If you're like me, more than once you've thought about giving up your current living conditions to move into a house built completely green and nontoxic (from the foundation to the floors). Of course in the real world, it simply isn't that easy. or affordable. But what is possible, and simpler than you may think, is to work with what you have. A few fast upgrades will deliver big results when it comes to being eco-friendly. It just takes a little research and a little planning. You can tackle them all at once, or just choose to do one at a time. Either way, it's an easy way to go green and still have time to bake that loaf of organic 12-grain bread.
Synthetic carpet fibers and other flooring are a hotbed of toxic ingredients. You (and your family) could be stepping on and breathing in carcinogens such as formaldehyde, petroleum, benzene and other chemicals used to make and treat the flooring. Luckily there are green options available. Companies such as Earth Weave take the worry out of walking by offering completely nontoxic, 100% biodegradable carpeting. If you consider yourself the creative type, and you want fashion-forward flooring, look no further than Flor. The modular carpet tiles can be mixed and matched to create intricate designs and patterns. Plus many of the designs are made from recycled resources and are manufactured in an energy efficient manner.When it comes to hardwood flooring, be aware that even something as natural sounding as bamboo may still contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds). So it's important to do your research. Some options include EcoTimber, a leader in environmentally friendly flooring. Here you'll find everything from maple and pine to Brazilian teak and bamboo-all certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for being a genuine eco-friendly product.
The paint on your walls may be pretty to look at, but most release VOCs into the air. This is one of the reasons that it's just as polluted inside your house as outside! These toxins may cause health problems if breathed in over a long span of time. Plus they aggravate current problems such as allergies. Luckily, some of the big-name paint manufactures are catching on by offering VOC-free paint. Many Home Depot stores offer low or no VOC paint options from brands like Gliddon. Another option is BioShield, which offers green paint, primers and floor finishes.
Now that you've trained your whole family to take short showers and not leave the water running while brushing their teeth, it's time for the next step. Save water during your essential morning shower with the American Standard FloWise Showerhead. With three shower settings and the capability to save up to 40% on water, it's a must-have. Next comes the toilet. Sure you don't want to 'let it mellow' any more than the next environmentalist. But you still want to save water right? I just upgraded to the stylish Toto AquiaT Dual Flush Toilet, but there are tons of other options available. Check if your local municipality has any rebates for becoming more energy efficient. When we upgraded we got a $60 rebate per toilet.
Now for the fun part! Adding eco-friendly décor can be as inexpensive or grandiose as you desire. Plus it's a great excuse to update your home with a completely new look or color scheme. A simple start is switching to organic bedding, linens and towels. I particularly love Coyuchi, which offers certified fair trade, certified organic bedding and towels in a great assortment of fabrics and sizes (including baby bedding). A couple of years back, I purchased Natura organic bed and crib mattresses, which I've found truly comfortable. One of my favorite places to shop for decorative touches is Ten Thousand Villages. From magazine racks and pillows to picture frames and table lamps, you'll find a huge selection of home goods hand crafted by fair trade artisans from around the world. Many of the products are made from recycled materials.