Clean eating and using natural bath and body products are common ways eco-minded people try to keep toxins out of their bodies, but what about the air that we breathe? Good indoor air quality is an easy way to safeguard our health. Cold winter weather poses challenges to keeping our indoor air clean and healthy but these easy tips can help.
1. Air out your home on a daily basis, even if it is chilly outside. Off-gassing, cooking exhaust and other onerous fumes escape into the air in your home and build up over time. Opening your windows once a day, even for just a minute, whisks away stagnant air and brings in fresh, cleaner air. Most people do not want to do this in the winter months because of the cold. If this is a concern, wait to air out your home until the evening, right before you go to bed. Most people turn their thermostats down in the evening to save energy. Moreover, many people report sleeping better in a slightly cooler room and bundling up in extra blankets.
2. Choose eco-friendly home furnishings that do not off-gas VOCs into your home. One contributor to poor indoor air quality is our home furnishings. Mattresses, couches, carpet, rugs, and other textiles are often doused in flame retardants and slathered in adhesives that can off-gas into our homes. To verify the environmental claims of home furnishing manufacturers, many certification programs have emerged. The gold standard of the industry is Greenguard Gold, which has remarkably rigorous requirements for a piece of furniture to receive its prestigious seal.
3. Wait to purchase new home furnishings and until the weather is in the 70s. Eco-friendly home furnishings with the Greenguard Gold seal are admittedly much more expensive than their conventional alternatives. If this is not in your budget and you find yourself in need of new furniture, wait to purchase these items until the weather is at a temperature where you feel comfortable keeping your windows open most of the day. Conventional furniture and rugs off-gas a lot during the first month after they are opened, so make sure to keep your windows open as much as you can during that period.
4. Save home remodeling projects for temperate weather. Remodeling projects have a way of stirring up dust and debris, which can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Save your remodeling projects for warm weather, when you can properly ventilate your home and get rid of the dust, fumes and debris that inevitably come with such a project.
5. Don’t forget the power of houseplants. Many people enjoy the beauty of a living thing in their home but their benefits go beyond the aesthetic; NASA’s clean air study found that a myriad of plants can actually clean the air! They have found that certain plants can remove benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia and other problematic toxins.The most powerful plants on their list include the peace lily, chrysanthemum, bamboo palm and English ivy.
What tips do you have for other eco-minded people who want to improve their indoor air quality?
Leslie Fischer is the founder of www.sustainableslumber.com
, a website dedicated to helping eco-minded people get a good night’s sleep.