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Friday, November 14, 2014



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There are many beauty and body care products competing in the market.  According to the World Wildlife Fund, chemicals commonly found in beauty and body care products have contaminated the environment. These are classified as:

1.        Chemicals that break down slowly or not at all, which accumulate in the bodies of people and wildlife;

2.       Chemicals called Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), which interfere with the hormone systems of animal and humans;

3.       Chemicals that cause cancer, reproductive problems, or damage DNA.

These chemicals are used in a variety of products such as phthalates, acryloamide, formaldehyde, and ethylene oxide which have been found to act as carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

In Europe, laws were passed against cancer, mutation, and birth defect-causing chemicals. In California, a Safe Cosmetics Bill was passed which forces companies to notify the state when using chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects.  In the Philippines, cosmetics are monitored by the Food and Drug Administration.

Awareness is the key factor to reduce pollution and health hazards in our homes.  The Eco-Living Handbook recommends:

1.       Checking the website of World Wildlife Fund which is also the proponent for ‘Earth Hour’, and Women’s Environmental Network which can give you a toxic tour;

2.       Checking the Skin Deep database which gives safety information of 25,000 body care products at This will also show companies that have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics;

3.       Being aware of every ingredient in beauty products before we buy them. Many chemicals are not manifested in the list of ingredients. Below are some trivia and tips to help you the next time you buy beauty products:

a.       The term ‘parfum’ includes byproducts of chemicals produced while undergoing manufacturing process;
b.      If in doubt, choose a product with the least ingredients;
c.       Choose a beauty product with essential oil instead of fragrance;
d.      Avoid products with preservatives, colorants, emulsifiers, and detergents. Buy organic products. Beware of some products that use the term ‘natural’ loosely. Some countries allow this despite the use of minimal natural ingredients in the product; 
e.      Anti-bacteria ingredients make the user immune to bacteria after long usage;
f.        Choose plant-based products rather than petroleum-based products. Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum oil;
g.       UV absorber is a chemical protecting another chemical from fading from sunlight.

It is enlightening to know that there are natural and unprocessed products that are helpful to the skin.  Here are some Beauty and Body care Green Tips:

I.                    Skin

A.       Use organic soaps or choose one with neither color nor fragrance;
B.      Choose bar soap over liquid soap.  Save leftover soap by putting it in a container with water. You can use this to clean cemented areas around the house and the pet area;
C.      Use Gugo scrub. Gugo is a bark from the Philippine Gogo tree.  It was used as shampoo, body soap and laundry soap by our ancestors.  Since it is a bark, it can be used as exfoliant.  You can use it as an exfoliant after using the Gugo as shampoo. (Click here for more information.)
D.      From D-I-Y
1.       Milk sponge bath –
a.       Chilled milk can be applied everyday as mild exfoliant for both the face and body;
b.    Chilled milk can be applied every other day with the use of face towel;
c.    Lemon may also be added to lighten the color of the skin and scars. Just  
       let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
2.     Banana peel
        To make pores look smaller, apply the inner portion of the banana peel on skin     
        and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not rub.
       E.     Ginger Bath                           Ginger tea is serves as detox and soothes aches and pains, relieve colds, fever, and                                 menstrual cramps.

II.                   Bath Oil – before or during bath

A.      Do-it-Yourself Breath of Mint Oil.  You can make your own oil out of Peppermint and Spearmint or herbs of your desire. (Click here for instructions.)
B.      Do-it-Yourself Citro-Mint Oil which mixes Citronella, Peppermint and Spearmint together. You may also opt to just make Citronella oil. (Click here for more information.)
C.      If you have an available essential oil, you can mix it with cup of olive oil or whatever oil you have available.

III.                Powder

 – Choose organic corn flour or cornstarch powder.

IV.                Shaving

        Choose plant-based shaving cream or old-fashioned soap and water. The aerosol propellant is a pollutant inside your home.

V.                  Food

 – The skin, hair, nails, oil and sweat glands are called Integumentary System.  The best food for this system are avocados, sea vegetables, cucumbers, apples, carrots, brown or red rice, sprouts, and pineapples.

VI.                Herbs for youthful skin are Aloe Vera, Dokudami and Ashitaba because of their anti-aging properties. (Visit for more information.)

