Do you want a natural living room – one that’s a peaceful and restful room? Your living room should be a place where your family and friends can freely gather without being exposed to numerous harmful chemicals.
Unfortunately, there are many items in our living room which can cause us harm - everything from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), to toxic PBDE flame retardants and formaldehyde.
But don’t lose hope! Creating a healthy, natural living room is possible by making some changes. You don’t have to change everything at once since some recommendations are less expensive than others, but start making some changes and then budget for the rest.
The best thing to do is to just begin!
Here are 11 different recommendations (in no particular order) to make your living room a healthier, more natural environment.
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Living rooms typically consist of many different pieces of furniture such as couches, chairs, end tables, entertainment centers, desks, book shelves.
It's important to make sure that the furniture in your living room is "safe". There are several considerations when purchasing non-toxic furniture – two of the largest being the presence or absence of flame retardants and formaldehyde.
Toxic flame retardants can be found in couches and sofas across the country.
Data sheets associated with chlorinated flame retardants such as Tris phosphate (TDCIPP) have been labeled as carcinogenic. These chemicals have been linked to measurable health impacts.
In daily use, the chemicals do not stay in the furniture. They travel out of the products and collect in indoor dust where they enter your body.
Furniture can also be treated with formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen that can off-gas for years. It can be found in plywood, pressed wood, particle board and medium density fiberboard.
In addition to flame retardants and formaldehyde, furniture can also contain toxic adhesives and be painted with high VOC paint. Furniture cushions can be made from polyurethane foam/plastic and fabric with acrylic, polyester or polyvinyl chloride. All of these can be toxic to the respiratory system.
When shopping for furniture, be sure to look for pieces made of either whole wood, glass, metal, chrome, wool, wicker, organic, or “green” building material so you can avoid exposure to flame retardants.
Don't let your living room become a dumping ground for everyone's stuff.
Clutter not only causes stress and overwhelm, but it can also be a place for dust, pollen and mold spores to hide.
Don't know where to begin? Do these things first when learning how to declutter.
Try keeping the clutter to a minimum in your living room by storing items in drawers or cabinets.
Go through magazines that you might have on your coffee tables and recycle the old ones.
Go through any piles of paperwork that might be laying around, including unopened mail. Toss anything that is no longer relevant.
Gather all of the remotes for your electronics and store them in a basket, or in another consolidated area.
If you have children's toys, pick them up and move them into storage bins.
If you have decorative pillows laying around the room, be sure to place them back on their appropriate chair or couch.
Your living room should be that - a room to live in, but not be overwhelmed in because of all of the piles laying around.
Since it's a room that everyone gathers in, it's important to keep your living room as clean as possible.
Cleaning your living room should keep dust mites and mold spores to a minimum.
Be sure to dust everything on a regular basis, including TVs, mirrors, shelves, mantels and the top of furniture.
Be sure to vacuum your living room floor regularly. If you have carpet in your living room, be sure to vacuum it with a HEPA vacuum on a regular basis. Carpet loves to harbor all sorts of things from bacteria and dust to mold spores. If you have tile flooring, be sure to mop it regularly.
Also, every so often, clean under chairs, couches and under sofa cushions. You might just find some coins under there!
Unfortunately, indoor air quality is bad.
According to the EPA, our indoor air can be more highly toxic than outdoor air. Harmful chemicals are found in many of the everyday products we bring into our home.
New products such as furniture or plastic items can off-gas harmful VOCs for many months.
Commercial cleaning products and air fresheners can also contain harmful ingredients such as synthetic fragrances which are made up of numerous chemicals.
You might also try setting air purifying plants around your living room, or place Moso Natural air purifying bags around. The bags contain bamboo charcoal which helps to absorb pollutants.
Here are some items which can provide you better indoor air quality:
NASA “collaborated with the Associated Contractors of America (ALCA) to come up with a list of the most beneficial flora for your home. Their informative Clean Air study found that some plants, more than others, could naturally filter harmful chemicals and help mitigate the effects they have on humans.”
Certain plants can eve help with the oxygen levels in your home. Others are able to remove amounts of benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia from the air.
A living room typically has quite a few electronic devices in it. Plus, if you have your office in the living room, that adds many more electronics.
Electrical devices emit toxic electrical frequencies called EMFs (Electromagnetic frequencies). These frequencies can cause damage to our DNA by disrupting electrical communication in our body.
It's best not to have your WiFi router near an area where you would be consistently. It's also a good idea to put a protective cover around your router that can limit the amount of EMFs you are exposed to.
Better yet, instead of using WiFi, run Ethernet cables to your electronic devices to limit your exposure to EMFs.
Do you have carpet in your living room? It might feel nice under your feet, but it can be harboring all sorts of nasty things such moisture, mold, dust, pesticides and dirt.
If you are in the market for new flooring, be sure to choose less toxic options such as ceramic, marmoleum, solid wood, or bamboo.
Flooring such as carpet and vinyl can contain numerous chemicals which can off-gas for a long period.
If you purchase rugs for your living room, be sure to look for ones which are not chemically treated, or have toxic underlay pads.
It’s always nice to spruce up a room by changing the wall color. However, due to the chemicals, adhesives and mold possibility, it’s best to stay away from hanging wallpaper.
If you want to turn your living room into a new color by painting it, be sure to choose Low or Zero-VOC paint.
You can even find paint which ultimately helps improve air quality by absorbing and neutralizing the amount of chemicals and pollutants in a room.
When you enter your home, it is always best to leave your shoes near the door. Shoes can contain dirt, bacteria, and remnants of chemicals and pesticides.
“Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, studied the bacteria on the bottom of shoes and found that they can track all kinds of gross stuff inside homes.”
Everything from fecal bacteria to E. coli can be found on the bottom of your shoe.
Instead of hanging curtains around your living room windows, you might want to opt for untreated wooden blinds instead.
Curtains can contain harmful chemicals that are in their fabric. Be sure to avoid curtains that say they are scotchguarded, stain-resistant, or pre-pressed.
Curtains are also a magnet for dust and mold spores. Both are bad for allergies.
If you want to have curtains in your living room, choose ones made from natural fabrics such as organic cotton, or hemp.
Do you have candles set out throughout your living room?
The glow of a candle might look nice, or help ease stress, but candles with synthetic fragrances can harm you with toxic emissions when they are burned.
Fortunately, there are some better candle options to light instead of harmful ones. If you like the glow of a candle, choose beeswax candles. Some beeswax candles are even scented with essential oils, so you can still have a scent that you enjoy, but not the harmful side effects.
Candles can also be used to purify the air. E3C candles are a good option for air purification.
Here are some non-toxic candles which can provide you better indoor air quality:
By taking these natural living room tips to heart, you will go a long way to having a more healthy home.
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