Sloth Hair Fungus is an Incredibly Potent and Effective Medicine

sloth smile

Three-toed sloths are giving us a reason to smile. http://www.factzoo.com/

Sloths have quickly become the center of a great deal of excitement in the medical world. Researchers from Panama and the United States have discovered that multiple species of fungi growing on sloth hair may be the answer to a large list of medical maladies. The discovery is examined in a recent peer reviewed study published on January 15th.

In the study, researchers examined a total of 84 fungal samples found on the coarse outer hair of nine live three-toed sloths. The fungus filled sloths are native to the Soberanía National Park, in the Republic of Panama.  A large number of these fungal samples were found to be beneficial in a number of different ways. Anti-cancer, anti-parasitic, and anti-bacterial properties were all exhibited by at least one species of fungus found on the three-toed sloths. More specifically, fungus found growing on sloth hair proved to exhibit bioactivity against

Trypanosoma cruzi, the causal agent of Chagas disease; Plasmodium falciparum, the causal agent of malaria; the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7; and a range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive human pathogenic bacteria.

sloth hair malaria cdc

The global distribution of malaria.

This is great news since Chagas disease is listed by the CDC as one of the top five most neglected parasitic infections in the US based on its severity, the number of people infected, and the ability to prevent and treat it. This is largely due to a lack of awareness regarding the disease. Over 8 million people in Mexico, Central America, and South America have Chagas disease. It has made its way to the United States with nearly 300,000 US citizens currently diagnosed with the illness. Sloths to the rescue.

Related Article: Fungi Fun: Mushrooms and How to Harness their Power

As for malaria and cancer, the need to find an expedient cure or effective preventative mechanism is clear. Over 3 billion people live in a malaria-risk zone. 655,000 people (86% were children) died in 2010 of malaria. Everyone is at risk for cancer. 8.2 million people died from cancer in 2012. There’s no need to elaborate on the need to find a cure for these illnesses.

Not surprisingly, this is the first time fungal samples found on sloth hair have been tested and reported to be at least minimally effective in treating human disease. Who would have thought that something so slow and easy to catch would prove to be so extremely beneficial to us?

The researchers originally chose the three-toed sloth as a viable candidate for harboring natural medicinal substances due to the vast amount of fungus and algae that grows on the sloths’ hair. Since the discovery of penicillin more than 80 years ago, fungi began and continue to be widely used for their medicinal benefits. This applies to both raw fungus, and fungus as a base for chemical derivatives used in various types of medicine around the world.

Related Article: Amazon Rainforest Holds Many Surprises

Unfortunately, the success rate of finding a fungus that exhibits bioactivity against human sources of diseases has dramatically slowed. This led some scientists to believe that we had already discovered the easy to find bioactive fungi. As the authors state in the study, many scientists believed that the slowed rate of discovery could be an indication of,

the impending exhaustion of ‘low hanging fruit’ – the easily and frequently accessed fungi such as soil microfungi – as sources of new bioactive metabolites.

Simply put, with the exhaustion of “low hanging fruit,” discovering and creating effective medicine becomes increasingly difficult. However, just because the “low hanging fruit” is exhausted doesn’t mean the whole tree has been uprooted. We have discovered less than 100,000 different fungal species out of the conservative estimate of five million species of fungus that calls Earth its home. This is why scientists are starting to get creative in the places they look for new, bioactive fungi. Cue the the three-toed sloth, and wait a few hours for it to make its grand appearance.

The researchers suggest that their results illustrate that sloth hair may be a potential source of even more bioactive fungi. They note that there are five other sloth species on the planet with fungi-filled hair ready for examination.

It takes a great deal of time and luck to find a new, effective medicinal constituent. Let’s hope father time and lady luck are on our side. As for sloths; thanks for hanging around.

sloth hair slow soon

It’s a good thing for this sloth that time is relative.

 

Sources:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0084549

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dm28pe.html

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00253-011-3270-y

http://www.amjbot.org/content/98/3/426

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Search&doptcmdl=Citation&defaultField=Title%20Word&term=Hawksworth%5Bauthor%5D%20AND%20Where%20are%20all%20the%20undescribed%20fungi%3F

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/chagas/gen_info/detailed.html

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/resources/pdf/npi_chagas.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/npi.html

http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2013/pdfs/pr223_E.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/malaria_worldwide/impact.html

 

Menstrual Cups: The Sustainable Period

The Diva Menstrual Cup

The Diva menstrual cup

The menstrual cycle is something that every woman becomes familiar with during her lifetime. How each woman deals with it is a personal choice, but not one that goes without major consequences on both her health and the environment. The common Western way to handle a period often involves tampons and pads.  There is another option, however, that you may have never heard of. Something that is becoming increasingly popular due to both the health benefits and positive environmental effects is a device called a menstrual cup. The Mayo Clinic‘s Mary M. Gallenberg, M.D tells us that

A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped device worn inside the vagina during menstruation to collect menstrual fluid. Menstrual cups provide a viable alternative to pads and tampons. Menstrual cups are typically made of silicone or other nonlatex materials.

*Note: This article will specifically address why menstrual cups are a good alternative to traditional tampons and will not discuss sanitary napkins in depth as the internal use of tampons and menstrual cups makes them more comparable in manner than menstrual cups and sanitary napkins.

[no_toc]

 

Health Effects

To better understand the health benefits of menstrual cups, it’s important to understand the health effects of tampons. To fully grasp this let’s take a look at what tampons are made of, and how they’re produced. Remember that all of these items are inserted into the body and held internally for extended periods (4-8 hours) for about a week every month.

 

Material Production 

According to Wikipedia:

The majority of tampons sold are made of rayon, or a blend of rayon and cotton. Organic cotton tampons are made from only 100% cotton.

Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber manufactured mostly from wood pulp using a chemical process.  The production process of rayon might make a person second guess the use of this fiber internally, but what’s wrong with cotton? According to the Organic Trade Association:

Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop (1). Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous (1). Aldicarb, cotton’s second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US.

That sounds healthy.

 

Chemical Processing and Dioxin

After the cotton is grown and harvested it must be bleached to make it a pleasant looking bright white. In the past this process involved a chlorine gas bleaching process which produces a poison called dioxin.  Kotex addresses the issue of dioxin on their website stating that,

KOTEX® tampons are bleached using Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) processes which significantly minimize the potential for dioxin formation during bleaching.  Using extremely sensitive analytical studies, independent laboratories are unable to find any dioxin created by the bleaching process in KOTEX® tampons. These tests measure amounts as low as one-half part per trillion. To put this into perspective, one part per trillion is equivalent to one drop of water in over 11 million gallons. 

menstrual cups contain no dioxin

Menstrual cups contain no dioxin. Even though dioxin seems totally safe…
the-tap.blogspot.com

That doesn’t sound so bad, but according to the World Health Organization,

Once dioxins have entered the body, they endure a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored in the body. Their half-life in the body is estimated to be seven to eleven years. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

not to mention that,

Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure, which is not expected to affect human health. However, due to the highly toxic potential of this class of compounds, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.

Natracare, a producer of 100% organic cotton tampons, informs us that Elemental Chlorine Free bleaching is in fact, not free of chlorine, and therefore not free of dioxin. It is simply free of the pure element of chlorine in gas form. Natracare uses a 100% totally free from chlorine bleaching process and wins my vote for best tampon out there.

 

Toxic Shock Syndrome 

Another health risk, and one of the largest worries of tampon users, is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a type of staph infection that arises when a tampon provides a breeding ground for bacteria in the vagina during menstruation. This risk is more associated with the semi-synthetic rayon fibers than cotton, but a potential risk exists with any tampon. The Playtex website and informational insert in all Playtex packages states that,

Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death. The incidence of TSS is estimated to be between 1 and 17 cases of TSS per 100,000 menstruating women and girls per year.

Some might argue that this means TSS is rare, but let’s take a closer look. The US Census reports that in 2011 there were approximately 72,677,000 women between the ages of 15 and 49 alive in the United States. I will make what I believe to be a modest estimate and say that a quarter of this population uses tampons to help with her menstrual cycle, which comes to 18,169,250 women using tampons. So, if 1-17 out of every 100,000 will get TSS, my calculations conclude that between 181 and 3,088 women in the United States will get TSS every year. The CDC does not require TSS infections to be reported so the data concerning infections is not complete.  Menstrual cup producer Lunette urges people to,

Keep in mind that it is scientifically proven that menstrual cups don’t change the composition of blood during the time the cup is kept inside the vagina. There are no reported cases of TSS in connection with use of menstrual cups since the cups were invented in the 1930’s. The Lunette menstrual cups hold 25 ml (size 1) or 30 ml (size 2). As a comparison, a tampon that absorbs this amount (25 to 30 grams) is dangerous and even illegal in some countries, because of the risk of TSS.

Related Article: Natural, Living Pesticides TSS is a serious disease related to tampons, but according to Natracare a Canadian study found no connection to 100% all cotton tampons and TSS. While one study isn’t conclusive it’s a good sign for all cotton, organic tampons.

 

Dryness and Tearing

Although TSS is the most significant health risk associated with tampon use, it’s not the only disadvantage. Tampons absorb fluid from the vagina, disrupting the delicate vaginal ecosystem. The dryness associated with tampon use causes vaginal health problems. Inserting and removing tampons with no lubrication can cause tears and rips in the vaginal wall leading to increased risks of infection and diminished health. Vaginal discharge is the body’s way of cleaning and protecting the vagina.  The Mayo Clinic links “inadequate vaginal lubrication” as a cause of vaginal yeast infections. WEB MD says that:

A tampon inside a dry vagina can cause significant irritation as well as microscopic tears in the skin. The irritation and tears can later open the door to infection.

Menstrual cups leave the vaginal ecosystem intact and don’t alter the environment. Many menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone and their role is to collect the menstrual blood, not absorb it. This difference creates a healthier environment in the vagina, allowing the vagina to continue protecting itself.

 

Environmental Benefits

Pads_and_tampon_garbageMost commercial tampons and pads are one time purchase and use items. This means that every menstrual cycle a female has is a burden to the environment. All of the tampons and pads she uses head straight to the landfill and take years to decompose, all the while leaching dioxin and pesticides into the ground. The Chic Ecologist says that

 A typical woman can use anywhere between 8,000 to 17,000 tampons in her lifetime.

That’s a lot of tampons. In the book Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation Elissa Stein and Susan Kim discuss the idea of menstrual cups. This idea is discussed enthusiastically and with the same reasoning used in this article.

Think about it… at roughly thirty bucks a pop, menstrual cups can be quite the bargain! And considering that the average woman will throw away 250 to 300 pounds of pads, plugs, and applicators in her lifetime, one would also save oneself significant guilt about dumping all that waste into our already-stressed environment.

Slate magazine states in an article about greener periods that period related waste is a small percentage of total female produced waste, but let’s consider the accumulated effect of all women of menstruating age. If we take another look at the number of women in the US between the ages of 15 and 49 (approximately menstruating age) and assume that half of them are menstruating (accounting for pregnancies and other circumstances) then that leaves 36, 338,500 women menstruating and producing 250-300 pounds of menstrual garbage each, for an accumulated total of over 9 billion pounds of trash. All produced from periods. So yes, maybe looking at the total amount of trash that we as individuals produce every year makes our menstrual waste seem small, but factor in total accumulation and all women, and the number becomes very significant. For each person using a menstrual cup instead of tampons and pads, the environment is benefited by having that much less waste in landfills. This in itself is an instantaneous reward for the new menstrual cup user, but what if using a menstrual cup could help the environment even more? Now this part has no real science behind it that I could find, but some people claim that menstrual blood is a great fertilizer. The website Holy Hormones hearkens back to the Native Americans and their practices saying that,

There are also native tribes that would return the sacred life-giving blood back to the earth. They would sit over seeds and let the sacred blood flow directly on the seeds or on newly planted seedlings.

So even if the menstrual blood collected in the menstrual cup is not used as a fertilizer the impact on the environment through lack of landfill waste is truly something amazing.

Related Article: The “Friends of the Indian” and How They Treated Their Friends

 

Impact on the Budget 

The average American woman can spend upwards of $1900 in her lifetime (40 years) on feminine products such as tampons and pads. Comparatively, menstrual cups cost as little as $104 for a 40 year period.  This is because they are a one time purchase for up to 10 years and can cost as little as $26 each. So in addition to the significant impact these products can have on the environment and women’s health, they can also ease stress off the budget. Even if you opt for the slightly higher price menstrual cups the savings over a lifetime are significant enough. The company which produces the Keeper estimates that over a 10 year period the average woman would spend $400 on pads and tampons, whereas the cost of one Keeper is $35 for the same 10 year time span.

Related Article: The 20 Biggest Wastes of Money and How to Avoid Them

 

Choosing and Using a Menstrual Cup

797px-Fleurcup_and_tamponsEveryone is different. Choosing the best menstrual cup is dependent upon one’s size. To help you choose which cup is best suited to your flow and size I suggest a visit to menstrualcup.co to view their comparison chart. I highly suggest watching an instructional video before using a menstrual cup as it can be difficult to use if not done properly. There are many different brands, the most popular being the Diva Cup, and the Moon Cup. If you’re American and want to support an American company the Keeper and the Moon cup are the only menstrual cups made in America, and they’re darn tootin’ proud of it. To answer some frequently asked questions about menstrual cups check out the Diva Cup’s FAQ list and the Moon cup’s Q&A page. You can of course read many, many testimonials all over the internet, but I’ll give you my own personal experience below (I sincerely hope it’s not TMI).

