How To Make Your Own Sustainable Candles

A Chicago candle maker offers some tips for amateurs

During the pandemic, many people have tried out various hobbies — from fermenting, to candle making, to watercolor painting — to fill up the time they used to spend out and about. In a new series, we’re spotlighting people who have picked up new passions and are giving you the tools to try them out yourself.


First up, we’re spotlighting Lizzie Porter, who started her own candle-making business in Chicago, called Lit By Lizzie. By the end of 2020, the 24-year-old, who works in ad tech by day, felt the need for a creative outlet. So, she ordered her first batch of candle wax off Amazon and looked up candle making on Reddit.

Now, Porter has a booming business selling whimsical candles in recycled beer cans from local breweries and restaurants, teacups, and other thrifted containers. Below, she tells us about how she got started, and offers some tips for any beginning candle makers.


KCM: Why did you decide to start making candles? What do you like about making them?

Elizabeth Porter: Honestly I started making candles mostly because of my own bad habit of constantly buying expensive candles. Though I would try to only treat myself once in a while, it got a bit out of hand!

I also really like to keep busy. In late 2020, I had already done many “typical” hobbies like reading, puzzles, at-home workouts, etc. I wanted to try something a bit more productive, but still simple and creative. 

On to candle-making 101! How can beginners start candle-making? Where do you find wax? Do you have any tips and tricks? 


Candle-making can be really easy! I’m still very much an amateur, but it’s a fairly simple and inexpensive hobby to start. I bought my first batch of wax and a pack of scents on Amazon. Amazon has a lot of multi-scent packs so I could try a bunch and see what was best. All of the candle containers I was using at first were recycled cans or thrifted items. Now, I source most of my materials from CandleScience (thanks to candlemaking Reddit!).

Lizzie’s Picks:

What are your favorite scents? Where do you get your scents?

My favorite scents have changed so much throughout my candlemaking journey!! My current favorite is “fresh-picked cucumber” from CandleScience.

Another favorite of mine comes from a local Chicago candle store, Waxman Candles, and is a scent named for a Chicago neighborhood, Boystown. The best way to describe that scent is sexy, dark, and joyous. 

Lizzie’s Picks:

What made you decide to use recycled materials, like beer cans and teacups, as candle holders? What’s your best-selling container? 

Using recycled cans was a no-brainer for me since it was a material I already had in my home, and I loved being able to give my favorite cans and bottles a second life! One of my friends bought a few watercolor prints of La Croix cans, and I was inspired to give my own used, colorful cans a new life.

My mom has also always shown me to reuse and recycle as much as I can and has taught me how to spot the best items when thrifting as well. My best-selling container was initially white claw candles, then the vintage teacups, and now my beer can-shaped glasses! 

Lizzie’s Picks:

What have been the challenges of starting a small business during the pandemic? What’s the most fun part about it? 

Starting a small business has mainly been such a blessing and a great creative outlet! In terms of challenges, the pandemic has definitely impacted shipping times. When ordering new scents and wax, I’ve experienced lengthy delays due to the pandemic’s impact on USPS.

The best part of starting my business has been being able to share this new passion project with my friends and family. Since I started Lit by Lizzie right before the holidays, I’ve been able to give my candles as personal gifts, and see my customers gift them as custom gifts to overjoyed friends and family members.


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Eat This  —  And Add Years To Your Life

Dan Buettner on the diets and lifestyles of those in Blue Zones — places on earth where humans live the longest

In 2005, Dan Buettner revealed his findings about the five places in the world where people live the longest, dubbed the Blue Zones, in National Geographic. Today, he’s continuing a mission to help people live longer, healthier lives — inspired by Blue Zone-techniques.

Buettner reveals some staples you should add to your diet from his most recent book, The Blue Zones Kitchen, and other key habits to add to your daily routine for longevity.

Wake-Up Call: You’ve discovered and studied the lives of people who live in Blue Zones, places in the world where people live the longest. How does that research inform your new cookbook, The Blue Zones Kitchen?

Dan Buettner: People in the Blue Zones live a long time because of a mutually supporting web of factors that help keep them doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things — for long enough to not develop a chronic disease.

(They suffer only a fraction of the rate of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and certain cancers than Americans do.) They live in environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice. They eat a healthy diet, get plenty of physical activity every day because their life is underpinned with purpose, and socialize with people who support the right behaviors. At a certain point, I realized that for most people, the runaway from a healthier lifestyle is through their mouths. So, Blue Zones Kitchen introduces new audiences to the concept by introducing them to tasty food.

