We are custom builders of tiny houses, and that involves building to the customer specifications. While we provide guidance for customers in their designs, often the specifications are client driven. One of our 1st customers gave us some very specific specifications on material, our clothing, our deodorants and more. After looking at the list, we said “Yes, we can do this” We then learned that a lot of people had turned him away. As we got to know our customer, we learned about people with chemical and environmental sensitivities and that I might also have some of the same issues. Since the start of this cabin, we learned more about non toxic homes. Following is an article on reshelter. We have permission to use the article and we will post the start here, with a link to the full article, pictures, and other items of interest.
The concept of home is universal, shared among not only the cultures of the world but much of the animal world as well, from nesting birds to burrowing rodents, to sea creatures to snails that are born with a home on their back. For most of us, animals included, home is a place to rest our weary heads, raise our young, and stay protected from the elements.
It is human nature to create a sense of home, even when transient or homeless. When I backpacked the world, a photo from home, a colorful scarf, and a small cup with a flower were enough to mark my new territory as home. Our sense of home makes us feel safe, comfortable, and grounded in our identity. Without it, we can feel uncertain, vulnerable, uncomfortable, unsettled. Nothing in life will feel exactly right if we don’t have that home base to start from.
So what about the growing sector of our population-now estimated to be between 12.6 percent and 33 percent1-that suffers from some form of environmental illness, which can include sensitivities to chemicals found in everyday products and building materials, mold, sound, light, electricity, vibrations, and extremes of temperature? Reported as the “new homeless,”2 those with severe chemical sensitivity often find themselves living on the fringes of a chemically addicted society-in refurbished Airstream trailers, tents, and cars, in long-forgotten fields, miles from civilization.
What most people don’t realize, unless they get sick themselves and feel the effects firsthand, is that the typical American home is built with materials laden with toxic chemicals. The most common are formaldehyde (found in plywood, particle board, and other pressed wood products that are used to make furniture, cabinets, shelves, and counter tops) and solvents (used in oil-based paints, stains, wood preservatives, carpet glue, and other adhesives that release dangerous fumes containing volatile organic compounds). Many homes are full of electrical pollution caused by problems with wiring, large appliances, cordless phones, and the now-ubiquitous WiFi and other computer and cable TV transmission systems. Homes that are designed to be hermetically sealed trap indoor pollutants and create an environment ripe for mold growth.
Even if a person with chemical sensitivities were to have sufficient resources-the finances, knowledge, energy, time, and wherewithal-to build a “safe” house for him- or her-self, there is the persistent problem of neighbors. Wafts of their fabric softeners, air-polluting particulates in smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves, ambient pesticide drifts, gas-powered exhaust-spewing lawn appliances, and those Sunday barbecues all threaten the safety and health of those with allergies and other environmental sensitivities.
What others may perceive as mere complaining is, to a person with chemical and environmental sensitivities, an actual physical-and, for that matter, emotional-threat to their well-being with each exposure to someone else’s chemicals. Reactions can range from the uncomfortable-fleeting headaches, nausea, and/or dizziness-to the near fatal. Some even go into seizure, others experience a profound brain fog that can last for days, weeks, or even months, and still others have suffered heart failure when exposed to a specific trigger. We are not talking about simple allergies here; we are talking about brain inflammation, failure of enzyme detoxification systems, and profound immune-mediated responses.3 There are some who have even died from the progression of chemical sensitivity,4, 5, 6 which typically affects several organ systems and can eventually lead to organ failure.
The most common response from individuals when told that their universally accepted actions (using fabric softener, wearing perfume, having a summer barbecue) are harming someone else is anger and defensiveness: “That’s their problem, not mine. I’m not going to change my actions.
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