A.       Aloe Vera can be made into the following:
1.       Syrup gel with honey;
2.        Be applied to skin directly;
3.        Aloe Vera rinse is a simple preparation which makes the skin smooth and the hair manageable. (Click here for more information.)
B.       Dokudami can be eaten raw. It serves as an antioxidant and anti-aging, prevents anaphylactic shock (allergic reaction to medicines) and relieves nose congestion and respiratory system.
C.       Ashitaba is eaten raw.  It is an antioxidant, all the while being anti-cancer and anti-aging.

We cannot avoid processed body and beauty products, but we can aim to live green by being aware of their ingredients, and exert more diligence to make our own beauty products.
We will be featuring Hair Products in our next’ Its Twice or More Polluted Inside Homes’ chapter. Stay tuned!

The Urban Farmer

Callard, S. and Millis, D. (2009) The eco-living handbook pp. 138 – 148, London, UK: Cartlon Books Ltd.
Handa, P. (1998) Speaking of skin care, pp. 7 -8, New Delhi, India: Sterling Publishers Ltd.

Jensen, B. (1993) Foods that heal, p. 62, New York, USA: Avery Publishing Corp.

Friday, May 16, 2014


PART V: HOME CLEANERS – Laundry Soap, Bleach, Cleaners, Air Freshener, Insecticide and GREEN TIPS

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Our aim to keep our homes as clean and comfortable makes us vulnerable to highly- advertised chemical solutions such as:

1. Laundry soap which contains chemically- based surfactant;
2. Bleach which contains synthetic chlorine;
3. Household cleaning aids which contain chemicals like phosphate, chlorine, scents, and dye.

Every year 6,000 chemical compounds are developed and many of these are marketed for home use.  A British study, according to Eco-Living Handbook, found that frequent use of household chemicals are linked to wheezing and asthma.
I used to experience that sick feeling so, I shifted to back-to-basic solutions such as white vinegar, fresh lemon (or Philippine Kalamansi), sodium carbonate (baking soda), and herbs.

Here are economical green tips and guide in choosing your cleaners:
1. Laundry soap –
a. Most preferable is the laundry soap which is biodegradable, phosphate-free, dye-free, perfume-free, and with vegetable-based surfactant. There are several         natural herbal or organic laundry soap available in the supermarkets and organic markets.

Here are more laundry tips:

a. Do not follow the manufacturer’s recommended tablespoon, scoops, or cups for washing. According to Eco-Living Handbook, half of the recommended is enough.
b. Conserve water by adding Sodium Carbonate (baking soda) when rinsing.  Baking soda is repacked at bakery supply stores in the Philippines, which are cheaper          by the kilo.
c. Powdered soap is better than liquid detergent.  Liquid detergent contains 4x more chemical surfactant. Chemical Surfactant is the most toxic ingredient in              laundry products, according to the Environmental Detergent Manufacturer’s Association of United Kingdom. Surfactant is called surface-active agent such as          detergent which when added to a liquid reduces its surface tension increasing its wetting and spreading properties.
d. Conventional washing powders contain several chemicals such as pigments, fluorescent whitening agent, and silicone de-foamer.  According to a Study of Ethical          Consumer Magazine of UK, a typical laundry detergent has 12 to 16 ingredients but only few are listed on the package.
e. Anti-bacterial agents and musks, according to World Wildlife Fund( WWF) and Green Peace have been found in tested blood samples from babies and mothers in a          ‘Study on the Presence of Man-made Chemicals in the Blood’.
f. Concentrated soap is better than standard powder.  Concentrated soap does not contain active filler ingredients to fill up the bulk of ordinary powder.
g. The best drying is by means of sunlight because it disinfects as well. Just make sure your clothesline is clean.

2. Bleach – Using synthetic chlorine creates more toxic substances, which is harmful to the environment. Thus , here are some effective ways of removing stains:

a. Lemon or white vinegar can remove food, fruit, and vegetable stains.
b. I/4 cup of vinegar removes odor and dirt from clothes.
c. Sodium carbonate (baking soda) when dissolved in water can be used to wash clothes to remove stubborn stains.
d. 1 can of cola removes grease from clothes.
e. Oxalic crystals are used as acid rinse for laundry stained by rust or ink.  Soak stained clothes, towels etc., in water and place oxalic directly on affected          area overnight. Oxalic acid is an organic compound. It is colorless and toxic.
f. Lemon is a disinfectant. It can also be applied on stubborn stained clothes, added with soap and exposed flat under the sun.
g. Sunlight is a good bleaching agent. Simply, soak white or stained laundry in soap and water, spread clothes in a basin and expose under the sun.  