What are the staples of the Blue Zones diet and how do they fit together?

People in Blue Zones aren’t blessed with more responsibility than we are, but rather the cheapest and most accessible foods happen to be the ones that help them live to 100. The Blue Zones diet, at its foundation, has four main pillars: beans, greens, 100% whole grains, and nuts and seeds.

The Blue Zones diet is not about one or two specific ingredients. Centenarians in Costa Rica, Okinawa, Japan, and Loma Linda, Calif., use and like different seasonings and have access to different ingredients. But the foundation is the same.

There are many diets that exclude gluten, but this diet encourages wheat products. What are some misconceptions people might have about gluten?

I try to avoid discussing micronutrients because I think it’s wrong-minded. For The Blue Zones Kitchen, my team did a meta-analysis of 155 dietary studies in all five Blue Zones that covered the last 80 years or so. People in Sardinia and Ikaria did eat a good deal of bread, but it was sourdough bread, which possesses only a fraction of the gluten that your average white bread does.

Although whole grains are a staple in all Blue Zones regions, there are many grains that naturally don’t have gluten that are eaten and loved in the Blue Zones like brown and white rice, oats, corn, and buckwheat. There’s no reason to add wheat products into your diet if you are sensitive or, of course, allergic to it.

How else is the Blue Zones diet different from other diets out there?

It’s unique because it’s scientifically-based on the eating pattern of the world’s longest-lived, healthiest people.

And it’s flexible — it’s a way of eating rather than a “diet.” Many diets also fit into the Blue Zones eating guidelines: the Mediterranean, whole-food, plant-based diet, vegetarian diet, flexitarian diet, etc.

What’s a Blue Zones meal people can make from ingredients they already have in their pantry?

This is a peasant diet — and it completely debunks the notion that you have to be rich to eat healthily. Everyone should have four main pantry staples: beans, whole grains, greens, and nuts.

With these ingredients, you can make a hearty stew or a hearty bowl like the Asian Influenced Heavenly Grain Bowl from the Blue Zones Kitchen. You can use any combination of those staples to create a hearty grain bowl with flavors from around the world — add lemon and parsley for a Mediterranean twist, or add lime and hot sauce pulling from Costa Rican flavors. The options are endless.

The Blue Zones diet is low in meat. If someone really enjoys meat, how can they enjoy it in moderation? Are different types of meat better for healthy aging than others?

Centenarians in Blue Zones regions ate meat but mostly as a condiment or celebratory food — about five times a month. An easy way to reduce meat consumption is to move away from the American style of making meat the center of your plate. Two things work well for moving away from meat: Try enough plant-based recipes until you find a half dozen you like. (Blue Zones Kitchen has 100 plant-based recipes — let me suggest starting with the Ikarian Longevity Stew.)

Again, we tend to eat what we like. Investing time to find recipes YOU like will set you up for longterm better eating. Also, we tend to eat like our friends. So, adding a vegetarian or vegan to our social network is a sure-fire strategy to explore the textures and tastes of plant-based eating.

What should people do about processed foods?

The Blue Zones diet is almost completely devoid of processed foods. They ate overwhelmingly a whole-food, plant-based diet.

In a typical year, Americans eat 208 pounds of meat and get 130 percent of their daily sugar and 70 percent of their calories from processed foods. The Blue Zones diet isn’t about telling you you can’t ever have these foods again, but instead filling your plate with beans, greens, grains, and nuts so that eventually, the processed foods get pushed out of the pantry and out of your life. If you’re eating more of the good stuff, you’ll just naturally end up eating less of the bad stuff.

But the Blue Zone way is not just about diet, it’s a whole lifestyle change. What are other things people can add to their lifestyle to contribute to their longevity?

On the original explorations almost 20 years ago, we assembled a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists to search for evidence-based common denominators among all of the blue zones. We found nine.

1. Move naturally: The world’s longest-lived people don’t run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it.

2. Purpose: The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida.” Both translate to: “Why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy

3. Down shift: Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.

4. 80% Rule: The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.

5. Plant slant: Beans, including fava, black, soy, and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat — mostly pork — is eaten on average only five times per month.

6. Wine at 5: People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1–2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.

7. Belong: All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter.

8. Loved ones first: Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first.

9. Right tribe: The world’s longest-lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors.

What are things NOT to do if you want to live a long life?

Be isolated, lonely, depressed.