 

My Personal Experience

I use a menstrual cup. I use the moon cup size B for women who haven’t given birth. I also use an IUD which makes my periods really, really heavy. Personally, I was spending $105 a year on feminine products before I switched (Did I mention I have a heavy flow?). Over a 40 year period that adds up to over $4000 I would have to pay had I stuck to traditional feminine hygiene products. Given the choice between spending $104 and $4000 on something I don’t even like, I’ll choose $104 every time, thank you.

The moon cup also holds more than any legal absorbency tampon, making my heavy flow days a lot easier, because that means less trips to the bathroom. I initially switched based entirely on the cost aspect. My decision was also influenced by a quickly approaching 10 month journey around the Eastern Hemisphere (Asia, Australia and New Zealand). I was only bringing a 30 liter backpack and didn’t want the hassle or stress of finding feminine products in Asian countries or bringing them with me in such a small bag. I ordered the moon cup and had it for two cycles before my trip. I’ll admit it was a little rough going at first, and after watching a few instructional videos and a little “at home practice” it became easier. I successfully took my menstrual cup through China, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, compost toilets in Australia, and living out of a car in New Zealand (100% public restrooms).

Despite my initial reasons for switching my favorite aspect since the switch is the environmental effect, followed closely by the health benefits. I have much less irritation surrounding my menstrual cycle and because I’m still using the same menstrual cup I haven’t had  any environmental waste since I switched.

Would I recommend buying a menstrual cup? Yes!

totalwomenscycling.com

totalwomenscycling.com

 

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/menstrual-cup/AN01770

http://www.kotexfits.com/faqs/products/#a3

http://www.kotexfits.com/faqs/products/#a13

http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampon#Design_and_packaging

http://www.natracare.com/p113/en-GB/Your-Health/Chlorine-bleaching.aspx

http://www.natracare.com/en-GB/

http://www.ota.com/organic/environment/cotton_environment.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/03/greening_the_crimson_tide.1.html

http://www.thechicecologist.com/2010/04/the-environmental-impact-of-everyday-things/

http://women.webmd.com/features/below-belt-gynecology-secrets-you-need-know?page=3

http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/factsheets/dioxin.htm http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/

http://jezebel.com/5890058/this-is-how-much-it-costs-to-own-a-vagina-an-itemized-list

http://www.ecomenstrual.co.uk/shop/Menstruation.html

http://www.nerve.com/news/love-sex/what-your-vagina-costs-cash-money-wise

http://www.susunweed.com/An_Article_wisewoman8.htm

http://lunapads.com/blog/2011/02/ob-tampons-diva-cup/

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dhpc&field-keywords=the%20keeper&sprefix=the+kee%2Chpc&rh=i%3Ahpc%2Ck%3Athe%20keeper

http://menstrualcup.co/compare-cups/ http://www.mooncup.co.uk/ http://divacup.com/

http://lunapads.com/blog/2011/02/ob-tampons-diva-cup/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15572078

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/

 

Precocious Puberty: A Growing Issue for Young Girls

When I first read the novel Little Women, it made me feel…reassured.  The story of the March sisters’ journey from girls to women seemed much less intimidating than I thought the transition would be.The story’s central character, Jo, reflects on the experience of growing up saying,

I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them.

That was growing up for a girl then. Growing up now, the things a girl can’t explain include over developed breasts and the early onset of a menstrual cycle. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, American girls are maturing physically earlier and earlier. Preteen girls who have not yet let go of their American Girl dolls are being fitted for their first bras, scrubbing away at acne, and carrying pads in their backpacks to deal with periods that are increasingly starting in fourth grade or earlier.

Related Article: Oral Sex on the Rise

With the body maturing faster than the mind, young girls are being exposed to a myriad of risks, both physical and psychological.

 

Causes of Precocious Puberty

Precocious puberty is

when someone’s body begins changing from a child into an adult too soon. The process of changing from a child into an adult is known as puberty, and puberty that begins before age 8 for girls and before age 9 for boys is considered precocious puberty.

irls of today are experiencing precocious puberty more often and are hitting puberty sooner than any generation in history. About 15% of American girls now begin puberty by age 7, according to a study of 1,239 girls published last year in Pediatrics. Over the last 30 years, we’ve shortened the childhood of girls by about a year and a half. (Early physical maturation is occurring in boys as well, though that won’t be the focus of this article.)

The early onset of puberty has consequences that continue to be an issue well into adulthood, thus, even if a woman has gone through the puberty phase, she will forever feel the effects of it starting early. There are many explanations as to why this process, known as precocious puberty, begins early.

Related Article: Balls of Fury: Eunuchs Live Longer?

According to Dr. Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the rise in the childhood obesity rate is partly to blame. Fatty tissue produces leptin, which stimulates the release of sex hormones. According to Biro,

The girls who are obese are clearly maturing earlier. BMI is, we found, the biggest single factor for the onset of puberty.

puberty bpa

Yeah, but they were on sale… http://www.saferchemicals.org/

Additionally, there may be environmental factors involved.  Dr. Biro goes onto say that some investigators are focusing on environmental contaminants like PBBs and more notoriously, BPA, common ingredients in plastic products that have endocrine-disrupting powers of their own. The Centers for Disease Control says that the blood of the average American carries traces of 212 different chemicals. All of these chemicals have the power to disrupt the endocrine system by either mimicking hormones, blocking them, or changing the way they’re metabolized and excreted. The longer we ignore these often times preventable causes, the more we will continue to upset the biological balance.

 

The Effects of Early Puberty 

There is another kind of biological balance that is even harder to control. Young girls who fall into precocious puberty are forced to balance their rapidly changing bodies with the standard development of their minds. When pre-sexual minds find themselves in newly sexualized bodies, substantial emotional damage can be done. Dr. Michelle Klein, a pediatric endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, treated a 6 ½ year old who was already developing breasts and pubic hair. Klein stated that,

She would get into a bathing suit at camp, and the other kids would tease her. She was already a good deal taller than her peers, and adults would talk to her as if she was older and more mature–and expect more-mature behavior out of her too.

puberty height

Did I shrink or did you explode upward? http://www.saferchemicals.org/

This becomes problematic to a child because she is not receiving a message consistent with her actual age. She won’t understand the expectations on her because she is not mentally prepared to do so.

Related Article: All Your Kids Are Sexting 

People are judging girls based on what they can see, but as with everything, appearances are deceiving. According to Erin Diamond, author of “Big Feet, Training Bras,” and “Going All the Way”:

Girls who develop physically faster are assumed to be more sexually active than their peers…Early developers are also more likely to engage in relationships of a sexual nature before they are emotionally prepared to do so.

This leads to a myriad of psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, eating disorders…all due to a process that is beyond their control. Not only are young girls at an increased risk of emotional turmoil, they also have physical side effects to contend with. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, early sexual maturity means more estrogen exposure for breast tissue, thus, introducing a cancer risk.  If a girl gets her first period before 12 years of age, the risk of breast cancer is 20% more than if she got it at 14. Additionally, breast cancer risk is increased by 5% for every year younger a woman is when she begins her periods. As you can see, growing up, more than ever before, is now hazardous to a girl’s health.

 

What Doctors and Parents are Doing to Help

puberty hypothalamus

The biological process driving the worst years of our lives. http://www.lupronped.com

In light of these hazards, it is now time to reset the puberty clock. Science is offering new options that will help to literally shut off puberty for a year or two so that a child’s chronological, psychological, and physical age all align. The new treatment involves monthly injections of Lupron, a medication that neutralizes the effect of the puberty inducing hormones, otherwise known as GnRH. It does this not by reducing the level of the hormone in the body, but by increasing it. GnRH is released by the hypothalamus in a pulsing pattern, and the injections are designed to fill in the gaps between the pulses. The body interprets the neutralized GnRH state as no GnRH at all, and the sped-up maturation stops.

Related Article: For Cure Administer Two Times Daily- How Effective is Our Medicine? 

While drugs are effective, they can be expensive. For uninsured Americans, these drugs can cost $1000’s each month. Presently, the only drug available for precocious puberty is Lupron. But according to the Physicians’ Desk Reference, Lupron has 265 possible risks and side-effects, including cancer. Lupron can cause severe problems such as tremors, seizures and memory loss.

In light of these dangers, it is important to know that there are natural methods available to help prevent or mitigate the problem. They may seem small when compared to medicinal treatment, but if we all practice these small solutions regularly, we could help to create a change in a young girls life that she will carry with her as long as she lives.

First, throw out your plastic water bottles; microwave your food in glass containers as opposed to plastic. This can lower your exposure to the dangerous BPA chemical. Since obesity is a strong contributing factor to precocious puberty, keeping weight down can prevent the hormonal effects of carrying too much body fat. This is where a healthy diet and regular exercise become very important.

Related Article: The Dangers of Fat Acceptance 

puberty children

Don’t judge your children, love them. http://www.amagazineofrandom.com

In addition to all of this, the most effective strategy may simply be awareness; we need to be aware of the pressures faced by young girls in our society. It is the responsibility of parents, teachers, coaches and any other significant figure in a girl’s life to remind her that her worth is not tied to her outward appearance. Little girls need to be assured that they are loved no matter when changes to their body and mind may occur. It is important to remember that to any child, happiness is knowing you are loved. 

And that is the most important thing; the happiness and contentment of little girls as they navigate their way through such an arduous journey. But for some, the journey is complicated in a way they may not be emotionally mature enough to handle. By discussing the causes, examining the effects, and identifying some solutions, we see more than ever that just because a little girl looks like a woman on the outside, that does not mean she is woman on the inside. While today’s little girls grow up much differently than the March sisters, they do still have one thing in common. As author Louisa May Alcott said,

The emerging woman will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, and strong-souled,

and that is true about a woman at any age.

 

Sources:

http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112716850/puberty-in-boys-age-102112/

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/10/30/peds.2012-3773.abstract

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Signet-Classics-Louisa-Alcott/dp/0451532082

http://www.americangirl.com/index.php

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2010/08/09/peds.2009-3079.abstract

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/precocious-puberty/DS00883

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/268337.php

http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112993027/us-girls-entering-puberty-earlier-than-ever-110413/

http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polybrominated_biphenyl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocrine_disruptor

http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2097388,00.html

http://www.bradley.edu/sites/bodyproject/sexuality/puberty/

http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(07)00983-3/abstract

http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/FirstPeriodOccursBeforeAge12.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23084519

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2927128/

https://www.lupronped.com/central-precocious-puberty/treating-precocious-puberty.aspx

http://www.biolreprod.org/content/56/4/1012.full.pdf

http://www.whale.to/a/sellman.html

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/424368-the-emerging-woman-will-be-strong-minded-strong-hearted-strong-souled-and

 

Afraid to Fall Asleep? (Part II) Effects and Strategies of Sleep Cycles

As you may or may not know: sleep is wonderful. Strangely enough, we don’t get enough of it all. I’ve mentioned the importance of sleep before. Today I’d like to delve a little deeper into the science of the sleep cycle — I’m on the lookout for balrogs and seeking mithril.

Part 1 of this article can be found here: Afraid to Fall Asleep? How Sleep Aids the Body in Growth and Regeneration

The Balrog: Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation causes and/or contributes to many ill effects including: depression, industrial and automotive accidents, delayed learning capabilities, slowed memory retention and intelligence, diminished sex drive, advanced aging of the skin, weight gain, and impaired judgement in regards to how much sleep you’ve gotten and need! A consistent sleep cycle can help you avoid sleep deprivation.

Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.

That’s a really big problem. Sleep deprivation can also contribute to some serious health conditions such as heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. This gives reason to the CDC declaring sleep deprivation to be a public health epidemic in the United States. Between 50-70 million adults have a disrupted sleep cycle and suffer from a sleep or wakefulness disorder.

 

The Mithril: Sleep Cycle Cure

The solution to sleep deprivation is so incredibly simple. All that you have to do is get the right amount of sleep. Knowing exactly what “the right amount” is happens to be a bit more complex. Luckily sleep scientists around the world have been attempting to understand the elusive sleep cycle and their efforts have been deliciously fruitful.

The amount of sleep and best times for sleep are dictated by circadian rhythm. Unlike the burrowing insects who lay dormant for up to 17 years, circadian rhythm is a twenty four hour sleep cycle dictated by circadian clocks. These clocks are biological mechanisms which are synchronized with the day-night cycle. The human sleep cycle is coordinated with the rotation of the Earth.

According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences:

Circadian rhythms are important in determining human sleep patterns. The body’s master clock, or SCN, controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Since it is located just above the optic nerves, which relay information from the eyes to the brain, the SCN receives information about incoming light. When there is less light—like at night—the SCN tells the brain to make more melatonin so you get drowsy.

So darkness triggers the body to utilize hormones in order to induce sleep. Once asleep the body and mind go through a series of sleep cycles. These rotate between deeper and more alert states. It is vitally important that you sleep enough for your body to get through several of these sleep cycles. If you don’t, you’re body will log this sleep debt which will need to be repaid later:

Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the hours you actually get. Every time you sacrifice on sleep, you add to the debt. Eventually, the debt will have to be repaid; it won’t go away on its own. If you lose an hour of sleep, you must make up that extra hour somewhere down the line in order to bring your “account” back into balance.

