We know we’ve said it before, but that’s because it is important: You spend one-third of your life in bed! Traditional mattresses contain toxic flame retardants, and petroleum-based memory foam mattresses have been found to off-gas numerous toxic chemicals, some of them carcinogenic. Does this sound like a place where you’d like to spend 20 to 30 years?
Organic, natural, and non-toxic mattresses are a safer alternative, and come in many different feels, and at many different price points. If you are in the market for a new mattress, these are definitely worth considering. If you are not looking to buy a new mattress, there are several covering options that make your mattress healthier — from airtight covers that eliminate off-gassing, to mattress toppers that put a little distance between you and your mattress. Of course, look for organic or natural linens as well!
2. Are you breathing healthy?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental dangers to the public. Poor indoor air quality can contribute to problems like allergies, asthma, and, according to the American Lung Association, even lung cancer. It can also exacerbate conditions like autism, cancer, and multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).
Quality air filters remove biological and chemical particles from the air you and your family breathe. Austin Air filters are our favorite brand of plug-in filtration systems, and use medical HEPA filters, surrounded by activated carbon to address 99.97% of all environmental particulate contamination and chemical toxicity. These filtration systems are extremely efficient, cleaning either 700 or 1500 sq. ft. New Living can also help you if you are interested in testing the air in your home, or if you are interested in a whole house IQ air filter.
3. Is your water healthy?
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness about water quality issues. Many Houstonians probably don’t know that Houston has been found to have some of the worst water quality in the country. Additionally, the chemicals that Houston chooses to use to clean our water may have harmful effects of their own. While chlorine has traditionally been used to sterilize water, chloramine (a combination of chlorine and ammonia) has recently been introduced in Houston. Both chlorine and chloramine have been found to be respiratory irritants, and some studies suggest other long term health effects. The major problem with chloramine is that, unlike chlorine, it does not evaporate, and becomes concentrated when water is boiled. For a detailed overview, check this out!
Luckily for Houstonians, Al McDonald of AMAC water supply has developed a whole-house water filtration system that is tailored to Houston’s water. A whole-house water filter cleans the water you drink — and all other water that comes into your house. This is important because in a 15-minute shower, you absorb as many chemicals as you would from drinking half a gallon of water! With this system, your water will taste great, and your skin and hair will feel softer after your showers. The long term effects may be even better!
4. Are you painting healthy?
When you repaint, you consider the effect that a new color will have on your home. Why not also consider the effects of the new toxins you are introducing to the air you breathe? Traditional paints are so toxic that painters are the only professionals in the construction industry with a demonstrably lower life expectancy. This is because of the toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in traditional oil-based paints such as bezene and formaldehyde.
The great thing is that, all over the world, people are realizing that, in most cases, natural paints (which are water or plant based) can do the job just as well, without the added health effects. Our NOVOC paint, as well as paints by Mythic and Anna Sova, contain none of these harmful VOCs. They are great for painting walls. For masonry, wood, and metals, we recommend using our LOVOC (low-VOC) paint — which has far less toxic chemicals per gallon than traditional paint, but can still get these tricky jobs done. We can also provide guidance on how to get your painting job done in the healthiest and greenest way!
5. Are you shopping healthy?
Finally, and maybe this is the hardest one, it’s important to realize that anything you buy and bring home can have an effect on home health.
If you are a DIY family, make sure to choose materials and finishes that are low-VOC. Products like stains, caulk, adhesives, sealants, and shellac are far often more toxic than even traditional paint. We always like to remind people of the importance of looking at a project holistically. For instance, if you chose to buy a non-toxic flooring material, don’t undo yourself by using traditional adhesives or sealants!
You should also pay attention to the materials used in the finished products you buy. Because much of a product’s off-gassing occurs in the first few weeks, buying second-hand can limit — although not eliminate — the amount of chemicals brought into your home. Watch out for recently refinished products, though! Choose natural materials and finishes whenever possible, and look out for certifications like Green Guard, Green Seal, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).