There are many obvious ways in which we can choose to live more eco-friendly lifestyles. As we recycle, turn off lights when we leave a room, turn off the water when brushing our teeth or carry a reusable water bottle, we are practicing sustainability. In addition to these more talked about green living practices, there are much less obvious ways in which can choose sustainability in our lives. One example of this are the materials we use to build or renovate our homes. There are a wide variety of options we can choose to live in a home that works for our planet instead of against it. Keep reading to find out more about how you can build a more eco-friendly home.
Choosing A Non-Toxic Paint
Choosing an eco-friendly, non-toxic paint for your home can be a fairly easy task, as there are many of these safer paint alternatives on the market today in a variety of different colors. When looking for a new paint for your home, make sure to check the label for ingredients like biocides, fungicides, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs,) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs.) While biocides are included in paints to extend shelf life and fungicides are used to prevent mold, these chemicals can cause an array of health problems for you and your family. If you choose a paint which contains these ingredients, you and your family are at risk of suffering from nausea, eye and respiratory irritation, heart, kidney, and lung damage and even cancer. If the paint you choose for your home includes nonylphenol ethoxylates, you are putting aquatic life at risk and contributing to the build up of these damaging chemicals in the food chain. Additionally, nonylphenol ethoxylates have been known to cause reproductive and developmental issues in humans.
Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Paint Brands
To ensure that you are choosing a paint that will keep your family safe and free of health complications, consider choosing one of the eco-friendly, non-toxic paint brands below.
AFM Safecoat, ECOS Paints and BioShield Paint
Each of these paint companies, AFM Safecoat, ECOS Paints and BioShield Paint, have been manufacturing paint finishes for over thirty years and still maintain some of the highest non-toxic and environmentally friendly standards which extended beyond government regulation or requirements. All three of these companies formulated their non-toxic paints, stains and sealers on the recommendation of doctors and those who are highly sensitive to the harmful chemicals that can be found in most traditional paint formulas. Instead of developing a conventional paint formula which included harmful ingredients such as biocides, fungicides, nonylphenol ethoxylates and volatile organic compounds and then removing these chemicals, these brands ensured that their very first formula was one that would be safe for consumers as well as the environment. There are two methods in which paint companies can make safe, non-toxic and eco-friendly paint formulations and these brands reached this goal using either of these two methods. The first method is creating a synthetic paint formula which contains natural or synthetic pigments and skips the poisonous ingredients including volatile organic compounds, fungicides or biocides. The second method is formulating a paint by using only naturally derived ingredients or raw materials such as citrus peel extracts, essential oils, seed oils, tree resins, inert mineral fillers, tree and bee waxes, lead-free dryers and natural pigments. Whichever method used, the final outcome for these brands is a safe and non-toxic paint formula that will not harm you, your family or the environment.
Healthy Indoor Painting Tips
Tip 1: Schedule Painting Days During Comfortable Weather
This tip may seem irrelevant if you are painting the inside of your home, but when it comes to ventilating your home as you paint, this tip can help to preserve your health. When you schedule your painting days, make sure to do so when it is not raining or uncomfortably cold outside. This will allow you to leave your windows open to air out your space.
Tip 2: Ventilate
Because you are painting during a season, such as spring or fall, that affords more temperate climates, keep your windows open as wide as they will go for about two to three days after painting your home. This will help you to steer clear of any unnecessary exposure to paint vapors and will allow your home’s air quality to return to safer levels.
Tip 3: Use Box Fans
Place window mounted box fans in the windows of the room you are painting. Ensure that these fans will not fall out of the window. This tip is just another precaution you should take to ensure proper ventilation and to avoid inhaling potentially harmful paint fumes.
Tip 4: Let Your Neighbors Know
If you live in an apartment building, let your adjacent neighbors know before you start painting so that they will also know to ventilate their own homes in case the paint fumes carry.
Tip 5: Take Breaks
During the painting process, take recurrent breaks to get some fresh air. This will give your body a break from inhaling the chemicals that are present in paint, even if they are non-toxic. If you begin to experience eye watering, headaches, dizziness, or breathing problems, it is time to take a fresh air break.
Tip 5: Avoid The Area For Two To Three Days
After you have finished painting your home, avoid the immediate area for approximately two to three days if possible. You should also keep your children away from the area as well as individuals who have respiratory issues.
Choosing Non-Toxic Kitchen Cabinet Materials
In addition to choosing non-toxic, eco-friendly paint formulas, you should also choose building materials, such as those for your kitchen cabinets, which are safe for you, your family and the environment. It is important that you choose kitchen cabinet materials that are made of materials such as formaldehyde-free plywood, particleboard, or medium density fiberboard and that do not contain volatile organic compounds. In fact, one of the biggest requirements for your new kitchen cabinets should be that they do not contain formaldehyde, as The Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a probable cancer causing compound in humans. If you are having a hard time determining whether or not the cabinet material contains these harmful compounds, look for the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturing Association logo (KCMA). This logo means that the cabinets have been certified by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturing Association and meet acceptable health and sustainability standards.
