With every season change comes another opportunity to recheck and maintain your home. Summertime is often a time we tend to focus on the outdoor repairs that come with homeownership simply due to the weather.
And one of the best ways you can continue to keep a healthy home environment on the inside is by taking care of the outside of your home. Water, moisture and humidity are public enemy number one when it comes to keeping your home healthy and free from potential problems and issues.
Many first time homeowner find out the hard way just how to keep water and moisture away from different areas of their first home. Often times it takes a leak or a moisture problem within the house to find out what kind of maintenance needs to be done. Homeowners figure out really quickly just where to seal up the exterior after a leak happens.
Last week I shared some ways that you can use landscaping to create a healthy indoor environment. This week I’m sticking with this outdoor theme since the weather is beautiful and I’m spending as much time outdoors as I possibly can.
Spending time is so important to our bodies. It not only gives us a break from the indoor toxins we face for the majority of the day, but it also allows our bodies to reap the benefits from sunshine and naturally filtered air outdoors. One of the best ways to get motivated to spend more time outdoors is to create a space that you can truly enjoy outdoors. An outdoor living space is a space that you can use outside as you would an indoor space. The idea of entertaining, cooking and playing outdoors can be enhanced by a beautiful space that’s comfortable too.
Living in the Midwest, it can be tough to get outdoors all year-round, but that means in the summer we really take advantage of that outdoor space and outdoor area to entertain, cook and play.
When the early months of summer hit it seems like everyone is making some sort of change to their yard. Whether it be adding a few flowers or doing some major landscaping, most houses can benefit from a little TLC in the yard department. Many homeowners aren’t aware of the fact that the choices they make on the outside of their home can play a huge role on the overall health on the inside of their home as well. I’ve also found that a home with great outdoor spaces encourages those living their to get outside and breathe fresh air. Being outdoors is so important to our overall health. Typically, the average person spends about 80% - 90% of their time indoors never giving their body a break from the indoor toxins it’s surrounded by. But when you take time away from those indoor toxins and get outside, the body has a little time to recuperate and begin to heal.
If you walk down the home and garden aisles at the hardware store, you know that there are more landscaping ideas than you’d ever know what to do with. When it comes to a healthy house, inside and out, there are some choices that rank higher when it comes to landscaping.
Furniture in our homes is what creates the feeling you get in a space, it elevates the comfort factor and it is usually the focal point of the whole room. Most of us would agree that furniture is one of our largest purchases, and one that gets the most use. For my family our furniture is definitely a large part of each and every room we have, from our couches to our kitchen table, to our dressers and beds. These pieces make up each and every room and we put them to good use every day.
But what we fail to remember often times is that by purchasing a new piece of furniture and introducing it to our indoor space, we are also bringing in potentially harmful chemicals. The biggest problem with bringing toxic chemicals inside our homes is we often offer very little ventilation to the new furniture and keep all the chemicals trapped inside our homes.
Chemicals brought into the home through furniture and furniture manufacturing not only remain in our homes for a long time due to little ventilation of fresh air, but they will continue to off-gas for the lifetime of the furniture. Some toxins actually off-gas more as they mature in age, meaning you’ve just introduced a long-term toxin source to your indoor air.
Furniture like couches, chairs and beds have the potential to off-gas at higher rates than other sources around your home. Many chemical toxins release their VOCs into the air at higher rates when the environment around them is warm and has higher humidity. Think of when someone sits on a sofa. The sofa cushion is warmed by the body heat and the skin is often releasing some sort of moisture, creating a humid environment for the cushion to off-gas at a higher rate every time someone uses it.
Still yet another problem with allowing toxic furniture into our homes is the sheer amount of time we are spending on them, sitting, sleeping and resting. When we’re spending this much time on our furniture, it means not only is our skin often times in contact with these toxins for an extended period of time, but often times our faces are in extremely close proximity. In other words, we are breathing in many of these toxins in close range when we’re using these furniture pieces.
If you’re in the market for new furniture, there are many great options and some very specific things you can look for and avoid. And if you’re not in a position to change out all your furniture, there are definitely great ways to work with what you have.
Whether you work from home, work remotely or just use your home office for paying bills, it’s probably a place you or someone in your house spend a decent amount of time. As part of our movement to make EVERY house the Healthy House on the Block, it’s time we took a deeper look at that home office.
Personally, I spend a lot of time in my home office. It was the most recently finished room in our house and I’m in love with it’s hardwood floors and light blue walls. I will admit it has a toy area for my kids, but overall it’s my space for creativity and uninterrupted, focused work time. WIth all the time I spend in the office, I want to make sure that it’s a healthy environment. I want it to be a space that helps me achieve the goals I set and that makes me more productive. That’s why I enlisted the help of Kim Bost from High Vibe Home to help give me some ideas, which I will share later in this post.