3. Floor  tiles

a. Use environment-friendly cotton dishcloth for polishing floors.  We also have coconut and coco coir husks for polishing.
b. Use environment-friendly string mop instead of foam.
c. Mix Sodium Carbonate in warm water to clean tiles and surfaces.
d. White vinegar cleans floor tiles.
e. For a stronger solution, mix white vinegar with Sodium Carbonate.
f. Use old toothbrush to clean corner edges.

4. Kitchen

a. Most preferable is concentrated herbal dishwashing liquid which is biodegradable, paraben-free, phosphate-free, dye-free, perfume-free, and with vegetable-        based surfactant. There are several organic or natural dishwashing liquid in the market.

Other kitchen green tips are:
a. Sodium carbonate (baking soda) can be used to clean as follows:

(1) Mix with warm water to clean the refrigerator.
(2) Add to water when rinsing dishes for shinier plastic containers, cups and utensils.  
         This also conserves water since utensils are easily cleaned.
(3)      Mix with dishwashing liquid and essential oil as kitchen floor cleaner.

b.      Soak white vinegar on lime scale of sink, iron, and kettle to remove the stain.
c.      Clean kitchen tiles with warm water and soap.

5. Toilet/Bathroom Cleaner

a. Fresh lemon juice or Philippine kalamansi disinfects surface, removes grime at the base of faucet, grout, and edges.
b. White vinegar cleans toilet and lime scale from sink.
c. A can of cola cleans toilet bowl and tiles.  Make sure it is warm and has no fizzes before using. (Also good for cleaning of tires)

6. Glass cleaner

a. Glass and mirror – Mix a proportion of ½ white vinegar and ½ water for wiping.

7. Furniture cleaner

a.      Mix a proportion of  ½ white vinegar and ½ water to remove fingermarks on polished wood.
b. Mix olive oil with white vinegar to remove wood stains
c. Mix 1 tsp olive oil with ½ cup of lemon juice in small pan.  Pour mixture into cloth then dust off and polish the furniture. The clean leftover solution can be         kept for a week.
d. To minimize pollution from furniture paint and spray paint, you may put a bowl of the following in a room:
1) A bowl of vinegar;
2) Charcoal;
3) Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
e. Chrome cleaner – Cut fresh lemon chrome and apply to the chrome.

8. Floor wax

a. Mix 4 Tablespoons of Paraffin with 8 cups of Mineral Oil in a crystal bottle with a wide opening. Cool before covering the solution. The solution is         concentrated and has no waxy odor.  I bought the paraffin from a religious store, and the mineral oil from the drugstore.

b. Mix 30% beeswax and 60% coconut, then, add scented oil. This solution comes from Satinka who owns a store at the Sunday Organic Market at Legazpi Village,         Makati, Metro Manila.

9. Air Freshener

a. Citronella –

1) Boiling leaves in water spreads the fragrance all over the house.
2) Make a wreath and tie with ribbons.  You may hang it anywhere like doors. You may even put it near the electric fan or air conditioning unit to spread         fragrance.
3) Make homemade scented oil.  Check Citronella at for the procedure.  Put drops of oil and water at the top of the candle holder. When the         candle is lighted, the Citronella scent will waft in the house.
4) After the homemade citronella oil is safely placed in a bottled container, the leftover leaves are still useful as potpourri for the room or toilet.
5) Dried Citronella leaves can be placed in pillows, under bed sheets, throw pillows, and more.
b.      Orange – Boil in water to freshen air.  This process also cleans aluminum kettles.

10.     Insect/pest repellant

a. Mosquitoes –
(1) Citronella - same procedure as air freshener.
(2) Neem – boil or soak neem leaves overnight.  Put in a sprayer to drive away mosquitoes.

b. Citronella and Pandan leaves for Cockroach and Flies. (check

(1)     Cockroach - Put in garbage can and around the garbage area.
(1)     Flies – Put inside flower vase.

c. Garden pests –
(1) Tie citronella leaves around the stem.
(2) Cut leaves of citronella, oregano, lemongrass (Tanglad) and mint leaves into sme all pieces and put on the topsoil of the plant.
(3) Put different herbs pots beside each other so that pests would not dominate a certain type of plant. Pests do not like fragrant and minty herbs.
(4) Soak leaves of either Neem Tree , Serpentina, minty herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, etc. overnight with water.  Then, add more water for pouring on plants         and pots, or just pour inside a sprayer to spray on the leaves.
d. Rats –  Rats do not like the peppermint smell.

