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  • InHolistic Health, Non-toxic Home, Personal Care Products

    Staying Healthy and Comfortable While Traveling: What to do before travel, what to pack + how to keep healthy on a long flight

    From airports to airplanes to your final destination, you're coming in contact with a LOT of different bacteria and viruses. Even a robust, healthy immune system can fall prey to one of these insidious bugs. It can start as a tickle in the throat, or feeling hot all of a sudden, but when you're suddenly struck ill on a vacation, it can ruin the whole trip.

    Back in the day, traveling when we were younger, we didn’t spend time thinking of the possible negative health + wellness side effects of a long flight, the subtle-to-super-obvious inconveniences and discomforts of being in a small-ish space for half a day or more, or the recirculating cabin air and germs in airports.

    But, as we traveled more (and grew up, by the way), we started to notice more and care more. Thousands upon thousands of air miles later, we created this guide to help anyone else about to embark on a long flight know that there are several ways to avoid the swollen feet, aching hips, dehydration, icky feeling, harsh breath, restlessness, boredom, and even some of the anxiety for the flight itself. And of course . . . coming down with something nasty during your trip.

    How to stay healthy and comfortable on flights

    These tips are the compilation of our experiences from short-long flights (4 hours) and medium-long flights (8 hours) all the way to long-long flights (14 hours or more), but the focus is on tips that will hopefully help you survive a long flight without losing your mind or feeling horrible before, during, and after.

    Oh, and before you read the next heading (about what to do two weeks beforehand) and possibly think we are over-prepared weirdos (which is true), here’s the #1 concept for all of this >> Just like a long-distance fitness event or something along those lines, preparing for a long flight needs to start ahead of time.

    What to do 2 weeks before your long flight:

    1. Get the things.

    You may be in need of a few items you don’t have yet in order to travel comfortably, and, instead of getting the best version available last minute at the nearest store, you might want to order them online and have them shipped, or take the time to go to a store in your area that you normally don’t shop at.

    Order or purchase:

    • Any special containers to hold your products, medicine, or personal items. Check out the type of non-drip, BPA-free travel containers we use below. And if you’re like us, and like to carry natural plant/herb oils and other hippie stuff, check out the travel oil carrier below as well.
    • Replacements or travel-size quantities of any special soap, face care, makeup, lotion, essential oils, etc. that you enjoy. Even though it’s slightly more work to pack up your favorite items in travel tubes or be forced to check a bag because you’re carrying so many liquidy substances, once you’re at your destination, being able to use products you’re familiar with that you know make you feel good and don’t cause allergic reactions is golden.
    • Any special clothing or shoes that you will require/want in the place(s) you’re traveling to.
    • Any other supplies you think you'll need

    2. Test things.

    For all the products mentioned above, make sure to test them out if you haven’t used them before. Roll your luggage around, put your backpack on, wash and fill your travel tubes, try on your new clothing and wash it, walk in your new shoes, etc.

    Also, test out any sleep aids or (legal) drugs beforehand. If you’re anxious about your flight, alcohol and certain drugs might now have the effect you want. (I have a friend who hates flying and took a sleep aid for the first time on a flight, and it kept him awake and jittery the whole time. And it was his honeymoon. Don’t do drugs kids. Or at least test them out before you need them.)

    3. Add in extra self-care.

    If you need to get something done that needs some advanced planning on your part (ex: you have to adjust your work schedule), or that needs some advanced notice with a business or service provider, then schedule it out.

    Think about whether or not you want or need to:

    • Get more sleep.
    • Adjust your sleep if you’ll be crossing the international date line (or making a big time zone jump) so that you can minimize the effects of jet lag
    • Make a doctor’s appointment.
    • Reduce your stress if needed. Get a massage and take care of things in advance (such as getting your currency exchanged, if needed, and arranging a reliable pet sitter).

    What to do 1 week before your long flight:

    1. Check things.

    Not only is it a good idea to check:

    • that you have everything you will need to pack
    • and everything you will need to pack it in

    . . . but it’s also an amazing time to start working with your body to get it in healthy shape beforehand.

    2. Do (healthy) things.

    If you’ve never done it before it can be grueling, painful, or at least uncomfortable to be confined to a small space for hours on end. You run the risk of getting a bit dehydrated, feeling gross, attracting lots of unwanted germs, and getting sore or swollen in certain areas. The good news is that you can do something to prevent or minimize these effects, starting one or more weeks before your flight.

