About Us

About Us

Because Health is a non-profit environmental health site, bringing you everything you need to know about how the places we live, work, and play impact our health. Through a combination of science-based tips, guides, and expert advice, it's our mission to show people simple ways to create a healthier future for themselves and their communities.

This is a site for people who care about their wellness and health, and recognize that pollution of our air, water, and soil, toxic chemicals in our products, and other environmental risks like climate change, are just as important as working out and eating right. We do the research, read the reports, interview the experts, find the safe products, and make it interesting so that you can live your best life. We are a place for real people, who don't have time to DIY everything, but want to make informed choices and advocate for the things they care about, because health.


Contributors

Karen Wang, PhD, MSc

Karen knows how confusing environmental health can be. She's a mom, and when she was pregnant and trying to find out what "natural" and "healthy" really mean, it was easy to get overwhelmed. That's why she started Because Health. She wanted a source that is based on science and not the latest fads, and that makes the connection between wellness and the environment.

Karen is the editor-in-chief for Because Health content and is the Director of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment. Karen completed her PhD in Strategic Management, a quantitative social science discipline grounded in applied economics and social psychology, at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. Karen also holds a MSc in Earth Systems and a BA in Economics from Stanford University.

Favorite Because Health Routine: Starting the day by filling up reusable water bottles for myself, my hubby, and my kid. karen@becausehealth.org

Emma Zang-Schwartz, MPH

Emma is a gladiator for health education. She helped launch Because Health and knows what it means to live and breathe these environmental health tips. She now works as an account executive at SciMentum helping larger healthcare companies educate others about their products. She graduated from the Mailman School of Public health at Columbia University where she focused on health education and helping people learn to become agents of change. She also worked with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street, specifically focusing on providing water, sanitation, and hygiene lessons to children and teaching them how to share those messages with their families and friends. No matter the age or content, she is excited about getting people amped about simple swaps they can make that will have a great impact on their health and the health of the people around them, be it through their Insta feed or IRL.

Favorite Because Health Routine: Packing all the snacks in jars and reusable bags because #adulting is hard, and I don't want to get hangry at work

emmazangschwartz@gmail.com

Maria Williams

Since 2003, Maria has been learning about toxic chemicals hiding in everyday products, and how to avoid them. Starting as an outreach educator for King County's collection program for hazardous household waste, she then spent six years at Toxic-Free Future, where she ran a Toxics Hotline, wrote publications, and conducted original scientific research that revealed harmful chemicals found in toys and helped pass Washington's landmark Children's Safe Products Act.

Maria loves having so many opportunities to help spread the word on how our environment affects our health, and what we can all do to create a safer, healthier future. She completed her BA in Environmental Studies at Oberlin College. She also holds a Professional Certificate in Editing from UC Berkeley.

Favorite Because Health Routine: Opening the windows as often as possible (even on rainy Seattle days!) to keep the air in her home healthy and fresh.

maria@becausehealth.org


Mission

To improve individual and collective health by sharing knowledge, providing resources, and building a young community around a shared concern for how environmental risks can impact health.

Vision

A world where all people live free from environmental risks that harm human health

Values

We embrace what's practical, celebrate everyone's imperfections, accept trade-offs, and always strive to be relatable. Everything we do is positive, actionable, science-based, bite-sized, and approachable.


1% for the Planet

We are proud to say that we are a 1% for the Planet non-profit partner. Learn more about the 1% for the Planet movement.


Because Health is a project of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment(CHE). CHE is a program of Commonweal, a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Please refer to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Let's start by acknowledging that take out is a wonderful invention. It's super convenient, delicious, and means no clean up - what more could you ask for? While we praise take out as much as the next person, we have a few suggestions for ways to make your next lunch on the go or Chinese and a movie night a little healthier, without saying you have to order the steamed veggies and white rice.

