Everyone is talking about … green! The question is what kind of green? There are green peas and you know if you like peas, prefer growing your own peas, buying organic or ordinary canned/frozen peas. Your knowledge about peas reflects your focus on healthy lifestyle choices – eating vegetables and controlling the chemicals you eat or avoid.
Then there's green paint, but we're not talking about paint the color of green peas. We're talking about green paint that doesn't give off fumes that smell funny and could make you sick depending on how many other unhealthy chemicals there are in your home.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices for the Home
You may not realize there are also healthy choices for many of the home products you buy. The EPA considers indoor air quality one of the top health risks in the US. That's right, the air in your house isn't healthy because of the products in the house. These include products used to build your home and products you bring into your home like furniture, bedding, carpeting and more.
The primary cause of indoor air pollution in our homes are paints, varnishes, cleaning products, disinfectants, cosmetics and hobby products that contain Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. Exposure to VOCs can cause eye irritation, respiratory problems, nausea and dizziness while long term exposure has been linked to more serious diseases to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system (EPA Introduction to Indoor Air Quality).
Much of the focus on VOCs relates to paint. VOCs were a key component of oil based paint, which drove the industry to move to latex based paints which have no/low levels of VOC. Now the green revolution is getting us to focus on a lot of home products, not just paint.
So this list isn't exhaustive but does a good job of illustrating the range of products available to homeowners who want to make healthy lifestyle choices. A great resource for more research is GreenSeal, providing a third party review of company claims to put your mind at ease.
- Healthy paints – you now have several choices including low odor/VOC paints, zero VOC paint and newer, non-toxic or natural paints.
- Building products – are coming on the market rapidly, focusing on energy efficiency and sustainability to lessen the impact on the environment. You can also look at products like a log cabin, solar panels or rain barrels that are more natural.
- Cleaning products – require checking labels but don't rely on the name or unsupported claims. Consider natural air fresheners, decorate with lots of green plants and avoid aerosol products.
- Paper products – are now included on the GreenSeal website, from
- Beauty and health products – mean buying natural soaps, cosmetics, etc for their impact on air quality and don't forget that what you put on your skin, get's absorbed into your system.
- Consider organic bedding and other textiles that are natural and contain little or no chemicals.
- Buy sustainable furniture and avoid furniture manufactured with particle board and pressed wood, which contain lots of VOCs.
- Focus on products like flooring where quantity/size is significant. Bamboo flooring is sustainable and other flooring products like vinyl, use recycled content and are VOC free.
Remember when you buy paints and other home products, research your options and find healthy “green” products. Pick any color and enjoy your healthy home!