Your Natural Home
Creating a cozy hearth for the family

Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Options

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While being a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibilities, getting to make modifications and renovations can be a perk of owning your home. When it comes time to revamp, consider what improvements can be made that can both reduce your carbon footprint, as well as increase the value of your property.

Solar Panels

Many homeowners are taking advantage of refinancing their home and are spending the money saved on their monthly mortgage payment on new solar panels. Although the upfront costs of solar panels may be deterring you from installing them on your home (though they are getting cheaper every year), the rewards are much higher. The average home with solar panels is saving about $80 a month. Depending on the state that you live in, you can receive tax breaks and rebates on your installed solar panels. Some states also offer subsidies to offset those initial installment costs. If you are not ready to take the leap and purchase panels from your home, several companies now lease solar panels that can be removed when you move out.

Energy Efficient Windows

During the coldest months of winter and the hottest months of summer, energy-efficient windows will cut back on the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home. Outdated windows allow for heated and cooled air to escape at a rapid rate, costing you more money than is often realized. By not having to run your furnace or air conditioning as often, you can feel pride in doing your small part in reducing your environmental impact while still remaining comfortable in your home. If you have other home improvements that take priority, you can also increase energy efficiency by installing high-quality, thick curtains to retain climate-controlled air inside your home. An added benefit to energy-efficient windows is they also cut down on the amount of noise pollution coming into and out of your house — offering you and your family a bit more peace and quiet.

Gardens

When considering what improvements can be made to your property, don’t forget to look towards the exterior. Map out where you can install a garden, if you don’t already have one. Growing your own food can help to reduce the carbon footprint of your meals by a large amount. Food production and transport in the United States in one of the top three contributors to carbon emissions. By eating a more plant-based diet, consisting of vegetables grown on your own property, you can significantly reduce your impact.

In addition to a conventional garden, you can also utilize the exterior home for added growing space. Beans and squash can create decorative vines on the outside of your home, while also producing food for you and your family. Installing green roofs on your home can also make it more energy efficient. The plants help to absorb heat and work to insulate your home to keep it cooler in the summer months while also being aesthetically pleasing.

Repurpose

Before getting too excited about going shopping for new countertops and appliances, research how you can use what you already have and what simple updates can be made. Perhaps those vinyl countertops could be stripped and revamped with recycled-paper tops instead of removing all of the countertops and shipping them off to the landfill. If your home is older, there may be beautiful wood flooring underneath the carpet that you want to replace. The carpet can be recycled while you can sand and lacquer your home’s original flooring to create a unique look without wasting further building supplies. If you update your windows, make sure to donate them  to your local ReStore to give them the chance to serve a purpose in another home or project. Explore your local antique shops and recycling centers to see what other items can be used as opposed to using virgin material and newly manufactured goods when updating your home.

Being environmentally savvy when making home improvements has a big payback — it can save you money and you’ll be doing your part to reduce your environmental impact. Each year, innovative offerings expand the possibilities of ways to improve your home. Make a list of your priorities to update in your home and then research ways to do so that will benefit both you and the environment.

The Incredible Health Benefits of Houseplants

Getting healthy can seem daunting, with so much advice and varying opinions, how do you even begin? Luckily, adopting a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be as confusing as one may think. There are plenty of ways to become healthy without having to start a new diet or workout regimen.

In fact, simply adding new plants into your home can ignite a multitude of health benefits, and without sweat. Plants are truly the ultimate health supplement, healing our bodies, providing cleaner air, reducing our stress, and keeping us calm. Here are some of the amazing benefits houseplants have to offer.

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Photo by Jackie Tsang

Breathe Cleaner Air

90 percent of our time is spent indoors, and the air we breathe is likely polluted. In fact, indoor air is more polluted than the air outside. Thankfully, many houseplants act as air filters removing toxic chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde from our air supply.

In the 1980s NASA completed a study of a variety of houseplants finding more than 30 that act as filters, such as the Snake plant, Boston Fern, and Peace Lily. If it’s good enough for NASA and the space station, it’s good enough for us.

Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Do you find yourself feeling calmer in nature, surrounded by trees and plants, compared to the hustle and bustle of city life? Well, it’s not just due to the quiet of your escape.

It’s been shown that plants have the ability to boost mood as well as decrease stress. Participants in a 2008 study who had indoor plants in their hospital rooms reported less stress and a better outlook on their prognosis.

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Photo by Dan Gold

Heal Faster

In addition to reducing stress, plants can actually improve healing time! Studies have shown that patients recovering from surgery who have a view of a garden or plants actually recover quicker than those who face a wall or have no windows overlooking plants and trees. Don’t forget to bring your loved ones plants whenever they’re sick.

Increase Focus

Do you have trouble focusing on tasks or work? Get yourself some plants. Research has shown that plants in the workplace boost productivity and morale, often by as much as 15 percent. If you’re working on a deadline, bring in some green power to help you perform better. Plants can be a big boost when it comes to concentration and performance.

Plants are more than home décor. They’re life-giving, immune-boosting, stress-reducing miracles that we encounter every day. And while not everyone enjoys ingesting these powerful foods, why not start by bringing them into your home and start your healthcare journey right, one houseplant at a time.

A Tale of Wood and Stone: Perfect Inspiration for Your Natural Bathroom Design

Summer is almost around the corner, and if you're planning to renovate your bathroom in the near future — now is the time to get it done! A combination of stone and wood is definitely one of the most wanted trends these days, especially when it comes to bathroom décor, so stay with us if you want to learn how to incorporate it into your own bathroom. Just check out our tips and enjoy!

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Photo by Getty Images/KatarzynaBialasiewicz.

Amazing ways to use stone in your bathroom

A lot of people nowadays turn to natural materials and start incorporating them into their own homes, and we have to say that stone is definitely one of such materials. More and more homeowners opt for it when it comes to their bathroom renovation, so keep on reading if you're thinking about that, too. Here are three fantastic ways to use stone in your bathroom:

Use stone on your walls for added texture

The first and one of the most common uses of stone is adding more texture to your bathroom, which is exactly why you should use it on your walls — or at least one of them. Even though a lot of people may think that stone walls seem way too cold and unwelcoming, that's everything but the truth, especially when combined with decorations made of wood which significantly contribute to an even better visual effect.

Stone floors are never a bad idea

On the other hand, stone floors are also a fantastic idea, as these can give you an impression of walking somewhere in nature, where human feet have never walked before. Needless to say, matching stone floors with stone walls is a good idea if that's your cup of tea. However, if it isn't, you should go for one of these only and give your bathroom a complete makeover. Giving stone floor a try is probably one of the best things you can do for your interior, but if you worry that there may be a bit cold for you to walk barefoot, you can always buy a soft, fluffy rug that will keep your feet warm whenever you enter your perfectly decorated bathroom.

Wash sinks and tubs made of stone as the ultimate bathroom pieces

If stone walls and floors are way too much for your taste and you have a limited budget for your bathroom renovation, you should know that there are other amazing ways to incorporate stone into your interior. Wash sinks and tubs made from stone often look really luxurious and powerful, and these will inevitably transform your bathroom in more ways than you can possibly imagine. So, if you aren't really sure what to do, just opt for a stone wash sink and you won't regret it!

Fantastic ways to use wood in your bathroom

On the other hand, wood undoubtedly provides a warm, welcoming, and charming atmosphere, which is exactly why a lot of homeowners love to use it in their bathrooms. Here's how you can incorporate it into your bathroom, so check out our tips and make a final decision:

Tubs made of wood are also a great idea...

If stone tubs aren't really your thing, why wouldn't you opt for one made of wood instead, while keeping your stone wash sink for a fabulous contrast? Seriously, the stone & wood combination can look really luxurious and royal, but quite natural at the same time, too, and that's why millions of people adore it so much. A long, hot bath in a wooden tub will help you achieve a peaceful state of mind and allow you to relax to the max, so take advantage of that and install such a tub right away. Of course, you shouldn't do that on your own under any circumstances, so call a trusty bathroom renovator and get it done in no time!

