulated the more intense is the brain's reaction. Prolonged activation of the body's immune system likewise produces prolonged activation of the brain's immune system.
Therein lies the danger of our present vaccine policy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Practice have both endorsed a growing list of vaccines for children, even newborns, as well as yearly flu shots for both children and adults. Children are receiving as many as 22 inoculations before attending school.
What Happens When the Brain's Immune System is Activated?
The brain's immune system cells, once activated, begin to move about the nervous system, secreting numerous immune chemicals (called cytokines and chemokines) and pouring out an enormous amount of free radicals in an effort to kill invading organisms. The problem is--there are no invading organisms. It has been tricked by the vaccine into believing there are.
Unlike the body's immune system, the microglia also secrete two other chemicals that are very destructive of brain cells and their connecting processes. These chemicals, glutamate and quinolinic acid, are called excitotoxins. They also dramatically increase free radical generation in the brain. Studies of patients have shown that levels of these two excitotoxins can rise to very dangerous levels in the brain following viral and bacterial infections of the brain. High quinolinic acid levels in the brain are thought to be the cause of the dementia seen with HIV infection.
The problem with our present vaccine policy is that so many vaccines are being given so close together and over such a long period that the brain's immune system is constantly activated. This has been shown experimentally in numerous studies. This means that the brain will be exposed to large amounts of the excitotoxins as well as the immune cytokines over the same period.
Studies on all of these disorders, even in autism, have shown high levels of immune cytokines and excitotoxins in the nervous system. These destructive chemicals, as well as the free radicals they generate, are diffused throughout the nervous system doing damage, a process called bystander injury. It's sort of like throwing a bomb in a crowd.
Not only will some be killed directly by the blast but those far out into the radius of the explosion will be killed by shrapnel.
Normally, the brain's immune system, like the body's, activates quickly and then promptly shuts off to minimize the bystander damage. Vaccination won't let the microglia shut down. In the developing brain, this can lead to language problems, behavioral dysfunction and even dementia.
In the adult, it can lead to the Gulf War Syndrome or one of the more common neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's dementia or Lou Gehrig's disease (AL.
A recent study by the world-renowned immunologist Dr. H. Hugh Fudenberg found that adults vaccinated yearly for five years in a row with the flu vaccine had a 10-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. He attributes this to the mercury and aluminum in the vaccine. Interestingly, both of these metals have been shown to activate microglia and increase excitotoxicity in the brain.
Direct Effect of the Cytokines
Various cytokines have been used to treat cancer patients as well as other common diseases.
Studies of the effects of these cytokines on brain function reveal some very close parallels to the diseases we have been discussing. For a more in-depth study of these effects I suggest you read my article appearing in the Journal of the American Nutriceutical Association (volume 6 [fall], Number 4, 2003, pp 21-35) and in the summer issue 2004 of the Journal of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.
One can see:
A host of other behavioral problems
In the child, brain immune over-activation has been shown to be particularly damaging to the amygdala and other limbic structures of the brain. This can lead to unusual syndromes such as the loss of "theory of mind" and " Alice in Wonderland syndrome." It has also been shown to damage the executive functions of the frontal lobes.
In essence, what is lost is that which makes us social human beings, able to function in a complex world of ideas and interactions.
Several studies have indeed shown elevated levels of cytokines in autistic children. It is also interesting to note that these cytokines, especially interleukin-1ß and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) dramatically increase the damage produced by excitotoxins. So, what we see is a viscous cycle of immune activation, excitotoxin and cytokine excretion, and free radical production. The latter starts the cycle all over again.
The Role of Autoimmunity and Viral Persistence
Studies in autistic children have shown that a state of immune attack on the brain is occurring. Similar findings are seen with neurodegenerative diseases and the Gulf War Syndrome. It must be appreciated that this autoimmunity was triggered by the vaccinations and by organisms contaminating the vaccinations. Once started, the immune reaction cannot stop, thus triggering all the destructive reactions I have discussed.
Dr. Garth Nicolson has shown a direct connection between mycoplasma contamination of vaccines and the 200 percent increased incidence of ALS in Gulf War veterans. The disorder is produced by the same mechanism described above.
Another, even more common, problem is the use of live viruses in vaccines. The reason live viruses can be used is that they are weakened by passing them through a series of cultures--a process called attenuation. These attenuated, non-disease-causing viruses are then injected in hopes of stimulating the body to produce an immune attack.