The NIGMS (either the best, or worst acronym ever) gives a guide for maintaining proper sleeping habits so as to avoid the sleep debt. Follow these steps to set your sleep cycle to regular:

Aim for at least seven and a half hours of sleep every night. Make sure you don’t fall farther in debt by blocking off enough time for sleep each night. Consistency is the key;

Settle short-term sleep debt with an extra hour or two per night. If you lost 10 hours of sleep, pay the debt back in nightly one or two-hour installments;

Keep a sleep diary. Record when you go to bed, when you get up, your total hours of sleep, and how you feel during the day. As you keep track of your sleep, you’ll discover your natural patterns and get to know your sleep needs;

Take a sleep vacation to pay off a long-term sleep debt. Pick a two-week period when you have a flexible schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and allow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. No alarm clocks! If you continue to keep the same bedtime and wake up naturally, you’ll eventually dig your way out of debt and arrive at the sleep schedule that’s ideal for you;

Make sleep a priority. Just as you schedule time for work and other commitments, you should schedule enough time for sleep. Instead of cutting back on sleep in order to tackle the rest of your daily tasks, put sleep at the top of your to-do list.

Doing these activities will help restore your body’s sleep cycle properly giving you the energy and fortitude of will to achieve your daily goals. The importance of sleep is probably something that you’ve heard about on and off your entire life and for good reason! Sleep is something that your body absolutely needs to be healthy. Your sleep cycle is important to your daily functioning.

 

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep

http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss
http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/

http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm

The 20 Biggest Wastes of Money and How to Avoid Them

money garbage

Waste of Money http://1four.co.uk

We all spend too much money on something out there. After all, money in and of itself is useless unless we are spending it. That being said though, some of the everyday things people spend their money on are an absolute waste and a downright scam. In this post, I will go over the 20 biggest wastes of money that we continue to spend our hard earned cash on. I am not here to judge anyone in particular, just the human race as a whole that I am happily a part of. How many of these are you guilty of?

 

1) Cigarettes

Cigarettes are bad for you, like really bad, like proven to cause cancer and a multitude of other illnesses bad. Despite what you tell yourself, and unlike other substances such as cannabis, there are actually no real benefits to smoking cigarettes, especially when it comes to the money in your pocket. There are however hundreds of reasons to quit.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare

To begin, cigarettes do not just contain tobacco, they contain over 599 additives. These 599 additives turn into 4000 different chemicals through the chemical change of burning the tobacco. 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Some of the lovely chemicals that cigarette smokers deeply inhale include: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanides and ammonia. The initial 599 additives have been approved as safe by the FDA, but they were approved without being burned. The FDA never once approved the 4000 chemicals created through the burning process that are known to be noxious poisons. You are spending your money on unapproved carcinogens.

According to the CDC:

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking account[s] for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Translation: Cigarettes are a near guaranteed death sentence, a death sentence that consists of horrible pain and struggling until the very last moment. Oh, and if you don’t die from smoking cigarettes, you are still more likely to get sick. Because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system and other bodily functions, the CDC notes that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • strokes by 2 to 4 times
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

So if cigarettes are so harmful, why do people start smoking in the first place? The major reasons are:

  • Media advertising
  • Epigentic predisposition
  • Parental influence
  • Stress relief
  • Self medication
  • Appetite suppression
  • Rebellion
  • Social benefits
  • Peer pressure

Some of these reasons for starting are understandable and may seem like benefits from the get go. For example, stress relief doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that once the incredibly strong sway of nicotine addiction sets in, which could be within days, cigarettes themselves become a stressor because smokers are antsy, anxious, and stressed without the tool they have become dependent on for solving their stress. Quite the downward spiral. The truth is that any physical benefit from smoking quickly subsides as the body builds a resistance to the nicotine found in tobacco. The positive benefits, such as appetite suppression and mood elevation, quickly fade in place of the same old you, that same old you that you originally tried to alter with a highly potent poison. Keep in mind that nicotine is incredibly potent, with resistance and dependency forming very quickly. To be precise, it is:

  • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
  • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
  • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

What about social benefits? Isn’t it great to be able to do something with your mouth and fingers to distract from the awkwardness of getting to know other people? The truth is that in this case you are only slightly curing a symptom of a problem with much deeper roots. If you require a biologically destructive tool to be able to comfortably talk to people, then you should put your focus on overcoming this societal fear rather than using an irrational crutch forever and ever.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

It should be obvious that the rest of the list consists of very shallow and poor reasons for choosing to take up such a clearly destructive and incredibly hard-to-break habit. Not to mention, cigarettes are extremely expensive.

Super, super expensive in fact! In 2011 a pack of cigarettes cost between $4.74 (West Virgina) and $11.90 (New York), depending on the state. In 2012 the price range for cigarettes changed to $4.84 (West Virgina) to $12.50 (New York). If you live in New York and smoke a modest 1 pack of cigarettes a day, you’re spending $87.50 a week, which is $4,550 a year. Not surprisingly, a recent study found that cigarettes smokers in New York that made $30,000 a year or less spent a whopping 25% of their income on cigarettes. 25% of their income on something that has no real benefits past the first couple weeks, is incredibly difficult to stop doing, is proven to cause cancer, and shortens your life span by at least 10 years. Go figure.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m sure some people enjoy smoking until the day they die whether they develop cancer or not.’ The odds are against you friend. 69% of smokers in the United States admit to wanting to quit completely with 52% of smokers trying to quit in 2010. Feel like throwing your health and money away? Grab a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, even today, despite so much available information, 4,000 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette everyday, and everyday 1000 kids younger than 18 become daily smokers. If you are attempting to quit smoking, there are many ways to change behavior and break habits successfully. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

 

 

2) Designer Clothing and Fashion

designer clothing expensive

projectmotherhoodnyc.com

If there was ever an absolute scam, this is it. Billions of people around the world have been brainwashed into believing that brand names equate to better quality and ‘cool factor’. While this may be the case in some instances, it is not the norm.

Whether it be sunglasses, watches, hats, handbags, pants, jackets, shoes, or any other material possession, much of the world is not happy unless they have an item made by their favorite designer. The problem is that designers charge insane amounts of money for products that often cost them about the same amount as it costs Walmart to make their products. The difference is that they claim their name and minimum amount of labor is worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars extra.

The brainwashing goes even further when people insist that they need to buy new clothes each season to keep up with the changing fashion. High end clothing companies and designers would have you believe that you are not cool unless you pay them exorbitant amounts of your hard earned money four times a year to keep up with the ‘in crowd.’ What an ingenious way to suck consumers dry.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

This form of brainwashing comes largely in the form of advertising, celebrity worship, and companies/independent designers banking on your insecurities. According to David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm:

The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price, it is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.

It’s not about price, it’s about competing with everyone around you. And for what? To look the flashiest? Readers, I have news for you: You are an adult, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only time it matters is in a job interview, because a job has the benefit of giving you the ability to support yourself. Your potential boss is not looking at your wardrobe, he is looking at a single outfit. But even in that instance, guess what? Unless you have the Walmart logo on your button down collared shirt, your boss will have NO IDEA how much you spent on your clothing. As long as you look presentable, that is what matters, and it does not take $500, $200, or even a $50 shirt to do that.

The mark ups on all clothing are astronomical, but this is especially the case with designer clothing. Did you know that Kohl’s department store has been caught hiking up the price of their products right before a huge sale? It is even possible to pay more for a sale price than you would have for the normal price of the good. There is a reason why all your favorite designers are living in multiple mansions, driving cars that cost more than your life’s net worth, and purchasing their own islands: they tricked you. They have the world at their fingertips, and what do you have? Their sewn together fabric. Woopdie-do.

Related Article: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

If you just can’t break the habit of buying designer goods and clothing, all hope is not lost. Head to a resale shop like Plato’s Closet and pick up some designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Sure, the clothes might be used, but after washing them no one will be able to tell the difference. Plato’s Closet has incredibly high standards for their clothing and even the slightest defect will be noticed and that piece of clothing removed from the store. You may be wearing used clothes, but at least you won’t have to work 20 hours of overtime next week to pay back the growing interest on your Macy’s credit card.

*Note: Another great idea is to buy clothes and other art from Etsy.com and support independant, and possibly even local artists/artisans. At least you’ll know that your particular item is one of a kind instead of wearing the same Abercrombie shirt as every other 20-something-debt-up-to-their-nose-fashion-freak.

 

 

3) Playing the Lottery

You actually have a better chance of being killed by a mountain lion or becoming president of the U.S.A than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot or the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot. There is a reason winning the lottery is called a pipe dream, and it’s not because pipes help you win.

200170608-001

 

4) New Cars

Buying a new car is one of the best ways to cut your money into little pieces and throw it to the wind. The moment you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot it depreciates in value by up to 40% of the price you just paid only seconds before. So, if you pay $25,000 for a new car, within seconds of the purchase it is worth only $15,000. Yikes! By the end of the third year your 4-wheeled baby is worth about 40% of its original price. If you’re planning on holding onto yo6a00d83451b3c669e2013486235de6970c-800wiur car for longer than 3 years its only going to get worse. The older a car is, the slower it depreciates in value.

Don’t forget that it’s impossible to know whether you will get into an accident or not, potentially totaling your car. Remember, you might be the best driver in the world, but what about everyone else?

 

 

 

5) Bottled Water

Bottled water is next on the list. Not only is bottled water a completely unnecessary expenditure in all but the most extreme cases, it is also extremely detrimental to the environment and your wallet.

While there is an ongoing debate regarding the safety of many plastics and various other ingredients found in plastic bottled water, what is not debated is the effect on the environment. Bottled water clearly effects the already heavily burdened environment in a highly negative way. Just because you throw your plastic bottles in the recycling bin does not mean that the bottle is being reused; it’s probably being dumped right into a landfill or the Pacific Ocean.

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occurring in Marine Life

bottled water landfill waste money

ipsofactoradio.blogspot.com

Every bottle you buy and toss away has on average a 28% chance of actually being properly recycled. Keep in mind that due to improper recycling practices and the rise of plastic use around the world, parts of the Pacific Ocean contain more particles of plastic than plankton. Sea life consumes this plastic, is caught by fishing companies, and goes right back on your plate. You are eating the water bottles you throw away, that is not an exaggeration.

Furthermore, there is no clear proof that bottled water is any healthier to drink than tap water. While our tap water is not very clean, containing harmful drugs, plastics, pesticides and other dangerous elements, there is no evidence that bottled water does not contain the same substances. You are better off buying a water filter and filling your own BPA free water bottles at home. The best reason to fill up your own water bottles at home is how much money it will save you in the long run.

Related Article: The 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

Think gasoline is expensive? Bottled water costs up to 3 times as much per galon! To make matters worse, bottled water costs over 1000 times more than tap water, the water you are paying for each month anyway! The absolute worst part? Many studies have found that a large percentage of bottled water is just tap water.

On average, each person in the U.S. consumes 167 plastic bottles of water each year. You can use this bottled water cost calculator to figure out your own wasteful spending, but let’s just assume you are average. If you buy 167 bottles of water per year at a low price of 1.50 per bottle (some bottles of water like Fiji brand could cost up to $5.00 per bottle in the stores) you are looking at $250 dollars per year. Compare that to buying a water filter and a reusable water bottle and the purchase already pays for itself even before the end of a year. Remember that the water filter and water bottle are almost endlessly reusable.

Related Article: Conservation Efforts of Earth’s Seven Continents

The multi-billion dollar bottled water industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world, and it is a complete scam. Ever notice that Evian is naive spelled backwards?

*Note: The one instance where it is extremely tempting to buy bottled water is while traveling where it is unsafe to drink the water. The same suggestion applies: buy a couple reusable BPA-free water bottles and just fill them on the go at your hotel/hostel. You can even get a lightweight, compact UV water purifier to bring with you and ensure your water is completely safe to drink. If you live or are traveling in North America, a great solution to bottled water is to take advantage of purified water vending machines, an idea that many bottled water companies are implementing. These vending machines can often be found outside of supermarkets.

 

 

6) Weddings

Weddings: one of the prime sources of gossip on Facebook, and one of the ultimate stressors for couples and relatives alike. Weddings are romanticized and embedded deep into the psyche of little girls from the time they are toddlers. Since time immemorial, humans have simply accepted that the culmination of success and happiness in a relationship must lead to a budget crippling, single-day expenditure called a wedding. Of course, most weddings just end in the creation of bridezillas and couples taking out a few additional loans to base the foundation of their future lives on. No wonder so many marriages end due to arguments over finances.

wedding waste of money

Who needs a house? http://www.glamour.com

The majority of couples end up paying far more for their wedding than they had originally budgeted for. After adding up so many variables (the wedding dress, makeup and hair, DJ, decorations, food, wedding favors, invitations, photography… the list is seemingly endless) the final price of a wedding usually ends up being about the price of the downpayment on a new couple’s house. I suppose that’s easy to understand when the average price of a DJ is $748, and the average price of a photagrapher is $1,777. Even saying thank you costs big bucks, with the average price of thank you cards totaling $94.

Related Article: Afraid to Wake Up? Conquering Fear and Living the Lives We Want

In 2012, couples and their families in the U.S. spent an average of $28,427 on wedding ceremonies alone. This is an absolute waste of money, especially for something that lasts less than a full 24 hours. According to the Bureau of Business & Economic Research, the median personal income in the United States in 2012 was $42,693. That means that on average, couples are spending 66% of the average person’s income on a single day to celebrate, well, themselves. Spending the cost of a house downpayment on a single day to remind everyone of your love: that might be the very definition of both insanity and vanity.

The truth is that traditional weddings are downright unnecessary and insultingly wasteful to the rest of the struggling world. Amy Keyishian reminds women in her article “Why I think Weddings are a Stupid Waste of Money,” to not make the mistake of spending thousands for a wedding. By not spending so much:

You’re not a princess, princess. You’re a smart cookie. Trust me, that’s so much better.

