How to go Green with Silv: Room to Room Challenge Part II by Silvia Milanova, March 07 2012, 0 Comments

Mar 7, 2012 Photo courtesy of Eco Architect via Flickr.

This month, we are continuing with the Going Green Room-to-Room challenge. In honor of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, we are going to focus on your bedroom—a place where you could spend up to a third of your day. Here are some tips to take your love nest to the next level and make it a green nest!

Your linens, drapes and the air itself smell like flowers; beautiful, spring flowers mixed in with the aroma of fresh, crisp laundry, drying in the light wind. Except, that’s not what’s really happening or what’s really giving your bedroom that clean, floral smell. Instead, it’s that air freshener set up on your wall that sprays an unknown substance into the air every 30 minutes. Although this aroma sends you to a different place and transforms your room from a plain bedroom to a tropical paradise, what’s in this liquid spray are actually very harmful chemicals—carcinogenic substances, such as formaldehyde and benzene, that could cause allergies and respiratory problems, among other things. Children and pregnant women are especially susceptible to their harmful effects.

According to the Global Campaign for Recognition of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, instead of breaking down any odor-causing bacteria and other offensive smells, air fresheners and plug-ins, instead:
  • Kill your ability to smell by way of a nerve-deadening chemical
  • Coat your nasal passages with an undetectable oily film
  • Cover up one smell with another

So, the next time you have the urge to get lost in the ocean breeze smell of Hawaii, you’re better off just traveling there. If odor is a problem in your home, use natural remedies to rid of it. Essential oils, baking soda, vinegar and naturally-squeezed lemon juice are all healthy alternatives. And, there’s always the old practice of opening a window; or buying actual flowers for that au naturale garden aroma.

Speaking of fresh-smelling linens, what are yours made of? Although there are many conventional options out there, it’s not tough finding some eco-friendly choices. Earthsake offers a line of natural bedding, including sheets, duvet covers and blankets, all made from bamboo fibers. The company guarantees that none of their products, which also include bedroom furniture and accessories, contain chemicals, are made outside of the US, leave a carbon footprint, or need a gas-guzzling vehicle to transport.

The EcoSleepShop and Shilpa Rathi also offer environmentally friendly bedding made from sustainable and natural fabrics.

Now look at your bedroom furniture. We already spoke about linens, but it’s a good idea to also find out where your furniture comes from. Where was it made? How? With what materials? A lot of companies cut down and use new trees to create let's say, your nightstand, and might also use unlawful labor, in addition to other frowned-upon practices. They might also transport their products in harmful-to-the-Earth ways. When choosing furniture, find vendors you feel comfortable with and those who incorporate green practices into their businesses. Look for recycled materials and non-toxic wood dyes and glazes. Miles & May is a good local company that uses reclaimed wood or scrag (rejected materials) to make handmade furniture, and supports its surrounding environment. For a funkier style, try the April Hannah collection, now available at ABODE New York.

All of the aformentioned items can release indoor air pollutants, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But it's not just furniture and added sprays that are the culprits. Look down at your feet gripping the soft, fluffy carpet you love so much. Unfortunately, aside from their comfort and stylish looks, carpets can be very harmful to the quality of indoor air. They can be made with dyes and glues that off-gas, trap dirt and dust, and pose a threat to your wellbeing. Look for quality carpets made from sustainable sources and natural fibers like wool or sisal, or recycled materials (such as plastic bottles), and bound with solvent-free adhesives. If you can pass on the wall-to-wall carpeting, opt for a better choice and try an area rug. Here are some socially and environmentally-conscious companies to check out: Elizabeth Eakins, Natures Carpet or Angela Adams. Your best option still, is to recycle your toxic carpet and bare your beautiful hardwood floors, which are hopefully made from sustainable sources (like bamboo) and without any added chemicals.

For an easy and quick way to rid any room in your home of air pollutants, buy some plants. As part of the photosynthetic process, the green machines not only 'inhale' carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air, but they can also absorb benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. The plants literally take the toxins into the soil and render them harmless. Cheers to clean air in your green nest!