Tips for Reducing Indoor Air Pollution

Just as you drink pure water, isn’t it vital to ensure the air you breath is also clean and pure? Everyone can benefit from breathing cleaner air, and many people suffer horribly because of air pollution. It’s common for people to spend 75% of their time in their home and the sources of air pollution in a home can be many. Air pollution can happen during immediate emergency situations, such as a gas leak. It can also be slow, chronic, and less apparent; as with out-gassing of paints, fabrics, and upholstery. There are also biological toxins such as dust mites, pet dander, mold, and mildew.

The variation in chemicals and pollutants can produce a range of effects. For some people, these pollutants bring on headaches, others experience sinus congestion or coughing, and allergic rhinitis is not unheard of. Arguably, most “elevated” attacks are the result of exposure to multiple pollutants all at once, as may happen when painting in a non-ventilated room. But what about the allergies and asthma and other respiratory ailments that are exacerbated by constant exposure to air pollutants?

The Argument for Ventilation

Open your windows! Creating circulation is so important. The recent emphasis on energy conservation has caused homes to be constructed in an air-tight, sealed way; this traps pollutants right in your home. Ventilation can help remove the pollution. The Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute in New Jersey studied indoor air pollution and lung function and their conclusions directly cited improved ventilation as a means to reduce harmful effects of indoor air pollution.

Tips to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home

Have your HVAC system cleaned regularly. The effectiveness of HVAC duct cleaning procedures in improving indoor air quality was examined by Florida International University in Miami; evidence suggested cleaning the system was beneficial.

Replace toxic or chemical-based cleaning products with natural, organic alternatives. There are options available and most appropriate stores carry at least a few of them. Or, make your own- vinegar and baking soda works great on drains.

house plant

Avoid the fragrant, aerosol spray cans. Instead, use essential oils with a diffuser. Lavender, lemongrass, and tea tree or orange-blossom oil work great and don’t contain any air-polluting chemicals. You can also dilute oils in distilled water and use a spray bottle for a chemical-free home or office spray.

Plants are natural air purifiers and great home decor. A study from NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America found that plants suck in toxic chemicals through their leaves, and the roots and soil bacteria remove trace levels of toxic vapors.

As your budget allows, when replacing larger items, begin switching over to chemical-free, non-toxic furniture and bedding. Buy natural wooden furniture, not particleboard.

The Quick and Easy

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • To discourage mold and mildew, keep humidity levels low.
  • Regularly check your fuel-burning appliances for leaks.
  • Invest in a quality indoor air purifier, air filtration is one of the most feasible methods to improve IAQ.

Enjoy the Cumulative Benefits of Breathing Clean Air

Breathing cleaner air isn’t just for folks with asthma, allergies, or children. As much as doing it for the kids warms the cockles of our hearts, the fact is that we ALL can benefit from breathing cleaner air, especially over the long term; research proves it. A Brazilian study evaluated situations where ventilation had been in place for greater than 20 years; researchers found that the long-term air-conditioning offered a protective effect against the building-related worsening of respiratory symptoms.

Urban Apartment Gardening: Gardening Tips For Apartment Dwellers

I remember the days of apartment dwelling with mixed feelings. The spring and summer were especially hard on this lover of green things and dirt. My interior was festooned with houseplants but growing veggies and larger specimens were something of a challenge, having minimal room on the patio or balcony. Fortunately, urban gardening ideas abound and there is a host of ways to grow tiny gardens for the space restricted gardener.

Challenges for Urban Gardening in Apartments

Finesse and commitment are required for urban apartment gardening. Space is not the only issue. Lighting and ventilation pose a concern, as well as the species and varieties which will thrive in confined and restricted spaces. Over the years, I gleaned some tips on how to grow a garden in an apartment. Follow along as we investigate gardening tips for apartment dwellers for a successful tiny landscape that is both beautiful and productive. Many apartment denizens lack an outdoor patio, lanai or balcony on which to grow and nurture green things. Some of the ways to get around this obstacle might be to purchase grow lights or use a hydroponic pod kit. The lights will provide the proper amount of energy while hydroponic kits enhance growth with nutrient solutions and self-watering simplicity. Either solution is available in a space saving model, which is useful for smaller crops or herb gardens.

