My idea for a business helping individuals create greener homes led me to a profession as an environmental health consultant, specifically, a Building Biology Environmental Consultant. It has been a difficult path full of ups and downs.
The Start of My Building Biology Profession
Ten years ago I decided that contributing to the greater good was more important than having a steady job. I didn’t quite realize at the time that this was the decision I was making. I simply knew I wanted a job where I felt like I could make a difference.
So I left a job that seemed to have run its course and made a choice to pursue study and training in the still-little-known field of Building Biology. I assumed I’d be leaving one steady job for another. That did not prove to be the case for me.
My Experience Studying Building Biology
The initial study was self-guided and, like more and more education, online. I finished the first level of study and then quickly moved on to the more advanced training.
Studying Building Biology was a period of self-analysis for me; my delve into knowledge of environmental health continually brought me face to face with myself. I had been an ecologically concerned teenager – how had I drifted so far off course?
Why did I have bleach in my collection of cleaners even though I hated the smell of it? Why had I started wearing perfume, when I hated the way it made me feel? Why had I started playing games on my cell phone during my daily commute instead of reading books, my pastime of choice?
Regaining My True Path
Somehow in my twenties, more occupied with making ends meet, I had drifted away from concerns for the environment. Once I had a steady income, I had embraced a lifestyle which was much more consumerist than environmentalist.
Making this realization, I re-centered myself with this new focus that was truer to my deep values. As I learned about various environmental health issues, I made corresponding changes in my life.
And I started to feel different. My migraines disappeared. My night sweats and disturbed sleep were replaced with nights of sweat-free, solid, uninterrupted sleep. I had not realized how many points of non-health had been present in my life until I started to make these changes.
Everyone Needs This… Right?
As I experienced the benefits of these changes myself, I figured that everyone would want to know about this good stuff! After all, was having constant Wi-fi access really better than getting a good night’s sleep every night?
I completed my training, created a company, built a website, purchased equipment and started trying to find my clients. Meanwhile, I tried to tell friends and family about environmental impacts on health and well-being. Disappointingly, my attempts to share were usually met with discomfort at best. I had not realized these issues would prove to be so contentious.
Not Exactly Financial Success
Meanwhile, the clients started showing up. I was able to help individuals find relief from situations that had been preventing them from feeling well. Each client I helped reinforced my desire to continue in this line of work – there were people out there who wanted this help, and I could give it to them.
However, the clients were not frequent enough for me to support myself, and I eventually sought out a part time job. Luckily, this provided a base income for me so that I could continue trying to work as a professional Building Biologist on the side.
This has been my modus operandi for around the past 6 years. My clients have been more or less prevalent depending on where I have lived, with large cities providing a larger population, and thus more individuals interested in environmental health.
Environmental Health and Social Isolation
It has been over ten years now, since my first foray into the magical (for some of us) world of environmental health. Although my experience has been isolating in many ways, it has enabled me to create a home in which I can feel healthy and vibrant. It has also permitted me to have many deeply satisfying experiences helping others.
However, the feelings of isolation are real. Navigating the world as someone with environmental sensitivities is not easy. It is even more complicated when the choices of others hurt you, leaving you few places where you feel safe. And on top of that, knowing that safe alternate solutions exist but are unpopular provides additional frustration.
Learning to Keep My Mouth Shut
One of the biggest frustrations of my experience as a Building Biologist is not being able to help those who I would like to help most – close friends and family members. After years of struggling with this, I now try hard not to speak about environmental health issues unless someone else solicits advice, or starts the conversation themselves. Or unless my personal needs require it.
As a young vegetarian I quickly learned I wasn’t going to convert anyone by telling them about what goes on in slaughter houses. It took me much longer to learn to try to keep my mouth shut about environmental health issues.
Using Support to Find Balance
Perhaps I have only managed to find this semblance of balance after meeting my husband, who is wonderful at so many things, one of which is giving sincere support. He has always dreamed of being a hermit, so a life in line with environmental health comes pretty easy to him.
Was Building Biology Right For Me?
Ten years after my journey into Building Biology began, I am in a period of self-analysis again. Consulting, while very satisfying, does not allow me to help many people, especially now that I live in a very rural community.
While I do not regret my time studying, training, or consulting, I am starting to see that there are other ways to do good with this knowledge besides consulting. My intuition for this next leg of my journey is to focus more on writing. Whether this ends up helping others or not remains to be seen – I know it will help me.