Cleaning Products – Allergies & Asthma

When did cleaner become better? Have we forgotten great things can come from a little uncleanliness like Penicillin or blue cheese? Walk into a grocery store and the aisles are filled with hundreds of candy colored cleanings products. Turn on the news and listen to a breaking story about the secret mold growing on your child’s school desk. Daytime talk shows warn about the dangerous bacteria festering on your purse, and commercials for cleaning products are endless. It’s easy to see why we are all so scared of a little dirt.

Parents and individuals alike are scared into disinfecting, deodorizing, and decontaminating every inch of their homes, but there can always be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to cleaning. Research shows that children are more likely to develop asthma when they grow up in an environment devoid of viruses and bacteria. The immune system needs to be faced with viruses and bacteria at an early age so it develop and strengthen itself.

The issues do not end there. Cleaning products not only make children more susceptible to asthma, but the ingredients in everyday cleaning products trigger allergies.

Common ingredients and cleaning practices that can lead to heightened allergies:

-       Using anything with strong odors like ammonia

-       Synthetic fragrances or musk

-       Air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) which may lead to asthma in children

-       Regular use of aerosol sprays

-       Dish detergents and soaps can lead to redness, heat, and swelling of skin (a condition known as ‘contact dermatitis’)

-       Lighting citronella candles can trigger asthma

-       Oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide which is highly toxic and known to irritate airways

Tips for cleaning to minimize allergies and asthma:

-       Clean in a ventilated area, open a window

-       Wash clothes and bedding regularly with hot water

-       Use cleaning products with minimal odors

-       Consider rubber and spider plants in your home, they are known to be natural odor absorbers

Cleaning with products that are made with natural ingredients is better for you and better for the earth. You can make effective cleaning products with items that are likely already in your kitchen including lemon, vinegar, baking soda, salt, water, and vegetable oil. You can even prevent mothballs with natural and fragrant herbs like rosemary or mint.

Next time you clean remember that if the cleaning agent has a strong odor (i.e. bleach and ammonia), it is likely triggering allergies while disinfecting. If you or a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, chose a natural cleaner that does not contain VOC’s or artificial fragrances. Finally you can always choose to make the cleaning product yourself. When you know the ingredients of what you’re cleaning with, you know you are cleaning safely.

How To Make The Most of Earth Day

Have you been brainstorming ways to “go green” this Earth Day?  Maybe you’re looking for ideas to help you stay green throughout the month of April, the Spring season…or all year long!  If you want to do your part to clean up and protect the environment, but aren’t exactly sure how to start, you’re in the right place!
Earth Day is the perfect time to take a few small steps toward making positive and lasting improvements in your environmentally-friendly lifestyle!  April 22, 2011 will be the the 41st anniversary of Earth Day. Why not make this the year you go green?
In addition to turning off the lights as you leave the room and minimizing water use when you are washing dishes or brushing your teeth (oldies, but goodies!), here are a few “new” ideas for you this Earth Day:
Paying your bills online takes a huge burden off of our environment. If each household in the United States switched to paperless billing, 18 million trees would be saved every year.
Cutting back on the use of plastic bags is an easy task to accomplish.  Taking reusable bags to the store is simple and even trendy!  Reusable bags are now available in various colors and patterns, and many stores now have them available as an alternative to plastic or paper.
Your pets want to reduce their carbon footprint too!  Using biodegradable plastic bags for pet waste is another very simple switch you can make that will have a positive impact on the environment.
Minimizing personal vehicle use and using public transportation just a few times a week are both great ways to help our environment.  Walking, riding bikes, or taking the bus will help you to save on the cost of fuel and will reduce overall air pollution.  If you leave your car at home for two days of the week, you can cut back on greenhouse gas emissions by 1,600 pounds on average, per year.
Involve the whole family in your Earth Day activities and your “going green” resolutions!  Educating the next generation about environmental issues is a great way to spend some quality time with your kids.  Creating an “Earth Day, Every Day” activity chart is a great way to get kids interested in helping, and it will keep you on track, too.  Charting your family’s progress (keeping track of buying “green” products, riding bikes in place of driving, etc.) with a piece of poster-board, markers, and stickers will be motivating and rewarding for everyone. Making these quick, simple changes will be a great first step on your “green” pathway.
Make Earth Day 2011 YOUR time to go green!
Consulted Sites:

