Spring is associated with nature, growth, and renewal. This March issue of Good to Be Home Magazine offers valuable eco-friendly improvements for your home to help you get in the spirit of going green. From tips for finding an eco-friendly mattress to a guide for taking care of houseplants, there’s something in this issue for everyone.
Sometimes the smallest changes can help improve your environment. Try the enclosed tips to transform your house into a happier home for you, your household, and your guests.
Speaking of guests, will they be impressed when they arrive at your home? Curb appeal is important for several reasons, so you should be intentional about exterior upgrades to maximize your resources and budget while helping the planet.
If you’ve been thinking about adding more plants in and around your home, this is the time to do it. Inside you’ll find the best plant-parenting advice that can keep your greenery healthy and beautiful.
At the end of a long day, there’s nothing that compares to curling up in bed. But even a cherished and durable mattress could end up in a landfill. However, you can sleep soundly with an eco-friendly mattress, which you can find using this guide.
May the beginning of spring invigorate and inspire you! As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
When it comes to making your house a home, sometimes it’s the small efforts that go a long way. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to create a happy space for yourself; it can be as easy as making these simple upgrades.
Having more natural light inside your home will not only make it look better but also have a positive effect on your mood. Start by making sure nothing is blocking your windows, and be sure to remove any dirt or grime that may have built up on them. You will also want to maximize the use of mirrors because they reflect light. Try placing a mirror across from a window to bounce sunlight to every corner of the room. If your space is naturally dark, add lamps or task lights to enhance the brightness.
Plants can breathe life into any room in your home and refresh the air. Areca palms, Boston ferns, and spider plants have all been found to filter toxins from the air. Studies have also found houseplants can positively affect your mental health by making you feel more relaxed and comfortable. Caring for plants can be impactful too. Horticulture therapy has emotional benefits such as reducing stress and boosting mood, researchers have found.
You don’t always have to keep up with the latest home design trends to be happy in your space. Whether it’s a gift you received from a loved one or a beloved family heirloom, an object with personal value can help make a room a more welcoming space. Don’t forget to include photos of the people who matter most to you. While you don’t want to oversaturate a space with decor, keeping a few photos in each room can be a visual reminder of heartfelt memories you’ve made with loved ones.
The color on your walls can evoke various emotions, and specific colors can provide a calming feel to a room. If your room’s paint color is overstimulating, try a shade of blue, green, gray, or white to bring tranquility to the space.
Your art doesn’t have to be a one-of-a-kind painting worthy of hanging in the Louvre. Keep your eyes peeled the next time you visit a flea market or even while you’re browsing a big box store, such as Target or Home Goods. A few art pieces can add personality to your space.
Everyone needs a place where they can escape for a few minutes of reflection, so set up a spot in your home where you can unwind. This can be as simple as a corner filled with pillows and candles or a cozy area you transform into a reading nook. Take time every day to use this space to meditate, read, or perform some light yoga.
Essential oil diffusers can instantly enhance the mood of a room. There are many to choose from, depending on what benefits you’re looking for. However, use caution as some oils can be toxic to pets.
Groupings of knicknacks and other items throughout your home can make your space feel cluttered, impacting your ability to recharge after a long day. Try to make it a habit of keeping surfaces, such as countertops and tables, free of clutter.
This task requires no money and minimal effort on your part. Coming home to a freshly made bed every night can do wonders for your mental health, so don’t neglect this morning task. Try to avoid dishes piling up in your sink as this can cause stress and sap your energy.
These are just a few small changes that can improve your home, and in turn, improve your well-being.
Everyone wants to make the exterior of their home look great. However, some common ways to boost curb appeal often involve using too much water, excessive electricity, or unhealthy chemicals. Instead, make your home look good the eco-friendly way by implementing some of these sustainable curb appeal ideas.
Give your landscaping an environmentally friendly upgrade by planting some drought-tolerant plants. These varieties of flora will help you conserve water, spend less time in the garden, and provide habitat and food for wildlife. Incorporating plants native to your region can help ensure they thrive. Drought-tolerant plant options include lavender, salvia, Russian sage, portulaca, zinnia, blanket flower, and angelonia.
Another way to reduce your water consumption is by adding a backyard rain catcher. These storage devices can help you harvest rainwater so you don’t have to rely on a sprinkler to water your plants.
If your yard is a little bare, consider adding trees to your property to give it character and help the environment. Trees can help reduce your carbon footprint as they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They also help reduce your heating and cooling costs by providing shade in summer and protecting your home from cold winds in winter. In addition, trees can impact your home’s worth, as healthy trees can add up to 10 percent to your property’s overall value. Remember, this is a long-term project—trees can take anywhere from five to thirty years to grow and mature.
