MISSION, KS -- (Marketwire) -- 05/23/11 -- (Family Features) Finding ways to go green in the home does more than help the planet. It helps your home's environment, as well.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. These pollutants -- as well as chemicals found in many products today -- can irritate allergy and asthma sufferers.
'More people than ever are looking to make natural changes in their home to help improve their family's environmental health,' said Dr. Shannon Thyne, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF and Medical Director of the Pediatric Asthma and Allergy Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. 'It only takes a few extra steps to make a home healthier, cleaner and greener.'
To that end, the maker of Green Works® products, HGTV personality and green living expert Carter Oosterhouse, and Lowe's have teamed up to showcase ways to give your family a cleaner, greener home.
'Whether you could use help enhancing the look of your child's playroom, or you're looking for ways to reduce chemicals and their fumes and residues in your kitchen, there are simple steps you can take to make your home environment healthier, while still keeping it stylish and beautiful,' said Oosterhouse.
While every home is different, here are some ways to make any home naturally beautiful and healthier.
A fresh coat of paint is a great, low-cost way to bring new life to a room. But that new paint smell comes from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which derive from vapors released from toxic compounds. Use non-VOC paint to create an inviting, comfortable and beautiful room. Check the back of the paint can for VOC levels -- those with fewer than 150 grams per liter are often labeled 'low-VOC' or 'no-VOC.'
- Buy only the amount of paint you'll need for the project. If you wind up with leftover paint, store it safely or dispose of it according to local municipal regulations.
- Open windows while painting and use fans to vent fumes.
- When sanding or removing old paint, wear a dust mask or respirator to prevent particle inhalation. Keep the area well ventilated.
It used to be that buying a natural cleaning product meant paying more money for worse performance. No longer. Natural cleaning products can provide great performance without leaving behind harsh chemical fumes or residues. Plus, they are increasingly cost effective. Green Works naturally derived cleaners offer a variety of products for the whole house, including naturally derived laundry detergent and bathroom cleaners that are priced very competitively.
Carpets trap dirt, dust and other allergens. If possible, remove wall-to-wall carpeting and replace it with natural wood flooring, such as sustainable bamboo or cork flooring.
- Sweep and vacuum floors regularly to control dust.
- Wet mop with a microfiber mop to remove dust and dirt more efficiently.
- Clean up spills right away.
If the carpets and rugs must stay, vacuum frequently, using a vacuum cleaner with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter. Change the filter regularly to keep it working efficiently.
Furniture and window coverings
Curtains and upholstery can trap dust, dust mites and pollen.
- Blinds are a good, contemporary-looking alternative to drapes, but must be dusted occasionally.
- Vacuum upholstered furniture -- under the cushions, too.
Upgrading to a more efficient washer and dryer can provide lifetime water and energy savings.
- Run only full loads. Full loads use energy and water more efficiently than smaller loads. Adjust the water levels according to the load.
- Wash in cold water. Most of the energy used to wash clothes comes from heating the water. Only the most stubborn stains really need hot or warm water.
Clear the air
Here are a few tips for clearing the air in your home.
- Open the window. Clean with windows and doors open so you don't trap air pollution inside.
- Go barefoot. Take off your shoes when you come inside. That way you'll bring less dust, dirt, mold and pollens inside, and you won't track them all over the house.
- Buy a plant. Plants serve as natural air purifiers. African violets and ferns are beautiful ways to help clear the air.
What does it mean to be natural?
The Natural Products Association (NPA) recently developed the Natural Standard for Home Care Products, making it easier than ever to tell what makes a product natural.
Here are the NPA's core criteria:
- Natural: Ingredients that are at least 95 percent natural (excluding water) in addition to appropriate manufacturing processes.
- Responsible: No animal testing during the development process.
- Safer chemistry: Avoid ingredients from the NPA's list of prohibited ingredients.
- Sustainable: Use biodegradable ingredients with environmentally sustainable packaging whenever possible.
For more about which Green Works® products are NPA certified natural products, visit www.greenworkscleaners.com.
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