Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Four Top Reasons to Avoid Foam Cushion Furniture

Polystyrene foamFoam cushion furniture is everywhere. Across the price spectrum, you will find foam cushion furniture and for many reasons. Foam cushion furniture can be durable. At least for a few years, it can be comfortable as well. However, there are good reasons that you should avoid this kind of furniture whenever possible. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the top reasons that you’ll want to avoid foam cushion furniture.


Reason Number One to Avoid Foam Cushion Furniture-That Odd and Dangerous Smell


匂いFoam cushions are usually made from chemicals and there is no way of telling for sure what chemicals can be found in furniture and bed mattresses. Since furniture such as couches, seats and mattresses are large, they can contain large amounts of chemicals. If you are chemically sensitive or want to reduce the amount of chemicals in your home, then you’ll definitely want to opt for items that are as chemical free as possible. If you’ve noticed that “odd smell” in new furniture, you are not alone. Usually that smell is from chemicals.


One of the single most common types of furniture foam is polyurethane foam. It is very important to note that polyurethane foam is a petroleum-based material. Petroleum based materials emit VOCs or volatile organic compounds. VOCs negatively impact overall air quality and can lead to respiratory problems.


Studies have shown that exposure to air pollution can lead to disease and lower the IQ of children. Any step you can take to improve your indoor air quality is a step in the right direction, and that makes avoiding foam cushions a must. Quite often foam cushions and mattresses have glues that contain such dangerous chemicals as formaldehyde.


Reason Number Two to Avoid Foam Cushion Furniture-Very Dangerous Flame Retardants

House on fire

Sadly, foam furniture and foam cushions have flame-retardants in them. Scientific tests have shown that flame-retardants don’t serve any purpose and are, in fact, quite dangerous. Flame retardants put into foam cushions takes a bad product and makes it far, far worst. Studies have shown that flame-retardants damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer. These compounds can also make their way into household dust and eventually into our bodies. By not purchasing foam cushions, you are avoiding one of the key sources of flame retardant exposure.


Reason Number Three to Avoid Foam Cushion Furniture-Go Natural and Lower Your Carbon Footprint


Foam cushions are made from petrochemicals and toxic compounds. These are not renewable resources, and it takes a considerable amount of energy to manufacture these goods. In short, foam cushions are not just bad for people, but are also bad for the planet. If you want to help the planet and lower your carbon footprint, then avoid buying foam cushions.


The production of foam also harms our water supply. It takes a lot of water to produce foam and a good deal of water pollution results from the manufacturing of foam products. Vote with your dollars, and simply buy a different kind of furniture.


Reason Number Four to Avoid Foam Cushion Furniture-You Get What You Pay For


Foam furniture will last, for a while. Unlike other furniture options, foam furniture will not stand the test of time. Foam is not like wood furniture for example, as foam is constantly in a state of degrading. The foam furniture you have today will not be of similar quality years from now. If you truly want the best deal possible you need to opt for wood furniture or other more solid and durable furniture options.


It is true that chemicals are in fact everywhere. There are tens of thousands of chemicals, most of which are untested, begin used in the world today. By not buying foam furniture and foam products, you are helping reduce the number of chemicals both in the world and in your home. It may be more difficult to find foam free furniture, but it is indeed possible if you do a little shopping around.


The bottom line is that foam products have been linked to health problems. The simple fact is that keeping dangerous chemicals out of your home is worth the effort. So let’s take a look a few furniture alternatives that are better than foam.


The Benefits of Wood and Wool

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 11.39.08 AM

Wood is a great option. Reclaimed wood furniture is amazing furniture. No doubt it is more expensive, but it is also very eco-friendly because no new trees were used in its creation. That alone results in a considerable energy savings. Reclaimed wood furniture is usually old growth wood, which means that it is far more durable, then new growth wood. When selecting reclaimed wood furniture, it is important to pay close attention to how the wood was treated after it was reclaimed. For example, were chemicals used on the wood to treat it?


Instead of foam cushions, opt for cushions and furniture made with natural materials such as wool. Sometimes wool is treated with chemicals as well so it is important to ask the right questions. That stated, wool is usually a superior alternative to foam cushions in that wool is environmentally friendly and, of course, completely renewable.


You do have choices. The idea that the only choice is to opt for petrochemical based foam is a false one. It may take a little research and effort, but you will ultimately be rewarded with a product that is a healthy and long lasting one. If you are looking for a great furniture investment, skip the foam and go for natural, people friendly and planet friendly options.