The use of old fashioned cleaners like vinegar, lemon, herbs, sunlight, etc. have been a common practice in remote areas while ready-to-use products are used in the metropolis to adopt to its fast-moving lifestyle. Now, environment is suffering because the Wisdom of Mother Nature has been replaced with chemicals created inside laboratories.

There is so much pollution confined in our homes, that in reality, it is a necessity to go back to the basics of green living. Luckily, these environment-friendly cleaners are just within our reach ever ready to help us enjoy cleaning and make our homes a real comfort zone!

* Watch for Part VI:  Body Care.  Share with your friends!  

The Gardener


Callard, Sarah and Millis, Diane, Superbugs p. 98, Detergent pp. 99-102, Cleaners pp. 101-105, The Eco-Living Handbook, London, UK, Carlton Book Ltd. 2009

Jazmines, Tessa, Indoor Air Pollution p. 2, Home Chemicals pp. 19-20, The 3M Handy Book of Health and Personal Care 2005 edition, Pasig City, MM, Philippines, Anvil Publishing, Inc.

Todd, Jude C., Cleaners, Fresheners, Laundry pp.260-263, Polish and Wax p. 264, Herbal Home Remedies 2012 edition, New Delhi, India, B. Jain Publishers(P)Ltd.edition

Encyclopedia Britannica Wikepedia, Definition Oxalic

Wikepedia, Definition of Surfactant

Saturday, March 29, 2014



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There are viruses and bacteria in our homes. Recognizing these intruders may help us reduce the risk.

A. Virus 

Virus  is airborne.  But, according to Public Health Agency of Canada, 80% of sickness like colds and flu come from contaminated hands.

Green Tips:

1. Eat  healthy food and more green leafy vegetables to maintain a strong immune system.
2. Make sure hands are clean before eating, after using the comfort room, and before preparing food.
3. Avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth with your hands.

B. Bacteria

The human skin has natural resistance to infection.  Most simple cuts and abrasions heal quickly because the human skin has a bactericidal property.

We both have beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria existing within our human selves.

1. Beneficial Bacteria

        Not all bacteria are harmful.  To mention a few:

         a. Lactobacillus Acidophilus

               These bacteria grow inside the lower gastrointestinal tract which help normalize the intestinal flora

and improve regular bowel movement. This gut flora carries 100 trillion microorganisms in the intestine more than the number of human cells of the body.

Beneficial bacteria synthesize Vitamin K in the lower intestine. But it is sad to know that antibiotics and constipation destroy the friendly Acidophilous bacteria.

               Banana feeds the natural Acidophilous bacteria of the bowel. There are milk products that contain                Lactobacilli. I take a  concentrated product called Lactobacilli (Carica product), which is taken                  by spoonful that my doctor recommended for asthma and allergies.

          b.  Saprophytic 

               This bacteria acts as an agent to break down dead organisms and organic wastes for                                    decomposition.  This bacteria is present in our compost to be able to produce organic fertilizer.

          c. Bacteria for food industry

               Different bacteria are used for the production of buttermilk, yogurt, cheese, pickles, etc.

2. Disease-causing Bacteria

Some of these harmful bacteria that we should be careful about are:

         a. Salmonella -  Causes typhoid, gastroenteritis from food contamination), blood poisoning.
         b. Meninggococcal -  Infects the brain.
         c. Tubercule – Infects the lungs
         d. Staphyloccocai- Infects the skin (acne), blood stream (blood poisoning), and bones                                    (Osteomyclitis)

Green Tips:

