Getting your home as green as possible can be a challenge, especially when summer is in full swing. Although no one wants to spend their summer doing renovations, getting everything done when the weather is nice is a great idea.
Toxic chemicals and materials, can hide in plain sight within your home, and if you’re serious about preserving your health and the health of your family, it’s important to do something about it. Though ensuring your home is free of harmful chemicals might require you to do some renovating in order to address the issue, there are also many other ways you can greenify and detox your home.
Check For Existing Issues
Though you may already take steps to ensure that your home is safe from deadly toxins and chemicals by paying attention to what you’re purchasing, there may be hidden dangers lurking right in front of you. Lead paint, pressed wood paneling, and even the carpet in your home might pose a risk to your health. Lead paint, of course, contains lead, which can severely affect your central nervous system, while pressed wood paneling and fixtures may contain formaldehyde in the resin that bonds the wood together, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals. Even your carpet can be home to volatile organic compounds in high concentrations when it is first installed.
Your walls themselves may pose a serious health risk as well, even if you’re absolutely certain that there is no lead paint on them. Asbestos, a substance that causes mesothelioma, was widely used in drywall production as late as the 1970s, so depending on when your home was built, there very well may be asbestos hiding within the walls. However, if you suspect that there is, in fact, asbestos in your old drywall, removal should be done by trained professionals in order to reduce the risk to you and your family.
Once you’ve removed any offending materials, have them replaced with eco-friendly, safe alternatives. Instead of pressed wood paneling, opt to upcycle and use stylish reclaimed wood and use an environmentally safe finish on it. Instead of carpeting, look to tile or laminate flooring which both tend to encourage long-term eco-friendliness through their easy-cleaning properties. Finally, if you had to tear out any old, asbestos-laced drywall, look into the many eco-friendly drywall options that are free of toxic chemicals. That way, you can enjoy the fresh air outside in the summer and avoid unnecessary exposure when the next winter hits and you’re cooped up in your house.
Get Rid Of Harsh Chemicals
Whether or not you have a baby in your home or plan to in the future, one of the most effective ways to ensure that you pay special attention when getting rid of harsh chemicals in the household is to pretend that you are baby-proofing your house. While you certainly don’t need to put soft covers over all the sharp corners in your home, getting into the mindset of baby-proofing can help you to track down all the cleaning products that have hazardous chemicals in them. Common household cleaners can have seriously harsh chemicals that can cause damage when consumed or breathed in, and even your toothpaste can pose a danger if it is ingested! After all, if something isn’t good for your real (or imagined) baby, it probably isn’t good for you, either!
The summer sees an increase in the use of cleaning products due to the constant comings and goings of everyone in your home. Dust, mud, mustard, and grass stains are all trademarks of a good summer, but just because you raided your home of cleaning products doesn’t mean that you have to live in dirt and grime. There is no shortage of natural alternatives to popular cleaning products on the market today, and these natural alternatives are often just as, if not moreeffective than their chemically dubious counterparts. Even simple baking soda and white vinegar can take on some of the toughest cleaning jobs around the home. Additionally, if you have pets in the home, don’t neglect to check to see how harmful the chemicals in their litter or shampoo is, as there are also perfectly functional natural alternative to many pet care products as well.
Creating a non-toxic home starts from the actual home itself, and moves on to the everyday products you use in it. Using non-toxic cleaning products for both your home and even your own body is essential, and you can take even more steps by looking to your kitchen. Switching from plastic to glass containers isn’t just environmentally friendly, it can help you avoid BPA leaching into your summer cookout leftovers. Regarding your food itself, eating minimally processed, organic foods is one of the best ways to prevent toxins from entering your body.
Alternative Home Maintenance
Larger home maintenance provides an opportunity to further greenify your home. While many only consider insulation as a protector against the cold, however, it also keeps your home cool in the hot summer, and if you’re using the wrong insulation it can pose a hazard. For example, if you have fiberglass insulation in your home, consider a change, as fiberglass insulation might be treated with formaldehyde and isn’t especially effective if installed improperly. Cotton batt or blown-in cellulose are both great, effective, and environmentally sound insulation methods that can save you money on your monthly heating and cooling bills.
Meanwhile, plumbing systems are notoriously finicky, and when a drain becomes clogged it can feel impossible to clear without the use of dangerous chemicals. What’s more, many drain cleaners also have the nasty habit of causing pipe corrosion over time, leading to costly repairs down the road. Despite this, unclogging a drain without the use of chemicals isn’t especially difficult when you know what you’re doing. While it involves a lot of elbow grease, all you need to do is to fish out the crud from the drain, and then give it a good plunging.
While your floors, counters, and other porous surfaces will need periodic resurfacing to extend their life, opting to use natural sealants can help keep the air quality in your home acceptable. Additionally, regular maintenance of your kitchen appliances can help to keep them running longer and reduce their overall energy consumption. Unplugging your refrigerator at least once a year and wiping down the condenser coils and only washing full loads of dishes are great ways to maximize effectiveness while also reducing energy consumption.
Getting your home to be a bit more green can be a breeze if you know what to do. While you can go all out, replacing walls, insulation, and flooring with more environmentally friendly and safe materials, you can also make a huge impact by simply switching what types of cleaning products you use and taking the time to ensure that you’re taking care of your home. Not only will the environment be thankful for these choices, but you and your family will be healthier overall as well.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.