Posted by February 27, 2015 at 5:31 PM under Environment Home Living Tips
Why You Should Avoid Dryer Sheets

Laundry SetDryer sheets are a massive waste of money. This reason alone would be enough to warrant tossing your dryer sheets out once and for all. As we will outline in this article, there are plenty of other good reasons to kiss those smelly dryer sheets goodbye.


An Unnecessary Expenditure


Many people continue to use dryer sheets out of habit. But even if everything about dryer sheets was simply wonderful, they do cost money and lots of it.


If you are using a dryer sheet every time you dry a load of laundry, then guess what? You’re losing your shirt, no pun intended. Imagine that instead of buying dryer sheets, you invested that money instead and took advantage of compound interest over a period of twenty years? The end result would be pretty attractive little nest egg.


The typical box of 240 dryer sheets cost between $10 and $15 dollars, and there are top end dry sheets that are roughly triple that costs. One brand in particular costs about $10 for just 80 sheets. These are, of course, online prices. Purchasing in the store is even more expensive. If you decide to use dryer sheets for 20 years and many people do out of habit, then you can expect to pay between $300 to $900 assuming that you average one load of laundry per day.


Little expenses add up. The bottom line is that you have better ways to spend your money than tossing it in your dryer!



A Very Unhealthy Habit

Hand mit Stift zeichnet chemische Strukturformel von Chloroform

Now that we have the money issue out of the way, lets get to something even more important, your health and the health of your family. Dryer sheets contain chemicals and compounds that may very well damage human health. That slickly marketed “fresh scent” is usually nothing more than a carefully created concoction of chemicals that reduce the quality of your air.


Dryer sheets are soaked in chemicals, many of which are quite toxic. In a bit of a shocker, dryer sheets have compounds such as butane, chloroform, formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals.


The chemicals found in dryer sheets range from upper respiratory irritants, such as benzyl alcohol, to much more serious chemicals, such as chloroform, which is a well known carcinogen. Other chemicals are even more alarming, such as ethanol, which can cause problems with the nervous system and other chemicals that can damage the kidneys.


If you are chemically sensitive, then dry sheets are very bad news. Those with chemical sensitivity issues also find that dryer sheets can make their conditions worse. Seeing as how this product can easily be avoided, the solution is clear. Just avoid dryer sheets.


The chemicals found in dryer sheets get heated up during the drying process. This factor, of course, makes the chemicals even more dangerous. If you have ever walked by a house that this pumping out fumes from its dryer and thought, “This smells awful,” well, there is a reason that you feel that way. The air produced by dryer exhaust is full of chemicals if the homeowner is using dryer sheets.

washer and dryer

It is important to remember that once on clothing it is possible for these chemicals to continue to harm human health. Chemicals can be breathed in or absorbed through the skin. In short, there is nothing good about dryer sheets and plenty that is bad. If you are wondering how these products are able to remain on the market, you are, of course, not alone. It is also astonishing that dryer sheet manufacturers have no apparent interest in making products that are safer for consumers.


Scientific Evidence


If you are still not convinced, then you might want to check out a study conducted at the University of Washington. In this study, Professor Anne Steinemann set out study the air quality coming out of dryer vents. The results were many things, but they were not pretty. Progressor Steineman’s study went beyond dryer sheets and looked at laundry products as a whole. Next Professor Steinemann and her team tested the air coming out of the vents to discover harmful carcinogens, such as beneze and acetaldehyde.


It should also be noted that Professor Steinemann most definitely qualifies as an expert on the topic of air pollution, indoor air quality and its impact on human health. She is a Professor of Civil Engineering and Chair of Sustainable Cities, at The University of Melbourne, Australia. She has been published in 50+ journals, has written textbooks and been cited as an expert by the Wall Street Journal, Scientific America, USA Today, Washington Post and many other publications.

 The Best Choice for Your Family

Family of three I
When it comes to protecting your health and that of your family, you owe it to yourself to avoid products that are dangerous. The smell you are getting from dryer sheets is a dangerous one and you should avoid it at all cost. The real savings from ditching dryer sheets may not even be financially derived.   Instead, the real savings may be reducing your risk of developing diseases.


