Thursday, March 1, 2007

Easy Ways to get your Home Eco-Friendly

We’ve all heard the term “eco-friendly”, but finding easy and economical ways to incorporate the idea into our homes is another project altogether!  Eco-friendly incorporates both environmentally friendly ideas, as well as user-friendly, so that you can easily create healthy and useable space in your home.  Here are some easy ways to get started on getting your home eco-friendly.  Keep an eye out for further ideas in my continuing series for getting your home eco-friendly.
1. Paint – look for no-level or no VOC paint to reduce the amount of toxic fumes during both application and for years after application (yes, your paint still emits fumes for years afterwards!)  VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds/Chemicals, which evaporate at ambient temperatures into the air.  According to the EPA, indoor air is 3 times as polluted as outdoor air, and paints and finishes are among the leading causes. 
2. Speaking of polluted air, you might consider purchasing an air-purifier with a HEPA filter to further reduce pollution and off-gassing from products.  The EPA considers polluted air to be one of the top 5 health hazards.  Free-standing units can easily blend into your décor, as well as being portable.
3. Cleaning Products – Get rid of your ammonia, chlorine bleach and tough grease cutters, and replace them with non-chlorine bleach, natural vegetable and fruit-based cleaners, and borax acid (for mildew).
4. Flooring – looking to replace your flooring?  Hardwood floors are easy to keep clean, don’t harbor dust and mites like carpet does, and have no off-gassing.  You can also look at bamboo or cork as alternatives to hardwood.  If you do go with carpeting, make sure the installers off-gas the materials offsite, and stay away from glue or use a non VOC glue when installing.  This will help prevent off-gassing of chemicals for years to come.