Eat a diet heavy in meat, processed foods, and low in plant foods like greens, whole grains, beans, and vegetables.

Sit all day at work, in the car, and in front of the TV and don’t move or walk throughout the day.

Work too much with high stress.

Sleep too little.

Smoke cigarettes.

Lack purpose.

Hang out with people who sit around, smoke, and eat junk food.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This interview originally appeared on Medium.

How to Live a Zero-Waste Life, According to Three Experts

“Recycling should be the last option.”

The world produces a whopping 2.3 billion tons of waste each year. Much of that trash contributes to the harmful pollution of our oceans and lands. And get this: Americans produce three times more than the global average.

We reached out to three experts for tips on how to cut out all that trash. They explained what drew them to the zero-waste movement and offered tips on how you can cut out the waste in your own life — one single-use plastic at a time.

Anita Vandyke, author of ‘A Zero Waste Life’

Wake-Up Call: What drew you to sustainability?

Anita Vandyke: My zero-waste lifestyle started when I was 26 years old and was going through a ‘quarter-life crisis.’ I had climbed up the corporate ladder and was a successful engineer. Despite the monetary success, I was not truly happy. I was stagnating in my personal growth and I realized I needed to align to my core values. I turned towards minimalism and zero-waste living.

As they say, ignorance is bliss. Since I’ve educated myself on these important environmental issues, I can no longer ignore the state of our planet. It is empowering really.

What’s the main takeaway from your book ‘A Zero Waste Life’?

Zero-waste living means reducing your waste, but also not wasting your life away. Plastic is mother nature’s non-renewable resource, and time is ours. Let’s not waste either one.

Recycling should be the last option. The best option is to lower your waste and avoid plastic packaging altogether. Recycling plastic is actually a misconception. Plastic is not recycled, it is downcycled. This means it gets downcycled to poorer and poorer forms of plastic until it can’t be downcycled any further and sits in landfills. Other materials such as glass, paper, and aluminum can be recycled infinitely without degradation to the quality of the material.

I know a lot of people that are kind of lukewarm about living more sustainably. What message do you have for them?

I have three easy ‘quick wins’:

1. Replace your disposables, like paper napkins, with reusables, like cloth napkins.

2. Make secondhand your first choice.

3. Head outside! By seeing how amazing Mother Nature is, I have come to appreciate that every step is important in helping our planet.

Jhánneu, Zero-Waste YouTuber

Is it completely possible for someone to be completely waste-free? Which areas are the hardest to cut down on when you’re trying to cut down on trash?

I don’t really like to say zero-waste because I think the only way you could possibly be zero-waste is if you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere and grow your own food. Even if you buy almonds in bulk at the grocery store, they will still have likely come in packaging. It’s about lessening your waste.

How can one use less waste in their beauty routine?

How can you live less without compromising what you want? The key is finding products that are multi-use. I have a blush that comes in a bamboo container and can be used as a blush, eyeshadow, and highlighter.

Also, I’m sure you can relate, but sometimes you’ll buy an eyeshadow palette and only use half of the colors anyway. So buy an individual eye shadow instead!

On your feed, you talk about making the zero-waste movement more inclusive. What do you hope to see more of in the sustainability sphere?

When I started my YouTube channel, I could barely find any person of color making zero-waste videos. If everyone in this space is white, how can we expect people of color to relate?

Many YouTubers will talk about buying things in bulk, without noting that some people don’t have access to grocery stores in the first place. I am in a place where I have the privilege to be able to drive to a bulk store, but not everyone does. And so, because I come from nothing, I can think back to that time and say, ‘How can I make sure I’m inclusive to everyone?’ I try to make sure my content is mindful of the fact that not everyone can afford that $30 reusable metal container or has physical access to those types of things.

What message do you have for anyone who’s nonchalant about watching their plastic consumption?

As Americans, we’re very disconnected from our waste because we don’t see where it goes. I think to get more people on board, we need to understand how this affects us on a daily basis. If you’re someone that eats fish, you’re most likely eating plastic because microplastics end up in the ocean. And obviously, I don’t think you need to explain why eating a petrochemical is bad.

With Covid-19, I find myself using a lot of disposable cleaning supplies. Do you have tips for people trying to reduce waste and still stay safe?

I make my own solution with rubbing alcohol, water, and essential oils. I also use reusable cloths instead of paper towels.

You can cut up old T-shirts to make them, put them in the wash, or soak them in rubbing alcohol if you want to sanitize them. Whenever someone comes over, they’re like, ‘Where are your paper towels?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t own paper towels now.’

