Clearing the air

The Sensitive Choice® programme is designed with the purpose of educating New Zealanders about managing asthma. But it goes further than just the individual – it encourages manufacturers and suppliers to produce products and services that may benefit those with asthma and/or allergies, as well as a way for consumers to identify such products and services.

The programme is designed to generate long term sustainable funds to enable the Asthma Foundation of New Zealand to continue its work in improving asthma care and research and providing, among other things, information and various training courses for nurses and community health workers.

It originated in Australia in 2007 and was designed and developed by the National Asthma Council Australia to help people with asthma and allergies make better purchasing decisions for their health’s sake. And to encourage companies to be asthma aware and to develop products that will be better choices.

Later in the same year (2007) the Sensitive Choice® programme was adopted by the Asthma Foundation of New Zealand and is a sustainable source of income for the foundation, allowing the not-for-profit organisation to continue to provide its services.

Sensitive-ChoiceThe blue butterfly and what it symbolises

The butterfly was chosen as a symbol because butterflies flourish in and are a sign of  a healthy environment. When you see a butterfly it’s a good sign of a happy, clean ecology. The butterfly’s wings are symbolic of the lungs. The butterfly is a gentle and sensitive creature.

Becoming a partner

Becoming a partner isn’t easy. The application process can take anywhere from two months to more than a year.

Not all applications pass the Products Advisory Panel’s scrutiny. Each application is discussed with rigor and only when the Product Advisory Panel is satisfied, then will the product be approved for use of the logo.

The independent and voluntary panel is based throughout Australia and New Zealand and meets quarterly to discuss applications. The voluntary and independent panel includes:

  • A respiratory physician
  • An allergist
  • A general practitioner
  • A pharmacist
  • An industrial chemist
  • A person with asthma.

The Sensitive Choice®

The Sensitive Choice® Programme has some 200 products and services that carry the blue butterfly. The blue butterfly logo is a signal to the consumer that the product or service may be better for them
if they have asthma or allergies; the logo signals a more user friendly product.

Asthma Foundation of New Zealand business development co-ordinator, Jennifer Day says “The Programme provides its partners with an opening to the 800,000 Kiwis who are living with a respiratory condition and the 500,000 Kiwis with allergies”.

The programme provides third party recognition from a well trusted non-government organisation (NGO) while giving credence to asthma and allergy friendly product and service statements.

And the number of products approved to use the blue butterfly is growing fast. The ranges span from natural skincare, insulation, vacuums, commercial cleaning services, bedding, paint, heating, framing and trusses, MDF and even a construction company. There are 31 partners throughout New Zealand and Australia.

The future of Sensitive Choice New Zealand is big and bold. The dream is to have a long term impact on New Zealand homes and people’s health, positively impacting the way we live, shop and look after ourselves.

But what Sensitive Choice is all about is education. Education is the key as self-management of the condition is central to a better quality of life along with correct use of medication, exercise and a healthy diet.

Being healthy isn’t solely based on just taking your medication regularly; Kiwis know this and are hungry for knowledge.

Tips for a healthy home and a happy you…

  • Know your triggers and avoid your triggers. This means you could get out of vacuuming or dusting!
  • Air your home out on a fine day. Get a draft going through your home as regularly as possible. This helps prevent moisture building up in the home
  • Vacuum regularly using a vacuum with a Hepa filter. Hepa filters are used in hospitals, medical facilities, automobiles, aircraft and in homes. Hepa filters trap and remove 99.97 percent of all particles greater than 0.3 micro-metre from the air that passes through them
  • Damp dust as regularly as possible, this will stop the buildup of dust mites and their poo. It’s the poo you’re allergic to, not the pesky critters themselves
  • Bed linen, duvet inners and pillows made from 100 percent cotton, with a thread count above 300, is most suitable for people with asthma and allergies. The reason a higher thread count is better is simple – it stops the dust from coming through the mattress
  • Wash bedding once a week in hot water (60 degrees C and over) for 90 minutes to successfully kill all dust mites and their eggs. Ensure that bedding is dried thoroughly so not to encourage the growth of mould
  • Use anti mould paints to prohibit the growth of mould in places like the kitchen and bathroom
  • Consider using low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) when building or renovating.

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