The Green Queen Corner

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Organic Air Purifiers – Cheap and Natural Filters that Improve Indoor Air Quality February 26, 2007

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Tip! Bananas: Non-organic bananas from Central and South America are produced using benomyl (linked to birth defects) and chloropyrifos (neurotoxin).

NATURAL AIR FILTERS

Plants are the original organic air purifiers! In our constant societal quest for newer, faster, and better technologies we seem to often overlook time-tested and common sense solutions to some of our basic needs. In our fast paced society we are more likely to shell out hundreds of dollars on a quick fix to our problems that to step back and examine each situation in a broader context.

The equatorial rainforests of our planet are the living and organic air filtration systems for our Earth’s atmosphere. Without this delicate biological air purification system our global ecological systems would slowly deteriorate over time. You can harness the same natural benefits of biological air filtration on a much smaller scale by introducing plants into your indoor living space.

 

INDOOR AIR POLLUTION RISKS

With the rise in the amount of time most people now spend within indoor air environments it has become even more important to understand the threats and risks of prolonged exposure to indoor air pollution. Our indoor environments are littered with chemicals, compounds, and poisons that are continuously breaking down at a chemical level and “off-gassing” their irritants and by-products into the air we breathe.

Examples of common indoor pollutants include cigarette smoke, building materials, floor coverings, paints, adhesives and other sources. The situation becomes worse in office buildings with lots of other sources of pollutants. Tools such as printers, fax machines, photocopiers, paper and pressboard furniture emit different types of harmful contaminants. Those include ammonia, benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, etc. Regular exposure these contaminants leads to different types of disorders such as breathing problems, headaches, burning eyes and throat, lethargy and other allergy-like symptoms.

Tip! Join a food cooperative. A food co-op is kind of a buyers club for affordable, fresh, local organic and natural products.

PLANTS CAN HELP

The most natural way to fight indoor air pollution is to use plants. Besides brightening up a room, they have real benefits in improving the indoor air quality. They absorb various toxic emissions from the synthetic materials such as carpeting, paint and furniture. As a result, we can have cleaner and more pure air to breathe inside our homes or offices. NASA scientists have found out that indoor plants can extract volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the air. They contain toxic vapors such as ammonia, benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, etc. Plants break down the chemicals after absorbing them into their leaves. They absorb the chemicals through stomata, the microscopic openings in the leaves. Then the toxins reach the root zone where the root microbes of the plants biodegrade the pollutants. The plants use these biodegraded pollutants as food.

Tip! Strawberries: 500 pounds of pesticide an acre is sprayed on non-organic strawberries.

However, you need to remember that some houseplants can be poisonous to your health. Therefore, you need to be very careful while choosing plants for your home or office. Read more on which plants are good organic air purifiers.

AIR FILTRATION SYSTEMS CAN SUPPLEMENT PLANTS

Depending on the amount of indoor air space you have the number of plants required to filter your air may be impractical and take up too much of your living space. This is where it may make sense to research and find a decent air purification system that suits your indoor environment and help your plants with some of the air filtration duties. There are many types, styles and models to choose from so we encourage you to do your research and compare them carefully.

Tip! Failing to plan – Planning is crucial to a successful organic veggie garden. You need to consider the aspect of your plot/s.

About the Author

S.A. Smith is a freelance writer, contributor, and editor of the Air Purifiers Review information portal.

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Making Living Green, Organic, Non-toxic Easier for Mom, 14 Tips January 21, 2007

Many people ask me how to start going organic and live a healthy organic lifestyle? There are so many products, so much information they don’t know where to start. Other questions I get are: Do I need to buy everything organic, food, cleaning products, clothes, personal care and skin care products? Are you vegan? Do I have to throw everything away and start from scratch? Where do I start? It gets expensive. What does it mean by going organic?

Lets start with my definition of going organic and living an organic lifestyle. To me going organic is more than the food I eat. It is about making healthy choices with the food I eat, the products I use in my home, on my skin and body, and in my garden. To me organic, green, non-toxic living is about eliminating toxins from our homes and life. It is about the environment and ensuring that it is clean and healthy because last time I checked we are all earthlings which means we are part of the environment. If the environment is unhealthy then so are the earthlings. Finally, going organic, non-toxic and green is treading lightly on the earth so that I leave it better than I found it for future generations.

Here are some simple steps to help you transform your home from conventional, toxic to organic, non-toxic, safe, green and healthy. First I would like to say that it isn’t about being perfect or having everything in your life organic and green. A few simple changes will make a huge difference in the way you feel and in moving forward to an organic, green, non-toxic, healthy lifestyle. Take one step at a time and have fun.