If you are spending anywhere near the United States average on a single day, this is a great chance to improve your creativity. There are a remarkable amount of DIY wedding ideas that you can implement to ensure that your wedding is a low cost, creative, unforgettable experience. There are also many ways to have the traditional wedding you’ve been fantisizing about on the cheap by cutting out some of the unnecessary expenses. One of my favorite solutions is cutting out all the ridiculous party favors. According to Gail Johnson, a Decatur, Ga.-based wedding and event consultant:

expensive wedding

bahmankadeh.blogspot.com

I can’t tell you [how] many times guests leave these items on the tables or take them home and toss them. Entertaining your guests with a great meal and entertainment is plenty, so there is no need to spend money on wedding favors.

Weddings are not a fairytale, they are part of a multi-billion dollar industry that wants as much of your money as possible. What’s so romantic about that?

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

*Note: Even the prospect of marriage isn’t entirely necessary nowadays. Although there are a great deal of federal benefits afforded to married couples, domestic partnerships and civil unions are a great option as well. Check out your state policies to see if a civil union or domestic partnership is a better alternative for you and your significant other. Remember, marriage does not equate to true love.

 

 

Rolls of Paper Towels7) Paper Towels

One ton of paper towels is equal to 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. 3,000 tons of paper towels are produced in the U.S. each and everyday. That means that each day approximatley 51,000 trees and 60,000,000 gallons of water are used so that Americans can dry their hands.

Related Article: Wood Pulp is Changing the World

The solution is simple. Instead of shelling out clams for disposable paper towels each time you go the supermarket, make a one time purchase and buy reusable dish towels instead. It costs $13 for a 12 pack of reusable cotton dish towels. Throw them in the wash when they get dirty, dry them, and repeat. I know Bounty brand is tempting, but it destroys the bounty of our environment!

 

8) Diamonds/Jewelry

Many people purchase diamonds and jewelry as gifts that symbolize true love. This was not always such a widespread practice though. Giving a diamond ring as an engagement gift is only about a century old. Furthermore, the only reason people do it, as usual, is because a very clever business convinced all of us that it is not only a great idea, but a crucial one. Oh well, at least diamonds and other precious jewelry are a great investment right? Wrong. This myth has been dispelled time and time again.
The value of jewelry rises at about the same rate of inflation, but good luck selling your jewelry at even half that price. The biggest issue with trying to sell jewelry is that high-end jewelry stores generally do not buy back precious stones and metals. The amount they would offer sellers would be embarassingly low as they would have to offer them the wholesale price, not the insanely high mark-up price that we all pay.

Related Article: A Planet Covered in Diamonds

Diamonds and jewelry are a horrible waste of money and the very opposite of a smart investment. You’re better off recalibrating your societally learned bourgeoisie tastes and heading to Etsy.com for truly unique, creative, and beautiful jewelry. Besides, is it really worth putting so many eggs into one basket. Owning a $5,000 dollar diamond ring means that if your ring is lost or stolen, so are all those greenbacks the ring is worth.

Keep in mind that an unknown amount of diamonds on the market are blood diamonds, and it is very hard to be sure of the source of your precious stones. When you flash your bling-bling, there’s a good chance you are announcing to the world that you happily support slavery, suffering, and mass death. Support Etsy instead.

 

 

9) Fast Food

Fast food: quick, convenient, cheap, and a total waste of money. In 1970, Americans spent $6 billion on fast food. In the year 2000 that number rose to $110 billion and continues to rise year after year. To give you a better perspective of these numbers, every day 25% of the adult U.S. population shoves fast food down their gullets.

Fast food might seem like a bargain, but the truth is that you are scamming your body and your wallet with every bite you take. Sure, you can get a meal that will fill you up for 3 dollars by ordering off the dollar menu, but is it worth it? Is a dollar worth the nutritional value and health detriment of a Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger? The simple answer is no. Let’s take a look at the not so simple answer.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Eric Schlosser describes in his book “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” the ugly truth behind fast food: it tastes good, but is utterly destructive to your body. In an excerpt from Fast Food Nation, Schlosser explains that:

The Food and Drug Administration does not require flavor companies to disclose the ingredients of their additives, so long as all the chemicals are considered by the agency to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). This lack of public disclosure enables the companies to maintain the secrecy of their formulas. It also hides the fact that flavor compounds sometimes contain more ingredients than the foods being given their taste. The ubiquitous phrase “artificial strawberry flavor” gives little hint of the chemical wizardry and manufacturing skill that can make a highly processed food taste like a strawberry.

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), α-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, γ-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

fast food waste money

mrmeltdown.com

Here’s a hint: much of what you just read does not belong in your body, and that is just one example among tens of thousands of products. Despite this, American kids between the ages of 6 and 14 eat fast food 157,000,000 times every month. One of the major reasons is that the flavor wizardry of fast food keeps you wanting more. Simply put, fast food is addictive.

Related Article: Save the Food Pyramid by Cutting Out Carbs

You’d be hard pressed to find a doctor who would suggest that even a small amount of fast food is okay to eat. In fact, many doctors in the UK are demanding a ban on fast food chains near schools due to how serious of an epidemic fast food, and consequently obesity, is. That is why fast food is an utter waste of money. Sure, you won’t starve if you eat it, but you are far more likely to become obese and have very serious health problems down the road if you eat fast food on a regular basis.

Take a look at the nutrition facts for your favorite fast food chain. A Big Mac alone contains 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 1040 mg of sodium. Add the obligatary order of large french fries and you just tacked on an extra 500 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 350 grams of sodium. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, that single meal consisting of a burger and fries accounts for 50% of your alloted daily calories, 83% of your alotted daily fat intake (consisting of a great deal of saturated fats and some trans fats thrown in for good measure), %58 of your daily sodium intake, and 36% of your daily carbs at 108 grams. Not a pretty picture, is it? Let’s paint a complete picture just for fun and eat 3 meals at McDonalds, shall we?

 

Breakfast:

Minutemaid Orange Juice: Calories (190), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (39mg)

Egg McMuffin: Calories (300), Fat (12g), Carbs(30g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (820mg)

Hashbrown: Calories (150), Fat (9g), Carbs(15g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (310mg)

 

Lunch:

Big Mac: Calories (540), Fat (29g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1040)

Large Fries: Calories (500), Fat (25g), Carbs(63g), Cholesterol(0mg), Sodium (350g)

21 fl oz Diet Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (30mg)

 

Dinner:

Big N’ Tasty With Cheese: Calories (510), Fat (28g), Carbs(38g), Cholesterol(85mg), Sodium (960mg)

Medium French Fries: Calories (380), Fat (19g), Carbs(48g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (270mg)

Mcflurry with Oreo Cookies: Calories (510), Fat (17g), Carbs(80g), Cholesterol(45mg), Sodium (280mg)

21 fl oz Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(58g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (15mg)

 

Totals:

Breakfast: Calories (640), Fat (21g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (1169mg)

Lunch: Calories (1040), Fat (54g), Carbs(108g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1420mg)

Dinner: Calories (1400), Fat (64g), Carbs(224), Cholesterol(130mg), Sodium (1525mg)

 

Full Day Total: (Daily values based on a 2000 calorie diet)

Calories (3080) 154%DV

Fat (139 g) 214%DV

Carbohydrates (377 g) 126%DV

Cholesterol (465 mg) 155%DV

Sodium (4114 mg) 171%DV

 

Combine these atrocious numbers with all the artificial additives and preservatives in fast food and its easy to understand why it is so unfathomably unhealthy and not worth a single penny!

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

The fats found in most fast food products have been linked to increased fat around the abdomen and an increased risk of diabetes. There is also clear evidence that fast food (constituting the foundation of a poor general diet) is in large part responsible for childhood obesity. Even seemingly healthy options at fast food chains are coated with hidden fats and biologically harmful ingredients. Keep in mind that all of the health problems caused by eating fast food also increases individual and statewide health costs.

What is the point of eating food that only serves to harm you? Doesn’t it make more sense to spend a little extra cash for the sake of actually eating a nutritional meal, maintaining health, and steering clear of medical bills? Paying more for healthy food actually gives you bang for your buck, as opposed to fast food which only serves as a health detriment in the long run.

Besides, eating healthy doesn’t have to be more expensive! In fact, with some careful planning, eating healthy and cooking your own meals at home could be even cheaper than your weekly fast food budget. For example:

Don’t have time to cook? Might as well start making time for more hospital visits. I can’t put this any nicer: find time! It is your life and well being we are talking about here! You could be spending $200 to $400 a month on healthy food, or a ‘fair price‘ of $63,648 on heart surgery. $63,648 is equal to 13 to 27 years of paying for healthy food. It’s your choice.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

If you don’t think eating healthy foods will fill you up enough, remember that getting filled up is entirely dependant on food density, rather than calorie content. While 4 pounds of fruits and veggies will provide about 400 calories, 4 pounds of pop tarts will provide nearly 10,000. If you think 4 pounds of veggies won’t fill you up, give it a try. You won’t even make it a fourth of the way through.

People that struggle with body fat management tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later.

Translation: Fatness.

If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.

Check out the differences outlined below:

Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs
1.5 pounds fruits and veggies
0.5 pound grains
0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.5 pounds
= about 3,700 calories per day

What if we switched this around?

2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies
1.0 pounds of grains and legumes
0.3 pounds nuts/seeds
0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs
0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.2 pounds
= about 2,075 calories per day

You can eat healthy without paying anymore than you would for fast food and still be left completely satisfied. The dollar menu is an illusion; nutritionally the food is worth far less than a dollar.

If you happen to work 120 hours a week for $1 an hour, then there are still options for you. If for whatever reason you must resort to eating fast food, there are ways to make healthier choices when perusing the fast food menu, as well as ways to make normally unhealthy fast food healthier. Some of my favorite suggestions are to drink water instead of a soft drink, undress your meal by removing unnecessary sauces, and to research all ingredients. Don’t waste your money on non-nutritional garbage. Think of healthy food as an investment in yourself.

fast food waste money

“Supersize Me”

 

10) University

While some countries enjoy free university and college, here in the U.S. we are stuck paying prices that a Middle Eastern oil mogul would be awed by. From 2008 to 2010 the average tuition cost for American universities rose by 15%. For some schools, it was even as high as 40%. On average, in the 2010 to 2011 school year, the average cost of one year of tuition, room, and board for all insitutions across the U.S. was $18,497. To split that total up, the average 4-year private institution cost $32,617 per year while the average 4-year public institution cost $15,918 per year. That is a whole lot of dead presidents. Some for-profit universites, which are not included in those averages, could cost even more.

Related Article: Public School Failure in America

students-in-front-of-the-academic-building-on-the-texas-a-m-university-campus_slideA university education is not a waste of money for everyone out there, but for a huge percentage of the population it absolutley is. Think long and hard before setting foot on campus: there is no return policy. If you are paying $20,000 a year to get a bachelors degree, by the end of 4 years you are looking at spending the price of a brand new condominum, or 2 brand new condos, depending on where in the U.S. you lay your head at night. And that’s IF it takes you 4 years to complete your degree. The average time it takes to complete a bachelors degree is 54 months, or 4.5 years. So, if you are on the upper end of that average, and going to an above average university, you could be spending closer to $200,000. You could completley pay for 2 houses for that price; live in one and rent the other one out. We are talking about a very serious amount of money just to listen to people considered experts in their field give lectures. From my experience it is mandatory to buy the new version of their book each year too.

Despite what society would have you believe, going to college or university isn’t for everyone. A degree does not guarantee success, nor does it guarantee a job. With unemployment currently hovering around 7.5%, employers only plan on hiring an extra 2.1% of graduates compared to 2012, a number that they had originally estimated to be 13% in the Fall of 2012. Unemployment for people under 25 in the U.S. is closer to 16%. Financially, the situation is even more troubling for recent grads:

Young college graduates with full-time jobs earned an average hourly wage of $16.60 last year, roughly $34,500 a year. That is down 7.6 percent from 2007. Benefits are also a problem. Between 2000 and 2011, the share of young graduates whose jobs provide for retirement plans dropped to 27.2 percent from 41.5 percent. The trend is troubling given that most students are graduating from college with huge debts.

Let me reiterate: having a degree does not guarantee success, or even make success any more likely. The most important thing when thinking about university is to consider who you are as an individual, and to remember that there are so many other options. An article from Learnfinancialplanning.com shares a very poignant story.

A friend of mine recently told me the story from when she worked at McDonald’s back when she was still in high school. Someone came along and applied for a job. Under “educational experience”, the individual listed a 6 year degree in Calligraphy.

They hung the application on the wall and had quite a few chuckles.

They laughed because the degree was absurd and stereotypical. There are precious few things one can do with a degree in Calligraphy. Spending $50,000 was probably a bad choice. The individual could have simply learned the trade without the degree, and saved thousands.

Don’t go to a degree it isn’t necessary. If it is necessary, and you can make your money back with a typical job in the field you’ll be getting your education in, then go for the degree. Just rationally analyze your situation, your goals and the necessity of the degree, and you’ll be fine.

Related Article: Science Says “Smart People are Idiots”

studentdebtEducation comes in many forms, don’t let society convince you that university is the only way. So, what are your alternatives to university? How about traveling the world? Backpacking through different countries is a great way to widen your perspectives and find out what you truly want to achieve in life. It is also one of the best ways to meet other people and create a solid network. The age old saying ‘it’s not about what you know, but who you know’ still applies. Volunteering or interning is also a great way to get experience in a field without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to find out that it doesn’t really appeal to you. You could also apply for vocational training, or even start a business. Ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg? He didn’t need a degree to make Facebook.