1. Keep the kitchen clean
         - Sponge absorbs most of micro-organisms from utensils according to a study.  So, it is best to                       change the sponge regularly and expose it under sun.
         - Clean the kitchen sink using soap and hot water to kill microorganisms.
2. Clean the fruits and vegetable very well. Wash them even if you will not the eat the outside covering.
3. Separate raw meat and seafood from other food when storing.
4. Use different knives and chopping boards for meat and seafood, and for fruits and vegetables.
5. Thaw meat in the chiller of the refrigerator or in a container that has no leak. The temperature of  40 or         140 degrees Fahrenheit  or 4 to 60 degrees Celsius will cause bacteria to produce fast.
6. Heat food, sauce and soup at 70 degrees Celsius.
7.      If food is cold, keep cold. If hot, keep hot.  Food should be eaten within 3 to 4 days.
8. When grocery shopping...
       - Make sure fruits and vegetables have no damage so bacteria would not enter.
       - Check expiration date.
       - Always wash reusable shopping bags or baskets. Those with meat and fish drippings should be                    washed with soap and hot water to kill bacteria.
       - Travel time of frozen food from the point of purchase to the home should be 30 minutes.
9.  Eating in restaurants...
        - Check the cleanliness of table cloth, plates, waiters, etc.
        - Leftover food should reach the home within 2 hours especially if temperature outside is 32 degrees               Celsius according to the Food and Drugs Administration of the United States.

 True, there are many microorganisms that  pose a threat inside our homes. But as humans, the superior species, we can counteract through diligent care and simple housekeeping solutions.

Watch out for Part V : HOME  CHEMICALS and DIY GREEN TIPS
*Share with your friends

The Gardener


Jazmines, Tessa, Most Common Allergies pp. 49 – 50, Clean Air Act p. 18, The 3M Handy Book of Health and Personal Care copyright 2005 Pasig City, Philippines, Anvil Publishing
Gumising Magazine,  Be Clean p. 5, Be Careful in Preparing and Storing Food p. 6,  Be Watchful When Eating in Restaurants p. 7,
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of the Philippines, Inc. 2012, Philippines,(Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania),
Wikepedia, Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Jensen, Dr. Bernard, Fruits and Vegetables, p. 114;  Problems with Proteins, pp. 55-56, Foods That Heal 2004, New Delhi, India, Kuldeep Jain for Health Harmony
Encyclopedia Britannica, Infectious Agents pp. 589 – 590, Macropedia 21,  Salmonella p. 360 Macropedia 10, Immune Response p. 591, Bacterium p. 779 Macropedia 1, 

Friday, February 28, 2014

DILL: The Kitchen Herb

Also for Flatulence, Colic, Stomach Disorders & Breast Milk Production

Dill grows into a tree if grown on the ground. It is a biennial plant, which means its life is good for two years. Small dill plants will grow surrounding the tree. This maybe be transplanted.  Its scientific name is Anethum Graveolens.   It is also used decorative plant. 

As a medicinal herbal, it can be taken as tea or eaten fresh for flatulence, colic and stomach disorders.  It helps in breast milk production.

As a kitchen herb, the chopped dill can be used as topping for rice with garlic and onion.  Chopped dill can flavor boiled potatoes and other vegetables.  Dill is at its best when picked from the garden when it is needed as topping.  It has a tendency to lose its flavor if kept for some time.

Care For Your Dill:

This herb wants full sun, daily watering and monthly organic fertilizer.

The Gardener


Todd, JUDE C. ,General Principles of Herbs p. 22, Herbal Home Remedies, Health and Harmony, B. Jain Publishers(P)Ltd., 2012, New Delhi, India 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Molds, Pollen, Insect & Rat Waste, Pet Dander & Green Tips

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There are microscopic organisms existing in our home environment that are not easily noticeable to the human eye.  These microorganisms thrive in different places of our comfort zone such as:

A.    Damp Areas - Fungi produce molds in humid places.  Since the Philippines is humid, molds and mildew thrive the whole year. Inside the house, molds grow in old shower curtains, bathrooms, refrigerator drips, and decaying building materials. These molds have microscopic fungal spores that float in the air that enter the nose and cause respiratory illness.  Mildew grows on plants and organic matter that we have at home.

         Green Tips:

1. Air Purifier/humidifier is a big help to normalize humid home condition.
          2.  Exhaust fans can also help by driving out some humidity.
3.  Clean damp areas.  The toilet tiles, bowl and lavatory may be cleaned with vinegar alone or mixed with baking soda.  Cola can also be used for toilet cleaning. Just make sure it has warmed enough that it no longer fizz.
4. Clean closets that have odor.  Wash the clothes to remove odor of molds.
          5.  Keep kitchen dry to prevent molds from developing.