10 More Ways to Recycle

Every day people waste electricity, water, food and household items – here are 10 ideas, as sort of a part 2 on one of our previous blog posts sharing ways to be eco-friendly in your everyday life:

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1. Keep electronics out of the trash - have old TV’s, home appliances and cell phones picked up or donate them for parts. For example, www.iphonesintocash.com, will give you cash for your old iPhone, (even for a broken iPhone), so why not give it to them instead of throwing it in the garbage?

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2. Pack your lunch with reusable containers and a reusable lunch bag instead of the typical brown paper sack and plastic sandwich bags – this will eliminate waste and save you money each month.

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3. Embrace newer, greener ideas - Rubbermaid has recently been advertising a new mop – Reveal Spray Mop. Save money and the environment with a micro fiber pad that is washing machine safe and a refillable spray bottle that allows you to use your favorite Carribean Mist cleaning product. No more buying ‘one time use’ mop pads and being forced to purchase a specific brand of cleaning product.

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4. Check out area garage sales and Second Hand stores for gently used items, or visit www.ebay.com and www.craigslist.org before purchasing new items – you’d be surprised what you can find!

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5. Donate your gently used items to Thrift Stores instead of throwing them in the garbage. Someone else will be happy you took the time to donate that old lamp, or sweater you haven’t worn in years. Looking for local thrift shops in your area, visit www.thethriftshopper.com.

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6. Collect rainwater, and use it to water your houseplants and garden.  Green architects are finding creative ways to incorporate rainwater harvesting into their designs, especially in locales that have drought issues.  Saving water is good for everyone.

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7. Switch to cloth diapers – or at least combine the cloth diaper usage with disposables.  Every little bit helps, and cloth diapers have come a long way.  www.zbeardiapers.com has eco-friendly products for green babies and their moms.

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8. Save plastic Chinese delivery boxes, butter and Cool Whip containers instead of throwing them in the recycling right away. Wash them and use them for every day leftovers, or leftovers for your guests to take home with them – this way you won’t have to worry about getting your containers back.

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9. Make only one trip for weekly errands instead of several, and travel the speed limit.  Walk or bike if and when possible.  There are all types of racks and bags that can be affixed to a bicycle for traveling with groceries, children, and pets.

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10. Put a stop to unsolicited mail - sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers.  The Federal Trade Commission has a great resource for information on opting out of snail mail, email and telemarketing: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt063.shtm

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Every day can be Earth Day if we all put a little thought and creativity into it! Enjoy my 10 new tips, and feel free to share any of your regular recycling tips with us!

Green Plants for the Office

Adding plants to your office environment will help to greatly improve the quality of the air, reduce the amount of air pollutants and reduce stress levels. Plants provide points of focal interest and can be great conversation pieces as well. Browse the following list to see which plants are best for your particular office environment, and continue making your office green!

The 11 Best Plants for Your Green Office

English Ivy—This plant is easy to care for and has moderate watering needs. Once the top layer of soil is dry, it is time to water the plant. English Ivy is one of the best plants for absorbing air pollutants. Thriving best in consistent temperatures, this plant is great for indoor environments.

Boston Fern—Like the other plants listed here, Boston Ferns really work to improve air quality of indoor environments. This plant requires indirect sunlight, so an office with a window would be the best place for a Boston Fern. As it requires moderate to heavy watering, keep the soil of the plant moist at all times except for during the winter months when the plant will require less watering. Misting the plant throughout the week will help maintain its preferred humidity level, and will help the fern thrive.

Pothos—This plant can thrive in varying indoor environments and does well with different amounts of light. Pothos plants are easy to maintain and are characterized by heart-shaped leaves with blotchy white markings. This plant is great for an office with a window, or a cubicle with minimal natural light.

