If you want to create a healthier home environment for your family, you'll love this week's interview. I recently caught up with the passionate and knowledgeable Kelly Abeleven, founder of Building Biology NSW who has a wealth of knowledge about all things related to healthy homes. It’s both fascinating and empowering when we start to learn about how our home environment can affect our health and wellbeing!
1. What led you to educate and inspire people about low-tox living and creating healthier homes? Tell us your story and background.
It all started when I realised my gut health was out in my pregnancies. Whilst pregnant with my first child, I became very aware of how food and environmental toxins could affect my health and the health of my child and made sure to start eating organic, use natural cleaning products, a natural cot mattress and so on. Afterwards I also realised the importance of our connection with nature whilst spending so much time indoors, in regards to all aspects of health, including mental health.
The home I was in at the time had a huge problem with mould and I could see the affects it had. My natural protective instincts kicked in and I became very aware of building dust, lead, asbestos etc and my baby crawling around on the floor, and breathing in general, as well as the toxic materials my husband had to deal with when building and his own health.
I later decided to study Building Biology through the Australian College of Environment Studies. Prior to that I had been in the building industry for 10 years and had worked for the government for 11 years. Building Biology makes so much sense - my passion lies in creating healthier homes, schools and workplaces, especially for our children!
2. With so much on our plate these days, especially as busy mums, why should we make going low tox a priority?
What is more important than our health and the health of our children? We have nothing to lose by going low tox and I believe in our world today we should use the precautionary approach (ie. lead, tobacco, asbestos - the science was there but they didn't want us to know about it). Low tox is really worth the investment in so many ways!
Just because it's on the shelf doesn't mean it's safe. Do your research and make the right decisions for you and your family. It is great to think of the life cycle of everything we need in our lives. If it's toxic to make, it's usually toxic to use and toxic to dispose of. We are not only creating issues for future generations with our choices, it can affect our health now as well!
3. If you had to give people 5 simple changes to make at home, what would they be?
1. Take your shoes off before entering your home to reduce dust load and prevent tracking in pesticides and the like into your home from outside.
2. Filter! Invest in a great quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and motorised head. Use a water filter on your tap. Buy the best quality you can afford and make sure you check what toxins are being eliminated. Also be sure to use glass or stainless steel for your water...ditch the plastic! As my teacher Nicole Bijlma says, 'use a filter or be the filter!'
3. Get corded internet connections and if not possible, always turn your Wi-Fi off when not in use.
4. Reduce the use of chemicals in your home by switching to healthier personal care and cleaning products. Beware of misleading labels and always steer clear of artificial fragrances. Also choose natural fibres such as hemp, organic cotton and bamboo as much as possible.
5. Relating to mould and air quality - clear clutter, find and eliminate sources of moisture and ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!
4. It can be so confusing and seem so much effort to clean up our lifestyles. What are your top tips to make the switch to cleaner living easier?
Get help to clean up your cupboards or other issues you have in your home ie, water leaks, rising damp, lack of ventilation. It may feel overwhelming at first but once you have made the changes it is actually a lot simpler in the long run. Find some great retailers and buy in bulk when you can.
When you run out of a product, replace it with a healthier option. If you make gradual changes it will not be as overwhelming. The more you look into things the more you will want to change, so remember to look after your mind in the process because stressing about things (especially things that are hard to change) can be worse for your health. There has never been as much information available to us as there is today and we are spoilt for choice with great products and information that is out there. Listen to your intuition, search the net (reputable sources), follow your health favourites on social media and read some great books.
Trust your journey and surround yourself with like-minded people. If those around you are not on the same journey, lead by example and don't give up. Nourish your mind with good thoughts....you can only do your best!
5. Where can people find out more about creating a healthy home or contact you?
Find out more about Kelly’s comprehensive services at www.buildingbiologynsw.com.au and on facebook and Instagram @buildingbiologynsw
PS. If you’ve read this far, you may also be interested in a new service The Natural Switch is launching soon – the Healthy Home Detox in-home consultations. You heard it here first!
The Healthy Home Detox service will make it easier for you to create a healthier home and lowering your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals. Designed to help you understand what to look for in choosing toxin-free products and take out the stress and fuss – it’s a home detox made easy! We come to you and offer individual support and practical guidance in your own home, by reviewing your current products. Whether you need a Pantry Reboot, Spring Clean Detox or Beauty and Bath Detox (or all 3 - pantry, bathroom and cleaning cabinets), contact The Natural Switch for a brochure or to find out more. In the meantime, check out World Organics for amazing beauty and skincare products that are, certified organic and toxin free or these stores for healthier cleaning products.