The problem with this idea is two-fold.
First, we now know that in far too many cases these viruses escape the immune system and take up residence in the body--for a lifetime. A recent autopsy study of elderly individuals found that 20 percent of the brains contained live measles viruses and 45 percent of the other organs contained live measles viruses. Similar findings have been described in autistic children and the measles virus is identical genetically to the one used in the vaccine.
The second problem is that most of these viruses were found to be highly mutated. In fact, different mutations were found among viruses in various organs in the same individual.
This has been a secret kept from the public.
These attenuated viruses undergo mutation brought on by the presence of free radicals in the tissues and organs and they can mutate into virulent, disease-causing organisms. Recent studies have confirmed this frightening finding. In fact, a large percentage of Alzheimer's disease patients have live viruses in their brain as compared to normal individuals.
Once these live viruses are injected, they cannot be removed. Because the viruses stay in the body, they will be under constant free radical exposure, which can increase during times of stress, illness, exercise and with aging. It is the free radicals that cause the virus to mutate.
In essence, the viruses can exist in the brain, or any organ, either silently and slowly producing destruction of the brain or spinal cord or producing sudden disease once the virus mutates to a highly lethal form.
We have seen that the policy of giving numerous vaccinations to individuals, especially infants and small children, is shear idiocy.
A considerable number of studies have shown conclusively that such a practice can lead to severe injury to the brain by numerous mechanisms. Because the child's brain is undergoing a period of rapid growth from the third trimester of pregnancy until age 2 years, his or her brain is at considerable risk from this insane policy.
We have also seen that live-virus vaccines and contaminated vaccines hold a special risk in that the viruses tend to persist in a substantial number of individuals and that free radicals can cause the latent viruses to transform by genetic mutation into disease-causing organisms later in life.
It is vital that anyone scheduled for vaccination follow a schedule that allows no more than one vaccine every six months, allowing the immune system time to recover.
Live-virus vaccines should be avoided.
This was recently illustrated by the switch from the live polio vaccine to the killed virus. All cases of polio after the introduction of the vaccine, in the developed world, came from the vaccine itself. This was known from the beginning.
Finally, it is vital that anyone undergoing vaccination should start nutritional supplementation and adhere to a healthy diet before vaccination occurs. Vaccine complications are far fewer in individuals with good nutrition
People should avoid using Wi-Fi wherever possible because of the risks it may pose to health, the German government has said.
Its surprise ruling - the most damning made by any government on the fast-growing technology - will shake the industry and British ministers, and vindicates the questions that The Independent on Sunday has been raising over the past four months.
And Germany's official radiation protection body also advises its citizens to use landlines instead of mobile phones, and warns of "electrosmog" from a wide range of other everyday products, from baby monitors to electric blankets.
The German government's ruling - which contrasts sharply with the unquestioning promotion of the technology by British officials - was made in response to a series of questions by Green members of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament.
The Environment Ministry recommended that people should keep their exposure to radiation from Wi-Fi "as low as possible" by choosing "conventional wired connections". It added that it is "actively informing people about possibilities for reducing personal exposure".
Its actions will provide vital support for Sir William Stewart, Britain's official health protection watchdog, who has produced two reports calling for caution in using mobile phones and who has also called for a review of the use of Wi-Fi in schools. His warnings have so far been ignored by ministers and even played down by the Health Protection Agency, which he chairs.
By contrast the agency's German equivalent - the Federal Office for Radiation Protection - is leading the calls for caution.
Florian Emrich, for the office, says Wi-Fi should be avoided "because people receive exposures from many sources and because it is a new technology and all the research into its health effects has not yet been carried out".
Are Your Cell Phone and Laptop Bad for Your Health? By Stan Cox AlterNet
Tuesday 31 July 2007
In the wee hours of July 14, a 45-year-old Australian named John Patterson climbed into a tank and drove it through the streets of Sydney, knocking down six cell-phone towers and an electrical substation along the way. Patterson, a former telecommunications worker, reportedly had mapped out the locations of the towers, which he claimed were harming his health.