    7 (or even 14) days before your flight, begin to:

    • Do yoga. Or some other form of exercise that both stretches you (your hips, shoulders, arms, legs, neck, etc.) and helps you to strengthen key areas (your back, core, arms, etc.), such as Tai Chi, Pilates, or other.
      • Consider yin yoga: A style of yoga that holds deep stretches for 2 – 5 minutes.
      • Try hatha yoga: A style of yoga that helps you strengthen and stretch through different positions and movements.
      • Consider hot yoga or vinyasa if you’ve been doing yoga for a while. These classes will really increase body heat and help you lengthen + strengthen.
    • Start hydrating. A lot. More water and coconut water will likely help you sleep better, will definitely make it less likely that you get dehydrated on your long day(s) of travel, and will hopefully help your bladder get used to better intake levels of fluids. We can’t stress enough the personal benefits we’ve experienced by hydrating well before, during, and after long flights. It’s amazing.
    • Consider taking the natural vitamins and supplements your doctor recommends or that you take normally for your health. We like to up my Vitamin C before getting on a crowded plane full of germs.

    What to do 2 – 3 days before your long flight:

    1. Pack your regular luggage.

    2. Stock and pack your special flight bag that never leaves your side.

    This one we can help you on. We really recommend having a small bag (perhaps one that slings over your body diagonally (like the examples in #5 of this post) or a small backpack that you can have under the seat in front of you or in the seat back pocket (if it’s small enough). This bag should contain everything you might want to access during the flight. Things such as:

    • Comfy, long, and non-restrictive socks or compression socks. As in: they shouldn’t have elastic on the rims.
    • A blanket or shawl. You can just carry it in your hands or folded over your bag. Don’t rely on the airline blankets to be thick enough, long enough, or awesome enough. You can wear an oversized shawl onto the plane and then use it as a blanket.
    • Headphones. Preferably noise-canceling ones if you can swing it. These will help you actually be able to hear your shows, and actually be able to sleep (if you get a seat next to louder people).
    • A sleep mask. If you’ll want to block out light. Though most airlines provide these on international flights, you can’t be sure and you may prefer your own.
    • A disposable toothbrush and toothpaste. I’d recommend carrying one that isn’t the one you packed in your regular luggage. You’ll be able to refresh during the flight, and if you drop it, lose it, etc., you’ll still have your other one.
    • Snacks. Yes. Airlines typically feed you on long flights. Sometimes the food is even good, but just in case the food isn’t great, or you get hungry between meals, or their vegan/gluten-free/low dairy (or whatever you prefer) options aren’t exactly what you expected or are unavailable, then it’s great to have something you know you can eat. Dried fruit, jerky, trail mix, squeezable applesauce, nuts, small doses of dark chocolate, or chia seed treats can all fit in a small bag and hopefully hold you over.
    • Health care and refreshing items: vitamin packs, essential oils (if you start feeling queasy), medicines, moisturizer (your face and hands can easily get dry), lip balm, wipes (to freshen up in the bathroom), makeup, hand sanitizer (here's our post about our favorites and which to avoid!), or natural deodorant (after a day of travel, you might need some more – we prefer these natural brands).
    • Essentials: chargers, backup batteries for your noise-canceling headphones, actual earplugs, etc.

    3. Download stuff.

    Download all the books, and movies, meditations, podcasts, and music to your phone or device that you want to be able to access without Wi-Fi and in airplane mode. Even though most airlines provide great movie and music services, you never know what you’re going to get or if you’re going to sit in the one seat where the screen or audio is malfunctioning.

    Bring enough work materials, digital treats, and physical entertainment to keep your attention as if the airline won’t provide you any.

    4. Check in, or set a reminder to check in.

    Some airlines will let you check in 48 hours before international flights. Try to get checked in and make sure you’ve selected a seat you think you’ll enjoy. Will you like being tucked in near a window, or having the easy access to getting up frequently by sitting in an aisle seat? Do you feel safe and comfy in between your two friends in a middle seat?

    What to do 1 day before your long flight:

    1. Charge everything. Fully.

    Your phone, your computer, your iPad, your kindle, your fitness watch, etc. Put new batteries in your headphones. Make sure everything is set up to last the maximum amount of time without a power source, even though some airlines will provide plugs.

    2. Then pack the chargers and any adapters you might need.

    Getting to a new country with a work deadline and no adapter to plug your computer in with is not as fun as it sounds. I’ve tried it.

    3. Lay out a comfortable, layered outfit and your with-you-at-all-times bag.

    If you ignore everything else in this guide, then please at least wear comfy clothing with layers and hydrate a lot.

