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May 1, 2018

What My Pet Taught Me About My Health

Many households in Canada have a companion animal or pet. In fact, at least half of Canadian households have a cat or dog. Cats and dogs reside at number 1 for popularity in Calgary, however many people keep other types of animals too. Exotic friends like birds, reptiles, small marsupials, a variety of rodents, and fish also have made themselves at home.

I love birds. When kept ethically and responsibly, all involved in avian care feel rewarded and learn a lot. My own office assistant at YYC Junk Removal is a cockatiel. Ever-cheerful and always ready with a “Hi!”: basically the best co-worker ever. He never drinks the last of the coffee, either.

However, what I didn’t know before bird ownership was the high environmental sensitivity of these small creatures. When you think about it, these same factors can most definitely impact our own health and the health of our children. It makes sense. Below I’ve shared some important things I learned about making my home a healthier place for my cockatiel friend as well as for the rest of my family.

Teflon and non-stick pans can kill a bird or small animal quickly.


Fumes created when cooking at high heat with this convenient cookware are extremely noxious. This is known as polymer fume fever, or simply Teflon flu. No argument that the washing up is much easier, but respiratory systems absolutely pay the price. Humans develop flu-like symptoms a few hours after exposure, while birds often react immediately. YYC Junk Removal Calgary recommends cooking with cast iron skillets for best results.

Air fresheners, scented candles, and regular cleaning products can be deadly.

On the same tangent as Teflon, such scents attack the respiratory system. Asthmatic reactions are common to these products. Certain scent-masking type air fresheners are thought to have olfactory-numbing properties to them. We all want our homes to smell like “Freshly Frosted Cinnamon Bun”.  The reality is, over the long-term those scents wreak havoc on your immune system. Not to mention harm small respiratory systems. At our Calgary office, the “air freshener” we use is simply opening windows!

Your scented deodorant, perfume, hairspray, nail polish, aftershave, and cologne need to go.

Though the daily ritual of dabbing your favourite perfume on your wrists is lovely, your body reacts the same way to it as it does to air fresheners and cleaning products. It’s okay, I’ll understand if you skip the hairspray. Also, many small bottles and aerosol cans are not recyclable and would just end up in the Calgary landfill anyhow– and you know how YYC Junk feels about that!

Regular cleaning products can also be extremely poisonous.

Repeat after me: “Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar!” Baking soda is also your friend. The simpler, the better. Together, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar kill all kinds of bacteria, fungus, and the like. This combo is said to be more effective at killing bacteria than commercial products. You don’t need to worry about washing these chemicals down your drain when you clean your shower, toilet, or sink either. Note, always put hydrogen peroxide and vinegar in separate bottles! YYC Junk Removal Calgary recommends purchasing natural cleaning products in bulk to cut down on excess packaging.

Air quality matters.

Get your furnace cleaned. Change your furnace filter, or better yet, purchase a cleanable one. It will help with energy efficiency while at the same time create a healthier indoor environment for your family. If you have access to an air filtering machine, I recommend those as well (with a reusable filter, if possible). We regularly clean our filters at YYC Junk Removal Calgary, as debris from pets often gets caught up in the furnace and air filters.

Most of the items listed above are consumer goods, produced exclusively for the sake of making money. They don’t better our world, and they actually are detrimental to everyone’s health. Of course we need to clean our homes, cook our meals, and groom ourselves. But, we can do it in a way that is contributing less to the landfill, not taking a toll on our health, not hurting our animal friends, and in all honesty saving money.


YYC Junk Removal makes a difference in the lives of Calgarians. Founded by John Nicholby, YYC Junk continues our committment to reduce the amount of “junk” in Calgary’s landfills by sorting, recycling, reusing, and donating any junk that we pick up.

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