B.    Plants, Trees and Grass

Pollen comes from flowers plants, trees and grass.  Thus, these are seasonal. Pollen causes allergic rhinitis, asthma and allergies.

         Green Tips for Those with Allergies:

1.  If necessary, prune some buds of flowering plants, trees and grass to lessen pollen entering the house.
          2.  Keep few windows open for air circulation when windy.
          3.  Stay indoors when it’s very windy during pollen season.
4.  There are herbals plants like Oregano, Ashitaba, Dokudami, Serpentina, Damong Maria, Peppermint, Java Mint to prevent or relieve cough and colds and allergies.
C.     Waste from Insects and Pests

              1.  Dust Mites

Dust Mites are the particles that you see floating while sweeping the floor under sunlight.  Actually, these are dead dust mites and the waste products that they excrete 20 times a day. Cotton-like dirt called dust bunnies contain dust mites. These mites produce fast when humid.  A double-bed is estimated to house 2,000,000 (two million) dust mites.

         Green Tips:

          a.        Keep windows closed when no one is using the room.
b.        Use DIY Furniture Polish – Mix 1 tsp. Olive Oil with ½ (half) cup  of lemon or Philippine Kalamansi juice.  The leftover mixture may  be used for a week.  It is also good for glass tables. It is effective,  economical and does not cause irritation to the eyes and nose.
c.        Floor Tiles - Mop with vinegar and baking soda to remove odor of  molds when humid.
d.        Beddings and curtains may be washed with hot water at 50°C  temperature to kill dust mites.                          
e.        Avoid upholstered furniture and stuffed toys or keep these toys  away from dusty places.
e.        Use of air purifier/humidifier lessens humidity and production of  dust mites.
f.        Wash your broom, dustpan, feather duster, and rugs regularly with  hot water (50C) to remove dust mites.

          2.        Flies, Mosquitoes, Lizard Waste etc.

We are aware of the insects flying over us and the lizards crawling at the ceiling.  These have the tendency to excrete from above and contaminate food and the air.

         Green Tips:

a.        Keep food covered. Keep plates, spoon, etc. in covered container.
b.       Herbals like Citronella and Pandan leaves drive away flies and cockroach. Citronella also drive away mosquitoes.
c.        Use candles or candle holders with citronella essential oil. (Check  out citronella.html for more info!)

         3.        Cockroach and Rats

The wastes of these pests are very noticeable because of the odor. These pests usually go to garbage, drainage or where there is food.

         Green Tips:

a.       There is an electronic gadget that can be plugged and drive away these pests.
b.      Herbals against cockroach: (1) Citronella, the scent of which lasts long and (2) Pandan, the scent of which lasts until it dries. 
          c.         Herb against rats is Peppermint. 

                   4.        Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats shed off dander from their skin and from dried saliva after licking their fur.  These pet dander when inhaled cause allergies.  
         Green Tips:

a.     Weekly bath with Citronella and Neem Tree (Check out for more information.)

Microscopic organisms are not easily seen but can be detected through their odor.  Luckily, we have natural ways to minimize, if not totally eradicate, these intruders. The challenge to keep these microorganisms at its lowest level will surely benefit every family member, thus, create more comfort in our home zone.

The Gardener

*Watch out for Part IV: Virus and Bacteria and Green Tips. Hope you would share with your friends!


Jazmines, Tessa , Molds, Dust Mites p. 18, The Most Common Allergies pp. 49 – 50, The 3M Handy Book of Health and Personal Care,  Anvil Publishing, Inc., Pasig City, Philippines

Thursday, January 23, 2014

IT’S TWICE OR MORE POLLUTED INSIDE HOMES Part II: Emission from Vehicle, Garbage and Outdoor Dust, and Green Tips

Image from

There are many outdoor pollutants that enter our homes. Some are easily noticeable because of their odor while there are others that ride with the wind into our comfort zone. We are exposed to these everyday and among these intruders are emission from vehicles, garbage and dust.

Below are some tips to lessen these at your home.    

I. Emission from Vehicles - Combustion of engines produce carbon monoxide. Direct exposure to this pollutant causes dizziness, headache and nausea. And continuous exposure threatens more serious respiratory illnesses.

Green Tips:

A. Do not let the engine running for a long time in your garage.
B. Have a garden around your house.  Plants, even grass on the streets, are your first line of defense.  But since these cannot absorb everything, it is good to have herbal plants inside the house.