    But, while you’re at it . . . make sure all the refreshing personal items you need are with you in your bag that stays with you in your seat. Check for your blanket and neck pillow as well. Just reassess based on your “needs list” that you have everything. It will make you more comfortable as you sleep the day before your flight and as you head to the airport the next day.

    4. Try to get rest and do some relaxing activities.

    If you’re into long baths, long yoga sessions, tea, movies, whatever . . . do it. You’ll want to relax your body and mind . . . especially if you get anxious about airplanes, or crowded airports, or tight spaces.


    What to do the day of your long flight:

    1. Re-pack anything you took out and used. Make sure your passport, necessary documentation, and necessary identification is on you.

    Run back over your packing list one last time if it will bring you peace of mind. And if you are at all prone to stomach aches, headaches, queasiness, or nervousness on flights or in stressful situations, may we make the hippie suggestion of getting some natural plant and herb oils that you can smell, apply to your skin, and even dilute and drink in your water in some cases.

    Always check the proper use of any health oils you buy. Below is a combo pack of essential oils you can check out, but p.s. also having some oregano oil on hand has saved a few long flights for us. It helps us nervous stomach soooo much.

    2. Get to the airport early.

    This will help reduce stress and anxiety before boarding your long flight–if you know your there on time and can just relax in the waiting area instead of rushing right up until the last minute.

    3. Stretch and keep hydrating.

    Even if you feel weird or look weird, taking care of your body is “so in” right now. . . so don’t get too worried about looking foolish. When I see someone stretching in the airport or even doing some yoga in the terminal, we immediately have a high level of respect for their travel game. They know the deal.


    What to do during your long flight:

    1. Keep drinking healthy beverages.

    Sure. You’ll have to go to the bathroom every 3 – 5 hours, but it’s worth it. You won’t get as hungry, you can choose beverages that are providing nutrients, and you’ll be less likely to get dry lips, dry skin, or the fatigue that can come with slight dehydration and it will also force you to get up and stretch your legs.

    Tip: Bring your own stainless steel water bottle.

    2. Get up and walk every few hours. Stretch.

    Stand near the bathroom and hit tree pose (the third exercise in this post). Trust us. It helps. And you’ll typically see other people stretching too, so try not to feel weird, but even if no one else does it, you’ll simply look like the smart, cool, athletic person on the flight . . . and you may even make someone else feel comfortable enough to stretch out and feel better.

    3. Find movement and space within your seat.

    Whether you put your feet up in your seat with you, rotate your ankles, stretch into the aisle every so often, or stretch your arms up and down frequently, try not to remain absolutely still in your seat for hours.

    We love to do our own version of “chair yoga” by crossing one leg over the other and leaning forward to stretch out our lower back and glutes. Your body will thank you for it.

    Move your travel bag to the side so that your feet can go as far forward as possible–this is why it helps to have a small plane bag.


    What to do after your long flight:

    1. Walk. Hydrate. Stretch.

    Pay special attention to your hip joints, knees, and back. They are likely what felt most compressed or stationary during the flight, so try to gently stretch them.

    2. Try to get some seriously restful sleep at your destination at some point that day.

    If at all possible, renew your strength through some good, old-fashioned sleep.


    Our long-flight friend, even if you don’t take the time to do every single thing in the guide above, planning for ways to be hydrated, calm, prepared, and entertained on your long travel days will really make a difference on those days, and in your interactions with the people you may be traveling with, and in the quality of trip you’re able to have.

    Oh, and please consider (1) leaving some tips or thoughts of your own in the comments below, and (2) sharing this post with your friends. You can click the suggested tweet below to do so easily. Thank you travel ninja.

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  • InDIY & How-to, DIY Natural Beauty, Eco Gifts

    9 DIY Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts

    ‘Tis the season for sharing and giving! When you choose a handmade gift, so often you end up creating a wonderful experience for everyone involved: you, your recipient, and the environment. Obviously, here at Clear + Well, we love the idea of giving gifts that support wellness, along with a “healthy” dose of happiness. 

    Here’s the roundup of our favorite DIY gifts that you can make at home this weekend.

    1. DIY Eucalyptus Oatmeal Soak

    We love the idea of creating an all-natural luxury spa experience at home by pairing these DIY gifts with a reusable basket, an organic cotton face towel, and loofah! Get our recipe for handmade Eucalyptus and Oatmeal Bath Salts to soothe sore muscles and irritated skin.

