Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Green Wisers Read The Label

How do you know what you are buying?  We look to labels to help us out.  With companies pushing back on what the label can contain, it becomes difficult to really know the content or the processes that were used to manufacture a product.

Reading the labels on food packages has become a common and important practice for us.   It is the result of efforts from many experts who know the importance of good nutrition. 

‘You are what you eat’ may have been a slogan scoffed at by some as something belonging to those hippies.  Even then, as those words reverberated and bounced around in our brains, it was hard to deny.  

While much is still left out of food labels, we are becoming wiser and continue to demand more transparency.  

The same is true with products we purchase for our homes and work places.  Being green isn’t just a trend, it is a way of life whose effort is to get us closer to a healthy and abundant lifestyle.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to breathe in tons of toxins and then have to spend tons of money on health care to fix the problems that arise, assuming those problems can even be identified.

Best choice?  Learn to read the labels.  Just like what has been done for our food knowledge in helping us to make better choices for fuel for our bodies, we can do the same for our homes.   So what we breathe in, rub against, put on and kick up won’t make us sick.

Here are reasons why labels are important to consider for your home.

People spend a large amount of time in their homes, and the air they breathe is 2 to 5 times worse and more pollutant than the air outdoors.  Hard to believe, but true.

The primary source of the pollutants comes from furnishings, building materials and cleaning processes and products we use every day.

These products release potentially harmful toxins and particulates that you breathe in and have been linked to a number of health problems like asthma, heart disease, learning disabilities, reproductive disorders and some types of cancer.  Yikes!

Take a look at kitchens, for example.  Cabinets and countertops (yes, even stone) can contain adhesives, finishes and sealants that release or offgas chemicals into the air, for a long time, that you and your family breathe in. 

Because flooring is in every room, the amount of chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are released in the home can potentially be very high.  This is one area you really want to consider products that are low in the chemicals emission. 

Paint is another product that covers lots of surfaces in the home.  Paint is a bit quirkie.  Even when it says low VOC or no VOC, applied paint to your walls can still offgas for years to come.  It is in the make up of the paint itself, its ingredients that do the releasing of chemicals.

In looking for labels you can trust to be reliable, look for those that are supported by research, testing, analysis, and professional evidence.  It is important to look for third-party certification whose interests is in health and who is independent from the product, manufacturer and industry.
Because these are times of mass misinformation distribution, greenwashing has also raised its ugly head by misleading consumers regarding the environmental standards or practices of a company and product.  

So, an important piece to evaluating a certification is to make sure the certification body stands behind its claims and evaluations.

At Eco Living Design, we do the heavy lifting for you!  We work to improve the indoor air quality in your home and work place.  Sustainable solutions can absolutely be integrated with your aesthetics to make beautiful spaces to be, that are healthy, more comfortable, add greater value and last longer.

Being green may be easier than you think!

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