9. Get the Moisture Out
A dehumidifier may not seem like a great style enhancer. But, if you live in an especially humid climate or have a room that tends to stay moist, this might be the most attractive piece of equipment you'll own. Serious mold problems can occur in rooms with high humidity. Mold has been linked to a variety of health problems, from asthma and allergies to chronic headaches and neurological problems. "By eliminating excess moisture, you eliminate the mold problem," says Upton. It's really that simple. If there isn't a moist environment, mold won't be able to colonize on you walls and ceiling.
10. Sleep Well, Tonight
Think of how many hours you spend in your car each day ... maybe two or three? Now, how many hours are you in your bed? Eight for sleeping, maybe another hour or two watching TV and reading? It's been estimated that you spend a third or more of your life in bed. With that said, just think of the level of exposure to off-gassing from a standard mattress over this length of time. Eco-friendly mattresses made of natural rubber, latex, and cotton offer a clean sleep with the added luxury of being supportive and restful. Also, don't forget to change your pillows," adds Turner. "Shredded natural rubber is great because it feels comfortable, is totally safe, but is also machine washable and dries easily."
Go Beyond Furnishings
Try these tips for introducing environmentally friendly habits into everyday practice:
- Cleaning products: Instead of ammonia, chlorine bleach, and tough grease cutters, try non-chlorine bleach, natural vegetable and fruit-based cleansers, borax acid (for mildew), and non-toxic abrasives.
- Pesticides: Read the warning labels and it's easy to see why you should avoid using these extremely harsh chemicals, especially those that are sprayed and go right into the air. Try new fruit-based sprays that are safe to use around children and pets.
- Air Fresheners: Spraying artificial fragrances that are just masking odors can add to the problem. Investing in a good HEPA air filter is a better solution.
- Air Conditioners: "Change your air conditioner filters frequently, using high efficiency filters," suggests Upton.
- Beauty Products: Nail polish and polish remover are the two strongest beauty product problems. Both are made with harsh chemicals and solvents that quickly dissipate into the air. Try to use these only in well-ventilated areas or even outside.
Try a Natural Alternative
"Natural is an overused word," says Upton. "Look for specific words that hold some meaning behind them, such as certified organic or Forest Council approved. Plastics, vinyl, stain-resistant, wrinkle-proof, and particleboard are all words to be wary of." Here is an at-a-glimpse guide to healthy alternatives:
- Instead of PVC, try natural wood
- Trade standard house paint for no or low VOC paint
- Invest in metal instead of plastic
- Go for wool instead of nylon
- Pass on particleboard and instead purchase high-quality MDF
- Substitute synthetic foam for natural rubber or latex
- Buy organic cotton instead of polyester