... As well as romantic wooden floors

As already stated, wood is a material that can make the whole interior feel a lot warmer and more pleasant, and wooden floors are exactly what you need if you want to accomplish that. These aren't as cold as stone floors, but we strongly recommend getting a fluffy rug here, too — especially if you have small kids who are a bit messy when it comes to their bath time. After all, your rug is much better for soaking up all that water, rather than your wooden floor, right?

You can't go wrong with bathroom decoration made of wood

Last but not least, there's a wide range of bathroom decorations made of wood which can transform even the most ordinary interior and make it appear much more cosy and pleasant. You can always opt for a couple of wooden shelves where you can keep your bathroom necessities, as well as towel and bar soap holders made from this material. One thing is certain — you won't make a mistake whichever you pick!

As you can see, both stone and wood are at the top of our list of most wanted materials when it comes to bathroom renovation. All you have to do is to stick to our tips and choose features made of stone and wood, and once that's done, you'll be able to enjoy your natural bathroom décor like a true pro!

Are Your Cleaning Products Causing Your Migraines?

A migraine can be triggered by particular scents and odors. You may have experienced a headache yourself if you worked next to someone wearing heavy perfume or walked into a public restroom with an industrial sanitizer in use.

Smells are not the only thing that can cause a migraine to start. Certain volatile chemicals, even those with little odor, can cause nausea and headaches in some people.

If you notice that you develop migraines after a bout of housecleaning, it’s possible your cleaning products are to blame.

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Photo by Adobe Stock/Sergey

Cleaning Products Can Trigger Migraines

In fact, cleaning products are one of the most commonly reported triggers for migraines. To be technical, the chemicals contained in many cleaning products directly irritate the trigeminal nerve receptors in the nasal lining. Migraine sufferers are particularly sensitive to this type of irritation.

It’s no wonder, considering the chemicals in many of them. Migraines are not only painful; they steal your time and energy that you would rather use for almost anything else.

  • A cleaning product may have any or all of the following: fragrance, solvents, and irritants.
  • The fragrance is typically used to mask the odor of solvent.
  • Solvents include alcohols, propylene glycol, glycol ethers, and others. Irritants include kerosene and formaldehyde.
  • These chemicals are known as VOCs or volatile organic compounds.

Some organic compounds not only trigger migraines and other illnesses, but some are also carcinogenic over long use or in high-exposure situations.

While not strictly cleaning products, today's consumer preference for automatic air fresheners and scent defusing devices may have a negative impact on your health. You may have noticed that going to a friend or family member's home seems to result in a migraine, and it isn't because of tension or stress.

Reducing Migraines During Cleaning

Unfortunately, the house doesn’t clean itself. And not everyone wants or can afford a cleaning service. There are several things you can do to prevent a migraine the next time you need to mop the floor, dust, or scrub.

Bleach, Pine-Sol, Febreze, and other heavily scented products tend to cause problems in people with sensitive noses and a tendency towards migraines. Petroleum-based scents especially seem to linger on furniture and in carpets.

  • Choose the right products. Look for so-called “green” products and technologies that avoid using volatile organic chemicals.
  • Make sure the area is well-ventilated. Take breaks. Pace yourself and notice when you begin to feel unwell.
  • Use products according to the directions on the label. Whether it is a multi-surface cleaner or a specialized detergent, make sure you are using it as the manufacturer intended.
  • Never mix cleaning products. You could develop a migraine, or you could poison yourself.

Only purchase the amount of product you will use in a reasonable time. Stockpiling bleach or other products can lead to accidental spills or the degradation of the product, which could release worse compounds.

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Photo by Adobe Stock/gpointstudio

Products Recommended By Migraine Sufferers

Out of all the cleaning products available, many are recommended by people who are prone to migraines who pass along their experience.