     

    2. Rejuvenating Body Butter

    How about a super moisturizing body butter that's also effective, all natural and affordable? Yes please! Get our nontoxic Body Butter recipe right here

    DIY Body Butter

    3. Brown Sugar Body Scrub

    It smells heavenly. It's nontoxic. It's amazingly simple. With only 3 ingredients, our brown sugar body scrub is made with items we all have at home that gently treats and prevents skin problems. Here's our favorite Brown Sugar Body Scrub (perfect for dry winter skin).

    DIY Brown Sugar Scrub for Dry Winter Skin

    4. Detoxifying Body Scrub

    Mix and match your essential oils to make this scrumptiously nontoxic body scrub! Grab our simple recipe for DIY Detoxifying Body Scrub right here.

    5. Detoxifying Activated Charcoal Bars

    We love this gift paired with an organic washcloth and nontoxic nail polish. We highly recommend spending a Saturday making a bit batch of Detoxifying Activated Charcoal Bars

    Activated Charcoal Soap Bars - Activated charcoal soap also reduces pore size and unclogs skin thereby minimizing the development of breakouts and infection of broken skin, helps heal pimples and rashes, and calms inflammation. #activatedcharcoal #naturalskincare #homemadesoap

    6. Natural Beard Oil

    For that bearded friend in your life, why not gift a personalized beard oil blend? Get our recipe for Natural Beard Oil.

     

    7. Safe Holiday Scents

    It's no secret how much we love essential oils. Did you know you can make a variety of holidays scents using your favorite oils? Package these up in small glass bottles for the perfect stocking stuffer.

     

    DIY Safe Home Fragrances Made With Essential Oils #safehomefragrance #nontoxic #essentialoil #aromatherapy

    8. DIY “Upcycled” Succulent Planter

    Make a DIY Succulent Planter to cheer up their office during those bleak winter months!

    How to make a cute succulent planter

    9. Elderberry Syrup

    Paired with a basket packed with healthy treats and herbal teas, homemade elderberry syrup for when your loved ones are down with the flu makes a great gift. 

    We've been building our arsenal of natural remedies to combat the flu as it continues run to rampant and homemade elderberry syrup tops the list! #elderberrysyrup #naturalremedies #colds #flu

     

    As for a few gift wrapping ideas? Our favorites include:

    • Last year's wrapping paper
    • Using fabric with the Japanese method of Furoshiki
    • Gift bags (and reusing them until they fall apart!)
    • Glass jars 

    What about you? Do you have a few tried and true handmade gifts that you give year after year? We'd love to hear about your favorites ways to give.

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  • InNon-toxic Home

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mats and DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner

     

    So you’ve finally made it to a yoga class and you're sweating out toxins and you're doing your deep belly breathing. You're detoxing, right? But somewhere between Warrior 1 and Down Dog, are you absorbing even more chemicals back in through your toxic yoga mat?

    Chances are, that your yoga mat actually is made of toxic materials that are leaching harmful chemicals. The most common material for yoga mats is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which if you're not already familiar with it, is a form of plastic that has been made pliable and soft through phthalates and other chemical plasticizers.

    From pilates to physical therapy, plenty of people have a mat around the house that’s not used for yoga, but the toxic considerations remain the same. We’re huge fans of yoga (and exercise and movement in general) but it’s no secret how much we detest PVC. Vinyl (#3 recycling code) is commonly used as a nickname for PVC and it's everywhere in modern life, even in our exercise mats.

    Why go to all the trouble to avoid toxic PVC (vinyl) plastic?

    Lead. Phthalates. VOC's. Dioxin. Just for starters. It's nothing to mess around with, especially considering that these chemicals are well-established carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that wreak havoc on our bodies.

    Keep an eye out for soft, flexible vinyl – the most problematic because of the stabilizers (like lead and other heavy metals) and plasticizers (like phthalates) required to make it more pliable.

    • Due to its chlorinated makeup, the entire life cycle of vinyl is responsible for the formation of more dioxin than any other single product. Dioxin is a well-known carcinogen and can affect the reproductive, immune, endocrine and neurological systems.
    • Chlorine production for PVC results in the release of over 200,000 pounds of mercury to air, water and land each year.
    • To make vinyl products flexible, controversial plasticizers known as phthalates are used, accounting for nearly 90 percent of total phthalate consumption. This translates into more than five million tons used for vinyl every year.
    • Lead is often added to vinyl construction products as a stabilizer to extend its life. It is estimated that 45,000 tons of lead each year are released into the environment during its disposal by incineration.