While not everyone who starts a business will succeed, the lessons you will learn will be an invaluable tool you can take with you for the rest of your life. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel is even paying university students $100,000 to drop out of school and attempt to start a business. According to Thiel,

Learning is good. Credentialing and debt is very bad. College gives people learning and also takes away future opportunities by loading the next generation down with debt.

In a similair vein, Cameron Herold, an entrepreneur since he was a child, points out the importance of recognizing and fostering entrepreneurial talent in kids. He gives an extraordinary TED talk on how exactly to raise kids to better their chances of becoming succesful entrepreneurs, if not more successful people in general when they grow up.

Related Article: Paul Ryan: “School? Get a Job! In Fact Get Three!”

Sure, you may be nervous to go against the mold of society, but just remember that there’s no rush. Take some time to think about what you want out of life. Society insists that we go to university, graduate, and start a career as quickly as possible; don’t listen to everything you hear! Your life is yours to live. If going to university/college turns out to be a mistake, it will be a costly one that will haunt you in the form of loans and insane interest rates (6% or more!) for decades to come. You don’t have to waste your money on university if it isn’t right for you, and you can still be a fully capable, and even highly successful member of society.

If you feel alone in choosing not to go to university, check out this endless list of highly succesful people that never went to university or dropped out. Just to name a few:

Sandy Adams, U.S. congressperson. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the Air Force. Later got her GED and attended the police academy before being hired as a deputy sheriff.

Ben Affleck, actor, screenwriter. Left the University of Vermont after one semester; then dropped out of Occidental College to pursue acting.

Chuck Allen, banker, co-founder of the National Scholastic Surfing Association, and founder of the U.S. Amateur Snowboard Association. At the age of 19, he moved from Oklahoma to California and began working odd jobs until he was established enough to move on to a banking career.

Woody Allen, screenwriter, actor, director, and producer. Was thrown out of New York University after one semester for poor grades. Also dropped out of City College of New York. As he admitted, “I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”

Hans Christian Andersen, short story author, fairy tales. Left home at the age of 14 to find work. Later attended Copenhagen Univesity.

Peter Arnell, advertising executive. Never attended college. Talked his way into the advertising business after graduating from high school.

Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, software programmer. Studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne but dropped out because other students were doing research for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian. Dropped out of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Keep in mind that this list consists only of famous drop outs with last names that start with the letter ‘A.’

Related Article: Coursera: Free Online Courses from the World’s Top Universities

 

 

11) Charity/Non-For-Profit

When you donate to charity it gives you a nice, warm feeling inside. You get to help the world, at least a little bit, from the comfort of your own home. In 2011, individuals, corporations, and foundations in the U.S. collectively donated $298.42 billion to charitable organizations. The sad truth is that a surprisingly large percentage of many charities’ donations do not go to helping anything or anyone at all, but instead cover the costs of overheads.

charity perpetuate poverty waste of money

michellegallardogsoc151.blogspot.com

Even well known organizations such as Feed the Children have been found to be utterly inefficient. While the founder and former president of the organization Larry Jones purchased a $1.2 million dollar house to better “reach out to celebrities,” Feed the Children was caught lying about donating food to the needy in Haiti. They hadn’t fed a single person!

A few weeks ago I was was traveling through Sumatra, trekking through the jungle with a guide. The guide explained to me that people from North America and Europe think that the money they donate to NGO’s such as the World Wild Fund for Nature is being used to make a difference. He expressed a very different reality, telling me that:

They do nothing to help the wildlife here, and often do more harm than good. They helped pay for feeding platforms for the dying organgutans, but this only makes the orangutans dependant on humans for food. It also spreads disease to the orangutans. Because they have nearly 97% identical DNA with humans, they can catch our sicknesses and have no way to cure themselves. WWF is useless.

Even handing out money to homeless people you pass on the street is often totally unhelpful because tiny amounts of money that they do not and cannot save only serves to perpetuate their poverty. What they need is direction, not beer money.

Related Article: Ever Heard of Microcreditng?

I am not going to claim that every single charity is a waste of money though! You can use the sites Charity Watch, and Charity Navigator to check the efficiency of charities and find out if the money you donate is actually being used to help the needy.

Another option is to look into is microcrediting. Microcrediting is:

a small loan that individuals invest towards small businesses or entrepreneurs in developing countries. It can also help to improve the lives of many women who, unlike men, have less of a chance to find stable employment.

This provides the direction that the needy require, hopefully allowing them to escape from poverty for good.

 

12) Makeup

Makeup? More like mark-up! The price of makeup is marked up by 78% on average. Ladies, all 80% of you that wear makeup on a regular basis have seen and paid for these high prices, but is it really worth it?

The average woman spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime, money that contributes to an industry worth more than $382 billion. Lost makeup alone costs women $400 a year on average. All of this money to alter your physical self in order to be more comfortable around people that will judge you regardless of the mask you wear. Daily makeup use is also very unhealthy due to the chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, and subsequently the bloodstream. Anything that has a 78% mark-up, is unhealthy for you, and only serves to hide who you really are is an absolute waste of money.

If makeup gives you a greater sense of confidence and security, then I can certianly understand your argument. But ladies, moderations is key. Your health and wallet will thank you dearly!

 

 

13) Greeting Cards

Whether it is for birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays or just to say thank you, giving greeting cards is a staple tradition of society. It is subsequently a mindless waste of money. As Pretired Nick excellently describes:

At the local stores, the customer plays his or her role, flipping through the cards as quickly as possible until one is found that will “work” — not perfect, just “good enough.” The card is mindlessly purchased, a name is unemotionally signed and the card sits until it’s time to hand it over to the receiver. That moment is funny, too, with the giver anxiously waiting while the receiver opens the card, fakes a chuckle at the joke and says a heartfelt “thank you.” If it’s a group setting, the card is then passed around so everyone can enjoy the hilarious joke. And, then, of course, after the journey from forest to factory to store to lucky recipient, the card is usually recycled [or thrown away].

Related Article: Fooling People into Passionate Belief

The greeting card has become an object we now take for granted. We may as well pretend to open a card, say “blah, blah, blah” out loud, and then mock throw the card away; it will yield the same results only with less waste. Giving a greeting card is equivalent to giving a person a clump of dirt and saying “look, I picked this clump of dirt for you rather than any of the other clumps, how great is that!?” sad_batman_greeting_card_by_hatpire-d53ecao

They are a drain on the environment, a social stressor, and most of all, a sink-hole in your wallet. Americans spend between $7 billion to $8 billion each year on over 6.5 billion greeting cards.Birthdays are by far the most popular card sending occasion. And listen up ladies; you are responsible for a whopping 80% of all greeting card sales!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

The average price of a greeting card falls between $2 -$4. If you buy greeting cards for a modest 10 people, on 4 different days out of the year, you are spending $80 to $160 per year on something that is glanced at, thrown away, and never thought of again. If you are buying cards for more than 10 people, well… you may as well just burn your money and leave out the middle man.

I know, I know, you still don’t want to break the societal mold and just stop giving greeting cards, so what can you do? Luckily for you, technology!

You can always send your friends and family an e-card and save the environment, money, and your time. The best part about sending an e-card is that they are usually free. Even Hallmark, the almighty Baron of Greeting Cards, offers unlimited e-cards for only $1 per month! E-cards will also reach the recipient instantaneously. Goodbye snail-mail, hello 21st century!

Related Article: Go Go Gadget: Wearable Tech

Another major reason for not buying greeting cards is that picking a piece of paper from amongst other pieces of paper requires zero creativity. The same applies to ready made e-cards. If you truly want to show someone that you care about them, make your own greeting card or e-card. There is endless amounts of greeting card software available for those that are not creatively inclined.

For those with even a minute semblance of creativity, get a piece of paper, put a writing instrument in your hand, and make your own. Simple, yet surprisingly not so obvious.

 

14) Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper may be the single most belligerent thing humans have ever conjured up. It’s single, solitary function is to be ripped apart and thrown away. That’s right, not recycled, but thrown away, because the dyes and chemicals in wrapping paper make it non-recyclable.

Here are some disgusting facts about wrapping paper and its evil cousin, ribbon:

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occuring in Marine Life

The environment is just one consideration. Think about how much time you spend wrapping each and every gift. I’ve seen people set aside entire nights devoted solely to wrapping with paper that will be immediately disregarded in lieu of what is inside of it. Waste of time, waste of resources, burden to the environment, and an utter waste of money.

Let’s assume a naked gift is simply going to far. You’re modest and have a sense of dignity, and you want your gifts to reflect your top notch moral values. I understand. Here are some cheap, eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper:

Related Article: A Product That Will Turn You into a Tree After Death

More often than not, wrapping paper is dyed and laminated. It can also contain non-paper additives, such as gold and silver coloring, glitter and plastics. Additionally, it can be very thin and contains few good quality fibers for recycling. To make matters worse, it usually has tape on it from gift wrapping. Recognizing that those pretty words at the beginning of this paragraph probably distracted a few pro-wrapping paper fiends out there, if you do receive a gift covered in it, make sure to reuse it and not just throw it in the garbage.

The way I see it, giving unwrapped gifts can be a great gauge of a person’s personality. If they seem irritated, angry, or disappointed that you didn’t wrap their gift, then they missed the whole point of your giving them a gift in the first place. They are short-sighted and ungrateful. Pat them on the back, leave them alone for the time being, and send them over to this article for some perception restructuring. We’ll have them back to you good as new in no time.

Related Article: Sweden is Running Out of Trash

 

15) Vitamins

Many of us took Flintstone vitamins as kids, take vitamin supplements as adults, and will continue taking vitamins well into the winter of our lives. You probably already know this, but I’ll remind you anyway: food, that natural stuff that grows out of the Earth and comes in various shapes and colors, contains the same vitamins and nutrients found in all the pills you’re popping!

Just because vitamin supplements contain nutritious elements doesn’t mean they’re your best option for attaining nutrients. In fact, the only reason ANYONE takes vitamins is due to a single Nobel prize winner named Linus Pauling, who despite decades of clear scientific data showing the opposite, claimed that taking multivitamins would eradicate the common cold, cure cancer, and Vitaminsamongst other miracles, extend life expectancy to 150 years. In case you weren’t sure, Linus was dead wrong.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else

Although just about the entire global scientific community agrees that multivitamins/ nutrient supplements do more harm than good in the long run, over half of the American population still takes their daily multivitamins. This is largely due to age old hype and unfounded propaganda convincing people that money spent on vitamins equates to years of elongated, healthy life.

Even a glance at the tip of the research iceberg regarding the effects of multivitamins makes it clear that they are incredibly dangerous and in fact detrimental to health. They are a waste of money in the same way that cigarettes are. The vitamin and supplement industry combined is worth nearly $90 billion, despite the fact that according to Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, it is clear that:

The concept of multivitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.

Studies repeatedly make it clear that this multi billion dollar market is pure quackery, and yet:

On October 25 [2011], a headline in the Wall Street Journal asked, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” Studies haven’t hurt sales. In 2010, the vitamin industry grossed $28 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year before. “The thing to do with [these reports] is just ride them out,” said Joseph Fortunato, chief executive of General Nutrition Centers. “We see no impact on our business.”

HealthyVitaminFeatureRelated Article: Starve Cancer by Eating

Just eat food! As long as its not a money waster like fast food. It borders on impossible to consume too many vitamins or other nutrients from actual food.

If you do have certain allergies or restrictive diets, your choices may be slim, but there are SO many options out there. Be creative and do your research. You don’t need pills to be healthy, quite the opposite!

 

 

16) Cleaning Products

How many households including your own do you know of that have a cabinet filled with cleaning products? I’m willing to bet there’s bottles you didn’t even know you had sitting under your sink, filled with chemical names you can’t pronounce or even begin to know the danger of. The truth is that all of those bottles of biological/environmental poison can be replaced by a few simple, sunder-kitchen-sink-cabinet-organization-hall-of-fame-21605295afe substances/solutions that you can make yourself in moments for a fraction of the cost.

Related Article: For Humanity’s Sake Wash Your Hands!

Websites abound with various options for creating your own cheap household cleaning products. These cleaning products often involve white vinegar, lemon zest, certain essential oils, and the legendary baking soda! I consider it legendary because baking soda can save you money by being used in literally hundreds of different ways, from deodorizing smells, to cleaning produce, to putting out fires!

A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar mixed with a solution of water can take care of just about any area in the home that needs some cleaning and disinfecting. If you’re looking to kill mold, instead of bleach, use clove oil, which in my experience works just as well.Need to cut grease? Use lemon juice, it’s that simple!

Related Article: pH Levels and Your Scalp

In no time, by making a few simple changes, you can clean your home non-toxically and on the cheap. Not to mention, think of all the cabinet space your cans of Febreeze and Oxy had been hoarding that is now ripe for the filling! For 1000’s of cheap, alternative cleaning ideas, check out the following links:

Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Solutions

1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes

Cleaning with Clove Oil

 

 

17) Gadgets

gadgets31

Give me 6 of everything please. http://tech.gaeatimes.com

We love our gadgets! How could we not? With a single device that fits into our pocket we can put our lives on autopilot and have even more time for shopping, Jersey Shore re-runs, and fast food.

But, and I know I should walk on eggshells when I ask this, do we really need all our fancy gadgetry? Of course not, but it makes life so much better. So, let’s rephrase the question: Do we really need a new gadget so often? Do we really need to upgrade our phone every 6 – 12 months, get a new computer every 1-4 years, buy the latest, greatest, mind-bending fast machine the moment it is released?