Kathryn Kellogg, National Geographic’s spokesperson for plastic-free living and author of ‘101 Ways To Go Zero Waste’

Wake-Up Call: Could you tell me a little bit about your journey to promoting sustainability? I read on your blog that it actually began with a trip to the doctor.

Most people like to reduce their waste because they want to help the planet. I started because I wanted to help myself. I had a serious hormone imbalance. So I started making more natural lifestyle changes like avoiding plastic because many plastics interfere with the hormone system.

On your Instagram, you write ‘Zero waste isn’t about recycling more. It’s about recycling less!’ Could you break down how you view a zero-waste lifestyle?

I started my blog when I moved out to California. I wanted people to know that there were easy changes they could make that would save them money, time, improve their health, and be better for the planet.

The true definition of zero-waste living is to avoid sending things to the landfill. The definition I personally like is, “to completely write waste out of existence,” because there’s so much more you can waste beyond what you put in your trashcan. Zero waste isn’t about recycling more, it’s about recycling less. The most common phrase most of us know is “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but most of us skip right over reduce and reuse, and head straight to recycle.

You’re the author of ‘101 Ways To Go Zero Waste.’ What are some tips from the book?

Especially during the pandemic, making sure your recycling properly is huge. Head to your waste hauler’s website to make sure you’re putting exactly what they ask for in the bin and nothing more. Also, make sure the recyclables are clean and dry.

Or try to implement a 30-day buy ban. This will help you consume less and make sure you’re analyzing what you actually need. I like to do this anytime I see something that I really really want. I tell myself to wait 30 days and if I’m still thinking about it and really want it 30 days later, I’m allowed to go crazy.

Follow Anita, Jhánneu, and Kathryn on Instagram.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This originally appeared on Medium.

The Surprising Thing You Should Know About Flossing

A dental expert on maintaining your oral hygiene — and overall health

We recently broke down how to properly wash your dishes — and today, we’re tackling another aspect of our lifestyles: Why is flossing so important and how can we make sure we stick with it? We turned to Kareen Wilson, an Oral-B Smile Council member, and a registered dental hygienist. Rule number one? With Covid-19 going around, wash your hands! She further weighs in on hard-to-reach areas and more, below.


Why is flossing so important?

It’s amazing how flossing can be so effective in helping overall health. I think it’s something that everybody should think about incorporating into their overall health regimen.

If the build-up on your teeth is not removed on a regular basis, it can lead to gingivitis and gum disease. If you’re not flossing, you’re not getting to one-third of the tooth, which is made up of tooth surfaces between the teeth. And that plaque will stay there for a long period of time. So it is something that is very very important.

What’s one thing about flossing that more people should know?

It’s something connected to their overall health. Flossing can help to prevent things like gum disease and tooth decay, but you have to realize that it can actually affect everything.

By flossing, you’re not only protecting your oral health, but you’re helping reduce the risk of heart disease and all kinds of other diseases that can arise from not flossing. Why? When you’re not flossing, you might develop periodontal disease. It’s also known as gum disease, and it’s an inflammatory response that happens within your mouth. The bacteria that gets left behind causes inflammation and soreness, which can translate to inflammation in other parts of your body.

How often should people be flossing?

You should be flossing every day. You have to realize that when plaque is left across the surface of your teeth, within just 48 hours, it can actually turn into tartar, which is a hard substance that you need to have professionally removed. If you’re not flossing on a regular basis, you’re going to start having issues.

Could you explain the proper way to floss?

A lot of times people don’t realize this, but there is actually a technique for flossing. You’re going to need probably about 18 inches of floss. You’re going to wind it around your middle finger or your index finger, whichever is easiest for you.

You want to have it nice and tight. You’re going to use a very gentle motion and you’re going to slide down in between the teeth. Then, once you’ve got the floss in between your teeth, you’re going to try to pull the floss as tight around the surface as you can, almost like a ‘C’ shape.

Now, this is the area that I would like a lot of people to understand. It’s a slide motion, up and down the length of the teeth. It’s not a back and forth. You should be sliding all the way up to the contact of where it can’t go anymore and all the way back down underneath the gum line and just go back and forth.

Once you’re done, you’re going to snap it back through and you’re going to unwind that floss more so you’re going to a nice clean section. What I want to stress though, is that especially with what’s going on with Covid-19. You want to make sure that your hands are clean. Your hands are going to be in your mouth.