    You'll need to assume that the term “vinyl” means PVC unless you've been able to verify the details with manufacturer.

    Is your yoga mat actually toxic?

    But what about phthalate-free vinyl (PVC #3)? That's safe, right?

    While it's a step in the right direction, we're still left to worry about with many other harmful chemicals common to PVC. Even phthalate-free PVC still isn’t a safe plastic because of the other harmful chemicals often used during production. The Center for Health Environment and Justice names the following possible concerns with PVC:

    • May contain dioxin (a known carcinogen)
    • May contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)
    • May contain organotins
    • May contain lead, cadmium and other metals
    • Heat and humidity can increase the release of these chemicals

    Heat and humidity are common (and even expected) in yoga classes, so if you're using a PVC mat, conditions are right for it to release toxic compounds.Click To Tweet

    Have you ever purchased a new yoga mat and then unrolled for the first time and been unpleasantly surprise by a chemically “new yoga mat” smell? Does that mean it’s off-gassing toxins? If it’s made from PVC, probably. If it’s made from natural rubber, no. Natural rubber products (which we'll discuss later on this article) have a strong smell for the first several weeks until they air out, but they aren't off-gassing toxins.

    What about TPE?

    Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) is being sold as an eco-friendly alternative to PVC and most new-to-market yoga mats are made with it and being marketed as “safe” or “safer”. It's a more stable compound that is manufactured with closed cell technology (so sweat, germs, and microbes don't penetrate the surface) but it's too new to say how it interacts with our bodies. And while TPE is free of Bisphenol-A (BPA), PVC, Lead, Phthalates, and Dioxins, there are still concerns about its long term safety. It's definitely cheaper and more durable than all natural materials, but we're sticking with recommendations for sustainable, all natural yoga mats.

    But as we always say: this is a journey. The idea is to start by making one lifestyle change at a time.

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mats (that are also eco-friendly and sustainable), plus our DIY recipe for safe yoga mat cleaner #greencleaning #yogamat #yoga #nontoxicyoga


    Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Materials

    So where does that leave us when we want a truly non-toxic (and eco-friendly) yoga mat or exercise mat?

    We used to focus on frugal choices because like dad used to say, money doesn’t grow on trees. . . but fortunately, sustainable cork and natural rubber do grow on trees! So now we focus on quality over cost, as much as possible.

    Non-toxic yoga mats tend to be made from all natural materials which are also biodegradable. Being biodegradable, they will start to break down over time which is both a pro and a con since sometimes they start breaking down while we're still using them. All natural mats are also more expensive and heavier than the cheap $15 PVC mats. That’s okay by us though, we’re willing to sacrifice convenience for our health!

    Options for non-toxic and sustainable yoga mats include:

    • Cork (cork is made from cork trees in Portugal – which are not cut down in the harvesting process – and is naturally antimicrobial and maintains its grip even under sweaty conditions)
    • Jute
    • All natural rubber
    • Hemp and organic cotton (for yoga rugs/towels, but not for a true cushioned and grippy mat)

    Natural rubber products may also have a strong ‘natural rubber’ smell until they full air out over a few weeks. If you are allergic to latex, use caution with natural rubber although many manufacturers do state that their natural rubber is still safe for latex allergies.

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Recommendations

    This list isn't comprehensive of every non-toxic choice available on the market, but these have been the highest rated that meet our criteria. And…they're stylin' too. 😍 Read the reviews before you buy to see feedback on how it worked for different uses such as thickness for knee cushioning, stability, and portability (some all natural rubber mats can be very heavy).

    DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner Recipe

    Okay, so now that you’ve invested in a safe yoga mat (or at least you're planning on it), you’ll want an all natural cleaning spray to keep it clean!

    Fortunately, Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is inexpensive and readily available. It's naturally antiseptic, anti-microbial, and effective but still gentle enough to be used on the skin. And clinical Research is now supporting what we've seen for years.

    “A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that TTO has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.”

    Essential Oil Yoga Mat Cleaner

    This is the fun part where you get to play essential oil alchemist. The following cleaning base recipe can be tweaked and customized with whatever essential scents are most appealing to you. (Check out our post on the differences between absolute and essential oils)

    DIY Yoga Mat Cleaner #yogamat #diy

    Essential Oil Yoga Mat Spray

    • 1 2 oz or 4 oz spray bottles (we like sturdy glass bottles like these ones)
    • Approximately 3/4 cup of water
    • 1/4 cup Witch Hazel (white vinegar can also be used)
    • 5 drops tea tree oil
    • 2 drops eucalyptus oil (optional)
    • 2-3 drops of lavender, lemongrass, or lemon essential oil (optional)

    Mix together in a bowl or a measuring cup (a pyrex measuring cup works well) and pour into your glass or stainless steel spray bottle. Spray over mat and wipe down with a clean cloth and let air dry. 

