In the four installments that have aired to date, “EcoSense For Living” has shown viewers how to reduce their carbon footprints in easy, money-saving ways. On April 24, the fifth episode, “Environmental Body Makeover,” will be shown on Georgia Public Broadcasting and other PBS stations (check local listings).
Hosted by Jennie Turner Garlington, the half-hour episode examines why the food we eat and the products we use are making us sick. The reason? They contain hidden, toxic substances. For example, “Formaldehyde is extremely toxic but is found in many cleaning products, air fresheners. It can cause headaches, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances," Garlington says. "Another one, phenol, is a very caustic chemical that can burn your skin, and it’s found in all-purpose cleaners, furniture polish, disinfectants. There are cancer-causing parabens in a lot of cosmetics and even baby products.”
Guest Dr. Andrew Weil offers alternative, natural products that work just as well. “Baking soda is an all-purpose cleaner that’s effective on glass and coffee pots and even removes red wine stains from carpeting. Coarse salt cleans copper and scours cookware,” Garlington notes. Weil recommends a mixture of lavender, oil and tea tree oil to clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces, “an environmentally friendly antibacterial spray,” and a few drops of grapefruit seed extract in water to get rid of mold and mildew. Weil also discusses the importance of shopping the perimeter of a grocery store, steering clear of processed foods in the center. “He says if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you probably should put it back on the shelf,” Garlington says.
Neurosurgeon and CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reminds viewers about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, differentiating between the fruits and vegetables you should always buy in the organic section and which ones are safe to buy non-organic.
Environmentalist Laurie David, author of the book “The Family Dinner,” tells viewers how to eco-educate their children. “Laurie said that a wonderful way to get children to care about the environment and what they put in their bodies is to cook with them and talk about what they’re eating and where it came from," Garlington says. "Growing and picking fruits and vegetables and preparing them is another way of getting back to basics.”
On May 1, the sixth episode of “EcoSense For Living” will premiere, focusing on ways to green your house. Gupta, Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group and Pete Myers of Environmental Health Sciences join Garlington in “Environmental Home Makeover” to explain which products to avoid and why. “There’s a lot about the green kitchen. We discuss using glass instead of plastic — even safer plastics [like] Nos. 2, 4 and 5 — and using wooden and stainless steel utensils when cooking with high heat,” says Garlington, who bans non-stick cookware from her kitchen “because the chemicals can leach into food.”
Garlington notes that the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which has not been updated, “grandfathered in 60,000 chemicals declaring them safe until proven unsafe. We say on the show that they should be guilty until proven innocent.” She recommends websites like SafeChemical.org, Healthy Child Healthy World, Green Seal and Environmental Working Group to learn more.
Throughout the month of May, episodes 1 through 4 of “EcoSense for Living” will be rebroadcast, starting with episode 3, “Green Jobs,” on May 8, followed by the fourth installment “Green Buildings” (which won a regional Emmy in 2011) on May 15, and episode 1 on May 22.