If you are planning on making some green home improvements, consider what you can do to not only add value but also positively affect your health. Many building materials contain toxic chemicals and materials that have been attributed to a variety of health issues and chronic illnesses. Knowing how to avoid toxins and what improvements can be made (no matter how big or small) can contribute to the overall health of you and your family.
From the Floor Up
The smell of new carpet is very distinct. That familiar odor is caused by the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that linger in the air. VOCs are typically are found in liquid form that then evaporate and contaminate the air. Not all VOCs are toxic; however many used in the process of manufacturing and installing carpet are. The Healthy Building Network has identified 44 toxic substances frequently used in the fiber, backing, adhesive, and pads of carpet.
To reduce the exposure of chemicals in your home, consider installing hardwood or bamboo flooring. Bamboo flooring can be installed as a “floating” floor, where the wood fits together like a jigsaw puzzle and does not require using glue or adhesive. Ditching the carpet will not only improve your air quality but also reduce your exposure to unnecessary chemicals and toxins.
Sunlight Versus Lighting
There are simple changes to the lighting in your home that you can make without having to call in a contractor. Changing your light bulbs in your house from the mercury- and gas-filled incandescent or fluorescent bulbs to LED can change more than your monthly electricity bill. LED light bulbs come in a spectrum of color temperatures to choose from and can be dimmed if needed. If you do not have any issues with the color of your current light, stick with a 2,700 Kelvin LED bulb — it will closely resemble an incandescent bulb.
However, one of the joys of dimming LED bulbs is the ability to reduce the amount of blue light exposure that you have when you are nearing bedtime. Reducing the amount of blue light before bed has shown to improve sleeping habits.
There are now LED lights that have been designed to closely resemble the color spectrum of the sun; however, nothing can beat the real thing. If you are looking to make bigger changes in your remodel, consider adding more natural light options to your home. Sunlight offers your body vitamin D, which has an effect on your mood and immune system. By installing skylights or additional windows into your home, you can soak up the sun all year round.
More than ever before in recorded history, humans have become increasingly sedentary. We now have to seek out ways to remove ourselves from our seats and get more steps in throughout our days. When making changes to your home, be on the lookout for how you might be able to incorporate more movement into your day. If you are adding a second floor to your home, evaluate if you can add more stairs into your remodel.
If landscaping is on your to-do list, set aside some space for an outdoor garden. Managing a garden, as well as keeping your garden shed organized, will keep you active and moving throughout the growing season. Gardening reduces the risk of heart disease by fulfilling the amount of moderate exercise that is needed to contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, contact with some of the bacteria in the soil has similar effects as antidepressant drugs and can aid in elevating your mood. Gardening entails so many critical functions such as strength, dexterity, problem solving, and sensory awareness, that its benefits are easy to see.
On a smaller scale, remove all the smaller trash cans throughout your house, even the ones in the bathroom. Centralizing one trash receptacle location will require you to travel from wherever you are to that one spot. Not only will you get more steps in throughout your day, but you are also more likely to separate your recycling from your waste — which doesn’t happen as often with smaller trash cans.
Your home is your sanctuary and should not cause you harm. Unfortunately, conventional building techniques use harmful chemicals and products in their design. Make informed decisions to improve the health of your home and yourself by making some updates and improvements today.