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7 Ways to Improve the Air Quality of Your Own Home

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shaded room by sgt_fun via flickr

Outdoor pollution is a major concern for environmentalists, but indoor pollution can be even denser, not to mention more noticeable. Our living spaces are tightly enclosed and filled with various things deteriorating the air quality, and we often end up spending more time in these enclosed spaces as well.

Dust, pet dander, and material from cleaners and fragrances can all linger in your internal atmosphere and prevent you from being able to breathe clearly—especially in the elderly and people with asthma.

Improve Your Air Quality

Try these methods to improve the air quality in your home:

1. Vacuum regularly. Dust, dander, and other forms of particulate matter are largely responsible for that dusty, “stale” feeling. These particles are routinely kicked up into the air when agitated, eventually settling back to the ground, only to repeat the cycle over again. Vacuuming is one of the best ways to cut this cycle at the source, eliminating the particulate matter and preventing it from launching into the air. You should be vacuuming at least once a week, potentially more if there are a lot of people in your home or if you own pets.

2. Sweep and mop. Sweeping and mopping perform mostly the same function as vacuuming, but for hard floors rather than carpeted surfaces and rugs. Hard floors don’t trap particles the way that carpets do, so they’re often more neglected, but it’s important to clean your floors once or more every week to maintain the quality of your air.

3. Use dehumidifiers. You may not think of dehumidifiers as great ways to purify your air, but you’d be surprised what an impact they can have. Dehumidifiers function by drawing moisture out of the air, which can also help eliminate pollen and other particulate matter from the air (as long as you change or clean your filter regularly). Furthermore, a dryer atmosphere helps to mitigate the development and propagation of things like mold and dust mites, which can further influence the quality of your air.

4. Switch to all-natural cleaning products. We live in an astounding modern era with tons of products that improve our quality of life. Companies have developed powerful household cleaners that keep our floors, walls, and items clean, beautiful, and sterile—but these cleaning products also carry questionable side effects. Aerosol cans and chemical cleaners, for example, often pollute our indoor atmospheres, making the air denser and harder to breathe. Instead, opt for more all-natural cleaning products, such as ones based on lemon, pine, or vinegar. You’ll notice a difference almost immediately.

5. Ionize the air. Some products, like air ionizers, function by “ionizing” oxygen molecules in the air, giving them a negative charge. This discrepancy in charges attracts airborne particles, functionally purifying the air. Other, more natural products, like Himalayan salt lamps are designed to function similarly—they use electricity and natural salt to ionize the air.

6. Keep your windows open. Sometimes, the easiest solutions are the ones that are most effective. If the air in your home feels stuffier and denser than the air outside, simply open the windows. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but opening your windows even temporarily can help you release the trapped particles within your home.

7. Get some filtering house plants. Most plants function as types of filters in their own right, drawing in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in a process that reverses what we engage in during normal breathing patterns. There are actually certain types of houseplants that can remove specific pollutants from the air in your home. For example, garden mums can remove ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from the air. Spider plants, peace lilies, bamboo palm, and aloe vera are just a few other types of plants purported to improve air quality.

Make the Most of Your Work

Each of these strategies can, individually, make a marginal improvement in the air quality of your home. However, the change may be so gradual and so subtle that you barely notice. If you want to see the greatest possible impact, you’ll use these strategies together. Any two of these strategies, working together, will instantly be better than any one alone, and since most of them are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement, it won’t require much additional investment.

Make the most of your efforts, and reap the rewards in your everyday breathing.

 

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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