Types Of Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Kitchen Cabinet Materials
Type 1: Bamboo Cabinets
Bamboo is a commonly known flooring option, but did you know that this material can also be used to construct your cabinets as well? Bamboo may look like wood, but it is really a grass which shares some of the same characteristics as hardwood. This material is often free from formaldehyde and is considered to be harder and more durable than even some hardwoods. Bamboo is also highly renewable, as it regenerates in less than a decade. As an added bonus, using bamboo in your home is better for indoor air quality than alternative wood types.
Type 2: Lyptus Cabinets
Lyptus is another renewable resource that is engineered from two species of Eucalyptus trees, Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus urophylla. This particular wood will reach maturity in approximately fifteen years, taking about one fourth of the time most hardwood types need to grow. As an added bonus, Lyptus regenerates from the debris of harvested trees. Lyptus has a similar appearance and feel to Red Oak wood and Mahogany wood. This eco-friendly wood type has a number of different color options to choose from, ranging from light pink tones to darker, more earthy colors.
Type 3: Reclaimed or Salvaged Wood Cabinets
It is a common misconception that the terms salvaged and reclaimed have the same meaning. Reclaimed wood is wood that has previously been used in buildings or other structures. Salvaged wood has never been used in any building project and remains in its natural, unaltered state. Although these terms do differ slightly, they are both still fantastic options when looking for an eco-friendly or sustainable wood option for your home’s cabinets. If you are drawn to decor that evokes nostalgia, reclaimed or salvaged wood is a great option for your cabinets. These woods will often add a charming hint of character and history to any space.
Type 4: FSC and ESP Certified Cabinets
If you are not excited by bamboo, Lyptus, reclaimed or salvaged wood cabinets, but you still want to choose an eco-friendly wood for your space, then search for cabinets that have a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal or an Environment Stewardship Program (ESP) seal. These labels tell consumers that the product is environmentally friendly and that they meet air quality, product resource management, environmental stewardship, and other strict environmental standards.
Choosing Non-Toxic, Eco-Friendly Flooring Materials
One of the most important eco-friendly choices you can make in a home renovation or remodel is your flooring materials. Because the floor in your home covers such an expansive area, you really can make a difference by choosing sustainably sourced, eco-friendly materials. Keep reading below to learn about some of possible eco-friendly flooring options for your home.
Types Of Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Flooring Materials
1. Cork Flooring
When you think about sustainable flooring materials, it is unlikely that your mind goes straight to cork. Cork is a fairly new flooring option, but is a great choice for those who care about living in a way that supports planet Earth. This particular material is sustainable because it is not required that trees be cut down in order for it to be harvested. Cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree and has anti-microbial benefits that can help to lessen allergens in your home. This material is also fire resistant, naturally repels insects and is easy to maintain and clean. If you invest in a high quality cork to use on the floors in your home, these floors will last from ten to thirty years.
2. Bamboo Floors
Bamboo is a great flooring option for the same reasons that it is a good material to use for cabinets. However, some of the benefits of laying bamboo on your floors are even more relevant than they are for cabinetry. For example, bamboo is incredibly durable, easy to maintain and easy to install which are all important features to consider when choosing a flooring material. Bamboo flooring also allows for customization, as it is available in many different grains and colors.
3. Glass Tile Floors
Another flooring option that strays from the wood variety, but is also eco-friendly is glass. When we recycle glass bottles, they are sometimes converted into tiles that can be laid on our floors or our shower walls. Glass is beneficial as a flooring option because it does not absorb water or other possible spills, does not promote mildew or mold growth, is easy to maintain and will not stain. This makes recycled glass tiles an especially good choice for bathroom walls and floors. Another benefit of this eco-friendly material is that you can choose from almost any color and arrange your glass tiles in any pattern that suits your personal decorative tastes.
4. Concrete Floors
Concrete floors have traditionally been left for our garages or other outdoor buildings. However, it is now becoming popular to bring this sustainable flooring option into the home. As most homes are built, concrete is placed under carpet or wood flooring as sub flooring. Some homeowners are now stopping there and polishing this concrete for a charming and extremely customizable flooring option. Some of the benefits of using concrete as flooring in your home is that it is very durable, uncomplicated to clean and very rarely will it ever need to be replaced.
If you are renovating your home, we hope that this information inspires you to make eco-friendly choices that will help our environment, while also providing you with a beautiful and lasting home.