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Food

Stop Eating Lunch at Your Desk

Seriously, here are 5 reasons why

Work can be crazy, and working through lunch almost feels expected at many offices. But, if you can actually take a break, even just a few times a week, it can make a big difference for your physical, mental, and social well-being. Here are some of the top benefits of not eating at your desk.

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Roundups

12 Essentials for Packing a Plastic Free Lunch

our favorite reusable items for packing lunch for the kids (and yourself!)

As all the kids are going back to school, it's time to get ready to start getting creative when it comes to packing lunches. While plastic sandwich bags may be convenient, they aren't the healthiest and are only adding to the plastic problem in our oceans. Instead, stock up on some of these lunchbox essentials. They are reusable, washable, and healthier than a bag full of plastic containers. We also have a roundup of general food storage containers you might want to check out.

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Everyone has their favorite water bottle - a Camelbak with the chewy straw, or a new shiny S'well bottle, or the Hydroflask that keeps your drink icy for days. And, we know that reusable plastic water bottles have some perks- lightweight, see through, indestructible- but they also have one big drawback, the plastic. Plastics, even ones that are BPA free, are often made of chemicals that can seep into water and affect your health. So, that's where this big question comes into play. Do I have to (or should I) ditch my beloved Nalgene with all my stickers from travels throughout the years?

Our answer is - you don't have to pitch it, but it probably shouldn't be your primary bottle either. You can stop reading here and check our our roundup of a dozen glass and stainless steel reusable water bottles if that's enough info for you, or you can keep reading and well give you some tips and nuggets of info on why those tips will make a difference.

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Roundups

A Dozen Reusable Water Bottles

Our top picks for glass and stainless steel water bottles

If you've made it here, you probably already know that bottled water isn't great. Plastic in general can also be tough because of the ever popular BPA and it's sister chemicals. So, we collected 12 of our favorite plastic-free, reusable water bottles so you don't have to go hunting. Many of these brands make many types of bottle and cups. Feel free to poke around to find a size or shape that might work better for you, but keep in mind always go for glass or stainless steel. That assures that even if the plastic bottles are BPA free, you won't have to worry about BPA replacements. It's often tough to find bottles without plastic lids, but if the water isn't constantly touching the lid, a plastic lid usually isn't something to get too worried about.

If you have some old plastic reusable water bottles kicking around (who doesn't!) then check out our advice about how to use them safely.

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Science

Having Trouble Keeping a Healthy Weight?

Here's why chemicals might be keeping you from shedding those last few pounds

If you're eating healthy, getting lots of sleep, but just can't seem to hit a healthy weight, it might be something you've never thought about. Obesogens, a term coined in 2006 to refer to chemicals that cause us to gain and hold on to weight, and can influence weight loss. Now, we know that maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is influenced by what seems like a bajillion factors, and is a complicated issue with no easy solution. But, it looks like obesogens are a piece of the puzzle and definitely something you want to be aware about. Data shows that obesity is an increasing problem. Over one-third of both adults and children in the U.S. are obese or overweight (1, 5). Even for people who regularly work out or have superhuman strength to say no to desserts, obesogens are having an impact. Unfortunately, as obesogen research is in its early stages, we still don't know everything about these chemicals and how they affect weight gain, but as of now, here's what we do know.

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5 Ways Zero Waste is Also Good For Your Health

Good for the planet and good for you

So, maybe you've heard of the zero waste movement that's been gaining traction. Or, maybe you've seen the Instagrammers showing that they have only made a small jar of trash in the last four years (props to you Laura Singer!). Whether you've heard of this or not, it seems like most people can agree that trying to create less trash (and support a circular economy, which is typically the motivation for those going zero waste) is good for the planet. It's a mind frame shift that helps everyone think about durability, what products we actually need, and how we can treat the items we do have better, which often times translates into decisions that are better for our health as well. While going completely trash free might not be right for you today, it doesn't mean we all can't try to follow some of the easier changes the lifestyle promotes. Making less trash is typically seen as a way to protect the future of our planet, but a lot of these little habit changes are also great for your personal health. So, what are some ways that zero waste is also good for your health?

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