The good news is that those who switch to using clotheslines usually never miss their clothes dryer or dryer sheets at all. In fact, they find that the air and sunlight gives their laundry a remarkably pleasant natural scent.   The fresh aroma of clothing dried in the sun truly cannot be topped

Posted by February 16, 2015 at 2:10 PM under Clotheslines and Laundry Home Living Tips
A Guide to Selecting an Eco-Friendly Diaper for Your Baby

Mother changing babies cloth diaperThere are lots of things that you’ll have to do in preparation for a new baby and one of them is figuring out how you plan to effectively use diapers. It goes without saying that this isn’t really an issue you can ignore! Unfortunately, if you simply go to the grocery store and pick up the first brand of diapers you see, you will be exposing your little one to a bunch of chemicals, toxins and perfumes. Not to mention, selecting diapers is actually one of the most environmental decisions you’ll ever have to make if you’re a parent.

If you want to go the eco-friendly route, the good news is that there are options. For example, there are various brands on the market today with natural materials and that are also scent-free. You can also choose from a variety of cloth diapering options. There are far more choices out there now than there were years ago.

What is Most Sustainable?

If you are worried about renewable resources, you might not want to use regular disposable diapers at all.  Clean Air Council says that Americans throw away 49 million diapers per day. Plus, there is the issue of them decomposing over time.

Babies can go through 5000 diapers before they are toilet trained. Most of these diapers end up in landfills. The EPA says that diapers make up 3.4 million tons of waste each year.

Is Reusable Cloth The Way to Go?
Diaper or nappy safety pinIf you choose reusable cloth diapers, not only are you doing something very positive for the planet, but also you will save thousands of dollars over the course of your child’s baby and toddler years.

There are actually four different types of reusable cloth diapers: the All-in-one Cloth diaper, the fitted cloth diaper, the prefold diaper, and the pocket cloth diaper.

The one you choose will depend on your personal preferences. Basically, here are some points you’ll want to take into account.

-All-in-one Cloth Diapers are most leak proof. They don’t require a diaper cover since the cover is sewn in. Brands include bumGenius, Kissaluvs and Bamboo Baby.

-Fitted Cloth diapers do require a diaper cover. They dry faster than the all-in-one option. You can get adorable colors and prints.

-Prefold cloth diapers are the most like the old-fashioned diapers that you yourself may have once worn. They require a diaper pin and a diaper cover.

-Pocket cloth diapers usually are made from materials that can keep a baby’s skin dry. These have a few parts: a waterproof outside barrier, fabric and an insert.

 Outer Covers and Biodegradable Inserts

thirsties-diapers.jpg.644x0_q100_crop-smartgDiapers are becoming increasingly popular. This system includes outer covers with cute designs along with biodegradable inserts. Through this means, you can throw away the dirty diaper, but you don’t have to worry about throwing everything away. It’s a far more sustainable route.

You can even get inserts and covers made out of natural materials like hemp. Other brands that include outer shells and inserts you can throw away include FuzziBunz and Thirsties.

Biodegradable Disposables

Mother with her boy in the supermarketYou’ll end up spending about $1000 more if you go with disposable diapers that are biodegradable, but you’ll know your baby is not being constantly exposed to chemicals. Plus, you will be taking less of a toll on our planet.

The problem with biodegradable diapers, however, is they contain gelling materials for absorbency. These can ultimately decrease sperm count and are linked to other health problems. They also require ample energy and fuel to be produced.

If you have to go with a traditional diaper, you’ll definitely want to opt for one free of chemicals and toxic scents. You won’t find anything like latex or chlorine, which, sadly, are found in other diaper options. Good brands include Seventh Generation Free and Clear. This is a good option for those who simply can’t make the commitment to a cloth diaper.

free-and-clear-seventh-generation-diapers.jpg.644x0_q100_crop-smartEarth’s Best also makes an eco-friendly diaper. Not only are they free of chlorine, latex, dyes, and perfume , but also they are made with natural materials like corn and wheat.

There are even diapers made out of bamboo, such as Bambo Nature Diaper. The company that makes them is actually certified by a green label due to the fact that they allow frequent environmental inspections. The diapers contain no chlorine, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals.

You can see an impressive breakdown of the benefits of various disposable diaper options at BabyGearLab.

Ultimately, the least expensive and most eco friendly option may indeed be cloth diapers. You can either wash them yourself (the cheapest option) or use a diaper service. The service would pick up your dirty diapers and deliver clean ones to your home. You will just have an initial investment at the beginning, which includes inserts, covers and sometimes liners. When the Real Diaper Industry Association did research in past years, they found that sales of cloth diapers went up 30% between 2000-2007!

The option you select, of course, is a personal preference. But it’s essential that you at least try your best to protect your child and also your planet. We are lucky that there are far more eco-friendly options than in years gone by. You don’t have to throw those Pampers in your grocery cart!

Posted by February 07, 2015 at 3:46 PM under Environment Home Living Tips