In recent years, protesters in England and Northern Ireland have brought down cell towers by sawing, removing bolts, and pulling with tow trucks and ropes. In one such case, locals bought the structure and sold off pieces of it as souvenirs to help with funding of future protests. In attempts to fend off objections to towers in Germany, some churches have taken to disguising them as giant crucifixes.
Opposition to towers usually finds more socially acceptable outlets, and protests are being heard more often than ever in meetings of city councils, planning commissions, and other government bodies. This summer alone, citizen efforts to block cell towers have sprouted in, among a host of other places, including California, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, North Dakota and north of the border in Ontario and British Columbia. Transmitters are already banned from the roofs of schools in many districts.
For years, towers have been even less welcome in the United Kingdom, where this summer has seen disputes across the country.
Most opponents cite not only aesthetics but also concerns over potential health effects of electromagnetic (EM) fields generated by the towers. Once ridiculed as crackpots and Luddites, they're starting to get backup from the scientific community.
It's not just cell phones they're worried about. The Tottenham area of London is considering the suspension of all wireless technology in its schools. Last year, Fred Gilbert, a respected scientist and president of Lakehead University in Ontario, banned wireless internet on his campus. And resident groups in San Francisco are currently battling Earthlink and Google over a proposed city-wide Wi-Fi system.
Picking Up Some Interference?
For decades, concerns have been raised about the health effects of "extremely low frequency" fields that are produced by electrical equipment or power lines. People living close to large power lines or working next to heavy electrical equipment are spending a lot of time in electromagnetic fields generated by those sources. Others of us can be exposed briefly to very strong fields each day.
But in the past decade, suspicion has spread to cell phones and other wireless technologies, which operate at frequencies that are millions to tens of millions higher but at low power and "pulsed."
Then there's your cell phone, laptop, or other wireless device, which not only receives but also sends pulsed signals at high frequencies. Because it's usually very close to your head (or lap) when in use, the fields experienced by your body are stronger than those from a cell tower down the street.
A growing number of scientists, along with a diverse collection of technology critics, are pointing out that our bodies constantly generate electrical pulses as part of their normal functioning. They maintain that incoming radiation from modern technology may be fouling those signals.
But with hundreds of billions in sales at stake, the communications industry (and more than a few scientists) insist that radio-frequency radiation can't have biological effects unless it's intense enough to heat your flesh or organs, in the way a microwave oven cooks meat.
It's also turning out that when scientific studies are funded by industry, the results a lot less likely to show that EM fields are a health hazard.
Low Frequency, More Frequent Disease?
Before the digital revolution, a long line of epidemiological studies compared people who were exposed to strong low-frequency fields - people living in the shadow of power lines, for example, or long-time military radar operators - to similar but unexposed groups.
One solid outcome of that research was to show that rates of childhood leukemia are associated with low-frequency EM exposure; as a result, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has labeled that type of energy as a possible carcinogen, just as they might label a chemical compound.
Other studies have found increased incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), higher rates of breast cancer among both men and women, and immune-system dysfunction in occupations with high exposure.
Five years ago, the California Public Utilities Commission asked three epidemiologists in the state Department of Health Services to review and evaluate the scientific literature on health effects of low-frequency EM fields.
The epidemiologists, who had expertise in physics, medicine, and genetics, agreed in their report that they were "inclined to believe that EMFs can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease, and miscarriage" and were open to the possibility that they raise the risks of adult leukemia and suicide. They did not see associations with other cancer types, heart disease, or Alzheimer's disease.
Epidemiological and animal studies have not been unanimous in finding negative health effects from low-frequency EM fields, so the electric-utility industry continues to emphasize that no cause-and-effect link has been proven.
Now the most intense debate is focused on radio-frequency fields. As soon as cell phones came into common usage, there was widespread concern that holding an electronic device against the side of your head many hours a month for the rest of your life might be harmful, and researchers went to work looking for links to health problems, often zeroing in on the possibility of brain tumors.
Until recently, cell phones had not been widely used over enough years to evaluate effects on cancers that take a long time to develop. A number of researchers failed to find an effect during those years, but now that the phones have been widely available for more than a decade, some studies are relating brain-tumor rates to long-term phone use.
Some lab studies have found short-term harm as well. Treatment with cell-phone frequencies has disrupted thyroid-gland functioning in lab rats, for example. And at Lund University in Sweden, rats were exposed to cell-phone EM fields of varying strengths for two hours; 50 days later, exposed rats showed significant brain damage relative to non-exposed controls.
