View On Healthy Lifestyle

It’s Your Environment

by Laurie Nelson-Barker


How would you like your environment? Toasty hot with a side of dust, or frozen with a side of blizzard? I’m not referencing Dairy Queen. Minimizing impact on our environment is crucial now more than ever. Those of us who believe in satellite images from NASA know that our earth is rapidly warming and if we can’t learn to adapt quickly enough, we will have to grow food and possibly fins. Hopefully we won’t have to “sink or swim.”


I recently became convinced of the health and environmental benefits of eliminating toxins as much as possible, and reducing my carbon footprint. After reading No Impact Man1, I decided that if a family in Manhattan could live with little impact, so could I. So, I endeavored to become “Little Impact Woman,“ as I’m not ready to turn off my electricity or get rid of my car or plane just yet. I also enjoy traveling and would like to visit a few places on my bucket list before it’s too late.


The first step of eliminating processed foods and eating plant based seemed easy as I am already vegan. The biggest obstacle is the people who know why eating plant based won’t work for them or you. I’ve heard every excuse:

– “You won’t get enough protein.” Yes you will.

– “You need animal products to stay healthy.” No, you don’t.

– “You will die.” I haven’t yet, and it’s been over 20 years.

Giving gift cards to steakhouses, or boxes of meat to those attempting to eat plant based, is not funny and is akin to giving liquor to an alcoholic, in my opinion.


Buying only local foods is doable, but not easy. In the book, “local” was defined as a radius of 250 miles. I would be forced to give up pineapple, bananas, avocados, mangos, and probably a lot of other stuff, unless I can figure out how to grow them. I have managed to grow two lemons and a kumquat in my sun lounge, but the big advantage of the conservatory thus far is passive heating for the house, and being able to wear shorts and a tank top in the middle of winter while my neighbors are wearing parkas, gloves, and hats. In the summer, the conservatory becomes a scorching slice of hell in the desert, but it’s a good place to dry wet items or view the stars at night in privacy. Our next sun lounge will have sliding glass doors with built in blinds. You learn some things the hard way.


Eliminating cleaning products and personal care products was not difficult, as we were already doing that. My husband, Mike, has been making soap from scratch for a while. It gives him something to do on a bad weather day and as long as nothing explodes, I support him. I use baking soda, vinegar, and pumice to clean. I have permanent makeup and use coconut oil and baking soda for toothpaste. I love shea butter, castile soap, and almond oil for skin care. I use henna on my hair, which is very time consuming. Last year, I did a bit of remodeling and still haven’t figured out how to eliminate toxic paint fumes, and then there are the toxins in carpets, curtains, and even dishes. Yikes!

We recycle, compost, and use our own grocery bags. I recently bought a product that was advertised as organic and natural. It came in a box. Inside were four separate boxes and the items inside the boxes were wrapped in plastic. Seems like the all-natural, environmentally friendly product killed a
few trees as it was being born. Thrift stores are fun and garage sales rock, but so do my TV, computer, iPad and coffeepot. Some things just make life more fun. I don’t want to relive the 50’s, but maybe if everyone made an effort to live more and consume less, we can improve our lives and save our planet together. Just saying.


1Beavan, C (2009), No Impact Man. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,


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