How Green Is My Home? – Part III – More Wake-Up Calls

Times like these bolster the argument

that buying the best quality you can afford

pays off in the long run



A higher quality product lasts longer

and looks better while aging.

The initial cost is amortized over time.  The difference is that now there are other important criteria to consider before bringing new products into the home.

Take lighting for example:

Beautiful, effective lighting is essential to good home design.  While there is a very long list of green options for the home, changing your light bulbs is easy and falls into the “no brainer” category.  CFL stands for compact fluorescent light.  Though they cost more, they also last 5 to 7 years, (which is about the life of 10 regular bulbs), but only uses about a quarter of the energy.

The problem has been that CFL’s have been on a par with the time “organic” meant “good for you but tastes like cardboard”.  For all their great commendable qualities, the light was cold and ugly.  It flickered too.   Ugly lighting doesn’t equal a good or even a pleasant solution.  Good news!  CFLs are very much improved.  The color of the light is warmer, and turns on instantly with no flickering.  The only downside is that most aren’t dimmable.  There’s a very helpful website called that can help you track down the dimmables that are available.

Let’s look at furniture and fabric:
How harmful can fabric be?  Sneaky harmful.  How much do you want to have insecticides potentially emitting lethal fumes indoors?  In the U.S. alone about a quarter of all cotton grown here is cultivated in soil containing bug killers.  Consider how wool is harvested.  Those lambs get very dirty.  Wool, because of the natural oils, is hard to clean.  Because of this, toxic solvents and detergents are frequently used.

100% organic cotton is available and labeled as such.  The same is true for wool. Wild-crafted silk is another good option. Bamboo and hemp are too hardy for bugs.  No insecticide is needed for their cultivation. Natural dyes don’t have the heavy metals that the chemical colorants often do.

Here’s a big wake-up call: Balance the fact that furniture built with responsibly harvested wood often costs more, with the other fact that according to

”The world’s forest cover is shrinking. Over the past 50 years nearly half of the world’s original forest cover has been lost…with another 40 million acres vanishing each year.  Forests absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, anchor soils, regulate the water cycle, protect against erosion, and provide a habitat for millions of species.  The forests are nature’s lungs…”

What can you do?  Chose pieces made from wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which ensures timber is harvested in a land-and habitat-friendly way.  Another way to go is to look for furniture companies that use reclaimed wood.

There’s more.  Constructing wooded furniture and frames takes nails and/or pegs and glue.  This furniture glue often has formaldehyde and can be found in finishes and plywood too.  Look for the use of natural and water-based alternatives as sealants instead.

Once you start looking for alternatives that won’t pollute the air in your home, it’s a wonderland of new materials.  Soy-based cushions, reclaimed plastic chair and sofa backs, pesticide free wool padding and formaldehyde-free medium density fiberboard are just a few of the new options.  Just start asking a lot of questions about how things are made, and you shall receive…a new education in the green ways of the world.

So here we are.  We can’t go home again, at least not without understanding that our homes are potentially toxic waste dumps in disguise.  Everything we do or don’t do, matters.

“Be the change you want to see in the world…”


You have to start somewhere…

Related Posts

How Green Is My Home – Part I – The Green Cosmic Joke

How Green Is My Home? – Part II – No Bliss In Ignorance

Seasonal Decorating: Spring Break

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