Building a green home is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. While the construction industry eliminated more than 40% of its workforce between 2006 and 2011, many companies are now specializing in green home building. Even if your home wasn’t initially built to be a green structure, there are a lot of ways to make it more eco-friendly. The amount homeowners spend on residential improvements and home repairs will likely surpass $350 billion this year and there are plenty of upgrades you can make to help you lead a greener lifestyle. Sustainable flooring, tankless water heaters, solar panels, and programmable thermostats can all support your mission to be more sustainable.
But sometimes, you may just need to make some lifestyle changes to improve our planet. And best of all, these shifts can actually improve the air quality within your home. Not only will you reduce harmful emissions, but you’ll also be a lot more comfortable and will probably save a considerable amount of money. Here are some tips to consider.
Utilize Better Cleaning Products
The products you may rely on to keep your home clean may actually be making the world a dirtier place. Ironic, isn’t it? Many of the most well-known cleaning products emit harmful chemicals into the air. So while your floor might be spotless, you might be breathing in toxins. Natural cleaners are actually the best, so if you’re comfortable with making your own cleaning agents, all the more power to you. If you’d rather buy something ready-made, there are fortunately a lot more options on the market now than there used to be. That said, watch out for “greenwashing” — the practice of using eco-friendly buzzwords to sell a product without delivering on this promise. Since these terms aren’t really regulated, it’s easy for manufacturers to take advantage of consumers through their marketing. Look on the label for third-party certifications and opt for brands you trust. If you find any chemicals outlined on the “must avoid” list, keep looking for an alternative.
Refrain From Smoking Indoors
Just because tobacco is a natural product doesn’t mean it’s safe for anyone. By now, just about everyone understands the dangers of smoking. It’s certainly not good for you or anyone around you. It might seem odd that someone who’s focused on eco-friendliness would be inclined to smoke, but it’s a hard habit to quit. If you’re still struggling with your cigarette addiction, just make sure never to smoke indoors. Tobacco smoke is one of the most harmful air pollutants out there and we’re well aware of all the serious diseases it can cause. If your home is actually a green building, smoking inside can be even worse than with a regular home. Because green homes are extremely well-insulated, cigarette smoke pretty much remains indoors once it’s there. Even if your home isn’t green, smoking inside can harm occupants on a continuous basis. Since contaminants and chemicals are pulled into a home’s HVAC system and re-circulated anywhere from five to seven times per day, you’ll keep breathing in all those yucky pollutants — especially if you haven’t changed your air filters in a while.
Swap Out Synthetic Fibers
In general, natural materials are going to be more eco-friendly than synthetic ones. The creation of synthetic fibers is harmful enough, but keeping them in your home can actually have a negative impact on the air quality. If your home currently has rugs or carpeting, consider switching out any that are made from nylon or polyester for mats made of wool or other natural fibers. Dust, dirt, and bacteria can actually attach themselves to synthetic materials in a way that’s difficult to clean completely. That can be problematic for people with respiratory issues. To ensure those synthetic floor coverings don’t go to waste, donate them if they’re in good condition or look into recycling these materials instead of having them end up in a landfill.
Consider Your Coatings
While you focus on avoiding synthetic fibers with floorings such as carpets and rugs, there are certain factors you should consider with hard-surface flooring. Many homeowners who have tiles, hardwoods, or natural stone floors will want to apply coatings to protect the integrity of the floor or make them safer with slip-resistant properties. However, these coatings often contain harmful ingredients that affect indoor air quality. If you plan on using a coating, be sure to research its impact on air quality. Polyaspartic coatings, for instance, won’t negatively impact indoor air quality because they have low to zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs). By using polyaspartic coatings, you can rest easy knowing that you’re preventing slips and falls while maintaining excellent indoor air quality.
Going green isn’t always easy, but this list proves you don’t have to invest a lot of time or money just to be more sustainable. With these tips in mind, you should be able to prioritize the health of your family and the health of the earth.