Our bedrooms are our safe havens. They are the place we retire to each night and throw off the stresses of the day to decompress and literally put our feet up each night. We put on our fluffy robes and our slippers, read a good book in bed, and finally get our much needed sleep. Our bedrooms are our recharging stations and we spent a huge portion of our lives in them. It only makes sense that we want them to be clean, safe, and free of toxins. We don’t want to be breathing chemical pollutants from the off-gassing of our bedroom furnishings, nor do we want our skin to be absorbing chemicals from the cotton used to make our sheets and duvets. A greener cleaner home is important all around but the bedroom is especially important given the amount of time we spend there. Here are some ways you can create the non-toxic bedroom you are looking for:
Clean the Air – There are several ways you can make sure the air you are breathing is clean and healthy. The two easiest and greenest would be to open the window(s) and to add houseplants. Opening windows allows air to circulate from the outside and outdoor air is typically cleaner. If the weather is not conducive to this, just open them a few times a day and use a window fan to help the air circulate. Spider plants, English ivy, Pothos, and Bamboo palm are all houseplants that are especially good at cleaning the indoor air. Add a plant (or five) to your bedroom and see how much easier you breathe. You can also use an air purifier with a good HEPA filter and it is probably a good idea to all three of these things.
Paint Safe – When painting bedroom walls or furnishings make sure to choose low VOC or Zero VOC paints. Do you really want volatile organic compounds on your walls off gassing particles into your lungs each night? I think not. Lucky for us these safer and greener paints are not hard to find anymore and most hardware stores carry at least a few Zero VOC options. Behr, Benjamin Moore, and YOLO all have some and you can always go the old fashioned route and use milk based paints. The latter look especially good on antique furnishings.
Consider Your Mattress – Conventional mattresses are full of toxic chemicals and flame retardants. If at all possible it is preferred to get a safer version. There are natural latex mattresses, wool mattresses, and organic cotton mattresses. Some combine these elements. There are so many styles and variations that you will certainly need to do your homework but you will be glad you put the time and effort into it because this is an important purchase. You are fortunate if you can find a local source so you can test them out in person but most times you must purchase a greener mattress online. Find the option that works best for you and save money a little bit at a time if you get sticker shock. Also, don’t forget to “dress” your mattress with organic and natural sheets and blankets.
Used is Better – When decorating your sanctuary it is better to buy used furnishings and decor and not brand new. The new stuff hasn’t had sufficient time to off-gas and you will be breathing in the chemicals and solvents from the manufacturing process and the paint. Used items have already had time to release these chemicals and this makes them a safer option. Shop thrift stores, Craigslist and local yard sales and auctions for dressers, bed side tables, book cases, decorative items, sheet sets, curtains, throw pillows, etc. You can always refinish furniture if you use safe paints (see above) to improve the appearance if they are not exactly to your liking. Used items are also much better for the planet.
Remove Carpeting – If at all possible remove carpet and replace with hard floors. Carpets are havens for dirt, pollutants, allergens, and dust mites. Frankly they are just nasty and if I wasn’t a renter I would rip all the carpet out of my house pronto!!! Replace with ceramic tile, hypoallergenic cork, or wood that has not been treated with a toxic finish. You can use wool rugs liberally if you want that carpet “feel”.
Take a few moments and think about what you can do to make your bedroom just a bit greener and cleaner. The time you spend there will almost certainly impact your health. You and your family deserve a safe place to rest your heads at night.
Thursday, March 7th, 2013