There are a couple of different ways you can incorporate organic living into your lifestyle. One is to use the products you have now, finish them and replace them with healthy, organic choices as needed. The other choice is to throw everything away and replace your old choices with healthy new organic products. Either choice is awesome. Note: If you are throwing away cleaning products that are made with chemicals be sure to do it properly. Contact your local waste management company and ask them how to safely dispose of chemical products.

I took the slow less expensive root and used products until they were finished then I replaced them with green, organic choices. Products like food, cleaning products, personal care, skin care and gardening products were choices I started with when I went green. I took one step at a time to a green, organic lifestyle. It seems the more I do the more that I want to do.

Remember do what is right for you not what your friends and neighbors are doing. You and your family are the only factors to consider here. Also it isn’t about being perfect or who is doing the most or making the biggest changes. What matters is that you are giving your family healthy choices and every healthy choice you make for your family is one step closer to the short term and long term health goals you want to achieve.

Take one step at a time and notice how the changes are affecting your family and how you feel about these changes. Maybe keep a diary of why you want to live an organic, green, non-toxic lifestyle and then note in the diary the changes that you are making and how they are affecting your family’s health.

For example, maybe you have allergies or a member in your family has allergies and you decide that you want to change your cleaning products so that they are non-toxic in an effort to see if that clears the allergies. Write this in your diary and notice if the allergies subside and even if they go away.

Another example is maybe you change some of the foods you eat to organic and you notice that your children have more energy or they are more focused; write that in your diary. In a month or 2 go back to the diary I bet you will notice that a lot has changed with your families health. Lastly be sure to celebrate your successes. You deserve it. Remember it isn’t about being perfect it is about making a few simple changes here and there.

Below is a list that I created, especially for mom’s, to help them make the switch from conventional to organic, green and healthy.

1. Recycle
2. Reuse
3. Reduce your waste
4. Any food with High Fructose corn syrup is a big no! Especially if you are protecting your family against obesity. It gives the false feeling that you are still hungry even when your body is full and has zero nutritional value. It is not a necessary food ingredient ever. Read labels carefully as it is used often. You will be surprised how often it is used, even in foods labeled as natural or organic.
5. Eat as many organic foods as possible. If your family eats a lot of something like pasta, absolutely eat organic pasta instead of conventional. Chemicals and pesticides build up in your body over time. Children are most susceptible to pesticides and toxins from conception to 10 years old. Here is a list of foods that are a must avoid. If you only want to change some foods that you eat put these on your list:

· Strawberries

· Blueberries

· Raspberries

· Apples

· Grapes

· Raisins

· Juice – many also contain high fructose corn syrup so be careful and read labels.

· Peaches

· Nectarines

· Apricots

· Pears

· Cherries

· Lemons

· Limes

· Bananas

· Pineapple

· Cantaloupe

· Rice

· Oats – commonly used in cereal

· Milk

· Baby Foods – get baby started off right. Also baby’s immune systems are not yet fully developed so they are more susceptible to the adverse effects of toxins.