Budget-minded gardeners may not have the funds to shell out for special urban gardening ideas like these, but there are still some plants that can tolerate a low light windowsill and produce fairly well.

Try herbs like:

Parsley

Chives

Mint Lemon balm

Oregano

The plants won’t get huge, but they will still be healthy enough for you to harvest some fresh grown flavor for your recipes.

Vertical Urban Apartment Gardening

Small spaces can still grow a plethora of plants if you think “up.” Vertical gardening is one of the gardening tips for apartment dwellers that works and conserves space. Growing up allows plants to seek the light and keeps sprawlers from taking over the lanai or balcony. Use stakes, trellises, hanging pots, and layered gardens in step planters to achieve the goal. Choose plants with similar preferences and install them in one large pot. For instance, place a smaller variety tomato in the center and plant herbs like basil or cilantro around it. Use a trellis to train upward a cucumber plant or plant some sweet peas to easily dance up a wall with a string system. Vertical solutions for urban gardening in apartments can be made out of old wood, fencing, wire, and many other free or recycled items. The sky is the limit or maybe it is your imagination.

How to Grow a Garden in an Apartment

The first step is to assess whether you are a candidate for an indoor or outdoor system. Next, choose your containers and decide if vertical gardening is a choice for you. Containers can be almost anything but make sure they are well draining. Use the best soil possible because limited nutrients are a hazard in small spaces. This makes fertilizing especially important since containerized plants have minimal nutrients stored in the soil, and once they use that up they don’t have access to more. The crucial decision is the choice of plants. Take into consideration your zone, lighting, amount of time you wish to spend on the plant and space. Herb gardens are one of the best beginner projects, but over time, you might be able to suspend an indeterminate tomato vine over your curtain rods.

Practice is key and don’t be afraid to step out of the box. Using seeds is a great way to learn how to grow a garden in an apartment with minimal expense and often excellent results.

Apartment Gardening Guide – Information On Apartment Gardening For Beginners

Living in an apartment doesn’t have to mean living without plants. Gardening on a small scale can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Experts will enjoy focusing their attention on a few of the more exotic and exciting species, while apartment gardening for beginners may mean getting to know some spectacular, easy-to-grow plants that can help you find your green thumb. Let’s take a look at some ideas for urban gardening in apartments.

Apartment Gardening Ideas Outdoors:

Outdoor container gardens for apartment dwellers is much easier if you use self-watering containers with reservoirs that hold enough water to keep the soil moist without constant attention. Outdoor containers, particularly those in full sun, dry out quickly on hot days and may need watering more than once a day in the heat of summer. With a self-watering container, you don’t have to arrange your life around a watering schedule. Patios and balconies are ideal places for plants. Before you buy your plants, watch to see how much sun your space receives. Eight hours of direct sunlight per day is considered full sun. Four to six hours is partial shade and less than four hours is shade.

Evaluate the space in spring or summer after all the surrounding trees and shrubs are in full leaf, and choose plants appropriate for the amount of light available. Do you use your outdoor space more in the daytime or at night? White and pastel flowers show best at night, while deep blues and purples need sunlight to show off their colors. If you enjoy a relaxing evening outdoors, consider growing plants that release their fragrance at night, such as nicotiana and moonflower. For small spaces, choose plants that grow up rather than out. Bushy shrubs can soften the appearance of the patio, but they take up a lot of space.

Choose columnar or pyramidal plants for tight spaces. Urban gardening in apartments should be a pleasure, not a chore. If you are short of time, you’ll have lots of lovely plants to choose from that need very little attention. If you want a challenge, you’ll find plenty of plants that fill that need, too.

