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Sustainability

Replace toxic materials in your home with healthier alternatives

Use nature to remove toxins from your home. Research from NASA shows that many plants absorb harmful gases which cleans indoor air. As a rule of thumb, allow one houseplant per 100 square feet of living area. The more vigorous the plant, the more air it can filter. Keep in mind that plants will not do much to alleviate tobacco smoke or dust in the air.

Visit http://www.blankees.com/house/plants/air_cleaners.htm for a list of the top 10 plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon dioxide.

Hand-wash clothes instead of sending them to the drycleaners. Perchloroethylene (perc) is one of the main solvents used in dry cleaning. This chemical has been linked to a variety of health problems such as nervous system disruptions, liver problems, cancer, headaches, nausea and dizziness, and is bad for the environment. Dry cleaners in the U.S. use about 57 million pounds of perc a year, 12 million of which are released into the air. Hand-wash or use your washing machine’s gentle cycle instead.

Keep fabric softeners out of the wastewater stream. Many liquid fabric softeners contain derivatives of ammonium chloride, which is harmful to some aquatic life and triggers allergy and asthma symptoms. Use ¼ - 1 cup of white vinegar instead; your clothes will be soft (don’t worry, it won’t leave a scent behind!) and you will help keep the environment clean.

Don’t send bleach down the drain. Chlorine laundry bleach breaks down into water, oxygen, and table salt. But, when sent down the drain it can also produce organochlorines, which are suspected carcinogens and reproductive, neurological, and immune system toxins. Good alternatives are non-chlorinated bleaches that use hydrogen peroxide, sodium percarbonate, or sodium perborate.

Use zero VOC paint in your home. Many paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the EPA Reference Test Method 24, any paint with VOC's in the range of 5 grams/liter or less can be called "Zero or no VOC". Visit the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality website for more information about VOCs.

Burn soy-based candles. Traditional candles made with paraffin wax release soot into the air when lit. Soy-based candles burn longer and reduce the amount of soot released into the air by 90%.

Keep bug spray out of your home. Bug sprays include pesticides which can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, damage to the central nervous system and kidneys, and increase cancer risks. Tape whole, dried bay leaves to pantry shelves to keep tiny bugs away. Combine rubbing alcohol with an essential oil such as clove, citronella, or peppermint to create your own bug spray.

Keep herbicides and pesticides out of the garden. Squirt weeds with lemon juice or vinegar instead and keep your garden free of toxins.

Avoid mothballs. Mothballs contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which are toxins and make mothballs hazardous waste. Protect clothes in plastic bags instead or try using cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, or whole cloves wrapped in cheesecloth.

Use vegetable-based dish soap. Most dishwashing soaps use petroleum, an unnecessary use of oil. Vegetable-based soaps are a great alternative and are widely available in stores. If every household in America replaced one 28-ounce bottle of petroleum-based dish soap, 82,000 barrels of oil would be saved.