Is the air in your home something you take for granted? If you’re like most homeowners, you don’t think much about the quality of the air circulating around you. However, research shows that the air you breathe on a daily basis has a clear impact on your current and future health. It’s time that we start paying more attention.
Importance of Indoor Air Quality
“We tend to think of air pollution as something outside — smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air, especially in summer. But the truth is, the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be more polluted than the air outside,” writes Michael W. Smith, MD.
Air inside the home can be contaminated by any number of substances. This includes lead, fire-retardants, formaldehyde, radon, pet dandruff, and chemicals from household cleaners. Over time, these things can build up in furniture, carpets, walls, and even mattresses and produce air that’s toxic and anything but healthy.
Indoor irritants and allergens can lead to a variety of illnesses and conditions. People with asthma are particularly vulnerable to indoor pollutants and can experience deadly attacks in extreme situations.
4 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality
If you want to keep your family safe and live in a healthy home, then you must focus on the importance of indoor air quality. Here are some helpful tips for how you can improve the quality of the air in your home starting today.
Bring Plants Inside
“Multiple studies have shown that putting live plants in a room improves air quality and can even brighten the moods of the people who live there,” writes Adrienne Erin, an interior design blogger.
Specifically, indoor plants are able to remove pollutants from the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and gases through their leaves and roots. Furthermore, many plants – including aloe vera, Japanese royal ferns, Boston ferns, and peace lilies – are proficient at removing dangerous volatile organic compounds from the air.
Develop Some Pet Policies
Everyone loves having a dog or cat around the house; however, not everyone’s lungs appreciate the fur and dander that they produce. If you’re going to have pets in the home, you need to develop some house rules and policies.
For starters, the best thing you can do is keep pets outdoors during the warm months. This eliminates the problem of fur and dander altogether. If this isn’t possible, then you need to make sure you’re bathing and brushing pets regularly to kill pests and reduce the amount of shedding in the home.
This should be an obvious one, but you should never allow anyone to smoke inside your home…ever. Every time someone takes a drag from a cigarette, the exhaled smoke releases more than 4,000 chemicals into the air. Even one puff can leave your home filled with dangerous carcinogens – which include nicotine, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and formaldehyde.
Maintain Appropriate Humidity Level
By keeping the humidity level inside your home between 30 and 50 percent, you can limit the growth of mold, as well as the presence of dust mites that wreak havoc on your air quality. Many modern thermostats will monitor humidity levels for you, so try to install a solution that gives you real-time updates.
If you have trouble maintaining healthy humidity levels, try using a dehumidifier to control moisture. Other suggestions include regularly emptying air conditioner drip pans, opening bathroom windows when showering, and occasionally checking for water leaks.
Putting it All Together
There’s nothing more important than your family’s health. And while you make conscious decisions each day regarding things like the food you consume and exercise you get, you also need to think about the air you’re breathing. Keep these tips in mind and make sure the air in your home isn’t harming your family’s health.
5 Eco-friendly Appliance Maintenance Tips
Modern day society is becoming ever more conscious about the effects of human consumption on the environment & the planet.
As a collective, more people are considering taking action to positively counteract their environmental footprint. This is accomplished by cutting down on water consumption, recycling and switching from plastic to more sustainable materials. Although most people forget about the additional things that can be done at home to improve your individual eco footprint.
Appliances, for example, can be overlooked when it comes to helping the environment, despite the fact they are items which are found in every household, and if they are not maintained effectively they can be detrimental to the environment. The longer an appliance is used, the less of an impact it has on the environment, so it is essential for you to keep them well maintained.
If you’re considering becoming more eco-conscious, here are 5 handy appliance maintenance tips to help you.
Don’t Forget to Disconnect From Power First
General maintenance of all your appliances start with disconnecting them from power; microwaves, washing machines and ovens all use residual energy when plugged in, so it’s essential to unplug them.
Disconnecting the plugs can help keep them in their best condition, as it ensures no electrical current is running through them whilst they are supposed to be out of use. Additionally, this can help you save on energy bills. By doing this you are minimising your energy footprint.
Here we break down 4 tips to keep the most popular household appliances maintained.
Eco-Friendly Oven Maintenance
Ovens generally require very little maintenance, although it is essential to stay on top of cleaning.
A simple task to make sure you don’t have any issues in the future is to check the oven door has a tight seal. To do this ensure the oven is cold, open the oven door and use your hands to locate the rubber seal. You can now feel for any tears or breaks. If any have occurred simply replace the seal. More oven tips can be read here.
Eco-Friendly Refrigerator Maintenance
When keeping a fridge in good condition, don’t forget about exterior maintenance. Refrigerator coils, although an external fixture, can cause damage when overlooked.
Refrigerator coils can be found either at the front or rear of a fridge (check you user manual if you are unsure of its location). These tend to accumulate various sources of dust and dirt over a substantial time-period, which clog refrigerator coils, causing the refrigerator to have to work twice as hard to stay cool. An easy tip to solve this is to periodically use a vacuum to get rid of any loose dirt.
Eco-Friendly Washing Machine Maintenance
Most people tend to remember the basics tasks for maintaining a washing machine, such as not to overload the machine, not to slam the door and to ensure the washing machine is on a solid and level platform.
In addition, it is necessary to routinely do a maintenance wash for your washing machine. This means running an empty wash on the highest temperature setting and letting it complete a full wash to erase any build up and residue. You should repeat this task at least once a month.
Try to schedule this task around your bulk wash load times to save on water consumption.
This will help keep your washing machine in peak working condition.
Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Maintenance Tips
Dishwasher maintenance can be simple if implemented after every wash cycle.
To keep your best dishwasher hygiene standards, scrape away excess food whilst making sure to keep the filter at the bottom of the cavity empty between cycles. This simple task can be highly effective at preventing food build up from occurring in your dishwasher.
If you need additional tips or tasks you, can reference your manufacturer’s guidebook to check for a full breakdown. You can also head to Service Force’s extensive database of repair and maintenance manuals – including extensive troubleshooting guides for all of the critical appliance maintenance procedures.
In conclusion, you can save both money and energy by keeping your appliances in peak condition. The steps outlined in this guide will help us all preserve the environment and reduce industrial waste from discarded appliances.
Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living
Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.
However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.
They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.
What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??
Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded.
Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.
In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.
Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.
Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.
How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?
Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.
For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.
Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.
Their influence in the UK
The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.
Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.
In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.
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