I am so excited to be participating in Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) this week.
Each week, Reduce Footprints challenges us to try a new task … or “amp up” something we’re
By participating we raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop eco-friendly skills which
will ultimately improve our lives and protect our planet.
Urban Naturale is participating in these challenges along with many others in an effort to change
the world one action at a time and live a lot greener in the process.
Clearly, there’s power in numbers and collective action.
Participating in these challenges together gives us power … the power to Change The World!
This Week’s Challenge: Air Pollution
Did you know that The World Health Organization cites air pollution as the world’s single biggest
environmental health risk.
In 2012 alone, nearly one in eight deaths (worldwide) were linked to air pollution.
Potentially fatal diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, lung diseases, and cancer have been linked
to air pollution.
Get the picture?
This week’s challenge is to choose meaningful actions designed to reduce air pollution.
I have chosen to focus on several ways to reduce indoor air pollution and improve indoor air quality.
Reducing Indoor Air Pollution & Improving Air Quality
Depending on your location, indoor air can be just as polluted – if not more so – than outside air.
The problem is the chemical nature of many building materials, to the point that “sick building
syndrome” is a recognized disorder.
Improving the air quality in your home is a good idea, even if you and your family do not have
allergies or obvious symptoms of chemical exposure.
Here are some tips for making sure the air in your home is clean.
#1. Go to the Source
Educate yourself as to the possible pollutants in your home, and then take steps to remove them.
For example, take a good “green” look at your carpets, paints, wallpaper glue, furnishings and
#2. Replace Your Carpet
Your carpet is probably made from synthetic fibers and held in place with chemical adhesives.
It is likely that your carpet is coated with some kind of chemical stain guard as well.
Also, carpets are notorious harbingers of dust, animal hair and dander, and other household allergens.
If possible, take up your synthetic carpet and discover the hardwood beneath, or put down natural rugs
or eco friendly flooring if none exists.
#3. Get Rid of Wallpaper Glue
Wallpaper glue can cause chemical sensitivity in some individuals.
Using eco-friendly strippers or hot steam, remove the wallpaper and paint with eco-friendly paint
devoid of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and synthetic pigments.
#4. Replace Chemical Cleaners
Get rid of chemical-based cleaners which are made from substances that can cause respiratory
and skin problems.
Some of these toxic cleaners are potentially fatal if swallowed.
Who needs these poisons around the home?
Use eco-friendly cleaners that you make yourself (baking soda and white vinegar can
meet most cleaning needs), or purchase green cleaners from stores.
#5. Open Your Windows
That said, if you live in an area where the outside air is not a problem, open those windows.
To get the best ventilation, open windows across from each other.
This cross-ventilation effect works both within one room and between rooms.
#6. Use Air Purifiers
Lately, air purifiers have been competing with open windows for air quality control.
Now, however, there is a compromise: window air purifiers.
If you live in an area where outdoor pollution is significant, or if you suffer from hay fever or
pollen allergies, this may be the answer for you.
Window air purifiers fit into an open window like an exhaust fan or screen.
Outside air comes through them, but it passes through a filter first, giving you the best of
both worlds: fresh air from outside and clean air from a purifier.
#7. Clean Your Filters
Make sure the filters in your heating and cooling system are changed regularly.
Purchase filters that are made to filter out as many chemicals and allergens as possible.
#8. Speaking of Green…
Festoon your home with green, indoor plants.
Plants are nature’s air purifiers, and can be employed in conjunction with open windows.
In fact, indoor plants thrive on fresh, outside air. And when you close your windows,
the plants work all the time to exchange air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, and
formaldehyde for healthy oxygen.
Plant varieties to look for include English ivy, spider plant, peace lily, and various palms.
9. Green Your Shower Curtains
Have you noticed a certain smell that fills your bathroom when you unwrap a conventional
shower curtain from its package.
Most of us just take that as part of the shower curtain experience, but recent information has
come out regarding the toxic nature of this smell.
It seems that vinyl shower curtains contain some nasty chemicals that release their
vapors into the air: PVC.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is used in the making of soft vinyl-like shower curtains.
PVC contains dioxin, phthalates, and chlorine.
Dioxin is a carcinogen and is given off when PVC burns or gets hot (how showers, anyone?).
It is particularly implicated in breast cancer.
The phthalates in PVC include DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate) and BBzP (benzyl butyl phthalate),
and they are used to keep the plastic soft when it’s made.
Phthalates are implicated in autism, allergies, and reproductive problems (they mimic human
And finally, the chlorine used to make PVC emits toxic vapors.
So what is a shower-lover to do?
Do your homework and replace your vinyl shower curtains with eco-friendly, non-toxic
shower curtains made from hemp, bamboo, linen, organic cotton or make your own
non-toxic shower curtains.
Now that’s really something to “sing in the shower” about!
Of course , we know that there are many more items in our homes that pollute the environment
and contribute to poor indoor air quality.
I have simply focused on several key changes that make a big difference in indoor air quality.
Now, take a deep breath and enjoy the clean air!
What are you doing to reduce air pollution and to improve the indoor air
quality in your home?
Share your tips, experiences and suggestions with us.