    NOTE: Lavender essential oil is toxic to cats (although fresh lavender is not), and full strength (100% undiluted) tea tree oil is toxic to both cats and dogs, so be safe and use this disinfectant spray out of their reach.

    Non-Toxic Yoga Mats (that are also eco-friendly and sustainable), plus our DIY recipe for safe yoga mat cleaner #greencleaning #yogamat #yoga #nontoxicyoga

    Before we sign off, here's one more handy tip for keeping those floor germs off your hands and face when you're practicing yoga or pilates.

    When you've finished your practice, instead of starting at the end of your mat and rolling it up, instead, fold the practicing surface of your yoga mat in half and THEN roll it up. That way the surface that touches your face and hands never comes in contact with the surface that touches the ground.

    Do you have another favorite non-toxic mat that we didn't list? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

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  • InCurrent Research, Green Cleaning, Non-toxic Home

    Is Your Pillow a Petri Dish?

    Plus, 9 Ways to Reduce Toxins in Your Bedroom (including dust mites and airborne pollution)

    It’s time to get tough on toxins in your bedroom – most specifically, that petri dish we call a pillow.

    Did you know that we literally spend ⅓ of our lives asleep? Everything touching your skin during those precious hours of sleep interacts with our bodies over the course of a night (and a lifetime) on some level.

    If you live 75 years, you’ll spend 25 years trying to get some shut eye!

    And nobody, and we mean nobody, wants to sleep in a petri dish of bacteria, fungal spores, dead skin cells, and mites. Have you heard about or read a few of the news articles circulating that your pillow and mattress become heavier over time due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, sweat, dust mites, and dead dust mites? We did a little digging and it turns out . . . this is true.

    Gross.

    A person sheds millions of skin cells every day and you’re spending approximately 8 of those hours in bed. And unfortunately, dust mites thrive on skin cells and the humid environment of your pillow.  

    Signs of allergies triggered by your pillow are runny or stuffy nose, coughing, even wheezing and asthma attacks.

    Monsters hiding IN the bed

    Okay, but don’t freak out because this is (mostly) fixable. Focus on keeping your current pillows very clean and replace as often as you need to. If you have dust mite allergies (10% of the population does) or any kind of autoimmune suppression, consider replacing them more often (as often as every 6 months or so ) but replace them at LEAST every three years.

    An impermeable barrier between your pillowcase and pillow helps a lot to reduce mites. So check out the variety of zippered pillow covers in addition to your pillow case, so that you’re not getting cozy with the critters.

    Your bedroom might be making you sick.

    is your pillow a petri dish?Your sleep environment can have a dramatic impact on your health. Another thing to consider is that you might be allergic to your pillow itself. If you’re using a down (feather) pillow and have allergies, you might want to skip the feathered pillows for something washable. If your current pillow is not made of down or memory foam, get that baby in the washing machine with hot water.

    A mattress retailer did a poll and discovered that 80% of respondents indicated that they struggle with allergies. “Experts recommend that you purchase dust mite-proof sheets and pillow covers, and make sure to wash your pillow every three to six months in hot water with liquid detergent.”

    As a final note about your pillow, if you’ve never replaced your pillow, you are well overdue for a new one.

    If you’re going to upgrade your sheets, pillow cases, and pajamas, can we just say GO ORGANIC. Cotton crops uses 16% of ALL of the pesticides used! More than any other crop in the world. Consider upgrading to breathable pajamas and organic cotton sheets. Cotton is just dripping with pesticides with disastrous effects on the earth and the farmers. And while tests show that these pesticides do not make it to the fabric stage of cotton production, cotton batting however may still contain toxic residue.

    Naturepedic.com states that it’s imperative to buy organic cotton batting, as used in a mattress or pillow. Especially since this filler can be used in crib mattresses!

    One last tip to breathe easier at night

    As we discussed earlier in our post 10 NASA-Approved Air Purifying Houseplants, we suggest using plants to clean the air that you’re breathing, especially in the bedroom. A few particular plant varieties are excellent at removing airborne toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and benzene which we can guarantee that don't want to be breathing at night.