The authors were blunt in their assessment: "We chose 12-26-week-old rats because they are comparable with human teenagers - notably frequent users of mobile phones - with respect to age. The situation of the growing brain might deserve special concern from society because biologic and maturational processes are particularly vulnerable during the growth process."
Even more recently, health concerns have been raised about the antenna masts that serve cell phones and other wireless devices. EM fields at, say, a couple of blocks from a tower are not as strong as those from a wireless device held close to the body; nevertheless many city-dwellers are now continuously bathed in emissions that will only grow in their coverage and intensity.
Last year, the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia closed off the top two floors of its 17-story business school for a time because five employees working on its upper floors had been diagnosed with brain tumors in a single month, and seven since 1999. Cell phone towers had been placed on the building's roof a decade earlier and, although there was no proven link between them and the tumors, university officials were taking no chances.
Data on the health effects of cell or W-Fi towers are still sparse and inconsistent. Their opponents point to statistically rigorous studies like one in Austria finding that headaches and difficulty with concentration were more common among people exposed to stronger fields from cell towers. All sides seem to agree on the need for more research with solid data and robust statistical design.
San Francisco, one of the world's most technology-happy cities, is home to more than 2400 cell-phone antennas, and many of those transmitters are due to be replaced with more powerful models that can better handle text messaging and photographs, and possibly a new generation of even higher-frequency phones.
Now there's hot-and-heavy debate over plans to add 2200 more towers for a city-wide Earthlink/Google Wi-Fi network. On July 31, the city's Board of Supervisors considered an appeal by the San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union (SNAFU) that the network proposal be put through an environmental review - a step that up to now has not been required for such telecommunications projects.
In support of the appeal, Magda Havas, professor of environmental and resource studies at Trent University in Ontario submitted an analysis of radio-frequency effects found in more than 50 human, animal, and cellular-level studies published in scientific journals.
Havas has specialized in investigating the effects of both low- and high-frequency EM radiation. She says most of the research in the field is properly done, but that alone won't guarantee that all studies will give similar results. "Natural variability in biological populations is the norm," she said.
And, she says, informative research takes time and focus: "For example, studies that consider all kinds of brain tumors in people who've only used cell phones for, say, five years don't show an association. But those studies that consider only tumors on the same side of the head where the phone is held and include only people who've used a phone for ten years or more give the same answer very consistently: there's an increased risk of tumors." In other research, wireless frequencies have been associated with higher rates of miscarriage, testicular cancer, and low sperm counts.
Direct current from a battery can be used to encourage healing of broken bones. EM fields of various frequencies have also been shown to reduce tissue damage from heart attacks, help heal wounds, reduce pain, improve sleep, and relieve depression and anxiety. If they are biologically active enough to promote health, are they also active enough to degrade it?
At the 2006 meeting of the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety in Benevento, Italy, 42 scientists from 16 countries signed a resolution arguing for much stricter regulation of EM fields from wireless communication.
Four years earlier, in Freiburger, Germany, a group of physicians had signed a statement also calling for tighter regulation of wireless communication and a prohibition on use of wireless devices by children. In the years since, more than 3000 doctors have signed the so-called "Freiburger Appeal" and documents modeled on it.
But in this country, industry has pushed for and gotten exemption from strict regulation, most notably through the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Libby Kelley, director of the Council on Wireless Technology Impacts in Novato, California says, "The technology always comes first, the scientific and environmental questions later. EM trails chemicals by about 10 years, but I hope we'll catch up."
Kelley says a major problem is that the Telecommunications Act does not permit state or local governments to block the siting of towers based on health concerns: "We'll go to hearings and try to bring up health issues, and officials will tell us, 'We can't talk about that. We could get sued in federal court!'"
Industry officials are correct when they say the scientific literature contains many studies that did not find power lines or telecommunication devices to have significant health effects. But when, as often happens, a range of studies give some positive and some negative results, industry people usually make statements like, "Technology A has not been proven to cause disease B."
Michael Kundi, professor at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria and an EM researcher, has issued a warning about distortions of the concept of cause-and-effect, particularly when a scientific study concludes that "there is no evidence for a causal relationship" between environmental factors and human health. Noting that science is rarely able to prove that A did or did not "cause" B, he wrote that such statements can be "readily misused by interested parties to claim that exposure is not associated with adverse health effects."