· Nuts

· Potatoes

· Corn

· Celery

· Cucumbers

· Spinach

· Lettuce

· Green & Red Bell Peppers

· Hot Peppers

· Green Beans

· Carrots

1. Use non chlorine bleach it works just the same as regular bleach without the toxins.
2. Body lotion for you, children and baby. Remember when you hold or play with your children they touch your skin and body thus toxins from you can rub off on them. Most personal care products contain a large list of toxic, unsafe chemicals like parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, DEA’s, TEA’s to name a few. Read labels carefully. Try to use products that are organic and free of chemicals. For more information on safe cosmetics and personal care products go to, http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep. They have information on popular baby products too.
3. Face lotion for you and children they also contain many toxic chemicals. A common ingredient used in skin care products especially those that claim anti aging ingredients is methylparaben. Methylparaben has been linked to accelerating aging. Isn’t it ironic?
4. Products that contain phthalates are an absolute must avoid, especially if you have children. They are found in perfume, nail polish, hair care products like hair spray, deodorant and lotions. Phthalates can be carcinogenic and have been linked to birth defects. They also damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system in laboratory animals according to the center for Disease Control. Phthalates are used many products but are not listed on labels in order to protect “trade secrets.” That is where confusion enters. So the best rule of thumb is avoid conventional perfumes, products with fragrance, conventional nail polish remover and nail polish. Don’t panic. The good news is that you don’t have to give up your favorite nail polish color to avoid toxins. There are non-toxic alternatives to all of the aforementioned products. For example, many perfumes and fragrance are made with pure, organic essential oils and are safe. There are non-toxic nail polishes and nail polish removers. Choose products that are fragrance free especially if you are using them on or around your children and baby. If you are pregnant or have children avoid products with phthalates at all costs. Your unborn child’s health and your children’s health are fragile. Before the age of 10 their immune systems aren’t yet fully developed thus chemicals stay in their tiny bodies where they can cause disease and even obesity.
5. Avoid cleaning products or any products that contain anti bacterial ingredients. Antibacterial ingredients contain pesticides. According to the EPA, http://www.epa.gov, pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. They don’t discriminate between pests and humans. The key word here is living organisms. The bacteria and viruses that anti bacterial products kill are also killed with simple warm soap and water. Don’t let marketing hype tell you that you need these products to kill germs in your home. If simple soap and water is good enough for hospitals then it is good enough to kill germs in your home. Why add a layer of pesticide to your surfaces, especially where children and pets play and spend time?
6. Stain remover for clothes is highly toxic use non-toxic. To treat a stain use simple soap and water. Immediately when you notice a stain pore clear liquid soap right on the stain add a little water and throw it in the dirty laundry until laundry day. In most cases the stain will come out. Stains set when they aren’t treated immediately and they are allowed to set into the material of clothing.
7. Conventional air freshener – contains carcinogens. This is a huge NO, especially if you have children. The toxins are inhaled and absorbed through the skin. Extremely dangerous. Instead eliminate the source of the odor. For example if the trash smells, take it out. On nice days open a window. If you must add fragrance to your home use pure, organic essential oils. A trick I use is to drop 3 to 5 drops on a light bulb that will be turned on. Or make your own air freshener using essential organic oils. Simply fill a 29 to 32 oz. spray bottle with distilled water and add 20 to 25 drops of essential oil. Spray the air, your furniture I even use it to iron with. Cook muffins or cookies to make the air in your home smell good. On a cold winter day make some apple cider on the stove and let it simmer on very low heat to add fragrance to your home.
8. Use organic mattresses or put heavy cotton over your conventional mattress – If you can’t or don’t want to replace all of your mattresses with organic then put heavy cotton material over the mattress under the fitted sheet. If possible use organic cotton material. Absolutely do this for your baby and children as they are more susceptible to the effects of toxins found in conventionally made mattresses, because their immune system and organs aren’t fully developed. Toxins found in synthetic mattresses include; phthalates, PBDE – flame retardants, polyurethane, foam, polyester, plastic, formaldehyde. They all emit dangerous toxins that your baby or children breathe in or absorb through the skin while sleeping. In many cases these toxic elements lead to insomnia, have been linked to brain development and thyroid problems, include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing, fatigue, skin rash, severe allergic reactions and may cause cancer. In asthma suffers formaldehyde has been known to cause asthma attacks.
9. If you have children or pets and they will be on the floor playing use simple soap and water to mop your floors. Otherwise the children and animals are playing on a toxic surface where they are absorbing toxins into their skin and body.

If you find that your supermarket doesn’t carry organic, non-toxic products ask them to. Marketers and supermarkets know that women make the majority of the buying decisions in the US. Yes women you have the power, use it. Tell the supermarkets what you want. If they don’t get it right away, tell them again, and again and again until they carry the products you want. Ask your friends and family to chime in. Don’t give up, you can make a difference.

Remember take only the steps that are right for you at this time. Follow your instincts they are your guide, they are true to you. Once again I will say it; you don’t have to change everything if you don’t want to. Simple changes to start make a big difference. Take baby steps. For example, change the food that you eat to organic. Then change your cleaning products one by one. This is something that should be fun and enjoyable. After all you are protecting your health and your family’s health so that you have a long future together, that is something to smile about.

Good luck!

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Way to go Aspen: City reduces greenhouse gas by giving employees incentive November 22, 2006

Aspen, Colorado city employees recieved bonuses for helping to reduce greenhouse gases in their city. Congrats Aspen. Check out the article in the Aspen Times, the link is,
http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20061121/NEWS/111210022.

Aspen reduced it’s emissions by 10.5% which is what most cities are increasing their green house gases by. What a great idea to thank city employees for their hard work by giving them a bonus for helping to decrease gases. Aspen is doing what it takes to make a difference and better their community. They are setting a great example for other cities. They plan to further decrease their emissions in years to come.

I love solutions. Another toxic problem being over come.

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