Little may you know, one of the key factors to green living is creating an indoor living space that is free of pollutants. Many of us are aware of our outdoor air pollutants but as consumers we are putting little effort into protecting our indoor living environment. In America, we spend about 50% of our time in our homes – this is an environment we can control.
If I asked you what are some common indoor pollutants, you may answer with asbestos, radon, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, and mold. But there are other items that are contributing significantly to your indoor air quality that you can control easily. You won’t believe it……air fresheners and candles! Those decorative plug-ins that continuously release scent is continuously polluting your home. In fact, if you research it a little more, you will find that they are releasing carcinogens. Even if they tout themselves as green, healthy, organic, they can emit potentially hazardous chemicals. Also, the ingredients found in air fresheners are largely not disclosed. Best way to avoid the pollutants that air fresheners emit? Don’t use them at all.
In regards to candles, not all of them are toxic like air fresheners. The ones to stay away from are paraffin-based candles, which are the most popular kinds. They emit toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene. However, soybean and beeswax candles are an exception. Can I hear a “hallelujah”? I certainly enjoy the coziness of candles in the cold months of the years.
Other culprits are household products, such as cleaning products and hair products to name a few. Keep in mind it’s not just the scent that is toxic – it is the actual chemicals used in the products. To cut down on the pollutants from these products, I like to make my own cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. You can find some great and simple recipes online that will save you money and cut down on the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that you are putting in your home.
Even after taking all these measures, be sure to ventilate your home. Open windows and let the fresh air in. With extreme temperatures and heavy use of the furnace or air conditioner, take a break and open some windows for a couple of hours. That will make a bigger difference than using an air purifier. There are many other elements in the building material of the home that will also contribute to indoor air quality, but these simple measures listed above can easily improve your quality of living at home and create a safer and greener environment within your control.