Scientists and groups concerned about current standards for EM fields have criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) and other for downplaying the risks. And some emphasize the risk of financial influence when such intense interest is being shown by huge utilities and a global communications industry that's expected to sell $250 billion worth of wireless handsets per year by 2011 (that's just for the instruments, not counting monthly bills). Microwave News cited Belgian reports in late 2006 that two industry groups - the GSM Association and Mobile Manufacturers Forum - accounted for more than 40 percent of the budget for WHO's EM fields project in 2005-06.
When a US National Academy of Sciences committee was formed earlier this year to look into health effects of wireless communication devices, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Sage Associates wrote a letter to the Academy charging that the appointment of two of the committee's six members was improper under federal conflict-of-interest laws.
One of the committee members, Leeka Kheifets, a professor of epidemiology in UCLA's School of Public Health, has, says the letter, "spent the majority of the past 20 years working in various capacities with the Electric Power Research Institute, the research arm of the electric power industry."
The other, Bernard Veyret, senior scientist at the University of Bordeaux in France, "is on the consulting board of Bouygues Telecom (one of 3 French mobile phone providers), has contracts with Alcatel and other providers, and has received research funding from Electricite de France, the operator of the French electricity grid." The NAS committee will be holding a workshop this month and will issue a report sometime after that.
A paper published in January in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that when studies of cell phone use and health problems were funded by industry, they were much less likely to find a statistically significant relationship than were publicly funded studies.
The authors categorized the titles of the papers they surveyed as either negative (as in "Cellular phones have no effect on sleep patterns"), or neutral (e.g., "Sleep patterns of adolescents using cellular phones"), or positive, (e.g., "Cellular phones disrupt sleep"). Fully 42 percent of the privately funded studies had negative titles and none had positive ones. In public or nonprofit studies, titles were 18 percent negative and 46 percent positive.
Alluding to previous studies in the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries, the authors concluded, "Our findings add to the existing evidence that single-source sponsorship is associated with outcomes that favor the sponsors' products."
By email, I asked Dr. John Moulder, a senior editor of the journal Radiation Research, for his reaction to the study. Moulder, who is Professor and Director of Radiation Biology in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Wisconsin, did not think the analysis was adequate to conclusively demonstrate industry influence and told me that in his capacity as an editor, "I have not noted such an effect, but I have not systematically looked for one either. I am certainly aware that an industry bias exists in other areas of medicine, such as reporting of clinical trails."
Moulder was lead author on a 2005 paper concluding that the scientific literature to that point showed "a lack of convincing evidence for a causal association between cancer and exposure to the RF [radio-frequency] energy used for mobile telecommunications."
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has questioned Moulder's objectivity because he has served as a consultant to electric-power and telecommunications firms and groups. Moulder told me, "I have not done any consulting for the electric power and telecommunications industry in years, and when I was doing consulting for these industries, the journals for which I served as an editor or reviewer were made aware of it."
A year ago, Microwave News also reported that approximately one-half of all studies looking into possible damage to DNA by communication-frequency EM fields found no effect. But three-fourths of those negative studies were industry- or military-funded; indeed, only 3 of 35 industry or military papers found an effect, whereas 32 of 37 publicly funded studies found effects.
Magda Havas sees a shortage of public money in the US for research on EM health effects as one of the chief factors leading to lack of a rigorous public policy, telling me, "Much of the research here ends up being funded directly or indirectly by industry. That affects both the design and the interpretation of studies." As for research done directly by company scientists, "It's the same as in any industry. They can decide what information to make public. They are free to downplay harmful effects and release information that's beneficial to their product."
Meanwhile, at Trent University where Havas works, students using laptops are exposed to radio-frequency levels that exceed international guidelines. Of that, she says, "For people who've been fully informed and decide to take the risk, that's their choice. But what about those who have no choice, who have a cell-phone tower outside their bedroom window?
"It's the equivalent of secondhand smoke. We took a long time to get the political will to establish smoke-free environments, and we now know we should have done it sooner. How long will it take to react to secondhand radiation?"
We've discussed a number of ways to reduce your electricity and gas bills through conservation measures. For low costs and shorter payback periods, efficiency enhancements are almost always the way to go.