     

    9 Tips for Sleeping Easier:

    1. Toss your sheets and pillow cases in the washing machine
    2. Buy zippered pillow covers to reduce dust mites
    3. Throw out old pillows and replace them with new ones at LEAST every 3 years
    4. Consider adding air purifying houseplants
    5. Consider upgrading to breathable organic cotton sheets
    6. Evaluate whether it’s time to replace your mattress or get a PVC-free mattress cover
    7. Dust regularly (you’re breathing the air in this room for 7-9 hours every single night – that’s 3,000 hours per year!)
    8. Vacuum regularly, with a HEPA filter vacuum if possible
    9. Consider buying and using a HEPA air purifier

    So…when was the last time you changed out your pillows? Is it time?

    9 ways to reduce toxins in your bedroom

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  • InNon-toxic Home

    10 NASA-approved Air Purifying Houseplants (plus 4 other ways to use plants to detox your life)

    You probably already know that plants are good for you and that you should eat more of them. But did you know that there are houseplants that will literally pull toxins from the air?

    Some of us have green thumbs. Some of us are houseplant serial killers… Even if you fall into the plant killer category, you should buy and care for some air purifying houseplants in your home (and office).

    90% of people spend the majority of their days indoors and you may or may not have any control of the ventilation quality.

    Astronauts just need space…and plants

    Without ventilation, air gets toxic over time.

    Back in the 1980s, NASA studied indoor air pollution and researched ways to clean the air inside space stations because apparently you can’t just open a window to air out the joint when you’re orbiting space.

    Did you know that the research from NASA recommends having at least one air purifying plant per 100 square feet of home or office space?Click To TweetDid you know that the research from NASA recommends having at least one air purifying plant per 100 square feet of home or office space?

    Let’s do a little math. Let’s say you’re living in a 900 square foot apartment in NYC. According to NASA’s study, that’s nine houseplants to clean the air.

    And by the way, if you’re using chemical-based air fresheners in your home? Stop. The number one thing you can do to improve the health of your home is to rid your home of synthetic fragrances.  Fragrance is a term that legally encompasses over 3,000 ingredients. So when you read your labels and you see fragrance listed there, be aware that there could be just one fragrance ingredient or there could be all 3,000 of them in your product.

    What About Your Furry Friends?

    NASA’s recommended plants for reducing air pollution are great for indoor air quality but many of these plants’ leaves are toxic to pets. So before you run out and buy all the plants, take a look at your lifestyle. Pets? Toddlers? Anyone else prone to eating leaves out of curiosity?

    Houseplants that are toxic to pets

    According to the NASA air purifying plant chart, there is not a single plant that removes all the 5 major air toxins that is NOT also toxic to dogs if eaten. We have cats and dogs – one of which might nibble leaves while the other wouldn’t ever give it a taste. So understand your pets’ temperaments and decide what works for your household.

    The level of toxicity has a huge range from mild stomach upset to much worse, so we recommend double checking the lists here:

    (Seasonal note: Poinsettias are mildly toxic to cats but deadly to kittens, who like human babies, metabolize toxins differently than adults.) And while you’re at it, check this out → 5 Common Houseplants Toxic to Children and Pets

    Our love of plant-based eating doesn’t include houseplants… 😉

     

    Top 3 Plants for Growing Your Own Fresh Air

    In his TED Talk “How to grow fresh air”, environmental specialist Kamal Meattle boils it down to 3 plants that are highly effective at cleaning air, even highly polluted air.

    1. Areca Palm – wipe the leaves so the plant can do its job and it’s non-toxic to pets and humans even if eaten
    2. Mother in Law’s Tongue/Snake Plant – if eaten, its leaves are mildly toxic to pets. This plant is great for bedrooms because it converts CO2 to oxygen only at night so it literally cleans the air as you sleep.
    3. Money Plant/Golden Pothos – also known as Devil's ivy because it’s so darn hard to kill, Pothos plant leaves are toxic to pets and mildly toxic to humans if eaten

    The NASA Clean Air Study found that the humble Snake Plant has air purification qualities, removing 4 of the 5 main toxins with a unique process. The gas exchange pores on their leaves only open at night so as a result, oxygen is released at night, unlike most plants that only exchange gases during the day.

    10 NASA-approved Air Purifying Houseplants and 4 other ways to use plants to detox your life #airpurifyingplants #plantbenefits #nontoxic

    Quick Tip: Save this graphic to your phone to take to your local nursery.

