Luckily, America caught on with air protection fairly early on, relatively speaking. Unfortunately G. W. Jr was the most environmentally incompetant president this country has ever seen, and so our Clean Air Act has been weakened. However; we've never had strict enough regulations to help in the most necessary ways. One victory, is that the EPA fought to classify Greenhouse Gases as a threat to the safety of Americans, and thus, obtain the power to regulate them. But, as in all matters, our mindfulness can guide us faster and better than regulations.
In the home, outgassing of toxic, often unnoticed fumes from new paint, carpets & furniture are making people ill. Called "sick building syndrome", this toxicity is dangerous, especially in professional building with no direct air exchange with the outdoors. Do you know that "nice" new carpet smell, new paint job smell, new home smell, new car smell..? That is out-gassing, & so is that smell of plastic, vinyl, and anything similar.
In your home, USE ONLY ZERO OR ULTRA-LOW VOC PAINTS, FINISHES AND WOOD STAINS. Voc's or volatile organic compounds, are just that, volatile. Its worth the extra money to protect your health and the earth.
BUY SECOND-HAND FURNITURE, REUPHOLSTER YOURSELF WITH NATURAL MATERIALS, OR BUY NEW UNFINISHED FURNITURE MADE OF SOLID WOOD OBTAINED FROM CERTIFIED SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY PRACTICES. And unless you install all natural, cruelty-free wool or fiber carpeting, (such as hemp, coconut or similar renewable, untreated plant fibers) DON'T INSTALL CARPETS. They trap allegens, dirt and grime anyways. Bamboo or cork floors with ultra-low or zero voc varnish are the way to go.
Whenever you smell that "new product" smell, its most likely harmful. In order to smell something, you are inhaling particles of it, so it can have an impact on your health over time. EVEN SYNTHETIC FRAGRENCES, COLOGNES, PERFUMES & THE FRAGRENCE OF CONVENTIONAL SOAPS & SHAMPOOS, DISH SOAPS & LAUNDRY DETERGENTS, & FABRIC SOFTENER ARE ALL UNHEALTHY FOR YOU AND THE EARTH.
That which you place on your skin is absorbed into your body, so be mindful of what you use. USE 100 PERCENT PURE ESSENTIAL OILS INSTEAD OF PERFUMES OR COLOGNES. You can find recipes online to make your own signature scent.
Laundry should be washed in a biodegradable, perfume free, ultra concentrated detergent such as Biokleen brand. Use Borax to whiten, never bleach. USE SEVERAL DROPS OF ESSENTIAL OIL ON A DAMP WASHCLOTH & A PAIR OF DRYER BALLS TO GIVE LAUNDRY A FRESH SCENT, SOFT FEEL AND FASTER DRYING TIME. EVEN BETTER, 70+ PERCENT OF THE YEAR LAUNDRY CAN BE DRIED ON THE LINE FOR A FRESH SCENT THAT MAN CAN'T FAKE WITH CHEMICALS.
All natural, certified organic shampoos, conditioners & soaps should be the only kind you use for your body & the precious bodies of your loved ones. Do not trust vague labelling- certified organic is the only proven qualifier of natural quality. Legally, the word natural is meaningless. Beauty products should say specifically that they are not tested on animals and do not contain animal ingredients. Aveda & The Body Shop are leaders in ethically & environmentally responsible products. In addition, they shouldn't contain any petroleum products, phosphates, and should be marked as biodegradable. Many people question the safety of proplene glycol & SLS (sodium laurel or laureth sulfate).
If the perfumes that smell "good" in your bath & beauty products are unhealthy for you & the earth, its not hard to imagine that the noxious smelling home cleaning chemicals are even worse. Take all of these terrible things in to your local tranfer station or call the local DEC office to find out where to take for proper disposal. USE ONLY A COUPLE TRULY NATURAL PRODUCTS TO REPLACE A WHOLE HOUSE FULL OF TOXIC ONES. Replace window cleaner with either white vinegar & water wiped with a clean rag, a dry piece of newspaper, or water with a light touch of soap and a clean rag. YOU CAN USE AN ULTRA-CONCENTRATED ECO-FRIENDLY SOAP, such as Dr. Bronner's or Biokleen as varying strengths TO DO ANYTHING from wash the car, the dishes, the floors, counters, porcelain & appliances to hand washing as well. In fact, Dr. Bronner's can be used on hair & body as well!
Anything you spray into the air gets around, harming those who breathe it, and washing into the water supply as well. PLEASE DO NOT SPRAY YOUR LAWN. PLEASE DON'T USE SPRAY PAINT- YOU CAN USE ZERO VOC PAINT IN A SPRAYER.
Camp fires are a pleasure, but also a privelege. Brush fires are convenient, but not an excuse to burn trash. PLEASE DO NOT BURN PLASTICS, METALS OR PRINTED PACKAGING. IF YOU ARE BURNING BRUSH OR HAVING A BONFIRE, USE NATURAL BRUSH & UNTREATED WOOD. BE RESPONSIBLE & DON'T BURN OFTEN.
BECOME FUEL EFFICIENT and carpool, consolidate errands and walk & drive less. Get an electric scooter if it fits your lifestyle, ride your bike, or take public transportation. These tips will cut down on greenhouse gas pollution. So will working from home (telecommuting) and keeping your vehicle well-maintained. To get the best fuel economy keep your tires properly inflated and DRIVE 55. Its hard to do, but DRIVING THAT TEN mph SLOWER BOOSTS FUEL ECONOMY BY UP TO 20%!
Likewise, A WELL-INSULATED HOME & PROPERLY MAINTAINED HEATING SYSTEM (PROFESSIONALLY CLEANED EACH YEAR) HELPS TO INCREASE HOME ENERGY ECONOMY. Update windows, use recycled paper based Green Fiber insulation, or castor oil based spray foam to keep your home energy efficient, reducing fossil fuel related air pollution.
SUPPORT GREEN ENERGY. Opt for renewable energy through your power provider. It is affordable- on a bill of $200, your charge for green energy will usually be around $20. It's worth protecting the environment! LOOK INTO SOLAR PV PANELS- IN NY, NYSERDA HAS A PROGRAM OF FINANCING & GRANTS TO HELP HOMEOWNERS GO SOLAR!
Being mindful of what you send into the air directly (paints, chemicals, cleaners) and indirectly (via fossil fuel use & purchases-discussed later) is crucial to protecting the air we all breathe.