You can take greening your power consumption up another notch, though, by purchasing, or even generating, clean renewable energy. Depending on where you live, you may have several options.
Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are available to anyone, anywhere. Credits can be a little difficult to wrap your head around: essentially, you're purchasing the environmental benefit created by renewable electricity generation. As we note in the Green Life Guide, most buyers of renewable energy credits do so to "offset" the environmental impact of their own power use, which is likely generated from coal or natural gas.
Green Power Programs allow you to buy power generated from renewable sources such as solar power and wind (though many utilities "green" the power by purchasing RECs). The Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy division has a list of utilities throughout the US that offer such programs.
Renewable Energy Systems are available for purchase, of course. This represents a major investment for a home or building owner, but with tax incentives offered by the federal and state governments, you may find that your payback period on such a system is shorter than you imagined... and after that point, you're getting virtually free electricity. Renewable systems have to be evaluated on a number of criteria, including your geographic location, and the amount of power your want to generate. You also need to decide if you want to stay connected to the electrical grid. Your choices include solar, wind and geothermal systems.
Your Action for Today: Examine Your Clean Power Options
If you're in an apartment or other living space without available land, you probably do have a balcony or patio where you can put some pots or other containers. Home owners and house renters generally have more versatility. The main feature needed: lots of sunlight. If your soil's not in the best condition, don't worry - there are ways to fix it.
The next area that the EERE suggests examining in a whole house energy audit is your insulation. As with air leaks, the proper levels of insulation can help insure that you're not spending more than necessary on heating and cooling. Keep in mind that your home likely has the insulation levels recommended at the time it was built, so adding to these levels can keep your energy usage (and your heating and cooling bills) down.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory suggests focusing on the following actions:
Insulate your attic to the recommended level, including the attic door, or hatch cover.
Provide the recommended level of insulation under floors above unheated spaces, around walls in a heated basement or unventilated crawl space, and on the edges of slabs-on-grade.
Use the recommended levels of insulation for exterior walls for new house construction. When remodeling or re-siding your house, consider using the levels recommended for new construction in your existing walls.
EERE lists specific steps you can take to check your insulation levels in these areas of your home. Be particularly careful when checking walls - you'll likely want to check through electric outlets, but it's critical to make sure that the electricity to those outlets is turned off before checking.
Your Action for Today: Check Your Insulation Levels
Using the steps and safety precautions provided by EERE, check the levels of insulation in your home. If they're below recommended levels, consider adding insulation - it will make a big difference in your energy usage, especially in the hottest parts of the summer, and the coldest parts of the winter.
For most people, insulation means fiberglass. Greener alternatives* are available, though, including:
Soybean-based polyurethane foam
Are your insulation levels adequate? If not, how will you increase them? Let us know in your Green Journal.
Tomorrow: Let's go car shopping...
The GO Team GreenOptions.com
*This article is from The Green Guide, which Green Options sells through the magazine's affiliate program.
We're back to the Green Life plan you started on Day 7, and refined on Day 13. You've done more thinking about the major areas of your life that can benefit from a lighter environmental impact, so pull your plan back out, and figure out how you want to schedule these activities into your green routine.
Composting: You'll likely gather compostable materials throughout each day: coffee grounds, tea bags, fruit and vegetable scraps, etc. You'll probably also add them to your pile or bin daily. You will likely complete other activities (turning the pile, or adding shredded newspaper to the worm bin) on a weekly basis.
Vampire power: You may need to check daily to make sure that you unplug various electronic items that will draw power in standby mode: cell phone chargers, for instance. Of course, making use of smart power strips and other devices that regulate the flow of standby power can make this change almost effortless.
Car maintenance: Check those tires monthly - add that to your plan! Air filters likely need checking every few months, and proper oil changes and tune-ups should occur according to the manufacturer's suggested schedule. Do you know that schedule? If not, check your owner's manual. If you no longer have this, here are some links that will help you get the information you need.
Buying from a CSA: Depending on the season, you may need to set up a reminder to start looking at CSA subscriptions - most start in the late Spring. If you join one, you'll need to make that weekly pick-up a part of your schedule.
Your Action for Today: Revise Your Plan Again
If it looks like your schedule is really filling up, remember: most of these activities can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Before long, you separate out those compostables and check the air pressure in the tires without needing a reminder. Living green is tough now because you've developed "ungreen" habits. By using your plan as a reminder, you can develop new habits that lighten your load on the environment, and leave you with more money in your pocket!
