By Jessica Goldblatt
‘Tis the season of GREEN—and we don’t mean your shopping budget! This holiday season, remember to shop locally, and choose environmentally friendly gifts and gift wrapping.
Choose the useful and sustainable gifts. Prefer quality over quantity and longevity over disposability. A foodie might like wooden tools and utensils, cast iron cookware, quality bake ware, or organic wine. Gifts for the home could include natural candles, Vermont-made wool socks, or something you make yourself. Fashionistas and outdoor enthusiasts alike will appreciate quality garments made from natural fibers. Green gift alternatives are everywhere!
With colder weather, indoor air quality becomes important. We should reduce our exposure to such chemicals as harmful VOCs, carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. The range of problems these chemicals cause is very wide, from minor irritations to life threatening conditions. While we can smell low levels of some, others have no odor.
Many products we have in our homes release fumes or “off-gas.” Some examples are building materials, carpets, adhesives, composite wood products, paints, solvents, upholstery fabrics, vinyl, air fresheners, cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, cosmetics, fuel oil, and gasoline.
For new purchases, consider the following:
- floor models that have been allowed to off-gas in the store
- solid wood items with low emitting finishes
- new products that contain low or no VOCs (environmentally preferable products)
A great way to reduce VOCs is to eliminate our use of conventional cleaners. You can make a dramatic change to your home’s indoor air quality by simply choosing safer, non-toxic alternatives. A range of non-toxic cleaning products is available at local health food stores, grocery stores, and online. You can also make your own cleaners from everyday products like vinegar and baking soda.
Also, choose natural, untreated fabrics, and natural paints and finishes when possible. The change will have your family breathing much sweeter and more healthful air!
Get some common houseplants from a local nursery, such as palms, ferns, corn plants, dragon trees, rubber plants, weeping figs, English ivy, peace lilies, florist mums, gerber daisies, dumb cane, schefflera, orchids, spider plants, philodendrons, arrowhead plants, pothos, dwarf bananas and Chinese evergreens. Why? Houseplants can help remove certain harmful VOCs.
Snuggling Down: Organic Mattresses vs. Conventional Explained
We spend over a third of our lifetimes in bed, and sleep is when our bodies heal, renew, and rejuvenate. Standard mattresses are full of artificial materials, many of which are known carcinogens. These chemicals off-gas over time, and we breathe the fumes while we sleep.
An organic mattress is one of the best things to consider for good health. Using them eliminates a significant source of our total chemical exposure, and they are also highly recommended for offering superior comfort.
Jessica Goldblatt Barber is the owner of Interiors Green, a home and living store, in Bethlehem, NH. Jessica supports sustainable principles at work with all sustainable, renewable, organic and natural, fairly traded and sourced products when creating designs for clients and in her everyday life. www.interiorsgreen.com