Related Article: The Draw of Cellphones

We all know that technology changes rapidly; there is always something new. Weeks after buying state of the art technology it is rendered obsolete by the next best thing. It is simply impossible to keep up with every single generation of new gadgetry. And yet, in the face of impossibility, we humans persevere, and practically kill ourselves trying to keep up with society’s view of the Western dream:

A television in every room, a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, printer, faster internet, a bigger television, a better computer, an external harddrive, faster laptop, new headphones, more advanced smartphone, faster internet, new camera, 3-D television, quad core computer…. you get the idea.

Related Article: 3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Creativity

Isn’t it incredible that the moment we hear rumours about the iPhone 5S, suddenly, our iPhone 5 seems like a drab toy barely capable of entertaining a Neanderthal? The tech industry, specifically the at-home-electronics industry, is a Yoda-level swindler when it comes to convincing you that what you need is the next greatest technological development NOW. The industry, like all big industries, is a master of constantly reigniting your desires for something new, and convincing you that what you have simply isn’t good enough.

Every 3 – 12 months Apple releases a new model of the iPhone, and its out with the old, in with the new. Their sales continue to rise, and the population continues to fork over their hard earned cash for something they pretty much already have. And that’s just the iPhone! Countless other gadgets, electronics, and gizmos attain the status of ‘necessary to our lives’ on a daily basis. How is it possible that a device that can do everything, including have a conversation with you, can bore us in less than a year? Our grandparents used to get a kick out of playing wall ball for half a day. Wall ball, a game so simple that you can describe the entire premise of the game with two syllables: wall, and ball. Try to do the same with Final Fantasy. And yet, More than 20 Final Fantasy games later, we need more, more, MORE!

Related Article: Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill: Gaming of the Future

The hard truth is that in contemporary society, enough is simply never enough. Take a look at the graph below. It is evidence of the aforementioned truth.

 

According to the graph:

— In 1900, <10% of families owned a stove, or had access to electricity or phones

— In 1915, <10% of families owned a car

— In 1930, <10% of families owned a refrigerator or clothes washer

— In 1945, <10% of families owned a clothes dryer or air-conditioning

— In 1960, <10% of families owned a dishwasher or color TV

— In 1975, <10% of families owned a microwave

— In 1990, <10% of families had a cell phone or access to the Internet

Today, at least 90% of the [U.S.] has a stove, electricity, car, fridge, clothes washer, air-conditioning, color TV, microwave, and cell phone. They make our lives better. They might even make us happier. But they are not enough.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

Compared to a single generation ago, everyone has everything, and yet, the majority of everyone is in debt and/or living paycheck to paycheck. So, is the only solution to become the fool on the hill and live gadget free? Not a chance. The answer is far less extreme.

Decrease your frequency of gadgetry/electronics purchases. That’s it. As long as you can still browse the internet, take pictures and video, call friends and family, play endless amounts of games, take notes, have conversations with AI, and pinpoint your exact latitude and longitude in the blink of an eye, you DON’T need a new gadget that performs the exact same functions with the sole added bonus of a fingerprint scanner for an additional $500 or more. Gadgets themselves are not a waste of money, far from it. It’s a waste of money to buy a brand new, redundant gadget so often. Let’s have a look at some solutions to your expensive gadget habbit:

Related Article: Your Old Android Phone Can Save the Rainforest

Virtual-Keyboard

Is that a thing? Oh my god I need that right now! new-gadgetstech.blogspot.com

Be honest with yourself. Buy a single gadget that meets your needs. Don’t buy a new one until you TRULY need it. If you have a built in camera in your phone, do you really need a state of the art $2800 camera? Unless you are a professional photographer, the answer is no.

Look for sales. For many people, a sales price means that because the item is so cheap they have money left over to play “what’s the quickest way to empty my wallet?” This defeats the purpose of buying items on sale. Take advantage of sales prices, but don’t spend the money you save on something else you don’t need. Be patient. Some of the best sales can pop up at any time. Use sites like slickdeals.net to ensure that you are getting the best bargain price possible.

Upgrade instead of buying new. The next time your computer starts processing information in slow motion, consider upgrading its component parts rather than buying a whole new one. If you have 8gb of RAM, and your computer has a 16GB RAM capacity, just buy more RAM. Upgrades will not always be the better value, but they often are. Make sure to do a price comparison.

Related Article: Augmented Reality Blows My Mind Twice

Wait for the price to come down. Within as little as a few months after a product’s release the price will inevitably decrease. The truth is that technology companies have already developed the technology years before it is released, meaning that nothing is really state of the art. Everything you see on the market is technologically inferior to what actually exists. Simply put, you will never truly have ‘the best.’ So, is it really a big deal to just deal with your perfectly capable piece of tech for a few more months, or even years, in order to eventually buy a product at a fraction of its original price?

Watch out for gadget overlap. If you have a laptop that can do practically everything you don’t need a tablet for the sole fact that it has a touch screen. People have survived without touch screens since, well, forever, and you will too. If you have a $20 pair of headphones that work, unless you are Mark Zuckerberg and have a couple billion dollars to throw away, you do not need a $1200 pair of headphones. No, you don’t.

Related Article: TVs, Brains, and Zombies, Oh My

Be rational and reasonable. If you’re a man and you find a computer that is 10% of its normal price but only sold in pink, just be the guy that has a pink computer! You just saved 90% and are now able to eat food without charging your nutritional intake to a credit card.

Heil Kitler! First it was the house that looks like Adolf, now we bring you the cats of the furred Reich  1

You’ve already stared at Kitler’s moustache 14 times this week!

Be satisfied with the incredible god-like gadgets you already own. Compared to a single generation ago, the capabilities of even our most basic gadgets make people living in the 21st century seem like Gods to the rest of former humanity. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself perusing Amazon for something better. Buying new gadgets, like any type of shopping, is a drug and a status symbol, and you are wasting your cash trying to keep up with the Joneses for the sake of a slightly better screen resolution and larger harddrive space to look at even more high quality pictures of cats with Hitler moustaches.

Related Article: Cute Baby Animal Pictures Increase Productivity

What’s the rush anyway? Due to exponentially accelerated change, in the very near future we won’t be able to tell the difference between biology and technology.Cherish the time when you actually have the choice to be separate from your precious gadgets. The singularity is near.

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us

 

 

18) Eating/Drinking Out

money_food

Eat up, this meal is going to cost you! angellebatten.com

There’s nothing like a nice dinner out with a glass of wine to demolish your bank account. Society romanticises the notion of eating and drinking out, making us believe that going out for a meal or a drink should be the norm. Check your perceptions and you’ll come to see that there is nothing romantic about paying outlandishly high prices for something you can obtain at the market for a fraction of the price right down the street from the restaurant.

Sure, going out to wine and dine affords us a pleasant, stress free night, but in the same vein as gadgets, the problem comes in when we start wining and dining too often.

Related Article: Food Myth: Don’t Eat After a Certain Time

While America as a whole doesn’t spend the most on food and alcohol compared to other nations, food and alcohol still does some serious damage to our collective paycheck. The worst part is that more often than not, we choose to pay for outlandishly overpriced food and drinks at restaurants and bars.

In the last 30 years, from 1982 to 2011, alcohol at stores has decreased in price by 39%, while alcohol from bars and restaurants has increased by a whopping 79%.

Despite these statistics, over the same 30 year period, Americans have increased the amount of alcohol they buy from restaurants and bars by 14%, and have decreased the amount they buy from stores by 16%.

This means that as Americans, we have consciously chosen to spend drastically more money on booze than we have to. Why would we choose to spend nearly double the amount for a product, despite having the clear option of a cheaper deal on the same product right down the street. Must be the booze.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

What about restaurants? Are we more rational with our restaurant spending? Surely there’s some financial rationality left in the human race.

The good news is that in 2012, a survey from Gallup reported that 77% of Americans were eating at home the day before the survey, which is a fantastic number compared to the 10% who reported they had eaten at a restaurant. The bad news is that when it comes to money, percentages can’t hide the fact that we are throwing it all away on eating out.

61% of Americans say that they want to cut back on their restaurant habit. Clearly we are feeling guilty for the amount of time spent hassling waiters and gorging ourselves in public.

Related Article: Burning Fat App on Your Phone

How much a person dines out is dependant on numerous factors, including gender, age, income, and region. Writers at Mother Jones used information acquired by Bundle.com, a company that analyzes credit card data from Citigroup, to create a food spending chart of major cities around the United States. They found drastically different spending behaviors across the country. For example, the average person in Austin, Texas spends $420 a month on dining out, whereas the average person living in Detroit, Michigan only spends $69 dollars each month on dining out. People living in Austin spend nearly 6 times as much on dining out compared to people in Detroit. According to Mother Jones:

Austin, Texas, spends almost twice the national average for dining out; five Detroit households could eat for a year on an average Austinite’s food budget.

How is it that we are spending so much on food? Don’t these amounts seem drastic? A large part of the reason, as we all know, is that restaurants overcharge us. The only reason restaurants exist in the first place, like any business, is to fill a niche and ultimately make a profit. The only way to make a profit is to charge you more than they paid for the food and drinks. Much, much more, especially since they buy everything in bulk.

Related Article: Why Don’t We Eat Insects?

Barring very special occasions, your best option is to just not eat out all. Even in instances where your family or friends invite you out, invite them to your place and let them know why you would rather make a meal at home. What are some reasons it is better to make food at home?

      • It’s cheaper. This is probably obvious to you, but what might not be so obvious is just how much you can save by not eating or drinking out. For example, Crystal Brothers from Servingjoyfully.com saved her family over $50 per week, or $2600 each year by simply not eating out. Think of all the iPhones you could buy with those savings! Also, if you have some self control, make sure to buy your alcohol in bulk. For example, buy cases of wine instead of a single bottle at a time. You could save 40% or more using this method.
      • It’s more fun. Cooking is an art form that combines all 5 of your senses. The texture of the foods involved, the smell and taste, the colors and presentation, as well as the sounds of preparation all play pivotal roles in the experience of cooking. It is also a great chance to experiment. Buy foods at a foreign supermarket you’ve never even heard of and look up a recipe for them. You might find a new favorite. Take a traditional recipe and spice it up or down. Cooking at home can be a journey of culinary self discovery. You can even get the kids involved or, throw on some tunes, pour a glass of wine and make it into a healthy and delectable date night.
      • It’s healthy. Cooking at home is mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically satisfying. Choosing ingredients and preparing a meal provides mental stimulation. Cooking with a partner gives you more time together to develop a stronger emotional bond. Being in control of the sodium content, fat, cholesterol, etc. in your meal makes it a healthier alternative to eating out. Lastly, your budget will love you for choosing the economical path.
      • You’re in control. You are in control of the ingredients so it can be healthier. You can also control the portion sizes, which is one of the major reasons we in the West take up so much space. Drinking at home can also be more fun as it provides a more intimate scene. Instead of shouting across a noisy bar you will actually be able to hear and engage in proper conversation. Most importantly, being in control can lessen the chance that you will drink industrial amounts and/or drive drunk.
      • Better for the environment. Eating at home is better for the environment for various reasons. Each year America wastes about 40% of all the food it produces. This frightening percentage means that a family of four loses nearly $2,275 per year solely due to food waste. Studies have shown that one of the major reasons for such extreme levels of food waste in America is due to portion sizes, especially those served in restaurants and bars. And, if portion sizes are too big, what do you do? You take your meal home in a plastic container, inside of a plastic bag. Waste upon waste upon waste.

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

If you’re going to cook at home and aren’t the experimental type, you’ll need some solid recipe sites to inspire you with cooking ideas. Below is a list of some of my favorite recipe sites:

Really though, the internet is full of great ideas for at-home cooking. Take a look in your refrigerator and do a Google search of the ingredients. A delicious recipe is bound to pop up. Or, you can use Recipe Key to find recipes based on what’s in your refrigerator and pantry. You can even make your own baby food. The possibilities are endless.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds

You know why you shouldn’t eat out, and why it is so much better to eat at home, but what about those uncontrollable urges? How can they be avoided? Here are some tips for avoiding the urge to eat out:

**Note about tipping: Do not go out to eat or drink unless you are also willing to tip. Not tipping is not a way to save money. Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, busboys, and other members of the hospitality service are paid well below minimum wage all across America, (usually between $2.13 and $4.95 per hour) nearly all of which goes to paying taxes. By not tipping a server, you are effectively telling them that you don’t care whether they are alive or not. Even worse, if you don’t tip a server, they are literally PAYING FOR YOU to eat at the restaurant. A percentage of what a server is tipped is given to bartenders, busboys, and other restaurant workers whether a server is tipped or not. If you tip a server 18%, 14% goes to the server, and 4% goes to other employees. This tip-share is different for each restaurant, but the large majority of restaurants have a tip-share.

Related Article: Volunteering is Good for Your Health

If you don’t know how to tip or how much you should tip, read this tipping guide carefully.

 

 

19) Luxury Hotels

How cool would it be to stay in a hotel with a private pool, a grand piano, 12 rooms, and ivory furniture? Even if you had the money, it would still be an utter waste.

accommodation08

Who cares about a mortgage payment, look at all the lanterns we have in our luxurious abode!! http://www.doonbeglodge.com

Sure, you could stay in some of the most expensive hotels in the world and talk to your personal, hotel provided butler all day, but what’s the point of paying top dollar for a luxurious nights sleep. Why bother traveling in the first place?

Related Article: Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

The most meaningful and memorable vacations are those in which you can truly step outside of your normal day to day life and experience something new and exciting. Sleeping on a super comfy bed in an air conditioned room after ordering room service does not fall into that category.

