Some Serious Spring Cleaning

March 18, 2020

As COVID-19 continues its iron grip on our world and life as we know it continues to change, as it should, I thought I would talk about cleaning.

As you read on, before you all freak out and yell at me, hear me out and then if you still want to yell at me, go ahead. I can take it.

As we buy and buy and buy hand sanitizers, chemical disposable wipes and heaven forbid…bleach, I think about the planet as well as our personal health and wellness. It’s important to stay safe, of course but we must think long term about the impact on our planet.

The planet? At a time like this?

Yes. Let me explain.

This virus, as awful as it is, will pass at some point. It will. Its toll will be high. For me, one life lost is one too many. But this will pass, leaving behind, I hope wiser and more compassionate humans.

What won’t pass is the pollution we will leave behind with bleach in the waterways, chemicals from hand sanitizer in the ground water and wipes piling up in the landfills, along with all of the other “disposables” of our modern lives.

When this is all over, what will our world look like? None of us really know but will we face waterways that are toxic and kill the life in and around them? Is there a way to have both healthy humans and a healthy planet?

Of course there is.

I am doing my part by social distancing, washing my hands often and well, using products that will keep my home and family safe but not contribute substantially to the demise of our already fragile planet. I wish I could tell you that baking soda and lemon juice were enough to clean and sanitize our home and work surfaces, phones, etc, but we don’t know enough about this novel virus yet to be arrogant in our assumptions. This virus is humbling us humans beyond anything we could imagine.

I just read an article on NPR that indicates that COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces like door knobs or plastic or stainless steel surfaces for as long as 72 hours. According to James Lloyd Smith an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at U of California in Los Angeles who researches how pathogens emerge, “This virus has the capability for remaining viable for days.” Yikes. This is a big deal for one very important reason. The virus can contaminate surfaces when an infected person or carrier sneezes or coughs and the virus-laden droplets land on any number of surfaces.

The good news is that ultraviolet rays, like those that blissfully radiate from the sun can work as a powerful disinfectant according to infectious disease specialists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. It seems that direct sunlight can help rapidly diminish infectivity on surfaces. Talk about a ray of light!

On top of that, research also suggests that cloth or rough surfaces like carpet are less friendly to virus infection than hard surfaces.

The best news about this virus is that food is not a factor when it comes to infection. It’s certainly a factor when it comes to the likelihood of contracting it, but more on that in a bit.

COVID-19 doesn’t seem to require any special chemicals to disinfect yourself or your home, so you can skip buying bleach and polluting the waterways which will definitely come back to bite us on the butt long term.

Old-fashioned hand washing with soup and warm water for 20 seconds remains the most effective weapon in this war.

So what about cleaning our homes and surfaces that could hold the infection? While washing our hands can do the trick for us personally, how do we do the best by our homes and the planet at the same time? I can tell you what I do and what has worked so far.

No one is disputing that alcohol is key in disinfecting surfaces. There’s no doubt that alcohol can contribute to the pollution of our waterways, to be honest. So I searched to find the best product that is effective and does the least harm to the planet (because when this is over, we will have to face the planet we have created during this crisis).

I have become obsessed with the cleaning and disinfecting power of Organic Clean ( waaaaaaaaaaayyyy before we were faced with this pandemic. I confess that I use the entire line from hand wash to laundry detergent but the disinfectant has proven to be a powerful tool in my cleaning arsenal, now more than ever. And while it contains alcohol, it also contains a myriad of natural ingredients so that I am not contributing as much to the chemical brew circulating in our waterways.

But now it’s time to talk food, kids. Now more than ever, it’s time to wake up and smell the toast. Every expert worth their salt will concede that we are healthier when we eat little or no animal products. We are healthiest when we eat a whole and unprocessed plant-passionate diet. Yes, I’m talking vegan here.

While the virus is said to be respiratory in nature, not intestinal, so food is not a factor, I would venture to say that’s not entirely true. Sure, your fried chicken may not directly contaminate you with COVID-19, but it does weaken your immune system, making you a more likely host for the disease. That’s not a vegan judgment but a fact that’s gaining more and more credence among health experts.

Think about it. We eat as we do, especially in America, and so we develop lifestyle diseases that require medication. Listen carefully to many of the pharmaceutical ads for most lifestyle diseases. You will almost always hear that this drug can lower your ability to ward off infections and can compromise the immune system.

Because of how we choose to eat; because we refuse to let go of eating animals specifically; because we love our junk food, we develop diseases that we medicate and in turn reduce our natural immune response to disease. Yes, even my beloved Italy has begun to succumb to the siren song of American junk and convenience food. It breaks me in half to see how they are suffering. We are on the same path.

We are all at home now; working from home; staying in. Why not take this time to dust off the pots and pans, sharpen your knives and put your kitchen skills to the test (or develop skills…)? We can still go to grocery stores or have fresh food delivered. Why not make this the time that you resolve to be proactive in creating your wellness? We all talk a good story at the beginning of each year, resolving to be fitter, healthier, consume less and live more naturally, eat less meat, etc.

Mother Nature is forcing us to do it now. I think she’s mad and like any mother is punishing her delinquent children. And before you tell me that not everyone can afford to buy fresh food, I get it. Try using frozen veggies if you don’t have access to fresh. Do the best you can. Every single one of us can do better, become stronger and healthier and there’s no better or more urgent time than now. There’s no need or excuse for eating meat, dairy or poultry, except that we like it.

All of that hand washing and disinfecting will go a lot further if your immune function is operating at its very best.

And one last note. For those of you that can, there’s an ancient oil that has resurfaced in our modern world.  Pressed from Camelina Sativa seeds that date in use back to the Bronze Age, this nutrient dense oil is jam-packed with all the stuff we need right now: omega 3, Vitamin E and anti-viral compounds. A study done by the NIH shows the results. The beauty of this oil is that the Vitamin E content protects the omega 3 so you can cook with this yummy oil and still benefit from the essential fatty acid we need. Talk about a win-win. 

Everything old sometimes is new again.

Come on, my darlings. The time has come to take a serious look at our food choices and how we live on this planet. And to make the changes we need to make to prevent a pandemic like this from happening again.

Here’s the abstract from the camelina study.