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Ten Smart Steps to an Eco-Friendly Home

With World Environment Day coming up and the extreme weather conditions of 2018 on everyone’s minds, now is the time to start taking sustainability seriously. Running an eco-friendly home will ensure that your family cuts down on resources like water and energy, while also giving back to the planet.

Eco-Friendly Home Habits to Start Today

Eco-friendly living is much more than using LED light bulbs and making the occasional trip to the recycling bank! Here are some small but strategic steps you can take, to make every part of your life a little greener.

  1. Cut down on single-use plastics, including shopping bags, water bottles and straws. These wasteful items are major causes of pollution, and pose a big threat to the environment. World Environment Day 2018 is focused on overcoming the plastic pollution problem.
  2. Switch to natural cleaning detergent brands, or better yet, make your own 100% safe and natural DIY cleaning products at home. This will be healthier for your family, and safer for the planet’s waterways.
  3. Install a rain tank to collect rainwater, and use it to water your garden, clean your windows or wash your car.
  4. Whenever you can, hang your washing out on the line to dry, instead of using a tumble dryer.
  5. Pay your bills and do your banking online. It saves on fuel and paper – plus with no queues to stand in, it will save you time and hassle.
  6. Participate in a clean-up of your local park or beach (or organise one yourself)!
  7. Whenever possible, buy your groceries from a local farmers’ market instead of a big chain store. This supports local growers and stimulates the local economy.
  8. Make sure all leaks, drips and faulty taps in your home are fixed. Water is precious and every drop counts!
  9. Grow your own veggies and herbs. It’s a fun and rewarding way to connect with nature and save on expenses.
  10. If you have a garden, start a compost bin or a worm farm. Compost will improve the health of your soil, without all the chemicals found in ordinary fertilisers. And it’s much greener than throwing your food waste straight in the bin.


40 ways to go greener at home… besides just recycling. Retrieved from:




1-30 Men’s Health Month
National Blood Donor Month
National Youth Month
1 International Children’s Day
3 National Cancer Survivors Day
5 World Environment Day
5-11 World Heart Rhythm Week
14 World Blood Donor Day
15 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
16 Youth Day
24-30 SANCA Drug Awareness Week
25 World Vitiligo Day
26 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking


Consumer Tip

Quitting smoking is one of the kindest things you can do for your body. Cigarettes contain approximately 7,000 toxic chemicals and compounds, which find their way into your system every time you inhale! Smoking damages your lungs, brain, heart and all other vital organs. The good news is a lot of this damage can be reversed. Within 24 hours of quitting, your risk of heart disease will decline. Within two weeks, your lung capacity will improve, and within a month, the number of nicotine receptors in your brain will return to normal.


Caring Families

Smokers should be aware that their habit doesn’t only affect them, but also those they love and live with. Smokers produce second-hand smoke, via exhaled mainstream (active) smoke, as well as side-stream smoke from the cigarettes themselves. Non-smokers inhale this second-hand smoke, and this ‘passive smoking’ has harmful effects on the lungs and heart. If you’re a smoker, be careful not to smoke around your children and other non-smoking family members. Or better yet, ditch the horrible habit, and enjoy a longer, healthier life with your loved ones.


How Smoking Damages Brain Health

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your lungs, but have you thought about the toll it takes on your brain? Research has shown that smoking can interfere with important cognitive processes, like learning, concentration and memory.

Cigarettes and Your Brain

A ‘smoke break’ can give you the illusion of better concentration by helping you to feel more alert, but it’s actually having the opposite effect. Cigarettes reduce the supply of oxygen to the brain, as the carbon monoxide they contain binds to the haemoglobin molecules in your red blood cells in a much stronger way than oxygen does. The lowered oxygen supply affects your brain by causing mental fatigue and poor concentration.

The long-term build-up of toxic chemicals like carbon monoxide can cause damage to your brain, especially in the areas of learning and memory.

Did you know? Nicotine (cigarette) addiction actually causes physical changes your brain. The brain develops extra nicotine receptors, in order to accommodate the large doses of nicotine it’s getting from the tobacco. That’s why you experience nicotine withdrawal when you try to quit.

What the Studies Say

Studies conducted around the world (including the United Kingdom, America and Sweden) have revealed the following worrying data about smoking and brain function:

  • Smokers show faster cognitive decline than non-smokers over a period of 10 years.
  • Adolescents who smoke show lower accuracy in their working memory performance than non-smoking teenagers.
  • In healthy older adults (35-80 years) smoking leads to poorer performance in challenging cognitive tasks. Tasks that require greater cognitive processing are significantly affected by smoking.

MRI imaging has also revealed that smokers tend to have a thinner cerebral cortex than non-smokers. The cortex is the brain’s outer layer. It’s the biggest and most highly developed part of your brain, and is responsible for functions like language and memory.

The good news is that those who quit smoking were shown to partially recover the thickness of their cerebral cortex with every year of non-smoking. If you’re a smoker, kicking the habit today could protect your brain from serious damage and decline in the years to come.



Smokers tend to have a thinner brain cortex. Retrieved from:
How Smoking Damages Mind as well as Body. Retrieved from:
Age and Ageing | Oxford Academic:
Time | Health:
Medical Dictionary:
Quite Your Smoking Addiction:
Science Daily:


Winter Exercise Tips to Warm You Up

Chilly weather and grey skies can make it much harder to find the motivation to hit the gym. However, winter exercise is important for your physical and mental wellbeing.