Above all, choose plants that thrive in your apartment garden conditions, look good, fit well in the space, and appeal to you.

Apartment Gardening Guide Indoors:

Learn to make the most of your indoor gardening space by choosing plants that grow well in a variety of different locations. Reserve bright windowsills for flowering plants that need lots of sun.

Plants with bright or variegated foliage, such as polka dot plant and croton, develop the best color near a bright window but out of direct light. Peace lilies and cast iron plants are noted for their ability to thrive in dim corners and recesses of your apartment. Small potted plants look more appealing in groups. Placing them in small clusters raises the humidity in the surrounding air, and results in healthier plants.

Hanging baskets are a great way to display trailing plants, and it leaves tabletops for plants that are best seen at or below eye level. Small trees add tranquility and tropical appeal to an indoor setting.

Keep in mind that palms can’t be pruned back. Palms grow slowly, and if you choose small specimens you’ll save money and enjoy them for several years. Indoor fruit trees and flowering trees need long periods of bright sunlight every day.

Filling your indoor space with plants creates a relaxing environment and helps purify the air. Peace lilies, pothos and English ivy are among the easiest plants to grow, and NASA studies have shown that they filter toxins such as ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Other good plants that improve air quality include date palms, rubber plants and weeping figs.

Ten Tips on Local Advocacy

1. Develop a plan (or don’t wait for a crisis).

If your garden is not protected, understand exactly who owns the land. Know exactly what you are asking for and who you are asking. Is there a public process or is it “who knows whom”? Your plan should include the other tips listed below. Meanwhile keep the garden looking great!

2. Develop allies.

Community gardens, low-income housing organizations, churches, schools, community development organizations all serve the same constituencies. Introduce potential allies, including government officials and business leaders, to the garden. Determine areas of commonality and find ways to have gardeners help your allies. Be sure to ask your allies to take specific actions to help your cause.

3. Be prepared for opposition.

Acknowledge, in advance, that there will be objections to your efforts. Know both who is likely to be in opposition and what objections they will raise. Read opposition material, study the newspapers, watch or listen to talk shows, and check websites. Determine if there are any points of commonality.  Learn, if possible, if you have contacts with those to whom the opposition listens.

4. Become known.

Invite decision-makers and the media to your garden.  Host activities for neighbors. Share your produce. Do other community services – a children’s program; horticulture therapy, conduct neighborhood clean-ups, and plant tree-pits. Make presentations at nearby neighborhood and tenant association meetings.

5. Use the media.

Developacompellingmessagewhichincludeswhatyouareaskingforandaconvincing reason why you should get it. Determine spokespersons and have them practice giving your message. Make a list of the human interest stories of your garden. Write up the stories (with photos!) for neighborhood weeklies. Invite newspaper and TV garden reporters to the garden. Don’t forget public access cable TV.

6. Meetings, meetings, meetings.

Be prepared to attend public meetings of the city council, planning department, parks commission, city planning and zoning hearings, and health department. Whenever possible sign up to speak at these meetings and present your message. Host meetings of your own to inform and motivate gardeners.

7. Resolutions, plans, and ordinances.

Take the offense. Get friendly local legislators to sponsor and champion resolutions and ordinances supporting community gardening. Be alert for opportunities to have community gardening promoted and sanctioned within a neighborhood and citywide planning and re-zoning efforts.

8. Celebrate successes.

Preservation efforts can take many years. However, there can always be something to celebrate (alliances with new organizations, a successful harvest, a resolution sponsored). To keep up spirits, demonstrate progress, become known, use the media, and involve allies – have a press conference, parties, and congratulatory award events.

9. Be persistent.

The opposition is hoping that you will just go away. Don’t let them wear you down. This is why having parties (tip #8) is so important. It is really important that gardeners really do go to ALL the meetings!

10. Be flexible.

Be open to changing your campaign to reflect the needs of allies or what you realize is a more realistic long-term success. For example, you may lose a garden, but gain a commitment to the building of a permanently protected and larger garden across the street.