So how can you be sure your home office is a healthy environment to work in and play in? Here’s a few of the areas I checked out:
Springtime and early summer have everyone outside and tending to their lawn and gardens. It’s a great time to prep your lawn and gardens so they’ll be green all year. But for many homes that means using dangerous lawn fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides of all kinds. You might be thinking, “Those don’t matter, they stay outdoors and then dissipate.” Even though the bottle might say it’s completely safe to be in your lawn after an allotted time has passed, this isn’t necessarily accurate.
Pesticides and lawn treatments hang around in your yard for a longer duration, not to mention they easily get tracked inside your home on your shoes and clothing. Often times these applications cause the air to become polluted for a period of time during use as well. This is especially true of sprayers that can have a large area of over-spray, allowing the solution to end up in more places than intended.
If you have pets or kids, these risks are amplified due to their smaller bodies and systems that come into contact with these problematic lawn treatments.
While we don’t usually spend a lot of time in the bathroom, it can harbor a lot of unwanted chemicals, toxins and bacteria, which in turn can affect the quality of the indoor air. Bathrooms tend to be a room with the highest humidity in the house, and because of that, toxins generally produce VOCs at a much higher rate. Not only is the high humidity a problem, but the sheer amount of toxic materials in our bathrooms are a huge problem as well.
Cleaning products, to vinyl shower curtains to the personal products we use every day are made and created with toxic chemicals that off-gas into the bathroom air. The small, enclosed space of the bathroom leaves them no place to dissipate and they remain in the air for long periods of time.
A secondary concern in the bathroom is the mildew and mold that can quickly form due to the high levels of humidity. Mold and mildew once started can be difficult to remove and keep at bay. Mold is an organic toxin and it’s actually a living organism. This means it needs a “food” source, which could be just about anywhere in the bathroom. Once the mold has a porous surface, it continues to grow and spread. Things like woodwork, rugs, grout and underneath caulking are the main culprits.
By paying attention to a few key areas in your bathroom, you can dramatically reduce the toxins and VOCs in the air as well as keep the risk for mold growth low.
Sometimes the thought of making your whole home environment healthier can feel REALLY overwhelming. I always felt like I didn’t know quite where to start and if I wasn’t changing the WHOLE house, then my small changes really didn’t matter. I want to tell you my old thinking was completely flawed. Any change you make to your home is a step in the right direction. And for me personally, I found that my small changes (like removing scented candles, changing my cleaners over, etc.) snowballed into bigger changes (like removing electronics from my room, switching over to glass from plastic in the kitchen, etc.)
I’ve got ten of the simplest ways you can begin to make your home a non-toxic, healthy environment. This environment around us and our kids makes a huge impact on the overall health of our body as a whole. Health is NOT just about what we put in our bodies for food, it’s also about what surrounds us. What changes and switches can you make?
Minimalist is becoming a trendy term and a well-embraced and followed lifestyle and habit. I myself love many parts of the minimalist approach. As my kids get older and I rid myself of their “stuff”, I find the idea of managing fewer physical objects and opting for simplicity where I can incredibly refreshing.
This approach doesn’t mean you have to sell all your belongings and move into a tiny house. Instead, change your living with a few of the basic fundamentals from a minimalist lifestyle and you’ll see the impact on your indoor environment as well.
But there’s more to the minimalist lifestyle than simply fewer possessions, from what I can see in my own life, the effects of this practice have created a healthier space for me and my family. As I make strides ahead in my own household, I see my family (and especially my kids) benefiting from fewer “things” and less stuff. I also have embraced the idea of “Simpler is Better” from my beauty routine to my kitchen. Products with fewer ingredients, and often times homemade products have slowly replaced my store-bought extra-long-shelf life products. These simpler products contain safe ingredients that aren’t polluting my indoor air. Let’s take a look at all the ways a minimalist approach to homeownership is helping many create healthier homes.
Spring is here and it is definitely showing. Just the other day my kids and I went for a bike ride down our street, but we only made it four houses down because every single neighbor was out and ready to catch up. This season is such a blessing and allows our bodies fresh air and more sunshine. But the same can be true for our houses. In many homes it’s a great time to hit the refresh button and set up some healthy habits for your home’s environment. It’s a great opportunity to give our house some TLC after it too has suffered the long winter of being closed up and shut in
Houses are SO big and have so many systems, that there are MANY ways to check on and maintain your home. I find spring is a great time for cleaning out and planning some outdoor projects for the warmer months. It’s also a time to check places that have been covered in snow. Whatever you choose to do, keeping the healthy indoor environment in mind will help you create a healthy space for your family.