We spend over a third of our lives in our home and it is our retreat, our haven and our sanctuary from the busy outside world. We try to make our home as safe and healthy as possible but the choices and information available to us are overwhelming.
Tests in modern houses have revealed that indoor air quality can be as much as 10 times more polluted than outdoor air, but it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin making our homes healthier and more environmentally friendly.
Before repainting your house top to bottom with low or no VOC paint take a look at your shopping list and make changes there. Cleaning products are often highly toxic and those toxins travel through your house as you and your family move around. Purchase products at your local health food store that are environmentally friendly (ask someone there which ones are best) or better still, purchase microfiber cloths that only require water to clean (Norwex).
Be sure that you and your guests remove your shoes when entering your home. This minimizes toxins and chemicals from outside that are tracked into your home.
‘Green’ no longer means sacrificing beauty and luxury for your ideals. There are a vast array of companies that provide beautiful fabrics and furnishings that are made in an environmentally sustainable way. Not only are you helping our earth, you are also sitting, eating and sleeping on items that aren’t carcinogenic or otherwise polluted. A great Vancouver Island company to check out is www.rawganique.com based on Denman Island.
In the kitchen you can start by recycling your plastic tupperware and getting glass containers to store your food in. Anchor has a great line with lids available at Superstore and Canadian Tire. Purchasing organic foods is a great way to support the industry but even better is the support you give local farms and businesses by buying your food from them.
Bathrooms can be one of the most toxic rooms in the house. House cleaning products, personal cleaning products, and the high moisture content in a small space all affect the quality of our home environment. First steps for this room include purchasing chlorine free paper products, checking your bathroom products for harmful chemicals (great list here), replace older makeup products with natural alternatives and trade in antiperspirants for deodorant.
Your garden can also be a beautiful, thriving and healthy landscape for you to enjoy without chemicals. Raising your garden beds or planting in large containers gives your plants an advantage and means you have full control over the quality of your vegetables. There are also companies that offer sustainable landscape design. They take into consideration all the different elements that affect your garden and come up with a design that is low maintenance and perfectly suited to your yard.
Use bugs instead of chemicals and use mulch and compost to provide the nutrients your plants need without chemical fertilizers. Hand watering or an irrigation system will keep water where it needs to be – on your plants.Many of our water sources in North America are horribly polluted with lawn chemicals ‑ not to mention the lawn mower emissions and water waste that go into maintaining the perfect lawn. Be proud of your brown lawn!
Having a truly healthy home may not happen overnight but you can take small steps in the meantime that will really make a difference. It is so important to feel safe, happy and healthy in your home and many of the items we purchase take away from that security. Healthy living, like staying organized, takes some initial effort but the benefits live with you everyday. For more information on this topic I recommend Kimberly Rider’s book The Healthy Home Workbook.