the ecovangelist


Air Fresheners, are they really freshening your air? November 10, 2011

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Oh the fresh scent of roses and lilacs. Don’t you wish your home could smell so fragrant all the time? Well with more then 100 varieties of air fresheners, sprays, plug-ins, you can get the artificial scent of “ocean breeze”, “clean linen” or “country garden” whenever you’d like. While I personally have banned the use of any sort of air freshener in my home, I was surprised to learn that 75% of US households use either a plug-in, gel-fragrance, spray or stand-alone air freshener. So you must be wondering what’s the big deal, air fresheners are little boxes of scented joy!! Unfortunately, air fresheners are horrible for your health.  They have been found to trigger asthma, sinusitis, and allergies.  Also, they are extremely high in phthalates (check out my post on phthalates), which have been linked to:

                  • Decreased sperm count
                  • Infertility
                  • Cancer
                  • Decreased pulmonary function
                  • Asthma
                  • Brain development in fetus and infants
                  • Reproductive development
                  • Endocrine and Thyroid disruption
                  • Anti-androgen effects
                  • Obesity and type II diabetes

Even air fresheners labeled as all-natural had high levels of phthalates.

Many common ingredients used in air fresheners are: formaldehyde, dichlorobenzene (a carcinogen), chloromethane (a neurotoxicant) among several other harmful chemicals.  In addition, air fresheners contribute to indoor air pollution and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  High levels of indoor air pollutants are linked to asthma, respiratory disease and inflammation.  In fact, allergists at Emory University have discovered that asthmatics lung function changes when they are exposed to chemicals in air fresheners. A report from the NRDC also found that chemicals in air fresheners could effect reproductive development.

So next time you want to “plug-in”, go and buy some fresh flowers.  Here are some other tips on what you can do to freshen the air:

  • Open your windows and doors to circulate air
  • Use naturally fragrant items like flowers, cloves or cinnamon sticks
  • Lemon, Lime or Orange Peel
  • Vanilla Essence or Mint Extract
  • Try to eliminate the source of the putrid smell
  • Use baking soda to eliminate odor

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10 easy ways to decrease your home energy bill November 2, 2011

Filed under: Home — theecovangelist @ 1:16 pm
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With energy bills constantly on the rise, here are 10 easy tips on how to decrease your home energy use.

1.   Insulate your hot water heater-purchase a water heater blanket or jacket.
2.   Install low flow faucets, shower heads and low flow toilets- low flow toilets consume 30-40% less water.
3.   Hang dry your laundry- this is not only great for cutting energy, but hang drying your clothes makes them last longer as well.
4.   Set your washing machine to use cold water and do a full loadhot-water uses much more energy then warm or cold-water settings.  Also washing clothing in hot-water does not clean them more effectively then warm or cold-water settings.
5.   Plug appliances on a power strip and unplug unused chargers- appliances not in use account for 20% of energy bills.  Plug your appliances on power strips and turn the strip off when you are not using them.
6.   Add more insulation- adding insulation in your walls and attic. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 have proper insulation.  This is a great way to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
7.   Install door sweeps- air easily escapes from under your door. Rubber door sweeps are cheap and simple to install and can easily cut on your heating and air conditioning use.
8.   Purchase energy star CFL lights indoors and solar-powered landscape lighting outdoors- outdoor solar lighting cost about $30 and require no electricity and no wires.
9.   Get a portable space heater- if you only need to heat one room for a short period of time, use a portable space heater rather then using central heating. *note if you are going to be in multiple rooms for an extended period of time then central heating might be more energy efficient.
10.  Purchase energy star appliances- these products are approved by US department of Energy and can lead up to 41% less energy use when compared to conventional appliances.

How much does each appliance cost to use?

*Source U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Energy Savers booklet.