Great question, and one I get asked a lot! First, let me start by saying don’t be overwhelmed! Much like the way you might approach changes to diet or exercise - most people don’t suddenly go cold turkey, throw out all their food and start hitting the weights room - it’s more of a progression of slow and steady changes that make the difference.
I have a few things I always tell people.
1) Buy non-toxic bedroom furniture and bedding, we spend ⅓ of our lives sleeping so please please do that on a non-toxic mattress and pillows, and if you have kids or babies this is even more critical. Ideally you would do this all at once (yes, that is how important that is) but obviously this can be cost prohibitive so I always tell clients, just remember next time you are buying a mattress, a bed frame or sheets to go organic and non-toxic.
Since having my own baby, I have grown fiercely passionate about nursery design and styling. If you are expecting a new baby please think carefully about every item you bring into that nursery, from the paint on the walls, glue under the wallpaper (or even the ink on the wallpaper), carpets / rugs, furniture, crib mattress & change pad, crib bedding (the list could go on)...all of it can be covered in a toxic soup of chemicals that can be so harmful, especially for a little baby with an underdeveloped body.
When I first began furnishing my son’s nursery I realised that finding high quality, low-emission furniture that was budget friendly was challenging. In the EU their standards are much stricter on use of formaldehyde and VOC’s in furniture items, but their costs are higher (plus shipping), but after a lot of research, and many calls to manufacturers I found there are some great, smaller local places that have options for smaller budgets (did I also mention IKEA?) so do your research or contact my office for advice!
2) Detox your kitchen and bathroom. Less of a design or architectural tip but critical to improve IAQ. Remove any cleaners, beauty, laundry and hair care products with ingredients you don’t understand. Essentially, if you can’t eat it, don’t use it. This will go a long way in improving the quality of your indoor air.
3) To tie into the above, invest in a quality HEPA air filter. I have a few I like depending on the contaminants you’re trying to remove, based on site testing. If a good quality air filter is out of the question, then indoor plants are a great budget friendly option, or even easier...open your windows!
4) Don’t be overwhelmed! Small changes can have a huge impact. Remove your shoes at the door, open your windows, vacuum with a HEPA filter (regular vacuums just break up the dust into smaller particles and spread them around the room), invest in a water filter for your shower and kitchen (or a countertop version) and avoid buying plastic - these are some very easy ways to keep toxins from entering your home.
photo credit Nick Glimenakis (@nickglimenakis)