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  • Are These Four Household Items Destroying Your Environment?

As committed as you can be to green initiatives, there’s always places to improve. We’ve discussed how you can optimize, refit, or even rebuild your home to be more environmentally friendly. But there’s things you do every day that are more wasteful and damaging than you would initially realize. So this week, we want to discuss the waste we’re making and how we can make it better.

Mowing Your Lawn Is Worse Than a Road Trip

boy-mowing-lawnMowing your lawn seems like a pretty standard way to spend your weekend. Lawn care is almost a cultural artifact for many people.

However, did you know that mowing your lawn for one hour produces more smog, exhaust, and pollution than driving your car 161 kilometers?

To put that in perspective, 161 kilometers of car exhaust would be like driving your car from Newmarket to Niagara Falls every week. And that assumes you take only an hour to mow your lawn. On average, most lawn keepers mow for about 1.8 hours, generating 290km worth of air car’s exhaust. That’s Toronto to Kingston, without ever leaving your driveway!

Instead: Invest in an electric lawnmower, or even better: a push lawnmower. Yes, push lawnmowers seem outdated, but they are more maneuverable and cheaper to own and maintain.

Scented Candles Is Like Smoking Unfiltered Cigarettes

You walk into a musky room, light a vanilla scented candle, and suddenly you’re off in another world of relaxation. Scented candles are killers in the market for home aesthetics.

They’re also just plain killers.

Paraffin, a common base for candles of all types, including scented candles, has been recently linked to toxic fumes that cause neurological damage, liver damage, and cancer. In addition, the black soot and smoke that arises from candles can cause lung dysfunction.

While a candle here and now isn’t likely to cause serious health problems, it’s important to realize that toxins do accumulate in the body over a longer period of time. Long term exposure to scented candles can exacerbate the risk of using them.

Instead: Use beeswax or soy-based candles, which are about the same cost anyway. Tone down on the heavy scents, and maybe just use some soft lights as an alternative to burning a wick.

Air Purifiers Can Do As Much Damage as a Smog-Filled City

why-you-shouldnt-buy-ozone-generating-air-purifiers_feat2Air purifiers are widely used and beloved for their effectiveness in eliminating dust particles and mold in our homes. That’s why, since 2000, air purifier sales have tripled for home use. But there’s a downside to air purifiers that is too-often unrecognized.

Some air purifiers generate ozone, the same material found in our upper atmosphere. Ozone is very unhealthy to breathe, that’s why it’s so effective in killing bacteria and mold. For children and the elderly, ozone can cause shortness of breath and inflammation of the lungs. It’s this same ozone that causes the same effects as living in a smog-filled city, smog containing high levels of ozone.

Instead: Invest in a no-ozone air purifier if you absolutely need a purifier. Compare products to find one that can clean the air in your home without subsequently poisoning it.

Household Cleaning Products Can Be A Chemical Weapon

Colored plastic detergent bottles and yellow rubber glovesMost household cleaners contain an assortment of chemicals, many of them not always known to us. That’s why we can be rightly concerned that the tools we use to clean our homes have an adverse effect on our health.

The most important thing you can take away from your cleaners is the bleach and ammonia. Together, bleach and ammonia produce chlorine gas, a deadly chemical that can render you unconscious in just a few seconds. For that reason, you should never clean with both of them together, or even allow them to be stored in the same place.

Instead: Use clean and green cleaning chemicals. These can be as simple as lemon juice, borax, baking soda, and vinegar. In the right amounts, these cheaper alternatives leave no fumes and clean just as well as heavy chemicals.

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