Our homes are our hideout from the world, the center of our families and the staging ground for all sorts of projects, parties and activities. It is easy to feel like we are creating a good home life by keeping away dirt and pests. It takes extra understanding to think about how the products we bring into our home last much, much longer then just the moments in which they are used. For example, heavy-duty cleaners get out tough stains and then evaporate, right? Not really, the moisture in the products may dry but the chemicals stick around. They remain on our counter tops or get circulated in the air. The next time you put your hand down on the sink or counter you could be re-exposed and so could your children and your pets.
Another example of chemicals persisting in our home involves paints, solvents and furniture. Off gassing, or the slow release of gases into the air, occurs over time and long after that fresh paint or new mattress smell diminishes. By using non-toxic cleaners, building materials and supplies in your home you do not need to worry about chemicals sticking around or trying to figure out how poisonous something will be to you, your children or pets.
Additionally, think about your indoor air quality. If your home is like most in the US, you have off-gassing coming from the paint or wallpaper glue on your walls, toxic materials under your sink or in your garage, chemical residues on your countertops and in your shower, and furniture made with fillers and fabrics containing all sorts of bonding agents, fire retardants and chemicals. Sound pleasant? Utilizing indoor plants that soak up unclean air and ventilating by opening windows can make a huge difference, as can some air purifiers.
Green building, home remodeling and energy-efficient appliances are becoming more common. If you are planning to refinish some cabinets, replace a floor or stage a major renovation, you have a number of environmentally friendlier options. One of the major considerations is the waste associated with construction. Figure out how to donate or sell unwanted household goods, including old sinks, doors, windows, and wood so that these items do not end up as landfill. Second, source products that are produced sustainably, such as bamboo or composite materials. Bamboo is a grass and therefore grows quickly, unlike a redwood or an oak tree. Recycled content composite materials are made with materials that have already been extracted from the earth. Third, energy-efficient homes and appliances produce less carbon dioxide, the source of global warming. The average home gives off eighteen tons of carbon dioxide each year into the atmosphere. Consult green building sites for more information.
Take your non-toxic, organic and green practices out into your garden too. Using organic fertilizers and pest control make your garden safe in addition to beautiful. Not only do wild animals come in contact with your garden but so do you, your pets and your children. The chemicals you apply to kill pests or grow prize roses will remain on leaves, lawn and flowers and get kicked up into the air during games of catch, with a breeze or during general gardening activities. Being non-toxic in your garden is about more then just not having chemicals from your lawn wash down into an ocean or river somewhere far from you, it is also about your environment and body.