Are there any unexpected places that food gets stuck in your mouth — areas that are especially tricky to get at?

A lot of times people forget the back of their very back teeth. I know it’s a little tricky to get all the way back there, but those areas tend to harbor a lot more plaque. Then make sure you floss both sides of the tooth. As you’re moving on from one tooth to the next, you just want to make sure you’re getting both the front and back surfaces.

Is there a specific type of floss do you recommend? Because I know flossing sticks are popular. Are those as effective or is it better to use just normal floss?

I tell my patients to use what they feel most comfortable with. So dentists and hygienists right now recommend Oral B floss more than any other brand. And I particularly liked the Oral-B Glide floss because it is so much going on between your teeth, and it slides up to 50 percent easier when you have really tight teeth. One of the things that I hear from a lot of my patients is that they just can’t get it in there, it’s too tight. If you use the Oral-B Glide, it’s a lot easier to slide in between the teeth. And then as far as floss sticks are concerned, they can be effective. If you’re on the go and you just need something, you know you’re in your car or you’re by the TV, but the one thing is I do like to make sure that my patients have an oral routine that they’re doing on a regular basis.

Do you have any tips for people who have trouble incorporating flossing into their routine?

You know it’s something that you should be doing every day, but I find that people still find it really challenging to get in there and do it as a routine. First of all, find the floss that works well for you. Find a special place on your bathroom sink, and put it in a nice pretty bowl so you see it every day, and you know it’s there. I always tell patients, it’s kind of like exercise. I would rather you floss three, four, five times a week, then floss every day for two weeks and then forget about it.


This interview has been edited and condensed.

This originally appeared on Medium.com

Easy Yoga Poses To Help With Pandemic-Induced Anxiety

A wellness expert on how to use yoga to your benefit, whether you’re on the front lines or working from home.

California-based wellness expert Stephanie Ingrid Phelan has spent decades studying and practicing yoga. Amid the pandemic, she’s moved her vinyasa flow classes online, and is leveraging the power of global connections to help her students get through this. Phelan talked to us about why this is the time to tap into yoga, and described some easy poses that are accessible and helpful to anyone looking to soothe pandemic-induced anxiety.


Wake-Up Call: I know right now a lot of people are having to deal with a lot of uncomfortable feelings just in terms of what’s happening with the world around us and in our own lives. So why do you think now is a good time to tap into yoga?

Stephanie Ingrid Phelan: Well, precisely for that. You know, in a way it’s an opportunity that we’ve all been given and it might not feel like an opportunity, because it might feel very challenging to sit with oneself and to get quiet. But the depth of our joy, creativity, and connectivity comes in that quiet.

We tend to layer on top of it — we keep ourselves so busy that we can’t be still and be alone with ourselves. We live in a culture that’s constantly making us feel like we need something outside of ourselves to make us happy. We need to look a certain way, live a certain way. That keeps us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. But there’s an intrinsic joy, equanimity and contentment that resides within each of us that’s not externally driven.

Why do you think yoga, the movement itself, can help people get in touch with their inner selves?

I think moving, and sweating everyday is really important. What distinguishes yoga from other forms of movement is the connection to your breath. The way you breathe through your practice is very calming for the nervous system. It allows for that control

And the movement is so beautiful because the movement creates space for this breath to happen. Moving in the poses helps you build strength and sweat, but at the same time you have conscious, specific attention to your breath, which helps calm you down and sit more comfortable among things that are happening — the chaos, confusion, anxiety.

What’s going to calm your anxiety? You can eat a cake, drink a bottle of wine, do some drugs. But if you get calm and steady through your yoga practice, you’re able to ride the pace of what’s happening without pushing it away or avoiding it.

What type of yoga practice or poses do you think is best for someone who is working from home right now, and feeling a bit stiff and stir-crazy?

I think when people think of yoga, they think it’s sleepy. But I love a Vinyasa flow, which is a constant moving motion. So you’re stretching your body, toning your body, and moving the energy through you. I’m teaching virtual Vinyasa classes right now. I think that the vigorous practices are great if you’re sitting all of the time, for your posture, your hips, and other parts of your body. Many of the poses help you get blood flow going to your head, which is very calming and grounding.

And then on the other side of the spectrum, we have first responders and people who’ve been at work, standing on their feet, often in stressful environments. What do you recommend for them?

First of all, if you’re feeling anxiety, are exhausted, stressed or overwhelmed, it’s beautiful you can give your yoga practice over to someone else. A teacher can say, ‘Rest, I’m going to talk you through this.’

