Healthy Routines

Im back to health again after long time focusing mostly on finances and the environment.  Like I say everywhere in the blog, these things are quite interconnected, and some of the rules that apply to your finances can apply to your health.

The one I have been thinking about most recently is the automation portion.  Every morning when I get to the office, I park in the farthest parking spot that I can from the door.  Im typically one of the first ones there, so I do have my choice, but choose to park quite far away.  So, I walk a bit further to get into the door, and feel nice and energized when I get there.

However, I dont think you need to do this ALL the time.  One example for me is target: I swear, whenever I go in there it rains or snows, without fail.  That, coupled with the big-box store mentality of parking close to the entrance, I typically try to find a parking spot as close as I can to the front door.  To me, this isnt a big deal at all.  I go to target about once every week and a half or two weeks, so not taking the extra steps is not that big of a deal.  However, I go to work EVERYDAY.  Taking those steps everyday will create a solid routine for the future, and will also add up over time.

Just like with saving money, in health, Every little bit counts.

This solution also works well with messages you need to take around the office.  You could use the phone, but you’ll probably feel better if you walk up a few steps to talk to whomever you need to talk to.  I’ve never worn a pedometer or tried to count steps, but if you’re interested, you can get them for cheap or probably get a free one.

Another healthy routine to get into is eating breakfast.  I know you heard it from your mom everyday, but it’s the truth.  I usually dont have mine at home, but I eat it while at work.  I just keep a box of blueberry flavored granola in my desk and have a cup when I get to work every morning.  Couple this with a bottle or 2 of water, and I’m set for the day.  (I’m not all that dependent on caffinene, and with the granola, I dont really need to be.  Its very energy dense, and keeps me going through lunch.)

The Five Eco Principles – Healthy Environment

While in Chicago in April, I had a chance to visit the museum of science & industry.  The experience was great, and my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the museum.  We were both intrigued enough to pay the extra ~$25 or so to see the smart house.  We were not disappointed, and left with some good ideas about things to re-use and things to purchase made from re-used items.  Recently, I thought it would be a good idea to share the principles with the readers, and figure out how you can best take advantage of them.  Today is the fifth one, focusing on a Healthy Environment.

Ensuring that you live in a healthy environment is paramount.  You are in your residence a significant portion of time, so if something potentially harmful to you (or your loved ones) has the potential to cause problems at best, and can be lethal at the worst.  There have been some spectacular incidents that can illustrate this problem perfectly, and show you a few:

  1. Asbestos – This used to be used in multiple products in the home (floor tiles, roofing, fire retardant) and elsewhere around the home (brake pads).  Asbestos poses no threat until its been disturbed.  During a home remodel or other disturbing event to the asbestos, the fibers can become airborne and inhaled.  This is obviously not good for you, and can lead to serious lung problems in the future.  Asbestos is no longer common in building materials, and is currently regulated by the EPA.
  2. Lead – This used to be found in gasoline and paint.  Poses huge risks to our children (those six & under), and can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems and possibly death.  This is also something that you dont want floating in the air in the place where you spend most of your time.
  3. DDT – Probably one of the most infamous products ever used in or around the home.  Typically, it was used to kill mosquitos carrying malaria.  This chemical became very popular around the home, and was eventually linked to multiple problems, such as appearing in humans, thinning eggshells of wildland creatures and showing up in the fats of fish.  It was one of the first major environmental campaigns, and was brought on by the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

There are also plenty of modern day examples.  One of the current ones is VOC Paints.  VOC (aka Volatile Organic Compounds) are in some paints, and can seep out after the wall has been painted.  Something else that could pose a problem is your granite countertop.  Some granite countertops house uranium, which is not only radioactive, but can release radon gas, which can cause lung cancer. The amount of uranium that is most likely contained in your countertop is not suspected to be enough to pose a significant risk to your health, but are you willing to find out the hard way if that ends up not being true?

Now, think about how much time that you and your loved ones spend inside your home.  There are a few things to think about when it comes to these type of pollutants.

  1. How worried do I need to be about these products? No one really knows what the long term effects of these chemicals will be.  Do you want to be one of the first to file a lawsuit because you found out?
  2. To what degree do I want to protect myself and my loved ones? – Many of the things that can mitigate potential sickness cost more.  How much more  are you willing to pay?

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The Five Eco Principles – Smart Design

While in Chicago in April, I had a chance to visit the museum of science & industry.  The experience was great, and my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the museum.  We were both intrigued enough to pay the extra ~$25 or so to see the smart house.  We were not disappointed, and left with some good ideas about things to re-use and things to purchase made from re-used items.  Recently, I thought it would be a good idea to share the principles with the readers, and figure out how you can best take advantage of them.  Today is the first one, focusing on smart design.

Design is important for plenty of reasons.  No one would want to live in an eco-friendly house if it looked like a huge eyesore.  I dont care how much you are interested in saving the earth, you wouldnt want to live in an ugly house.  So, one of the prime things an eco friendly house needs is good (looking) design.  You should not need to sacrifice looks to be eco-friendly, and you wont need to.  Having lots of windows will allow for more heat in the summer, but also keep your place cooler in the winter.  Opening windows will allow for a nice cross breeze that can cool your house down quickly, which can save you more on cooling costs in the summer.  Adding fans is also a good way to keep the temperatures under control.  Force the heat down in the winter and change direction in the summer to move the warm air out.

Alot of the smart design principles are important, but one of the easiest to appease is probably the location of windows.  If you have south facing windows, you can leave the windows open for natural light, cutting down on your electricity.  Not on this, but everyone loves windows (as long as you’re not living in a ‘fishbowl’), and they can be beneficial as they cut down on artifical light, as well as heat your home.  Things like this arent rocket scientists, but the large developers dont give them consideration because they are not the ones paying the electrical bills.

Smart Design is not limited to just the inside of the home.  Where I grew up in the Western United States, water was our primary concern.  When it rained (not often) water can be caught in a rain barrell or encouraged to seep into the ground to water grass or flowers.  This is to protect the rivers and drainage basins that storm drains empty into, as the runoff can carry toxic chemicals and other materials that can alter the natural balance of the river or lake ecosystem.  One of the best ways to combat this effect is to have paths of woodchips or gravel, as opposed to cement.  The gravel and woodchips can absorb the water, as opposed to letting water run off, as cement does. You can save on walkway construction costs and will not have to sacrifice anything on design either!

While it is still quite expensive, solar energy is also worth considering.  There’s a 20% federal tax credit on systems, and many states (and some counties) have credits as well.  The payback period is still around 20 years, depending on quite a few factors, but is well worth it, espically if your house was designed well and is not an energy hog in the first place.  The lower your baseload (typical energy usage) is, the smaller number of solar panels you’ll need, recuding your system cost.

Good, eco-friendly design can easily be as visually appealing (or more so) than non eco-friendly design.  It’s also a great starting point, as you can design in many energy saving features, such as lots of windows. Seriously thinking about the lifecycle costs of many decisions made reguarding your home can allow you to live in a more eco (and wallett) friendly way.  Who wouldnt want that?