Snake Plant—Snake plants produce fairly tall, sword-like leaves and are a great choice for someone without a green thumb. This plant thrives in nearly any light condition and prefers to be thoroughly watered once every 7-10 days. Snake plants provide an excellent focal interest point and definitely make a statement in the office.

Dracaena (Corn Plant)—Is one of the best indoor plants for improving air quality and absorbing pollutants. This plant is extremely easy to care for and only needs to be watered once every 7-10 days. This plant thrives in low light, so if you are without natural light in your office environment, this plant is the one for you!

Rubber Plant—Characterized by thick, shiny, oval-shaped leaves, this plant can grow beautifully with minimal light. Rubber plants would also do well if placed 5-7 feet from a window if natural light is readily available. This plant needs to be thoroughly watered 1-2 times a week.

Peace Lily—Direct sunlight can damage the leaves of a Peace Lily, so an office with low natural light levels is a great environment for this plant. If you do have access to a natural light source, placing the plant 5-7 feet from a window is fine too. Peace Lily’s require heavy watering, but it is important to allow the soil to dry between waterings. Misting the plant will help it thrive, as it prefers high humidity. Peace Lily’s are beautiful plants that do well to improve air quality.

Cactus—This plant is a great conversation piece and does not require constant care. With proper watering based upon which species you choose, a cactus can be a unique addition to any office.

African Violet—This is a beautiful flowering plant that also requires indirect sunlight. Providing an African Violet with 8 hours of sunlight a day will yield the best results. This plant thrives with semi-moist soil conditions, so avoid thoroughly soaking the soil. It is also best to avoid getting water on the foliage, as this will create white spots on the leaves.

Bromeliad—Like a few other plants listed here, Bromeliads prefer warm temperatures meaning they can thrive indoors. This plant is a great choice if you are looking for something to fill window space. As opposed to watering this plant at the base, you would instead want to water the plant by filling the center of the stalk with warm water. This plant would make a beautiful addition to any space with an east or west-facing window.

Zebra Plant—This plant can thrive in bright, indirect sunlight and only needs to be watered once a week. The Zebra Plant produces beautiful foliage and flowers and does best when pruned so that new flowers can fully bloom. Misting the plant a couple of times a week will help maintain its preferred humidity level. With unique, bright yellow flowers this plant makes a great addition to any office.

If you have decided on more than one favorite indoor plant and want to add one to your home environment, be mindful of those that are toxic. Always monitor children and pets near any indoor plant, as some of them are poisonous when ingested. Incorporating plants into your office or home will further your commitment to green living, will add earth-friendly health benefits and will provide you with an aesthetically pleasant environment in general.

www.gardeningknowhow.com
www.houseplants-care.blogspot.com

Day 7 – Earth Week Tip: Cleaning Products.

Switch to vegetable-based cleaning products. Did you know if every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 28-ounce petroleum-based dish washing liquid with a vegetable-based product, we could save 82,000 barrels of oil a year? This is enough oil to drive a car over 86 million miles! Vegetable-based cleaning products are becoming readily available in supermarkets across the country, particularly those that specialize in natural foods.
My favorite: Carribean Mist cleaning products! Safe for you and your environment.

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Day 7 – Earth Week Tip: Cleaning Products

Day 6 – Earth Week Tip: Paper Reduction

Day 5 – Earth Week Tip: Plant a Garden

Day 4 – Earth Week Tip: No More Junk Mail

Day 3 – Earth Week Tip: Make do without Paper Towels

Day 2 – Earth Week Tip: Save Water

Day 1 – Earth Week Tip: Bring your own recyclable bag to the grocery store

40th Anniversary of Earth Day!

Day 6 – Earth Week Tip: Paper Reduction.

Be thrifty with paper. Did you know every year Americans throw away enough office and writing paper to build a wall 12 feet high, stretching from Los Angeles to New York City? Don’t print out each memo or email you receive. Read and delete the ones you don’t need to save and create a file for ones you might need later.
My favorite
: Check out books from the library instead of buying them!