People doing hard psychological and physical work, like Firefighters, nurses, doctors and other first responders, can really benefit from yoga, especially restorative poses. Here are a few great options:

  1. Put your legs up the wall, lie on their back with your palms open, focusing on the breath. It can be very grounding, and it’s good for your legs and back.
  2. You can lie back on a bolster, with your soles and feet together, knees out to the side, and your palms open. That opens up your chest.
  3. Child’s pose is great if you’re feeling anxiety as it opens up your hips.
  4. Doing a forward fold gets your head below your heart, and your blood flowing.

Are taking online classes just as beneficial as in-person classes?

Yes — it’s been profound to see how beneficial! The online classes have allowed us to feel connected to one another at a time where we feel so disconnected. And they offer reprieve for people who are living alone, or for people with children or in stressful situations.

It’s also convenient. You don’t have to go anywhere to practice. I’ve been starting to teach now for YogaWorks and students from around the country have been logging in, and my family and my friends from all over, can connect.

You’re also a life coach! What have you been telling clients during this time?

It depends on the person and situation they are navigating.There is always a re-frame that allows for a more spacious vantage point.

For some of us, this time is a gift to explore our deepest desire, dreams, and what’s possible if we get quiet and listen to that inner whisper. For others, it is about survival and completely terrifying. We are all in the same storm, not the same boat. So how I coach, support, honor someone depends upon what boat they are in.

Definitely more chocolate, less news. And self care is a gift we can all give ourselves. It’s accessible. Call a friend who is uplifting, lay on the floor. Listen to music or meditate.


This originally appeared on Medium.com

How to Properly Do Your Laundry Right Now

A fabric care scientist breaks down how to wash our clothes

Our Wake-Up Call newsletter (subscribe here!) recently broke down how to actually clean and disinfect our homes — and today, we’re tackling another aspect of cleaning that many of us have wondered about during the coronavirus pandemic: How, exactly, should we be washing our clothes right now? To find out, we chatted with Mary Johnson, a fabric care scientist at P&G. She explained how we should do our laundry during normal circumstances — and revealed the precautions we should be taking now.


Wake-Up Call: First, we’d love to cover the basics under normal circumstances. How often do you recommend people do laundry, and what level of clean do we typically need?

Mary Johnson: That’s a great question. Things like underwear and socks should be washed after one wear. Things that are a little further removed — a T-shirt or leggings — we’d say about two to three wears before you need to wash. Even a bra sometimes falls into that category. And then, you might want to clean outerwear less regularly under normal circumstances, like once a month or certainly in between seasonal changes.

Now what changes is if you’re exercising or sweating lot. On a typical day, without exercising, you actually release one liter of sweat. That’s just us sitting around. And along with that, our bodies also produce 40 grams of sebum, which is a skin oil. That’s the equivalent of about four packs of butter. Along with the sweat comes 10 grams, or a teaspoon, of salt — and then two billion skin cells.

That’s a lot…

Sometimes you can tell — especially in the winter when your skin is dry or even now if we’re inside and the heat’s on the humidity’s low. When you take off your socks or your clothes, sometimes you see this like just white cloud of dust. That’s dead skin. In fact, most of the dust in your house is dead skin. So 30% of the soils that are on your clothes, you can see. These are food stains or things like that. And 70% are these body soils. So that’s why we recommend you wash your clothes more frequently — because they may not look soiled.

So, as an expert, can you explain how we should even wash our clothes under normal circumstances?

Typically, under normal circumstances, everyday clothes can actually be washed in cold water. That’s very sustainable, especially if you use a good quality detergent like Tide, which has enzymes that are optimized to break up the stains and other types of soils. They kind of do the same function as inside your tummy when you’re digesting your lunch. Then other cleaning agents pick them up and clean them away.

Some things that may need a warm water wash would be underwear; sometimes outerwear if it’s heavily soiled; sports clothing, because this is where you’re sweating a lot; towels and sheets. By warm water, we mean 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher — and you want to use the appropriate dose of a high quality detergent.

Now, let’s look at this weird new normal we’ve found ourselves in. Many of us are living in the same pairs of sweatpants and using the same blankets and other fabric items each day. How should our laundry routine happen now?

The advice that we provide depends on whether you have access to laundry facilities. Do you have laundry in your own home? In that case, what we’re seeing is quite an increase in people doing more loads of laundry now that they’re home. We do want people to be diligent about that because those body soils, if you rewear too often, they really get layers on there. So that’s why we recommend, after two to three wears, to wash things — especially if you’re home more often. Because these items are exposed to your body soils more often.