Regular exercise keeps your energy levels high, releases tension, and prevents low moods. Those post-exercise endorphins are such a great way to banish the ‘winter blues’. Exercise also promotes a strong, healthy immune system, so you have a better chance of getting through cold and ‘flu season without catching a troublesome winter bug.

Indoor vs Outdoor Workouts

We know it’s tempting to stay indoors with the extra heating, but outdoor winter exercise can be much more beneficial. Jogging, walking and cycling will get you out in the fresh air, away from the germs that are circulating indoors. Plus you’ll be left feeling invigorated and refreshed.

In cases where the weather is just too bad to risk venturing outdoors, you can still easily enjoy an indoor workout at home or the gym. You can also sign up for a fun, action-packed indoor sport, like squash.

Top Winter Exercise Safety Tips

  • Take 5-10 minutes to warm up indoors. A proper warm-up will help to prevent strains and injuries, which can easily occur when your muscles are cold.
  • Start slowly and gradually, and avoid stopping suddenly. This will prevent sudden, dangerous increases or drops in your body temperature.
  • Exercise at the time of day when winter temperatures are at their warmest, i.e. daylight hours (mid-morning or afternoon are the best times for this).
  • Dress in lightweight layers, so you can stay warm and dry but avoid overheating.
  • In very cold or windy weather, be sure to protect your extremities (hands, ears, nose) with gloves and a lightweight, breathable scarf.
  • You might not feel hot and thirsty like you do in summer, but it’s important to stay hydrated in winter too, by drinking lots of fresh water.
  • Do cool-down exercises indoors afterwards, to prevent your body temperature from dropping too quickly.

Exercising in colder temperatures burns more kilojoules, so a great winter exercise regime will give you a fit and toned summer body. Wishing you all a healthy, happy and active winter!



Bode, L. Winter exercise tips. Retrieved from:
How to exercise in winter weather. Retrieved from:
How to keep working out in the winter. Retrieved from:


How Hand Washing Protects You & Others

Many of us wash our hands because we’ve been taught that it’s a ‘good clean habit’. But hand washing is so much more than that. Hand washing, also called hand hygiene, can protect your quality of life, and can even save lives by preventing the spread of disease.

Fast Facts on Hand Hygiene


Washing your hands is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs. It’s a simple habit that protects you and others from getting sick.

Germs from unwashed hands can easily get into your system if you touch your face (mouth, nose or eyes). Unwashed hands can also spread infection to other people that you touch or shake hands with. You could be spreading something as simple as a common cold, or something much nastier like salmonella or E.coli.


It is essential to clean your hands whenever you have touched any sort of bacteria. Wash your hands using soap and clean running water after:

  • Using the bathroom
  • Changing a nappy
  • Handling raw meat
  • Playing outdoors
  • Touching contaminated objects or surfaces
  • Playing with pets or handling animals
  • Coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Blowing your nose

Your hands should also be properly cleaned before handling food, taking care of a baby or child, or taking care of a sick person.


Warm, soapy water is the most effective way to rid your hands of germs. The soap works by lowering the surface tension of the water, making it easier for dirt, grime, oils and other germ-containing substances to move from your hands into the water and down the drain.

Health care organisations recommend a simple five-step process for proper hand washing: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry.

  • Wet your hands with running water (then close the tap)
  • Lather your hands with soap
  • Rub all surfaces of your hands for 15-20 seconds (Hint: Hum the tune of ‘happy birthday’ twice to reach your minimum time limit)
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly under running water
  • Dry your hands completely with a paper or cotton towel (moisture will transmit remaining bacteria)

If you have no soapy water available, apply an alcohol-based hand sanitiser thoroughly to clean your hands.


Usually, the source of bacteria (dirt, grime etc.) is obvious, but sometimes germs lurk in the most unexpected places. Studies have identified some surprising public surfaces with a high concentration of germs. These include restaurant menus, door handles in public buildings, and public bathroom soap dispensers. Be aware of the surfaces and items you’re handling when you’re out and about, so you can avoid them or clean your hands after contact.

Organisations like the WHO and the Clean The World Foundation are committed to raising awareness around how the simple act of hand washing can make the world a healthier place.



Show Me the Science: Why Wash your Hands? Retrieved from:
Why Hand Hygiene is Important and When to Wash Your Hands. Retrieved from:
Five Moments for Hand Hygiene:
Clean The World Foundation:



1-31 Anti-tobacco Campaign Month
Burns Awareness Month
International Multiple Sclerosis Month
5 World Hand Hygiene Day
5 International Midwives Day
6-12 National Burns Awareness Week
6-13 Hospice Week
8 World Red Cross Day
10 Global Move for Health Day
12 International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases
12 International Nurses Day
15 May -15 Jun Go Turquoise for the Elderly Campaign
17 World Hypertension Day
27 May- 3 Jun National Child Protection Week
28 International Day of Action for Women’s Health
31 World No Tobacco Day


Caring Families

Vaccines play an important role in keeping us healthy. It protects us from serious and sometimes deadly diseases. Download the State EPI Schedule and ensure your children are up-to-date with their vaccinations.



Consumer Tip

Public holidays and school vacations mean a chance to let your hair down and celebrate. By making smarter spending choices, you can have fun as a family without racking up unexpected costs.

Instead of going out to a restaurant, take your family to a beautiful local picnic spot, beach, dam or public swimming pool. Enjoy some tasty home-cooked picnic food and snacks, and let the kids run a little wild in the great outdoors. Much more fun, at a much smaller cost!

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