While more grocery stores carry more local and organic foods than ever before, you'll still likely find the best quality, selection and prices at farmer's markets or other alternative sources. Generally, this also means that you need to plan around the market's schedule, as it may only be open for one day a week; it also likely means you've got to make two shopping trips.
While nothing beats the experience of perusing fresh foods sold by the farmers themselves, your schedule may not allow for the time needed to get the most our of this kind of shopping. If that's the case, you'll probably want to explore community supported agriculture programs (CSA). In this model, you and others buy "subscriptions," or shares, of a farm's crop. At regular intervals (generally weekly), you can pick up your share of the harvest either at the farm, or, sometimes, at delivery locations. You don't need to spend time comparing prices or availability: just pick up your basket of food, and you're good to go!
CSAs are great for both farmers and consumers: farmers know their crop is sold, and buyers get to build a relationship with the person (or people) responsible for planting, harvesting and selling the food they eat. Keep in mind, though, that you don't choose the items in each weekly delivery: you get whatever's ready to harvest. CSAs generally expect payment in full at the beginning of the growing season; a few require members to work a few hours on the farm (which gives you even more knowledge about the source of your food). You'll want to explore CSA options carefully; finding the right one, though, means weekly fresh food straight from the farm - generally at a great price!
Your Action for Today: Explore the CSAs in Your Area
Are there CSAs available in your area? It's easy to find out: go to Local Harvest's CSA page, and do a search. Take a look at the prices, payment policies, crops available, pick-up practices, and work requirements (if any). You may figure out that a CSA provides a reasonably-priced, convenient way to have greener food ready for your family every week.
Record what you find in your Green Journal. If you've got questions, call the farm - they'll likely be happy to give you more details about their program.
Look at what you're wearing... go ahead, look. What you see, whether made from cotton, wool, silk, rayon or leather, likely has a pretty hefty environmental impact. A recent report (in PDF) from the UK's Cambridge University notes that the clothes we wear represent large expenditures of energy, toxic chemicals (esp. fertilizers), and water (both in production and cleaning), and also create huge amounts of waste because of changing fashion trends. On average, every American throws away 68 pounds of fabric per year - that's over 10 million tons of waste annually.
Fortunately, greening your wardrobe doesn't have to mean buying all-new clothes (clearly, that's part of the problem). Rather, it involves choosing carefully when you do buy, and then lowering the use of energy and toxic chemicals when caring for them.
Your Action for Today: Take a Look at Your Wardrobe
Take a look at the clothes you own, and think about your normal buying patterns. Answer the following questions in your Green Journal.
Are you a "dedicated follower of fashion?" We all like to dress well, but constantly buying "the latest thing" contributes to an awful lot of waste. More timeless styles don't have to cleaned out every season.
Do you buy all of your clothes new? Used and vintage clothes can be inexpensive, and carry a much lighter footprint - think of them as "offsetting" the purchase of a new item. Clothing swaps are becoming popular social gatherings, and allow you to change up your wardrobe frequently without as heavy an environmental footprint. On the flip side, when you're done with an item of clothing that's still wearable, donate it - don't throw it away.
Do many of your clothes need dry cleaning? Traditional dry cleaning uses perchloroethylene (or "perc"), a highly toxic chemical. While some efforts are underway to change this, and some cleaners are adopting more eco-friendly practices, avoiding dry-clean only clothes prevents this dilemma altogether.
Do you ever use a clothesline? Drying is the most energy-intensive part of laundering clothes. Cut your electric or gas bill (as well as your carbon emissions) by using a clothesline. If you use a liquid fabric softener, dry the clothes for five minutes to activate the softener, and then remove them and put 'em on the line.
Are most of your clothes made from cotton? Traditionally-grown cotton needs lots of water and fertilizer; add the drying time and ironing needed to keep it looking good, and you've got a fabric with a massive environmental footprint. Organically-grown cotton is better, and much more available than in the past - Wal-Mart, in fact, is the biggest seller of the fabric. Synthetics that require little drying time and ironing are even greener. Fabrics like hemp and bamboo, while not yet as widely available as cotton, are catching on with designers... and they're much more eco-friendly.
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