For folks who don’t have washers in their home, that becomes a little bit more problematic. There are some products that can help, in between washes, to extend the life of your clothing. One great example is Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray. It’s proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria on fabrics. That can actually help your clothes stay fresher for longer until you can do laundry. Otherwise, if you don’t have access to a laundry machine, you can certainly hand wash certain items in a sink, a bucket or even a bathtub.

A question on our minds, given what’s going on in the world: How effective is a regular load of laundry in disinfecting our clothes?

So typically with laundry detergents, and even deep clean laundry detergents like Tide, you’re cleaning — not a disinfecting. You’re removing moving body soil, dirt and microbes through cleaning, lifting them off of the fabrics and they’re basically getting rinsed down the drain. If you intend to sanitize or disinfect, in that case you need to use a product that’s registered with the EPA as a sanitizer or disinfectant. One example of that is chlorine bleach — but be really careful. You have to absolutely check the care label on your clothes, because many clothes have synthetic fabrics that could be ruined with chlorine bleach.

Any tips for handling clothes potentially exposed to Covid-19?

The CDC guidelines actually instruct you to clean your clothes. So from a CDC guidelines point of view, they’re asking you to wash in the warmest water allowed by your care labels. Again, you need to check before washing things in hot water — because your clothes aren’t going to be useful to you if they’re ruined from laundering. The question then is: Do you suspect Covid-19 in the people wearing those clothes or who are exposed to those clothes? Or has it been confirmed? Because then the CDC asks you to take additional steps.

First of all, they want you to wear disposable gloves, and you’d wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you remove the gloves. You don’t shake the laundry. The reason being is that you don’t want any of the Covid-19 particles to become airborne, so that you can potentially breathe them in or spread onto other surfaces. You launder the items according to the manufacturer’s instructions. So again, checking the care label, using the warmest water setting and using a good quality detergent. And then you’ll want to make sure you dry that item as completely as possible.

Right now, the CDC also says that those clothes can be washed other people’s items — because you won’t get transfer of the virus from clothes and levels that can cause infection in someone else. You will also want to go ahead and disinfect your clothes hampers, according to the guidance they provide for surfaces on their website. One of the things that people may want to do instead is to use a disposable trash bag as their temporary laundry hamper. That way, if someone is ill, you don’t have to necessarily go through that disinfection process. You can just carefully throw the bag away and wash your hands with soap. And if you need to do laundry at a laundromat, follow the CDC’s guidelines for surface disinfecting as well.


This interview has been edited and condensed.

This originally appeared on Medium.com

How Tech Will Transform The World in 10 Years

Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler on everything from flying cars to health care

In their new book The Future is Faster Than You Think, space entrepreneur Peter Diamandis and peak performance expert Steven Kotler take us through some of the many ways technology is rapidly changing. In fact, according to the bestselling authors, it’s changing faster than anyone expected — and the world we’ll be living in a decade from now will look quite different from the reality we see today. Diamandis and Kotler chatted with Wake-Up Call’s editor Lisa Ryan about some of the massive changes coming down the line.


Lisa Ryan: We’d like to start by asking you about the overarching theme of your book: The future is, as your title states, faster than you think. Steven, can you touch on the surprising ways that technology has accelerated faster than anyone imagined?

Steven Kotler: In our earlier books, we talked about individual technologies that are starting to accelerate along exponential growth curves. The classic example that everybody’s familiar with is Moore’s Law, which says the number of transistors in your computer doubles every 18 months while the cost stays the same. That’s an exponential growth curve. Once you can program technologies in the ones and zeros of computer code, it jumps on the back of Moore’s Law and starts to accelerate exponentially.

The technologies that are now doing this include biotechnology, nanotechnology, computation networks, sensors, robotics, AI… the list goes on. What’s so radically new and different is that these formerly independent lines of technology are starting to convert. Flying cars is a classic example. It’s sci-fi technology; people have been dreaming about it forever — and it’s suddenly here.

At the heart of flying cars, there’s convergence between six or seven different exponential technologies: Materials, science impacting, robotics, impacting artificial intelligence and so forth. That’s what produced flying cars. As more and more of these convergences happen, things that were considered absolutely other-worldly and insane just two or three years ago are going to be part of our reality.

Peter, we’re at the start of a new decade. Can you tell us how this rapid technological acceleration will come into play in the next ten years — in the health arena?

