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Healthy Home, Healthy Planet

What's good for you turns out to be good for everyone.

"The ancient Chinese perceived human beings as a microcosm of the universe that surrounded them, suffused with the same primeval forces that motivated the macrocosm. they imagined themselves as part of one unbroken wholeness, called Tao, a singular relational continuum within and without. This thinking predates the dissection of mind from body and man (sic) from nature that Western culture performed in the seventeenth century."

from Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine

Although the practice of any traditional medicine can seem kind of "woo-woo" or magical, it's really not that at all. We just perceive it to be that way because our culture has conditioned us not to notice certain things that once we notice them seem quite obvious, and to overlook certain cause and effect relationships that from a different perspective are very clear. We as a society have been led, even seduced if I dare say so, into certain illogical beliefs and magical thinking that are driving us like so many lemmings over a cliff into an epidemic of acute and chronic disease and habits that are so destructive that they are about to cause the next great extinction and threaten our own survival. We make foundational an irrational belief that we are separate from nature, despite clear evidence to the contrary. Somehow, we as a society are not making sense of the clear relational continuum between the suffering of other life on earth and our own suffering. Frequently we don't even recognize and act to prevent human suffering.

Here is an example of the illogical and magical thinking that we accept as part of our daily reality:

 Regarding animal testing for personal care products, additives in food and most medications:

Our participation in, or the fact that we benefit from, the suffering of other sentient beings does not matter.

Animals are not sentient.

Before we recommend toxic substances to be ingested or put on people's skin let's test them on animals so that we know how much we can include before they make people sick. It's impractical to consider the exposure over a lifetime or even a number of years, or the exposure of workers who make our products, or the impact of the buildup of manufacturing waste on animals and of course humans. Just adjust the more immediate exposure so that no one notices a problem right after they buy it. That's fine. i

If there is a problem with a medication, call it a side effect and it's ok and even essential to disregard it.

There's something wrong with people who have medication or food allergies and chemical sensitivities.

It's not necessary to measure the impact of multiple (thousands) of chemical exposures. We will only test one chemical at a time. Most of the time testing is impractical and not necessary.

Substances with low toxicity do not make difference to human or environmental health and are completely safe to be manufactured and ingested in unlimited quantities.

Natural resources are infinite.

My exposure over the course of my life to thousands of chemicals tested like this and many more that were never tested does not impact my health.
It's normal to experience pain and chronic disease with no known cause.
Lending my effort to change this system will not make a difference.

Image by NASA

Why Consider Planetary Health?

Lately I have started to notice the parallels between the way that we treat our bodies and the way that we treat the environment. We act as though the earth has an unlimited ability to detoxify our waste products, that we can continue to over-burn her fuels without impacting her temperature, that we can live in a way that disregards the lives of other species without impacting the ecosystems that support our life as well. Of course none of this is true and we know it. The answers are clear but they involve living more simply and moderately, spending time appreciating and understanding the natural world, reducing our consumption of toxic substances and our consumption in general...wait, aren't these the things that improve human health as well? And how similar is our behavior toward the earth and ourselves--not able to make needed changes until pain and distress push us out of our over-indulgence or complacency?

The simple truth is that the chemical pollutants and disregard for ecosystems that are creating a new mass extinction on earth are also creating and epidemic of chronic and acute disease in our bodies. Will we change, reverse our disease process and discover a new and joyful connection to ourselves and the natural world, or will we delay and continue to suffer and die, unwilling to look at our situation directly and honestly, taking much of the abundance of life on earth along with us?  Are we reaching the point where our human pain and distress will push us to make the needed changes that will help to preserve and nourish all life on our planet, as well as human life? There are some early signs that this could happen, but it will take a great amount of effort on everyone's part (and especially those of us in wealthy nations who are most responsible and most able to make the biggest impact).

Below are some collected resources for healing ourselves and the ecosystems of earth.

Healthy Home Guide

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