Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Breathe Easy

In our last post we talked about exhaust fans. Even using exhaust fans efficiently won't take care of other, longer lasting odors ... like garbage cans, clothes hampers or diaper pails? And what about the lingering smell of some foods ... have you ever left the house only to return and be greeted by the smell of last night's dinner?

The first thing to do, of course, is remove the source ... which works relatively well with garbage. Odors from diaper pails, clothes hampers and foods are not so easily removed. Parents using Eco-friendly diapers (disposables are not Eco-friendly) need to wash them. And washing one diaper at a time doesn't support our "only full loads", environmentally friendly washing practices ... not that new parents have time for washing one diaper at a time anyway. The same holds true for clothes ... gym outfits or dirty work clothes may smell but ... if there aren't enough clothes for a full load ... what do we do? Food odors are also hard to remove ... they seem to linger in the walls.

Perhaps air fresheners would work. You've seen the commercials ... a lovely woman sprays a fine mist into the air ... or plugs some little gadget into the wall ... and voila ... clean air, reminiscent of mountain breezes and spring. But wait ... are these products safe and good for the environment? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 12 out of 14 common air fresheners, of various forms (solids, sprays, etc.), including some marked "natural" or "unscented", contained hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates (you can read their article HERE). Phthalates were not listed on the label. Additionally, many of these products are housed in earth unfriendly materials such as plastic.

Do we just have to live with the odors ... walk around with our noses covered or pinched shut with clothes pins? Nope ... here are some ideas:

  • Make your own essential-oil-based spray. Combine 30-40 drops, total, of up to three of your favorite oils with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle (an earth-friendly one, of course). Shake well and spritz in clothes hampers, kitchen compost bins, etc.

  • Use diluted vinegar to wipe down the inside of garbage cans and diaper pails. If you soak diapers, pour a cup of vinegar into the soaking water.

  • Sprinkle baking soda into diaper pails and clothes hampers.

  • Sprinkle aromatic spices in hampers ... or to enhance a room, place spices in a bowl (just place them out of your child's reach) ... try cinnamon, ginger or cloves.

  • Put a few drops of essential oil or extracts (vanilla, almond, etc.) on a light bulb. When you turn on the light ... the room will become infused with fragrance.

  • Burn a fragrant soy candle. Soy candles don't pollute and they are environmentally friendly.

  • Put a cotton ball, soaked in your favorite essential oil into the vacuum bag ... it'll freshen the air as you clean.

Freshen your air with these environmentally safe ideas and you'll breathe easy for sure!

As always ... I'd love to hear from you!