How can I tackle toxins in my home?

11 tips for making your home more eco-friendly

Looking to make a green start?

You'll want to consider your home first, since chances are you spend the most amount of time there. Indoor air is up to ten times more polluted than outdoor air, and much of that pollution is due to toxic chemicals from furniture, flooring, paint, cleaning products, aerosols, and more.

Here are ways to reduce the chemicals in your home and make more eco-conscious decisions when you make new purchases or decorating plans.

  • Clear the air. Open windows for at least a little while each day and air out the house. You may be surprised that you forgot what chirping birds sound like! If you suffer from seasonal allergies, use caution on high-pollen days and limit your window-opening to early morning or after a rain. Need new windows? Click here. Need an allergist. Check out these doctors.

  • Do some quick fixes. Seal cabinets and other wood furniture made with particleboard with a clear, water-based coating. Particleboard contains formaldyhyde as a gluing agent. Not good. Here are some handymen to put on the job.

  • Remove and replace. When it's time to redecorate, replace chemical-laden carpeting and vinyl flooring with natural, sustainable options such as wool, hemp and bamboo, and choose low or no-VOC paints when you're repainting a room. Find interior decorators and designers, flooring experts and painters here.

  • Green up your bedroom. Consider an organic mattress, usually made of organic wool. Complete the bed environment, where you spend the most amount of time, with organic sheet, pillowcases and blankets. If budget is an issue (and when isn't it?), start with the pillowcases since they are closest to your face. Or at least consider organic options in the children's rooms. Their small size makes them more susceptible to the effects of chemicals.

  • Add indoor plants. Plants help clean the air naturally. While you're at it, bust the clutter and you'll reduce the dust. Need an interior decorator to rework your space or a personal organizer to straighten things out for you?.

  • Use non-toxic cleaning supplies. Our grandmothers knew something--vinegar, baking soda and borax works. Don't want to mix up your own concoctions? There are a number of non-toxic cleaning brands available now. Or put these cleaning services to work for you.

  • Check for carbon monoxide. It's odorlous and colorless and can be a silent killer. Haven't checked for carbon dioxide yet? It's time. These home inspectors can help you.

  • Buy organic food. No sense dragging all those pesticide-laced groceries into the house after all you're doing to clean things up.

  • Go natural outside. Speaking of pesticides, why load up your lawn and garden with them? Your kids play there, you walk there, you breathe the air, and rainwater drags all that toxic goop into the water system. Can't be good. Find a landscaper who can help you reduce your lawn with xeriscaping, which uses native plants that don't require much water or maintenance. Also, consider a freshwater pool and say goodbye to chlorine. Find pool installers here.

  • Don't idle. No, we're not talking about staying busy all the time. We mean don't idle in your car when you're in the garage, especially not with the door to the house open. Keep the carbon monoxide away from the house by making sure you exit the garage quickly and that you turn the car off immediately upon your return to your garage. Need auto repairs? Click here.

  • Dispose of toxic chemicals properly. Things like paint, drain opener and pesticides are classified as hazardous materials and much be disposed of properly. Contact your sanitation department for the best way to do this in your county. Why not do a clean sweep of the garage shelves and under the kitchen or bathroom sink and reduce the toxic chemicals in your house? There's probably stuff there you haven't used in years-and now don't want to. And while you're at it, find out how you can organize that garage and make coming home an immediate pleasure.

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