We all know the sigh of relief when arrive home. Aaaahhh…you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of the outside world and you’re safe…aren’t you? Unfortunately, chances, are that – along with your tales of the day – you’ve brought home various toxins and germs, whether they’re on your shoes or in your shopping bag. No one can rid their space entirely of unwanted dirt and chemicals, but if you follow these six simple steps, you’ll go a long way into creating a clean, green and serene home:
#1 Start a No Shoes Rule – Removing your shoes at the door stops you from tracking in an amazing variety of toxic offenders. Recent studies found an average of 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of a shoe including E. coli, known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections, meningitis and diarrheal disease. City dwellers trek through soil that contains combustion particles from traffic and construction debris, while country folk are susceptible to pesticides from agricultural areas and even lawns. And no matter where you live, if you walk through public restrooms or down the same sidewalks as neighborhood dogs, there’s a good chance you’ve stepped through fecal matter. Don’t forget to wipe Fido’s paws. And, politely ask guests to follow suit by keeping dedicated shoe cubbies or shelves by the door and by providing unused (and cheap) slipper socks if they are modest about exposing their toes.
#2 Take the “No Pledge” Pledge – You may have grown up with Mr. Clean, Scrubbing Bubbles and Pledge, but now we know better. If you wouldn’t spray it on your body or eat it, do you really want to breathe in all those nasty chemicals or use them where you prepare or eat your food? Most household cleaning jobs can be accomplished safer (and better!) with water, vinegar, baking soda and lemon – add one of those fabulous microfiber cloths and you’re set. You’ll find tips on everything from cleaning grout to polishing wood at this handy site: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/20-diy-green-cleaning-recipes-141129 And, you’ll save money too!
#3 Bring the Forest Inside – The benefits of adding houseplants to your home are virtually endless. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Plants also release moisture vapor, increasing the humidity of your home, which aids in preventing respiratory illness like the common cold. Your favorite ivy, aloe or mother-in-law’s tongue also removes toxins from air – up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. And, of course, they’re just downright cheery. In fact, adding plants to hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients, according to researchers at Kansas State University.
#4 Sleep Naturally – We all want deeper, longer sleep without drugs. Well, by removing all electronics (yes, even the TV and smartphone!) from your bedroom and clearing away clutter you can improve your chances of a good night’s sleep immeasurably. Your bedroom should be dedicated to two activities: sleep and sex. Doing work, checking email, surfing the net or even watching Jon Stewart prevents the natural action of pre-sleep relaxation. Blue light emitted from electronic devices mimics daylight and tells our brains to wake up, not drift off. Investing in a good mattress and room darkening shades can also dramatically improve slumber.
#5 Ban the Bottle – We all want sip clean water, enjoy a tasty iced tea or even a fizzy drink. But if you are buying bottled water, seltzer and other beverages you are adding to the plastic problem. American industry uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually to manufacture plastic bottles – that’s enough energy to power 190,000 homes. And, though many of us recycle, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3. And mother earth isn’t the only victim: antimony, which is found in PET plastic bottles, in small doses can cause dizziness and depression; in larger doses it can cause nausea, vomiting and death. An in-sink or pitcher filtration system can reduce your dependence on the bottle. Making your own iced tea and seltzer is easy (check out the Soda Stream) and healthier to boot. Invest in a few reusable glass or BPA-free bottles for taking your eco-safe beverage on the go.
#6 Become a Natural Beauty – Many of us buy organic fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat, and scan food labels for unwanted additives or GMOs. But it’s also important to stay green when we clean ourselves too. Toxins and chemicals from soaps, perfumes and moisturizers applied topically can cause rashes and irritation but even worse, they can leach into our bloodstream. Avoid products with parabens, sulfate, dyes and petroleum by-products (e.g. mineral oil and paraffin.) Even better, try your hand at making some beauty products at home with delicious edible ingredients like avocado, coconut oil, eggs and almonds.