As people become more concerned about the impact that climate change is having on the entire world, they realize that we all have a responsibility to slow this process. If you are thinking about the ways that your lifestyle has an impact on the environment, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, thanks to greater awareness about the impact of climate change, new home buyers and current homeowners can find architects, designers, builders, and contractors who are interested in using their research as an alternative to traditional design and construction methods.
According to an article that was published in the Boston Globe Magazine last year, not including sleeping time, people spend at lease of 90 percent of their waking hours indoors. That article cited EPA findings that point to the seriousness of indoor air pollution. They go on to say that indoor air quality can be anywhere between two and five times as polluted as the air we breathe outside. This data points to the importance of proper ventilation.
Kitchen stoves and cooktops should always have a vent hood that sucks vapors, moisture and other pollutants out through an exhaust fan in the hood.
Think about the materials from which your kitchen components, built-in furniture, and flooring are made. Cabinets, shelving, and especially laminate flooring contain significant amounts of urea formaldehyde, a chemical that produce toxic gasses that are known to be health hazards.
The Sunday night television news magazine, 60 Minutes, recently aired a program in which they shared the results of investigations into the laminated flooring that Lumber Liquidators imports from China for sale in the United States.
The laminate was saturated with very high formaldehyde levels, and the chemical is a dangerous carcinogen that contributes to respiratory problems. It has also been linked to cancer. Formaldehyde is just one of many VOCs that are well-known environmental and health hazards.
Carpeting is another furnishing that is loaded with formaldehyde and benzene. Many carpet manufacturers treat carpets with chemical stain, moisture and insect repellents. Worse than that, people track toxic chemicals from grass into their homes, if they wear their shoes when walking on carpeting.
When carpet installers put foam padding on the floor to soften the feel of the carpet underfoot, they are using a product that is made of polyurethane. Polyurethane is the byproduct of polymers that are extracted from petroleum.
If you are working with a builder, and the builder isn’t willing to look to other sources for environmentally friendly carpeting options, there is something you can do to prevent chemical-laden carpeting from releasing toxic gas into your home.
American Formulating and Manufacturing (AFM Safecoat) makes SafeChoice® Carpet Seal. This product coats your carpeting with a protective barrier that traps toxins so they can’t release gasses that pollute your home. One treatment will last for either a year or through five carpet cleaning treatments. If you have your carpet cleaned more than five times in a year, just reapply the treatment.
Another option is to choose carpet made from natural fibers. Natural material typically used for making carpeting or area rugs includes:
Carpeting that is made from recycled synthetic fibers isn’t entirely free of chemicals because backing and adhesives still some (but far less) toxins. Look for carpets or rugs that have a built-in light backing.
The built-in backing may eliminate the need for padding. If padding is necessary, look for sources that make their pads out of recycled materials. Another option is to look for recycled cotton filling. Some companies refer to it as “rag padding.”
If you are concerned about the impact of deforestation on the environment, look for hardwood flooring that has the Forest Stewardship Council seal. That means that trees bearing that label are grown in FSC-certified forests. They are produced under sustainable conditions.
Be different! Cork floors are becoming popular. Instead of chopping down an entire tree, the cork that is transformed into flooring material comes from the cork oak tree. The bark is as renewable as bamboo, and it regenerates itself within three years.
There are many outstanding reasons to consider cork flooring as an option. If you want to be more energy conscious about heating and cooling your home, the cork has thermal insulating properties. It is the best flooring to use in areas where you need acoustic insulation.
With cork floors, you'll never have to worry about insect infestations. They're very dust resistant, too. Cork is a fire resistant material.
Bamboo is one of the coolest natural materials on earth! If the fact that it's a renewable resource isn't enough, it resists water and mildew, and it withstands abuse from active kids and adults. Beyond the benefits, we just mentioned bamboo is harder than maple or northern red oak. Bamboo floors are meant to last.
If you want a softer, more time-worn look that is still an eco-friendly option for flooring, look at reclaimed wood. It typically comes from old buildings, barns or even railroad cars that are being torn down and it already has that great patina of wear that creates a very warm, inviting feeling.
You can have a warm, comfortable, functional and beautiful home if you know about products that are Eco-friendly and how to avoid products that are harmful to the environment and worse for your home.