When my partner and I were traveling through Laos we had the option of staying at a $26 per night hotel, or a $3 per night hostel. While both of these options are incredibly cheap by Western standards, we opted for the $3 hostel. We met another couple who opted for the $26 per night hotel. After exchanging descriptions of our respective accommodation we realized that both places had the exact same amenities. The only difference was that the hotel room had a slightly better view and a larger room. Too bad the only time they went back to the room was to go to sleep, at which point the expensive view they had been enjoying all day outside of the hotel was too dark to see.

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

m_1156651a

Classic example of a kitchen in a cheap hostel. http://www.realadventures.com

Keep in mind also that hostels almost always have a public kitchen where you can cook your own meals. This saves even more on food, and gives you the opportunity to shop at a supermarket and live like a local.

Instead of spending so much money on the hotel room, spend the money on a dish you’ve never tried, an unforgettable experience, or something else you come across unexpectedly. Traveling, if done right, will provide you with a truly enriching cultural experience, a cultural education, endless fun, a chance to meet new people, and most of all, an opportunity to get out of your shell and grow into an even more broad minded, well rounded you.

Experience the world, not a hotel room.

Related Article: Fun Fact: You’re the Cause of Boredom

Some great sites to use for finding reviewed hotels, hostels, and guest houses for very cheap can be found below:

Hostelworld

Agoda

Booking

 

For those of you looking for a truly unique experience along with FREE accommodation, even in your own country, check out the following sites:

Help Exchange (HelpX)

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

Couch Surfing

 

 

20) Gyms

ronnie

“Why bother buddy, you’ll never be this big!” http://www.skyhdwallpapers.com

Gyms; the place most of us go to force ourselves to do exercises we hate, exercises that we could be doing for free. What a waste of time and money. Unless you are a professional body builder you have no business giving a gym a single penny.

Related Article: 7 Minute Workout to Burn Fat

Any given gym, like most places we waste our money at, is part of a multi-billion dollar industry worth nearly $20 billion as of 2008. The average gym membership costs $55 per month, and yet, on average, people only go to the gym 2 times per week. Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, stated in the New York Times that

people who buy annual gym memberships often overestimate how much they’ll actually use the facilities by 70%.

In fact, 67% of people with gym memberships never even use them.

Who are we kidding? That’s right, ourselves.

Related Article: Awareness and Dealing with Rejection

Before gyms, did exercise simply not exist? Of course not. Why are you running on a treadmill when it is free to run outside? Or, if you want to run inside, go to your local park district and run around the track for free. Why are you lifting finely sculpted pieces of heavy metal? Just go lift any heavy object that exists on planet Earth, the results will be the same. Oh, you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise? Well, is the $40 gym really the only place with a body of water?

Going to the gym has become a status symbol and social soiree. The gym has more to do with conversation than it does with fitness. Why are you spending any money at all, no matter how little, to stand around talking? And if you are actually exercising, you need to start thinking outside the box gyms have trapped you in.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Instead of wasting your money at a gym try doing exercises you can do at home, in a park, or in other places that are free. Try out yoga, callisthenics, a jog around the block, the full body 7 minute workout, maxalding, or even just going for a walk.

You can even incorporate your workout into everyday life. While at the supermarket do a few more laps around the store once your cart is fully loaded. Sprint to the bus stop instead of walking. Do jumping jacks during a commercial break. You can even make a game out of it; for every 30 minutes of GTA V that you play, do 10 push-ups. Or, every time you catch yourself logging into Facebook, do 15 lunges.

Related Article: Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to Do a Headstand!

If you’re still not convinced and want to continue pretending you go to the gym far more than you actually do, at least take advantage of tried and true techniques for slashing the cost of gym memberships.

      • Pay month to month
      • Check with your health insurance to see if they will give you a discount for having a gym membership
      • Look for sales and promotions, especially on sites like Groupon
      • Try out a free trial memberships at multiple gyms before committing

The fact remains… unless you are a professional or a highly disciplined individual, a gym is almost always an unnecessary, utterly wasteful expenditure.

Just so you are fully aware, this is the only form of human that can claim his or her money is well spent at the gym:

 

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http://slickdeals.net/

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/frugal/how-long-wait-for-price-drops.aspx

http://www.amazon.com/Beyerdynamic-T1-Audiofile-Stereo-Headphone/dp/B0031RD3YY/ref=sr_1_6?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1379230951&sr=1-6&keywords=headphones

http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/escape/worlds-15-most-expensive-hotel-suites-747256

http://www.agoda.com/

http://www.hostelworld.com/

http://www.booking.com/

http://www.helpx.net/

http://www.wwoof.net/

https://www.couchsurfing.org/

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/07/magazine/07wwln_freak.t.html?ex=1325826000&en=970953e6241456e4&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

http://www.statisticbrain.com/gym-membership-statistics/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703436504574640651941267992.html

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-gym-membership

http://www.groupon.com

http://www.tribalance.com/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/05/16/seven-minute-workout-to-burn-fat/

http://www.military.com/military-fitness/workouts/avoid-gym-by-using-calisthenics

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/09/09/10-countries-that-spend-the-most-on-food-alcohol-and-tobacco/

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/06/19/155366716/what-america-spends-on-booze

http://www.gallup.com/poll/156416/americans-spend-151-week-food-high-income-180.aspx

http://nrn.com/corporate/consumers-cut-back-restaurant-spending

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuHOPshyxQGGdFY1SzVrNzZoYnN5clV1b0NrejAtVEE#gid=0

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/01/calculator-food-spending-budget-frugal

http://community.ally.com/straight-talk/2012/01/ally-bank-looks-at-what-americans-spend-on-dining-out/

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuHOPshyxQGGdEowT21KN0ZobWQxUHFQcVcxN1Naemc#gid=0

http://www.servingjoyfully.com/

http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/06/how-we-are-saving-over-2600-per-year-by-not-eating-out.html

http://www.taste.com.au/

http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2013/06/11/american-food-waste-facts/

http://sustainablereview.net/portion-size-key-restaurant-food-waste-research-finds/

http://allrecipes.com/

http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/

http://www.itipping.com/tip-guide-restaurant.htm

http://allrecipes.com/my/menus/planner.aspx?e3=TB_3.0.0_Menu-Planner

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-wine-deals/

wondergressive.com/2012/08/15/edible-landscapes/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/07/income-inequality-in-america-whats-the-big-deal/

Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 1): Cigarettes, Fashion, Lottery, New Cars

 

 

We all waste our money on something out there. After all, money in and of itself is useless unless we are spending it. That being said, some of the everyday things people spend their money on are an absolute waste and a downright scam. Over the course of five posts I will go over what I see as the 10 biggest wastes of money (including 10 (dis)honorable mentions) that people spend their hard earned cash on. I am not here to judge anyone in particular, just the human race as a whole that I am happily a part of. How many of these are you guilty of?

 

Part 2 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 2): Bottled Water, Weddings, Jewelry, Paper Towels

Part 3 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 3): Fast Food, University, Charity, Makeup

Part 4 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 4): Wrapping Paper, Greeting Cards, Vitamins, Cleaning Products

Part 5 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 5): Gadgets, Dining Out, Luxury Hotels, Gyms

 

Cigarettes

Cigarettes are bad for you, like really bad, like proven to cause cancer and a multitude of other illnesses bad. Despite what you tell yourself, and unlike other substances such as cannabis, there are actually no real benefits to smoking cigarettes. There are however hundreds of reasons to quit.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare 

To begin, cigarettes do not just contain tobacco, they contain over 599 additives.  These 599 additives turn into 4000 different chemicals through the chemical change of burning the tobacco. 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.  Some of the lovely chemicals that cigarette smokers deeply inhale include:  carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanides and ammonia. The initial 599 additives have been approved as safe by the FDA, but they were approved without being burned.  The FDA never once approved the 4000 chemicals created through the burning process that are known  to be noxious poisons.

According to the CDC:

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking account[s] for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Translation: Cigarettes are a near guaranteed death sentence, a death sentence that consists of horrible pain and struggling until the very last moment. Oh, and if you don’t die from smoking cigarettes, you are still more likely to get sick.  Because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system and other bodily functions, the CDC notes that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • strokes by 2 to 4 times
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

So if cigarettes are so harmful, why do people start smoking in the first place? The major reasons are:

  • Media advertising
  • Epigentic predisposition
  • Parental influence
  • Stress relief
  • Self medication
  • Appetite suppression
  • Rebellion
  • Social benefits
  • Peer pressure

Some of these reasons for starting are understandable and may seem like benefits from the get go. For example, stress relief doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that once the incredibly strong sway of nicotine addiction sets in, which could be within days, cigarettes themselves become a stressor because smokers are antsy, anxious, and stressed without the tool they have become dependent on for solving their stress. Quite the downward spiral. The truth is that any physical benefit from smoking quickly subsides as the body builds a resistance to the nicotine found in tobacco. The positive benefits, such as appetite suppression and mood elevation, quickly fade in place of the same old you, that same old you that you originally tried to alter with a highly potent poison. Keep in mind that nicotine is incredibly potent, with resistance and dependency forming very quickly.  To be precise, it is:

  • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
  • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
  • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

What about social benefits?  Isn’t it great to be able to do something with your mouth and fingers to distract from the awkwardness of getting to know other people?  The truth is that in this case you are only slightly curing a symptom of a problem with much deeper roots. If you require a biologically destructive tool to be able to comfortably talk to people, then you should put your focus on overcoming this societal fear rather than using an irrational crutch forever and ever.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

It should be obvious that the rest of the list consists of very shallow and poor reasons for choosing to take up such a clearly destructive and incredibly hard-to-break habit.  Not to mention, cigarettes are extremely expensive.

Super, super expensive in fact! In 2011 a pack of cigarettes cost between $4.74 (West Virgina) and $11.90 (New York), depending on the state. In 2012 the price range for cigarettes changed to $4.84 (West Virgina) to $12.50 (New York). If you live in New York and smoke a modest 1 pack of cigarettes a day, you’re spending $87.50 a week, which is $4,550 a year. Not surprisingly, a recent study found that cigarettes smokers in New York that made $30,000 a year or less spent a whopping 25% of their income on cigarettes.  25% of their income on something that has no real benefits past the first couple weeks, is incredibly difficult to stop doing, is proven to cause cancer, and shortens your life span by at least 10 years. Go figure.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m sure some people enjoy smoking until the day they die whether they develop cancer or not.’ The odds are against you friend. 69% of smokers in the United States admit to wanting to quit completely with 52% of smokers trying to quit in 2010. Feel like throwing your health and money away? Grab a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, even today, despite so much available information, 4,000 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette everyday, and everyday 1000 kids younger than 18 become daily smokers. If you are attempting to quit smoking, there are many ways to change behavior and break habits successfully. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

 

 

 

Designer Clothing and Fashion

designer clothing expensive

projectmotherhoodnyc.com

If there was ever an absolute scam, this is it. Billions of people around the world have been brainwashed into believing that brand names equate to better quality and ‘cool factor’. While this may be the case in some instances, it is not the norm.

Whether it be sunglasses, watches, hats, handbags, pants, jackets, shoes, or any other material possession, much of the world is not happy unless they have an item made by their favorite designer.  The problem is that designers charge insane amounts of money for products that often cost them about the same amount as it costs Walmart to make their products. The difference is that they claim their name and minimum amount of labor is worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars extra.

The brainwashing goes even further when people insist that they need to buy new clothes each season to keep up with the changing fashion. High end clothing companies and designers would have you believe that you are not cool unless you pay them exorbitant amounts of your hard earned money four times a year to keep up with the ‘in crowd.’ What an ingenious way to suck consumers dry.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

This form of brainwashing comes largely in the form of advertising, celebrity worship, and companies/independent designers banking on your insecurities. According to David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm:

The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price, it is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.

It’s not about price, it’s about competing with everyone around you. And for what? To look the flashiest? Readers, I have news for you: You are an adult, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only time it matters is in a job interview, because a job has the benefit of giving you the ability to support yourself. Your potential boss is not looking at your wardrobe, he is looking at a single outfit. But even in that instance, guess what? Unless you have the Walmart logo on your button down collared shirt, your boss will have NO IDEA how much you spent on your clothing. As long as you look presentable, that is what matters, and it does not take $500, $200, or even a $50 shirt to do that.

The mark ups on all clothing are astronomical, but this is especially the case with designer clothing. Did you know that Kohl’s department store has been caught hiking up the price of their products right before a huge sale? It is even possible to pay more for a sale price than you would have for the normal price of the good.  There is a reason why all your favorite designers are living in multiple mansions, driving cars that cost more than your life’s net worth, and purchasing their own islands: they tricked you.  They have the world at their fingertips, and what do you have? Their sewn together fabric. Woopdie-do.

Related Article: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

If you just can’t break the habit of buying designer goods and clothing, all hope is not lost. Head to a resale shop like Plato’s Closet and pick up some designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Sure, the clothes might be used, but after washing them no one will be able to tell the difference. Plato’s Closet has incredibly high standards for their clothing and even the slightest defect will be noticed and that piece of clothing removed from the store.  You may be wearing used clothes, but at least you won’t have to work 20 hours of overtime next week to pay back the growing interest on your Macy’s credit card.

*Note: Another great idea is to buy clothes and other art from Etsy.com and support independant, and possibly even local artists/artisans. At least you’ll know that your particular item is one of a kind instead of wearing the same Abercrombie shirt as every other 20-something-debt-up-to-their-nose-fashion-freak.

 

Dishonorable Mentions:

 

Playing the Lottery

You actually have a better chance of being killed by a mountain lion or becoming president of the U.S.A than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot or the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot. There is a reason winning the lottery is called a pipe dream, and it’s not because pipes help you win.