I always bring Holy Basil (Tulsi) inside the house because it is known to be an air purifier. After sunning in the morning, I bring some pots indoors, to provide us with oxygen.  At night, I bring out the pots because darkness makes all plants produce carbon dioxide. (For more information on Holy Basil, check out

Also, herbal gardening can be a form of workout and therapy. (Check out ‘Make Herbal Gardening Your Workout’ at

C. Keep enough windows open for air circulation. Bedroom windows should be kept closed if not being used.
D. Install exhaust fans to help drive out engine emissions fast.

II. Garbage -    Pollution that comes from foul odor of mixed garbage and burning of household wastes.

Green Tips:

The most practical way to lessen this is to segregate wastes that produce foul odor and those that don’t.  There are wastes that may be recycled. This means that what you consider as waste may be used by other people or by the soil.

I suggest that household wastes be classified as:

1. Recyclables that can be sold or donated:

a. Tetrapaks, plastic and crystal bottles, cans, metals, old appliances, etc.

Tetrapaks and canned goods should be washed and dried to avoid the growth of microorganisms that cause disease.  Unclean cans and packaging also attract cockroaches and other pests.

b. Used bond papers, school materials, cardboards, boxes, cartons, newspapers, etc.

These recyclables may be sold or donated to the walking junkman (Called Bote-dyaryo man in the Philippines).

Used appliances, etc. may be donated to institutions like Goodwill Industries (Phils.)  and Radio Veritas (Phils.) since they solicit, fix and sell these at a cheaper price.
2. Let us give back to Mother Earth. Recycle and make the soil happy.

a. Vegetable cuttings, kitchen and garden wastes.

These may be mixed with soil (with no plants) to decompose.  The final product is organic fertilizer (To find out how to make organic fertilizer, check out ‘How To Care For Your Herbal and Herbs’ in

b. Rice, fish, chicken and meat washings.

Pour directly into the soil with plants. Our unwanted washings filled with microorganisms contain minerals that are welcomed by the soil.

3. Real garbage for the Garbage Man:

The real garbage are those that have no immediate use in the household like:

a. Plastic wrappers, styrofoam and aluminium packaging.

These should be washed and dried first.  Drippings from these packaging like blood of chicken, meat, fish should be placed in a container, then poured directly into the soil with plants.
                b.      Wet paper and unsanitary materials etc.

                c.      Dry materials like cloth, tiny pieces of paper, shoes, thread, ribbons, etc.

        After segregation, there is little amount of household wastes for the garbage collector. There is nothing to burn, no foul odor, no stress and         happy passers-by. All in all, a greener environment.

III. Outdoor Dust - We cannot control dust that go with fresh air entering the house.  But we can minimize it by keeping just a few windows open to maintain ventilation.

Green Tips:

1.      Screen windows and screen doors can be cleaned by mixing water with baking soda.  Years ago, I used vacuum cleaner but its heat made the screen material brittle;

2. Furniture may be dusted off then polished with one teaspoon of olive oil and half cup of lemon or Kalamansi (Philippine lemon). You may follow the above ratio and make your proportion depending on surfaces of furniture you need to polish.  Dampen cloth with this mixture and use repeatedly. Clean leftover mixture can be stored only for about a week. This green furniture polish gives a good shine and smooth surface at lesser cost.

Your little effort will surely bring BIG REWARDS - quality air, good health - for you, your family, your community and the ecological system as a whole.
Stay posted for Part III:  The Microscopic Organisms, Insects, and GREEN TIPS.

The Gardener, MBA


Jazmines, Tessa, Gases, Toxic Fumes and Trapped Dust, The 3M Handy Book of Health and Personal Care p. 17, Pasig City, MM, Anvil Publishing, Inc.
Britannica, Factors that Influence the Rate of Photosynthesis,  Photosynthesis Micropedia 25, p. 800 – 801, Chicago, Illinois, USA, Encyclopedia Brittanica
Todd, Jude C., Polish and Wax, Herbal Home Remedies, p. 264, New Delhi, India, B. Jain Publishers(P) Ltd.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Picture from:

Our home is our comfort zone.  But according to the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America, indoor air is two (2) to ten (10) times more hazardous than outdoor air.