Peter Diamandis: Health care today is really sick care, where the system takes care of you after you’re sick. Because of that, it’s extremely expensive. In the future, health care becomes predictive, preventive and personalized. Based on your genome, based on what you’re eating, based on your microbiome, we will be able to predict that something is going to happen — and we’re going to stop that from happening in the first place. Drugs will be designed, not for everybody, but for you.

In what ways will this huge shift in the technological world affect how countries govern — and how they interact with each other?

Kotler: There are two sides to this coin. The one side is: can governments actually keep up with the rate of change in the world? And then there are a lot who would come down against it. The classic example that we talk about in the book is Estonia. They’ve embraced e-governance at a level that kind of no other country has. You can do everything online in Estonia. You can pay your taxes online in five minutes. You have a blockchain back healthcare record that’s nationalized. It’s totally private. It follows you around. Things along those lines.

Estonia believes they’ve literally saved 700 years worth of work — meaning they’ve removed 700 years worth of red tape from the government system. So what this allows for is much more nimble, interesting, collaborative, cooperative and democratic ways of governing… should we want to go in that way. It unlocks some really amazing, wonderful possibilities. But who knows the way of the world on that one.

Diamandis: One thing I’ll add: What’s happening over the next five years globally that no one is speaking about — is that we’re about to connect everybody on the planet. In 2017, we had half of the world connected, about 3.8 billion people. By 2024, after the launch of three giant satellite networks and the deployment of 5G, we’re going to be able to connect 8 billion people.

So we’re in a world that is hyper connected — and a world that is more connected with the free flow of information is a world that is safer. One of the challenges we have is still going to be the censorship in Russia and China of the internet. But there are lots of technologies, including AI, that will help people around such censorship.

And what do you say to people who are afraid of technology’s expansion?

Kotler: This is why we wrote the book: There is a pervasive fear of the future.We have what’s known as “loss aversion” and the cognitive bias that basically says whatever you have today, if it’s taken away, you’re terrified that whatever’s going to replace it is going to be worse. This is a built-in feature of our neurobiology; this is just part of being human. So that fear is totally, completely, perfectly natural in a sense.

Every major industry on Earth is going to be reinvented over the next 10 years. But if you look at what’s coming, what’s driving it — there are patterns. Every time a technology becomes exponential, it goes through a typical life-cycle, from digitalization through democratization. As these technologies come out, even if we’re afraid of them, they actually end up really empowering the individual.

Diamandis: People are scared about the future because they don’t understand it. We fear what we don’t understand. The purpose of this book is to give people a vision of where the future is going — so that people can become optimistic. It is critically important to create hope and a vision of a compelling and abundant future for people.

Because when people have hope — and they see the future as compelling and abundant — they come at it with a much more positive mindset. The future is amazing. We are uplifting billions of people on this planet. And while people might be fearful of the change, the fact of the matter is that we are de-monetizing and democratizing access to energy, water, food, entertainment, healthcare, and education.

For millennia, we have struggled to survive as a species. These technologies are giving us a break from survival; they’re allowing us to strive towards a higher purpose in life.

In that vein, can you touch on the topic of aging? How will the rapid expansion of technology affect our life spans?

Diamandis: The belief is that, this coming decade, we’re going to be able to add at least 10 healthy years on a person’s life — by addressing cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. And while we increase a person’s lifespan by 10 years, the world doesn’t stand still during that period. We are seeing extraordinary accelerated growth in AI and CRISPR technologies — and the acceleration of these technologies will, during that 10 year period of extra healthy living, perhaps buy you the next 10 years.

Kotler: When I was growing up, and when Peter was growing up, heart disease was fatal. If you had heart problems, you were done pretty much. And that’s starting to shift. Heart problems are no longer a death sentence. Cancer is no longer the death sentence as it once was. This decade, the same thing’s going to start to happen to brain diseases. We’re just going to see more and more and more of this.

Lastly, I know this must be a tough question because there’s so many things that are going to change — as your book really clearly points out. But are there any advances that you are particularly excited to see?

Diamandis: For me, there are two of them. One of them is brain computer interface, as we start to connect our brain to the cloud. The second is the expansion of the human race into space.

Kotler: Maybe it’s just the old school, sci-fi geek in me, but flying cars blow my mind. And the Holodeck, which we grew up watching on Star Trek, is being built right now — and we’re going to see it before the end of the decade. Those two things blow my mind.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This originally appeared on Medium.com

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