The upkeep of your lawn can cause you to use excessive amounts of water, not to mention electricity or gasoline to power lawnmowers and trimmers. To help reduce the resources and the time you spend maintaining your lawn, go with an alternative ground cover, such as moss, clover, creeping perennials, or ornamental grass. You can also choose to install turf made of recycled materials or replace part of your lawn with a wildflower meadow or a vegetable garden.
Give your home’s exterior a pop of color by installing some DIY window boxes. Choose flowers that match your home’s accent colors to help the aesthetic, or select native plants that are better adapted to thrive in your environment to attract birds and other wildlife.
Outdoor lights are a great way to illuminate your home’s exterior while you entertain and can help you enjoy your yard in the evening. However, you can avoid consuming electricity by choosing solar-powered landscaping lights. This light style has panels that convert sunlight into energy and require no electricity to use. Place these lights along walkways to guide guests to your home or in select areas of your yard to highlight specific features.
Adding new furniture to your patio or deck can quickly draw attention to your home. Consider looking for a sustainable option. You can visit a thrift store and buy a preowned patio furniture set. While it may need some repairs or a fresh coat of paint, this is a green option that will help you save money. If you prefer something new, make sure to choose a sustainably-sourced option. Wood furniture is made of a renewable source and brings a rustic look to your home, and some companies make patio furniture out of recycled plastic.
Although solar panels are not a traditional curb appeal upgrade, they can show your neighbors you’re taking an active part in preserving the environment. Installing solar panels reduces your greenhouse gas emissions and your electric bill. They can also improve the resale value of your home; a study from the Berkeley Lab found homes equipped with solar panels gained $15,000 in value. Most solar panels have a life span between twenty-five and thirty years.
Whether it’s your entire house or just your front door, a fresh coat of paint can give your home an instant boost. Better yet, painting the exterior can lead to a return on investment (ROI) of more than 50 percent. However, before hiring painters, make sure you choose an environmentally safe paint that is low- or no-VOC. VOCs, short for volatile organic compounds, can be toxic to humans and pollute the atmosphere.
If your home has dated exterior lighting fixtures, replace them with energy-saving models to help reduce your energy consumption and lower your electric bill. Also, replacing the bulbs in your outdoor lights with LED varieties helps conserve energy, and they can last much longer than standard lightbulbs.
Use these tips to turn your home into an eco-friendly paradise that boosts your curb appeal.
Houseplants have been a fixture in American homes for a long time. Interest in them has surged of late, however, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave many people more time to spend at home. Approximately 66 percent of Americans are reportedly “plant parents” who are nurturing at least one potted plant in their home.
Images of living spaces overflowing with lush, green plants have been populating social media sites like Instagram, where the hashtag #plantsofinstagram has millions of posts and several accounts are devoted to the topic. For instance, plant guru, Summer Rayne Oakes, has close to 500,000 followers for her YouTube channel, Plant One on Me, and more than 200,000 followers for her Instagram profile, @homesteadbrooklyn.
Plants are used in interior design to bring the natural world into man-made and sterile-feeling spaces because they can evoke a calming effect. In an increasingly hectic and modernized world, nurturing potted plants in your home can minimize stress, improve your mood, and increase your productivity. A home filled with greenery can feel like a lush oasis and a retreat from outside stress.
There are many reasons people love fostering plants in their homes, one of which is that it’s an inexpensive hobby. You can easily purchase houseplants locally or online from retailers like Amazon and Walmart for less than $20. However, trendier and larger plants, like the fiddle leaf fig tree, can cost as much as $300, and extremely rare houseplants can sell for thousands of dollars.
In a study, NASA found that some common plants and the soil they are planted in can remove toxins from the air. Among the low-maintenance plants NASA identified as air-purifiers are the snake plant (Sansevieria), aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller), English ivy (Hedera helix), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), cornstalk plant (Dracaena fragrans), and bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii).
If you are thinking of becoming a plant parent for the first time, choose houseplants that are beginner friendly and can thrive with minimal care. The tag that comes with your plant will tell you everything necessary about caring for and maintaining it, including its sunlight and watering needs. These houseplants are good ones for beginners:
Bamboo palm: Despite its name, this Central American beauty is not actually a palm. It has feathery, dark-green fronds and doesn’t need a lot of light to thrive. Keep the soil moist, but be cautious not to overwater it. Only transplant these tropical delights into pots with drainage holes, as they don’t like to sit in water.