Also, the Philippine Department of Health conducted a study of houses in different Barangays of Metro Manila through its agency Environmental and Occupational Office. Findings showed that the homes has the presence of:

1. Lead – An ingredient found in insecticides, agricultural pesticides (in fruits and vegetables), pipes, paints, toys;

2. Nitrogen Dioxide - Produced by cigarette and tobacco smoking;

3. Sulfur Dioxide (The base of Sulfuric Acid) - An ingredient found in fertilizers, pigments, dye, drugs, 
explosive, detergent, preservatives especially dried fruits;

4. Benzene – An ingredient in detergents, plastics;

5.  Carbon Monoxide - Produced from cooking, processing of chemical products and from exhausting gases out of engines of vehicles and machineries.  

Aside from those mentioned above, The Eco-Living Handbook by Sarah Callard and Diane Millis showed that the electrical equipment that we enjoy at home also produce pollution from electromagnetic frequencies, ionizations, and statics.

I invite you to journey with me as I uncover how pollution invade our homes. Awareness is the first step. Let us resolve to improve air through a green and friendly environment together!

And as we go through our day-to-day routine, we have what we call necessity. But there are those that, which are not.

I.                     Cooking.    Burning of natural gas, oil, kerosene, coal, firewood, which release carbon monoxide. But we need to cook to survive.

Here are our Green Tips while cooking:
A.   Have good ventilation in the kitchen

1.           Open kitchen windows and the kitchen door while cooking to allow natural air to circulate;
2.            Use exhaust gadgets in the kitchen on stoves, walls, etc.  to help drive out the smell of combustion and cooking of food  faster;

B.     Stove fire should be bluish in color. Chefs say that slow fire is the best way of cooking.

C.    Do not use charcoal indoor.

II.                   Tobacco Smoking.  It is common knowledge that smoking cigars, cigarettes and pipes is detrimental to the lungs of the smoker and the second- hand smokers. Nitrogen dioxide cause lung cancer.

The best solution is to stop smoking.  But if one cannot help but smoke, it is suggested that it is done in open space away from the family and second-hand smokers.  

Our Green Tips to strengthen and cleanse the respiratory system are:

1.      Food for the Lungs

      According to Dr. Bernard Jensen in his book Food that Heals; garlic, onion, grapes, honey, pineapple, and green leafy vegetables are good for the lungs.  Celery/ papaya juice and carrot juice are also helpful. Organic products are most beneficial because they are chemical-free and pesticide-free. It may be costlier but hospital bills and medicines cost much more.

      2.         Herbals for Cancer, Tumour, and Respiratory Diseases

      Among these Herbals are Green Tea, Ashitaba, Damong Maria, Dokudami, Guaybano, Holy Basil, Lagundi, Neem, Peppermint, and Serpentina. (For uses and recommended intake of these Herbals, check out

       Cancer affects the patient and the family because it drains emotionally and financially.   We experienced this with my father. How I wish no family would experience such trial again.

       3.       Deep breathing exercise also clears the lungs of bad air.  It is most beneficial when done in front of plants or under trees.

      Deep breathing is the process practiced while singing, where air is inhaled to fill up the stomach, then exhaled little by little.  Deep breathing is done in any exercise like Taichi, Pilates, gym workout and Pinoy Laughter Yoga.

All these remedies come from Mother Nature.  Thus, let nurturing the ecology be a challenge to us all.   

Next in the series… Part II :  Emission of Vehicles, Garbage,  Outdoor Dust and GREEN TIPS! Stay posted!

The Gardener, MBA 


Jazmines, Tessa, Indoor Pollution p. 1; Metro Manila’s Indoor Polution pp.  5 – 6; Clean Air Act pp. 14 – 17; The 3M Handbook of Health and Personal Care, Pasig City, Philippines, Anvil Publishing, Inc.
Callard, Sarah and Millis, Diane, Electromagnetic Frequencies, Ionization, and Static, The Eco-Living Handbook, London, Carlton Books Limited copyright 2009
The New Encyclopedia Britannica,  Chicago, USA, 15th Edition
Lead p. 219 Britannica # 7
Nitrogen Dioxide p. 754 Britannica # 26
Benzene p. 115 Britannica # 2
Carbon Monoxide p. 851 # 2

Jensen, Dr. Bernard, The Twelve Body Systems pp. 60 – 61, Food that Heals, New Delhi, India, Kuldeep Jain 2004