So many of us Canadians spend a lot of time indoors during the winter months. With everything sealed up to prevent heat loss, we get a super bubble environment. A super bubble that is usually 100 (and sometimes 1000) times more toxic than the air we breathe outside (Ecoholic Home, 2009). Seriously. Our houses are potentially a super smog bubble.
We have chatted about ways to decrease our indoor toxic exposure by revamping our greening supplies and I have actually just progressed to phasing in water and vinegar (and tea tree and lavender oil) for regular bathroom sink, toilet and counter cleaning.
Another option that doesn't involve completely renovating, ripping out carpets (although if this is an option- DO IT, carpets have a TON of gross crap in them that get spewed up with each vacuum), repainting.... would be house plants.
I will admit that I have killed cacti... by UNDER watering them. Yep, I dehydrated a water-resistent plant. I have slowly improved in my plant keeping skills, but am admittedly a bit of a spaz when it comes to growing stuff. However, if I can grow stuff anyone can.
The trick, I have discovered, is to grow to your light capacity. Andrew and I had houseplants every place we have lived. While in BC we ONLY ever lived in basement apartments, one with the tiny basement windows. I had five plants in that apartment, all low light and they all lived. My favourite- the ZZ plant (which you sometimes see in malls, they kinda look fake...).
In our apartment here we have a bit more success with 14 plants (wow!), one of which is definitely not happy (the xmas cactus....) and two that are pot bound. Since I'm too lazy though, they remain to be repotted.
House plants are wonderful at clarifying the air, taking in toxins and pooping out nice clean oxygen (ok, maybe not pooing, but ya know..).
Different plants will filter different chemicals and according to "Plants for your Health" the three most common chemicals found in homes are:
Trichloroethylene: effects similar to alcohol poisoning; headache, dizziness with long term damage to the liver and kidneys. Found in varnishes, lacquers adhesives (like in particle board), dry cleaning and paints.
plants that can help: Peace Lily, marginata, gerbera daisies.
Benzene: can cause drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting and unconsciousness. Has a pleasant smell which is why it used to be in aftershave... (ick!). Found in detergents, synthetic fibres, plastics, tobacco smoke, inks, oils.
plants that can help: English Ivy, Chrysanthemums, peace lily
Formaldehyde: Can cause headaches, watery eyes and difficulty breathing. Is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA. Found in clothes, plywood, carpet, particle board, paper goods, furniture...
plants that can help: Spider plant, golden pathos, philodendron, corn plant, bamboo palm...
I highly recommend checking out the article, there are more specifics on what plants help with which item (furniture vs oil) and am very interested in finding this "How to grow fresh air" book.
Another essential reason for surrounding yourself with plants is to strengthen the connection between us and nature. As many of us live in the city or a town, we often spend our entire days surrounded by concrete and minimal plants. Even Halifax, with many trees, definitely pales in comparison to growing up in rural Nova Scotia.
Having plants reminds us that we SHOULD remain connected to our Planet, as we are a part of the Sacred Balance. We cannot pretend to be separate and we cannot forget that our actions have direct consequences on our health.
I love mindfully watering our plants and meditating on them during yoga practice. There is nothing more peaceful than surrounding yourself with LIFE during your practice. I find studios that are lacking in plants barren and sterile. No matter the colour scheme, it is all artificial and contrived until you add plants.
Have a new studio, or have recently painted (low or no VOC paint I hope!)? Add plants to help decrease the benzene and formaldehyde your yogi-nis are breathing in during their practice. No one goes to yoga in order to inhale carcinogens....
article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com