Monday, January 19, 2009

The List: Creating a Healthy Home

I often come across questions from people who are new to sustainable living and they often ask for the 'easy list' on what they can do to make their homes and lives more healthy. Recently I came across an interesting list that I thought was worth it, I attribute the credits to Seventh Generation, you can also view it here.

Light Green Steps to a Healthy Home

1. Use cleaning products made from natural and not-toxic ingredients; avoid cleaners that contain synthetic chemicals.
2. Dust with a damp cloth to ensure that household dust, the final resting place of many toxins that enter our homes, is removed and not stirred back into the air.
3. Open windows and doors occasionally (even in winter!) to bring in fresh air and rinse out pollutants that have accumulated inside.
4. Avoid aerosol products. They fill your home with microscopic droplets of the synthetic chemicals that are often in these sprays.
5. Same for deodorizers or other air “freshening” products, which are frequently made from unhealthy chemicals that coat surfaces and pollute the air your family breathes.
6. Opt for natural pest control methods instead of pesticide products.
7. Keep conventional cleaners and other chemical products out of kids’ bedrooms and playrooms. Click here to learn why children need special protection.
8. Use chlorine-free products to wash dishes. The chlorine in conventional detergents evaporates in hot water and is released into the air in your home.
9. Conduct a radon test. Radon is an odorless natural radioactive gas that seeps into homes from surrounding soil. A simple test can tell you if your home needs abatement measures.
10. Replace synthetic personal care and make-up products with natural alternatives that don’t contain toxins. To learn more about the hazards in personal care products, click here.

Medium Green Steps to a Healthy Home

1. Eat organic food. It’s grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers, drug and hormone treatments, and genetic alterations. That makes it healthier for you and the earth.
2. Ask guests to remove their shoes upon entering your home. From pesticides to pollutants, shoes can track unwanted visitors into your home.
3. Clean and inspect combustion devices like furnaces, stoves, and hot water heaters to make sure they’re functioning properly and not venting hazardous gases into your home.
4. Have your water tested for chemicals pollutants like pesticides and chlorine. Install a filter on drinking water taps if pollution is found.
5. Buy a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. These special filters trap particles that regular vacuums can’t catch.
6. Don’t buy soft vinyl products, including toys and shower curtains. These items likely contain phthalates (“thal-ates”), toxic chemicals that easily leach.
7. If your home has a chlorinated water supply, install a filtering showerhead to prevent chlorine from vaporizing in hot shower water.
8. Remove any permanent press, easy-care, wrinkle-free, and/or flame-resistant linens and fabrics that are less than one year old and don’t buy new ones. They are most likely treated with the chemical formaldehyde, which slowly escapes during the first year of use.
9. If your home was built before 1978, test painted surfaces for the presence of lead. Conduct the same tests on your child’s toys.
10. Conduct an indoor air quality test to see if any toxic gases, including formaldehyde or vapors from VOCs, are being emitted by your home furnishings.

Dark Green Steps to a Healthy Home

1. Don’t buy home furnishings or fixtures made from particleboard or other pressed wood products. These can emit dangerous fumes over time. Choose solid wood instead.
2. Choose naturally- or low-impact dyed natural fiber carpets and textile products, and use natural flooring for your home. These products won’t introduce any chemical additives to your environment.
3. Become a "localvore" by eating foods grown within 100 miles of your home. Organic or not, such foods have the lowest overall impact on the environment.
4. Clear out the clutter. Crowded, exposed shelves are dust magnets that collect a disproportionate share of the toxins present in your home. Display your favorite items behind glass instead. To find out more about dust and dusting, click here.
5. Replace synthetic foam mattresses with beds made from untreated cotton, wool, and other natural fibers, and glue-free solid woods.
6. Take the same step with other home furnishings. Synthetic foams and treated textiles are one of the chief sources of toxic flame retardants.
7. Replace your lawn with natural landscaping that provides valuable habitat for your local flora and fauna.
8. Wear naturally-dyed natural fiber clothing and keep synthetic materials, colors, and treatments away from your family’s skin.
9. Swap all your non-stick cookware for cast iron. Properly seasoned cast iron will provide much the same results and won’t leach perfluorochemicals or toxic fumes.
10. Express yourself. Let public officials, corporate leaders, and other decision-makers know how you feel about local, national, and global issues.

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