200170608-001

New Cars

Buying a new car is one of the best ways to cut your money into little pieces and throw it to the wind.  The moment you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot it depreciates in value by up to 40% of the price you just paid only seconds before. So, if you pay $25,000 for a new car, within seconds of the purchase it is worth only $15,000.  Yikes! By the end of the third year your 4-wheeled baby is worth about 40% of its original price. If you’re planning on holding onto yo6a00d83451b3c669e2013486235de6970c-800wiur car for longer than 3 years its only going to get worse. The older a car is, the slower it depreciates in value.

Don’t forget that it’s impossible to know whether you will get into an accident or not, potentially totaling your car. Remember, you might be the best driver in the world, but what about everyone else?

 

 

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/

http://www.tricountycessation.org/tobaccofacts/Cigarette-Ingredients.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www.theawl.com/2011/06/what-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-state-by-state

http://www.theawl.com/2012/06/pack-of-cigarettes-cost

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/nyregion/poor-smokers-in-new-york-state-spend-25-of-income-on-cigarettes-study-says.html?_r=2&=_r=6&

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/02/22/consumerwatch-investigation-finds-kohls-sale-prices-arent-always-a-deal/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/fashion/29ROW.html?_r=0

http://www.platoscloset.com/

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-11/dismal-odds-winning-lottery-infographic

http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/car-buyers-guide/cbg_depreciation.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/vera-wang-house-photos-2011-8?op=1

http://www.bornrich.com/giorgio-armani.html

http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/ralph-lauren-40-million-bugatti-wins-top-prize-175719868.html

 

Related Wondergressive Articles on This Page:

https://wondergressive.com/2013/04/12/smoking-a-pre-existing-condition-under-obamacare/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/10/11/suicide-the-leading-cause-of-injury-mortality-in-the-united-states/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/09/cannabis-cures-cancer-and-everything-else-a-thorough-history-and-review-4-2/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/28/epigenetics-and-altering-your-dna/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/16/awareness-and-dealing-with-rejection/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/02/behavior-changes-and-breaking-habits/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/07/income-inequality-in-america-whats-the-big-deal/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/15/a-note-on-the-top-1-psychopaths-or-superhumans/

 

For Humanity’s Sake, Wash Your Hands! And Look Good Doing It!

Do you use hot water when you wash your hands? Do you spend longer than 10 seconds when washing your hands? Or are you the type of person that utilizes the restrooms in a hurried fashion and then bolts out, skipping over the ritual of killing the bacteria that is festering on your hands? Although I am completely against some commercial anti-bacterial soaps, I am still a believer of a healthy and clean body. That being said, wash your hands before you shake mine! And people wonder why some of us are antisocial.

A study conducted at Michigan State University yielded that from a sample size of 3,739 people observed in a college town, only 5.3 percent washed their hands for 15 or more seconds. 10 percent of this did not wash their hands at all, and although this is a low amount, it still translates to over 350 people who don’t wash their hands in that area. If this is a true representation of the population then 10 percent of all the people you encounter are touching you or shaking your hand with filthy, unwashed hands. EWWWW. Also, the 95 percent that are not washing their hands for 20 seconds or more are not paying attention to their washing techniques and are not effectively killing off germs which can spread diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC:

Failing to wash or insufficiently washing hands contributes to almost 50% of all food-borne illness outbreaks

But it isn’t completely the fault of the observed, the study also found that the cleanliness of a place contributes to the likely hood of washing ones hands. This definitely makes sense because if I see a sink or faucet with weird brown stains or boogers all over it then I will usually seek out alternative ways to clean my hands. And no, rubbing your hands together to create heat to theoretically kill the bacteria does not help.

Fun fact, the CDC also says that you should wash your hands:

  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

But why all this emphasis on washing your hands after these daily activities? Why does it really matter?

Well, give it a good mulling over: You use your hands to feel and grab and touch everything throughout the day. You are strolling down to the nearest park and you run your finger across the rail on the sidewalk. You get on a train and you grab the overhead bar to keep stability during your ride. You grab a taxi and you hold the door that thousands have held before you. The restroom others have been in, the chair others have sat in, the weights others have grabbed. Not to mention the object you just grabbed or touched has a chance of containing fecal matter from another person. A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that out of the 404 commuters they observed, 28% had bacteria on their hands originating from fecal matter. Gross, I know.

The worst part about all this is that we use our hands to touch our face at least a hundred times a day. My are we conceded. The point is not to become a germaphobe, but to stay aware of the way sickness and disease is spread, and how it all starts with your hands. Damnit man, just wash your hands!

The best way to wash your hands is to wet your hands, rub them together for at least 20 seconds, and then rinse and dry your hands. Make sure to give it that 20 precious seconds, 10 or less just doesn’t cut it. Tedious, I know. But hey! If all else fails here is an awesome way to help you wash your hands. Think of all the doctor visits you can avoid and all the fun singalong time you can experience!

Now if only we could find an easy way to keep our bellybuttons clean. Cheers!

 

Sources:

Today Health: Dirty America

MSU: Handwashing Practices

Dirty Hands: Bacteria of Faecal Origin

Youtube: Wash Your Hands Song

CDC Handwashing

Wondergressive: The Secret World of Bacteria

Wondergressive: Stay Away From Antibacterial Soap

Wondergressive: Obamacare

Wondergressive: Belly Button Bacteria

 

 

The Most Dangerous Animal, and How We Can Defeat it

When I envision the most dangerous animal in the world I picture, like most people, a shark strapped to a starved bear coated in Valyrian steel. Some of the more clever humans among us may tell us that WE are in fact the biggest threat to ourselves.  Well, as news to all you General Zaroffs out there, there’s a much more serious and clandestine danger than humans out there, and it is lurking the skies with a stark mad craving for blood.

 

 A. aegypti, the Dengue Dealer.

A. aegypti, the Dengue Dealer. (www.impe-qn.org.vn)

Vampires! Scientifically known as mosquitoes.  Throughout history, mosquitoes have killed more humans than all wars and plagues combined. Every year, there are 200-300 million cases of malaria and 50-100 million cases of dengue fever worldwide, diseases that are easy to catch and highly fatal.

With malaria, you can head to the hospital and be treated with antibiotics relatively quickly (though malaria mutates rapidly and is becoming immune to just about every drug proven to be effective at a rapid rate). Dengue on the other hand, known as breakbone fever (because it feels like every bone in your body is shattering) is a completely different story. Unlike malaria, there is not a single drug proven to directly seek out and destroy the dengue virus.  If you get it, you are stuck riding out the ordeal in a hospital.  If you get it again, rather than becoming immune, you will likely die.  If you get it a third time, unless you are Bruce Willis from Unbreakable, you have absolutely no chance. The worst part?  Despite huge efforts to rid areas of the mosquito that carries the dengue virus, as seen by this frequently updated, interactive map from the CDC, it is spreading at a rapid rate.

In this eye-opening TED talk,  Biotech entrepreneur Hadyn Perry asks the question: why, with all our advances in technology, have we not succeeded in destroying the single greatest killer of humanity?  Why are we treating the symptoms and not aiming for that tiny hole leading to the main power source that is always built in to every death star? Why can’t we just kill all the mosquitos?

Most people will point out that ridding the world of the mosquito legion scourge would leave a gap in the global food chain, causing irreparable damage to eco-systems around the world. Despite the rationality of this argument ecologists are very certain that the removal of mosquitoes, a species that has existed on the planet for over 100 million years, would have little to no effect on the overall ecology of the planet.  Something would quickly fill the gap left by mosquitoes; everyone would be less itchy, our skin would be deet-free, and the hand of God would come down to give us a well deserved high-five.

So, how do we get rid of mosquitoes forever?  We’ve been hosing down towns and cities with insecticide and pouring larvicide into the planet’s waters for decades and the result has been even more death and disease due to mosquitoes.  As usual, biotechnogoly is the answer.

Hadyn Parry is on the forefront of genetic modification research and he wants the issue of genetic modification, or GM, to stop being so political and start focusing on actual research and results. He has at the ready, a cheap, efficient, proven to work solution for ridding the world of mosquitoes through the use of mosquitoes engineered in the lab.  Through his method of releasing genetically sterile males into the wild, females that mate with these males (which look like the perfect mixture of Edward and Jacob to female mosquitoes) produce sterile offspring.  His team has put this method into practice with remarkable results.  He has reduced mosquito populations in villages throughout the world by over 85% within 4 months, with the mosquito death toll continuing to rise with time.

Imagine a world where you can lay out on a summer’s eve without smelling like a chemical cocktail and bitch slapping yourself repeatedly.  According to Hadyn Parry, this vision of the future is a reality ready and willing to take place.

Take a look at the TED talk below for more information and specifics regarding Parry’s method and ideology.

 

Sources:

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/General_Zaroff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever

http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Valyrian_steel

http://www.healthmap.org/dengue/index.php

http://www.ted.com/talks/hadyn_parry_re_engineering_mosquitos_to_fight_disease.html

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/full/466432a.html

To be Fat or Not to be Fat?

America is fat, but it may also be healthy. A recent study on over weight individuals has sparked a lot of criticism. Katherine Flegal, a senior research scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says:

We published an article in 2005 that showed, among other things, that (being) overweight was associated with lower mortality.

Since then, Flegal and her associates have been working on a study that involves reviews of over 100 previous studies linking weight and mortality. The study claims that those who are overweight but not obese might be able to live through medical crisis’ better than those who are thin. The idea is that you lose weight when you are facing something serious, be it stress or a medical problem, and that those with more fat on them can shed 20lbs without much impact on their body. However, if you are thin and you lose 20lbs you end up straining your body and energy which can worsen your health, ultimately causing a pre-mature death.

It might also have to do with the mentality of individuals. A healthy thin individual may not be as inclined to see the doctor as often as an overweight individual might. Let us say for instance that both a thin and an overweight individual has a dormant tumor. The overweight individual may detect it sooner due to more frequent checkups than the thin individual simply because of the “I’m healthy I don’t need to get a checkup” mentality. Not to mention the stubbornness of not seeing a doctor for routine checkups because it costs too much. I think it all boils down to living healthier lives and paying attention to your body! Experts say that ultimately it comes down to how you feel, if you are overweight but fit and you feel good then you are healthy! 

The obese make us fat Americans average, does that mean that the average sized people will live longer lives? What do you think? Maybe its time to stop hitting the gym and time to start eating more pies! Chocolate pies, raspberry pies, banana cream pies, mint pies, key lime pies….. mmmmm so many PIES!

 

Sources:

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/02/health/overweight-mortality/index.html

http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm

Fat, Poor Kids Just Got A Little Less Fat. Still Poor.

largedrinks

Child size please, no ice.

America, we are a fat nation – the fattest in the world, in fact. I’m willing to live with that designation. No matter which way my bulbous belly stumbles, there’s a dollar menu waiting to be ravaged and a maximum drive-thru limit to be tested. I’m not ashamed to have used all 8 of my car’s cup holders, are you?

Numerous studies have linked the poor with obesity. It’s not science, it’s a common sense mentality – poor quality, horribly processed food is within the grasps, and wallets, of many Americans. However, the CDC recently reports…KIDS ARE LOSING WEIGHT!

Well, POOR KIDS ARE LOSING WEIGHT! The rich ones were always doing alright.

Time to celebrate with a cereal bath!

We’re gonna celebrate with a cereal bath.

This study, based on data collected from 30 states and the District of Columbia, shows a marked decline in the prevalence of obesity in preschool-aged children in the lower income brackets. Extreme obesity, defined as a BMI of over 120% the 95th percentile, went down to 2.07% from 2.22% . Regular ‘ol obese kids dropped to 14.91% from 15.21%.

Those numbers don’t look too promising, but as Heidi M. Blanck, a co-author of the study, puts it:

The declines we’re presenting here are pretty modest, but it is a change in direction. We were going up before. And this data shows we’re going down. For us, that’s pretty exciting.

It’s a change of direction. That is what is important. This is the first study that has showed such progress, especially in the most sensitive of the population – our children.

How we’ve reached this point is uncertain, but we do know from another of Dr. Blanck’s studies, this one focusing on food marketing, that:

  • The amount of money spent on food marketing to children declined nearly 20% from 2003 to 2009.
  • Cereals marketed to children have averaged one less gram of sugar per serving than before.
  • Marketing of the unhealthiest of cereals (between 13 and 19 grams of sugar) has been nearly eliminated.

Not only has that helped, but things like fast food places placing nutritional content on menus and Michelle Obama’s new Let’s Move! Child Care initiative providing healthy alternatives to child care centers, all can help us curb childhood obesity from ever happening.

America, keep up the good work. Soon we won’t be the laughing stock of the entire world with our jumbo sized beverages and the fashion abomination that is Jeggings.

But until then, I’ll take the large.

Sources and further reading:

io9

NYTimes

American Medical Association

CDC

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/business/mcdonalds-to-start-posting-calorie-counts.html

http://www.healthykidshealthyfuture.org/welcome.html

http://www.watoday.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/the-new-fashion-monstrosity-20100407-rrd9.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/obesity-rates-rising-developed-fattest-world_n_1294212.html#s716476title=1_United_States

http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/60/11/2667.full

http://money.msn.com/family-money/does-being-poor-make-you-fat.aspx

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/08/17/toddlers-tiaras-mom-could-lose-custody-daughter-because-puts-her-in-pageants/

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1487493

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/health/study-finds-modest-declines-in-obesity-rates-among-young-children-from-poor-families.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1369626954-wwBEC4RM4X0vAdqyKKCg5w

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/12/foodmarketing.shtm