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Homeowners are rewarding companies that reduce the environmental effects of their products and systems
For decades, clever marketing executives convinced consumers that adding something new to any product guaranteed it was improved. That included a generation of synthetic chemicals that did in fact stabilize and lengthen the shelf-life of everything from paint to face cream to soup.
But the bloom faded as it become clear that some so-called miracle ingredients in household/personal care products contribute to air pollution — both in the general atmosphere and in the home — or pose a threat to human health.
Now, manufacturers are moving to eliminate noxious elements from their products, and repair environmentally problematic aspects of their manufacture or distribution.
One of the first big paints brands to do so was Benjamin Moore, which now sells a 100 per cent acrylic Eco Spec line with zero VOCs or emissions that’s both Green Seal certified and asthma and allergy friendly.
Concern about air quality in the home is fuelling predictions that the global residential air purifier market will be worth US$ 6.7 billion by 2030. Homeowners have a slew of options from brands like Sharp, Honeywell, Panasonic, and Dyson, which has a growing line of fans that can heat, cool, circulate, purify, and humidify air.
One of them even eliminates the potentially harmful effect of formaldehyde found in household materials like pressed wood, cleaners, carpet, and wallpaper.
Performance is key to controlling air quality, according to Alex Knox, a Dyson VP. “The off-gassing tendency of formaldehyde means that it can build up within the home and go undetected for years, while humidifiers without sufficient water treatment can project polluted water droplets into the air,” he says.
TIP: When researching an air purifier, check the specs to make sure you get the right unit for the room size. It should be able to replace air volume two or three times an hour.
Easy ways to keep air cleaner in the home are to vacuum, dust, and sweep often, eliminate perfumed or caustic cleaners, and open windows — even briefly — when you can.
Technology that removes contaminants from residential water systems is increasingly available to homeowners.
American Standard’s Spectra shower system removes up to 50 per cent of chlorine, which can dry or damage skin and hair. With a replaceable filter that’s built into the rail, the Spectra has four spray settings, including massage, and is mounted on an adjustable gliding holder.
Because existing plumbing can be used, it makes for a relatively affordable, easy-to-install bathroom update. It comes in brushed nickel or polished chrome finishes.
Expect to see more use of residential “greywater” systems that divert water used in showers, baths, and sinks to landscaping, says Josep Ferrer of Greywater Corps in California.
“Greywater can be applied to a wide range of landscape designs, from tropical to edible gardens with fruit. In low-water gardens, it can be applied to key plants like fruit trees, shade trees, and perennials,” he explains.
Homeowners are also rewarding companies that reduce the environmental effects of their systems and management. One of those is the Canadian company Attitude, which is reducing single-use plastic in its expanding range of personal care and household products.
A new line of Leaves beauty bars for body/hair, deodorants, and lip balms are verified by the Environmental Working Group not to contain any designated “ingredients of concern,” and are hypoallergenic, waterless, vegan, and not tested on animals. Packaging is made from recyclable FSC-certified cardboard.
Hello just announced a partnership with TerraCycle in Canada, under which consumers can recycle packaging waste from its personal care products, including toothpaste tubes, mouthwash bottles, caps, and toothbrushes through a mail-back program.
Product is collected, cleaned, and melted into hard plastic that’s remade into new product. Each shipment gets collectors “points” that can be directed to support non-profit, school or charitable organizations. Packaging waste from any brand is accepted because Hello founder Craig Dubitsky says “friendly recycling for all is just how we roll.”
Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House, www.aroundthehouse.
ca. Check her out on Instagram@athwithvicky, on Twitter ATHwithVickyand