Peace lily: These herbaceous perennials have dark-green leaves and big, white flowers. Peace lilies can fill an empty corner, as they can grow up to four feet high. They can make do without much sunlight but will produce more flowers if they get indirect light and will grow best in humid environments. A telltale droop lets you know when they are thirsty.
Aloe vera: This succulent with thick, sword-like stems thrives in bright, indirect sun. These plants can have flowers of various colors, such as red, yellow, and orange. They do well if planted in a cactus soil potting mix that’s allowed to dry out between watering. The watery gel of the plant’s leaves can be squeezed out to relieve pain from small cuts and burns when applied topically.
Snake plant: This visually appealing succulent has tall, stiff leaves that vary in color, with combinations of green, yellow, and blue, plus stripes and spots. Also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, this upright species can live twenty-five years or more and are virtually indestructible as they can subsist without much light or water. They do best, however, in indirect sun.
Pothos: This perennial evergreen is a trailing vine that’s native to the South Pacific. The plant’s heart-shaped green leaves can have touches of white, yellow, or pale green. Pothos can grow twelve to eighteen inches in a month and can extend to forty feet. These houseplants like indirect light but can subsist in low-lit areas. Water when the top layer of the soil dries out.
Spider plant: These members of the lily family are a boon for beginners as they produce spider-like baby plants, or spiderettes, that are easy to propagate and can be rooted in water or planted in soil to create new plants. Spider plants have green foliage that can sometimes be interrupted by white stripes, and they occasionally produce white flowers. These graceful perennials prefer indirect light, regular watering, and a humid environment. Their cascading foliage make them perfect for hanging baskets.
Buying a new mattress was once a lot simpler than it is today. In the past, the only options were innerspring mattresses—ones with a coil base and a soft top fabric layer. The main factors you had to consider when buying a mattress were price, firmness, and comfort. These days, you can purchase a foam mattress that doesn’t have springs, and many buyers are looking for eco-friendly mattresses that are safe to sleep on and better for the planet.
Many mattresses are made of synthetic materials that aren’t biodegradable. They may also contain chemical flame retardants, toxic formaldehyde, and petroleum-based foam. Traditional mattresses often contain synthetic foam, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs are manmade chemicals that can be released into the air. Even mattresses made from natural fibers like cotton or wool can contain harmful pesticides or other chemicals.
If you want a new mattress that’s healthier for you and the planet, you need to keep an eye out for misleading information. There is currently no government certification in the US for green mattresses. This means that mattress companies can decide on their own what “green” or “eco-friendly” means when they label their products. A mattress touted as green might be made with fewer harmful materials, but that doesn’t mean it is good for your health or the environment. Mattresses are sometimes “greenwashed,” or marketed as being more environmentally sound than they are.
However, there are labels and certifications that you can look for when buying a green mattress. Two of the best are the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label and a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) label.
An OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label means every textile component, including the threads, buttons, and other materials of your mattress, have been tested for harmful ingredients and certified as harmless to human health. You can check whether an OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label is valid on the OEKO-TEX website.
A Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) label means that at least 95 percent of the fibers in your mattress are organic and were processed sustainably. This also means that your mattress doesn’t have polyurethane, which is in most memory foam mattresses, or chemical flame retardants.
Another label to look for is the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) label, which identifies mattresses made with organic latex. For a more extensive list of labels to look for, check out this useful Consumer Reports green mattress guide.
If you want a spring mattress, look for mattresses with coils that aren’t coated in chemicals. If you prefer a foam mattress, go with a brand that has organic latex foam made from the natural sap of rubber trees. For mattresses made of cotton or wool, look for options that are sewn together instead of glued with potentially toxic chemicals. Before shopping for a green and healthier mattress, check out the company online and read its reviews.
Even if your current mattress doesn’t meet today’s health or eco-friendly standards, it doesn’t mean you should toss it, especially if it’s comfortable. Products release the most fumes when they are new, but this process diminishes over time. Your old mattress might not be emitting harmful VOCs into the air anymore, depending on how long you’ve had it.
If buying a new organic mattress is out of your budget, as green mattresses tend to be more expensive, you can start by swapping your bed linens, pillows, and bed topper with ones made of organic materials. And if you suspect that your bed, sheets, comforter, and pillows contain VOCs, add spider plants and ferns to your bedroom. Both houseplants can soak up airborne pollutants and clean the air, creating a healthier space.