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Day 7 – Earth Week Tip: Cleaning Products

Day 6 – Earth Week Tip: Paper Reduction

Day 5 – Earth Week Tip: Plant a Garden

Day 4 – Earth Week Tip: No More Junk Mail

Day 3 – Earth Week Tip: Make do without Paper Towels

Day 2 – Earth Week Tip: Save Water

Day 1 – Earth Week Tip: Bring your own recyclable bag to the grocery store

40th Anniversary of Earth Day!

Day 5 – Earth Week Tip: Plant a Garden

Gardening can be a very rewarding activity, connecting you with the outdoors, providing an opportunity for exercise and an activity for the kids to be involved in. The results: beauty and, depending on what you grow, herbs and vegetables to eat. But did you know a garden can also provide a safe home for wildlife? The basic elements are: plants that create food for the animals (such as nectar and berries for butterflies and birds) 
My favorite
: planting flowers that attract hummingbirds!

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Day 7 – Earth Week Tip: Cleaning Products

Day 6 – Earth Week Tip: Paper Reduction

Day 5 – Earth Week Tip: Plant a Garden

Day 4 – Earth Week Tip: No More Junk Mail

Day 3 – Earth Week Tip: Make do without Paper Towels

Day 2 – Earth Week Tip: Save Water

Day 1 – Earth Week Tip: Bring your own recyclable bag to the grocery store

40th Anniversary of Earth Day!

Day 4 – Earth Week Tip: No More Junk Mail!

Now is the perfect time to cut down on junk mail. Did you know that each year millions of trees and billions of gallons of water are used to create junk mail, most of which never gets recycled? There are several things you can do to reduce how much junk mail you receive.

My favorite: Get off of national mailing lists by sending your name, address, and signature to: Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

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Day 7 – Earth Week Tip: Cleaning Products

Day 6 – Earth Week Tip: Paper Reduction

Day 5 – Earth Week Tip: Plant a Garden

Day 4 – Earth Week Tip: No More Junk Mail

Day 3 – Earth Week Tip: Make do without Paper Towels

Day 2 – Earth Week Tip: Save Water

Day 1 – Earth Week Tip: Bring your own recyclable bag to the grocery store

40th Anniversary of Earth Day!

Day 3 – Earth Week Tip: Make do without Paper Towels.

dish towels, earth week, save trees, eco-friendlyUse dish towels instead. Did you know if every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of 180-sheet virgin-fiber paper towels with 100-percent recycled paper towels, we could save: 1.4 million trees, 3.7 million cubic feet of landfill space, and 526 million gallons of water, and prevent 89,400 pounds of pollution?

My favorite: When you are done with cloth diapers or burp clothes, reuse them for household cleaning. They are relatively low on dust and leave no streaks on glass!

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Day 7 – Earth Week Tip: Cleaning Products

Day 6 – Earth Week Tip: Paper Reduction

Day 5 – Earth Week Tip: Plant a Garden

Day 4 – Earth Week Tip: No More Junk Mail

Day 3 – Earth Week Tip: Make do without Paper Towels

Day 2 – Earth Week Tip: Save Water

Day 1 – Earth Week Tip: Bring your own recyclable bag to the grocery store

40th Anniversary of Earth Day!

Day 2 – Earth Week Tip: Save water.

water faucet, water, turn off water, preserve water, save waterTurn the water off while brushing your teeth, washing your hands, and washing dishes. Take shorter showers (you will save water and energy to heat it, reducing your carbon dioxide emissions). Do only full loads of laundry, re-use bath towels a few times before you wash.  Did you know each time your toilet is flushed, it uses five to seven gallons of water?  Let’s all pay extra attention today to how much water we’re actually using, and make an effort to save some for a later date.

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Day 7 – Earth Week Tip: Cleaning Products

Day 6 – Earth Week Tip: Paper Reduction

Day 5 – Earth Week Tip: Plant a Garden

Day 4 – Earth Week Tip: No More Junk Mail

Day 3 – Earth Week Tip: Make do without Paper Towels

Day 2 – Earth Week Tip: Save Water

Day 1 – Earth Week Tip: Bring your own recyclable bag to the grocery store

40th Anniversary of Earth Day!