Tips for Creating a Clean, Healthy and Holistic Living Environment

We like to believe we live in homes that are clean, comforting and revitalizing. But the truth is that demands on our time can make it difficult to create a truly healthy living environment. It’s convenient to reach for traditional cleaning materials, even though many include ingredients that are toxic to us and harmful to the environment. And the expediencies of daily living leave you with a home that’s little more than a place for storing excess belongings, which just seem to keep multiplying. Meanwhile, you wonder why you don’t feel rested and seem unable to relieve stress, even though the problem is all around you.

Eco-friendly cleaning

If you’re accustomed to using name-brand cleaning products and aren’t ready to switch to lemon juice, you’ll be happy to know there are some very established and reliable natural cleaning products on the market. Bon Ami powder cleanser, which has been around since 1886, is a safe and natural alternative to bleach-based cleaning products. Bon Ami uses limestone and feldspar to create a gentle abrasive effect that cleans the nastiest stains in your oven and on the stovetop, but with no toxic residue.

Borax, another familiar brand, is also safe and eco-friendly, made of a naturally-occurring mineral (which includes water, sodium, boron and oxygen) that humans have been using for 4,000 years. It’s antifungal and antiviral, and when mixed with water, produces a reaction that sanitizes and brightens clothing.

There’s a growing number of plant-based cleaning substances available in grocery and hardware stores. Seventh Generation Dish Liquid is a popular and natural USDA-certified product that gets dishes sudsy-clean without using chemicals that are harmful to the environment.

Toward a natural, holistic home

A growing trend toward an open, less-oppressive living environment has produced considerable interest in design approaches such as Feng shui and Biophilia. Biophilic design comes from a theory, introduced by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, that human beings have an innate desire to connect with nature. That hypothesis gave rise to the biophilic design ethos.

There’s more to it than adding a few houseplants and declaring yourself “green.” Biophilia is about balance and incorporating natural elements like plants, water, stone and daylight. Clean breathing air is also key to a naturally-balanced and healthy home, so keep your air quality safe by replacing dirty air filters with AprilAire filters on a regular basis. They’ll remove allergens, pollutants and contaminants from your home that can lead to illness and aggravate allergies.

Keeping your ‘stuff’ organized

By now, it’s widely recognized that a cluttered home can cause stress, anxiety and even depression. There’s considerable science behind that theory: UCLA researchers studied 32 families, and found that clutter has a “profound effect” on mood and self-esteem. Maintaining a restful, stress-free zone requires a determination to unload excess “stuff” and keep everything else organized.

There are many strategies that can help you achieve that goal. Begin by picking up 5 or 6 objects you don’t have a place for, and get rid of them or find (or create) storage space for them. Only keep objects that are used regularly, and repeat this practice every day.

For those items you just can’t part with, put them in a box or bin to be stored in the attic or basement, and label it “For reconsideration,” or “Throw out later on.” This decluttering strategy can help keep you organized and make it easier to get rid of things you really don’t need.  

Many of us take for granted that our homes are the healthy havens we need them to be. But clutter, toxic substances, and a casual indifference to design and layout work against us. Establishing a renewing, environmentally-friendly home is an investment in your family’s happiness and well-being.

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