    A few particular plant varieties are excellent at removing airborne toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and benzene….which unfortunately might be in your house. You just water the plant, wipe the leaves regularly, and keep it alive and in return, it removes toxic chemicals from your breathing air. Sounds like a fair trade to us!

     10 more air healthifying houseplants:

    1. Aloe Vera: Aloe vera, toxic if eaten (but the internal gel is great for sunburns and cuts)
    2. Areca Palm/Golden Cane Palm/Butterfly Palm: Dypsis lutescens, non-toxic if eaten
    3. Bamboo Palm: Chamaedorea seifrizii, non-toxic to pets if eaten
    4. Boston Fern: Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis', non-toxic if eaten
    5. Devil’s Ivy/Money Plant/Golden Pothos: Epipremnum aureum For you houseplant killers, note that this variety is hard to kill! toxic if eaten.
    6. Dracaena: multiple varieties, toxic if eaten
    7. English Ivy: Hedera helix English Ivy is beautiful and cleans the air, but its leaves are mildly toxic to pets. Since ivy tends to grow long and trail, keep it trimmed and out of reach.
    8. Ficus/Weeping Fig/Rubber Plant: Ficus benjamina toxic if eaten.
    9. Mother in Law’s Tongue/Snake Plant: Sansevieria trifasciata, mildly toxic if eaten.
    10. Philodendron: multiple varieties, toxic to children and pets if eaten

    10 NASA-approved Air Purifying Houseplants and 4 other ways to use plants to detox your life #airpurifyingplants #plantbenefits #nontoxic

    Quick Tip: Save this graphic to your phone to take to your local nursery.

    But wait, there’s more… 4 other ways you can use plants to increase your health

    1. Plants can make you happier

    Besides filtering the air, looking at and caring for houseplants can elevate your mood and digging in the dirt can literally increase your serotonin levels. The microbe M. vaccae that lives in soil enters your body through inhalation of the dirt and boosts your serotonin. Houseplants and fresh cut flowers are also a great way to naturally combat seasonal depression.

    The act of caring for plants and the routine of watering and removing dead leaves can be a practice in mindfulness itself.

    2. Plants can help you think more creatively

    Apparently, just having green leafy plants in sight while doing your intense desk job can make you work smarter and more creatively. Not only do they help clear the air, they help you clear your stress too.

    A recent article by Psychology Today about the cognitive and emotional upside of houseplants said,  “The presence of green leafy plants has also been linked to enhanced creative thinking.” Interesting to note that very lifelike artificial plants had the same benefit on quality of improving work.

     

    10 NASA-approved Air Purifying Houseplants and 4 other ways to use plants to detox your life #airpurifyingplants #plantbenefits #nontoxic

    3. Plant-based eating can help you lose weight and feel great

    Even omnivores need more vegetables. As Michael Pollan says, eating can be distilled into simply this “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    Plant-based eating can help you stay healthy from the inside out. Eating fresh organic produce is an easy and delicious way to shed pounds, discover new fruits and vegetables that you didn’t even know existed (Dragonfruit or watermelon radishes anyone?), and pack your diet with antioxidants, fiber, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

    We're about to read Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings, and Calm Inflammation to see what they have to say on the subject of weight loss, ketogenic diets, and plants.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/people-places-and-things/201802/benefits-the-indoor-plant

    4. Plants can help you treat illness and improve your skin

    When sickness strikes, you can reach for your arsenal of home remedies such as our elderberry syrup for colds and flu or our homemade botanical cough syrup. Herbs, medicinal roots, and plants have been the basis of medicines for thousands of years.

    In recent years, the pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical industry have been researching and incorporating botanical agents into medications and topical skin care. We’ll be seeing even more botanical extracts in skin care such as green tea phytochemicals, caffeine, chamomile, and soy to just name a handful.

    We're currently reading Healing Mushrooms: A Practical and Culinary Guide to Using Mushrooms for Whole Body Health and can't wait to dive into exotic mushroom elixirs and coffee blends! Sounds weird, right? Right. We'll report back on how our mushroom experiments are going… 😉

     


     

    If you’re ready to graduate from a simple houseplant care, you can take your gardening relationship to the next level with a kitchen window herb garden! We love the medicinal and culinary uses of Stevia, Lemon Balm, Basil, and even Dandelions.

    We may not be able to help you keep your houseplants alive, but hopefully we convinced you that you need more of them in your life. So…are you ready to become the houseplant whisperer?

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