  • Unscented versions of your current products may be available. Selecting an unscented aerosol or liquid may be the only change you need to make.
  • Seventh Generation products come highly recommended by many people who are sensitive to VOCs. They are unscented and developed from materials low in organic compounds.
  • Simple powders like Bon Ami and Bar Keeper's Friend can be used to clean dishes, toilets, and countertops. Baking soda also works, but you might have to scrub a little harder.
  • Hydrogen peroxide, especially when mixed with baking soda, has been a long-time favorite. You can dilute hydrogen peroxide with water and use it for removing stains from clothing. It also makes an effective disinfectant for surfaces.
  • Jojoba oil is unscented and recommended for cleaning wood and leather. Mineral oil may be a good substitute but don’t use cooking oils on these types of materials.
  • White vinegar or lemon juice can be used to remove mineral deposits and freshen sinks.

Some chemicals have been life-savers, almost literally. Cleaners have been developed that remove stains faster or more effectively. Detergents and softeners for fabric are appreciated by many, if only because the commercial leads them to smell the clothes just out of the dryer.

For migraine sufferers, though, the volatile chemicals and scents that are added to mask them cause housecleaning to be worse than the drudgery it already is. Using products with few ingredients and no added scent can mean the difference between a clean home and a day in bed in the dark.

Biophilic Design: Incorporate Nature Into Your Home

As a human species, we’ve evolved a lot. Our modern way of life dictates certain things and because of this, we must find the ways to fully adapt. We are tied to the living world around us, and all of us can benefit quite significantly from nature. That’s where biophilic design comes to play.

Biophilia means love of nature. It represents the attraction people feel towards natural processes and nature itself. Biophilia is perfectly natural and it comes from our ancestral connection to nature as the only way of survival. The term was popularized during the 1980’s when over-urbanization started to take hold. As there is a need to stay connected to nature, biophilic design became somewhat necessary for our well-being as a species.

We did a bit of researching and we’ve come up with this short guide through biophilic design. We wanted to help point you in the right direction when it comes to applications of biophilic design. So, without further ado, let’s get straight to it.

potted plants in living space
Photo by Inanc Avadit on Unsplash

How Relevant Biophilic Design Really Is?

Quite a lot of experts agree that stress-related illnesses and disorders are on the rise. There are a lot of studies that show a correlation between distancing ourselves from nature and elevation of stress levels. When you stop to think about it, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Exposure to so much technology, daily routines, workplaces, and even the way we spend our free time all separate us from nature, which can result in quite a lot of stress.

Using biophilic elements in your immediate surroundings can have a positive effect on you. With natural elements surrounding you, your blood pressure drops, heart rate is reduced, as well as stress and anxiety levels. On the other hand, your overall productivity and motivation are elevated. Your creativity and cognitive thinking are also on the rise, so we can agree that all these factors make biophilic design quite important in a modern environment.

Benefits of Biophilic Design

Let’s talk about biophilic design in a workplace and see the benefits from employees' perspective first. As part of a workforce, you focus on completing as much as you can during the day. In most cases, you get rewarded for your productivity, creativity, and sometimes even for your additional motivation. All of these things are quite affected when the working area is completely devoid of nature. This leads to general dissatisfaction and you stop enjoying what you do. Your working place has become somewhat of a prison. This is what pushes many employees to seek other opportunities.

As an employer, things might seem a bit different, but in their foundation, they are not. Yes, it’s true you will need to define a budget and remodel your offices; it’s true you will have to spend some time and resources on improving your business space with biophilic design, but you can gain quite a lot. With biophilic design, your surroundings are more appealing to both your workers, as well as your clients and potential visitors. With it, you can boost your workers’ productivity, as well as emphasize your brand and your own creativity.

Implementing Biophilic Design

The first thing you need to understand with the implementation of the biophilic design is that you really need to consider everyone’s needs beforehand. Whether it’s a company or your home, you can’t simply take up the first space you think of and turn it into a garden. You need to understand how space works in your company and have a clear picture of what you want to achieve.

Divide space, arrange a small garden, and make sure you have all the necessary equipment like a high-quality water hose for watering your natural design elements; you might need sprinklers or similar gardening equipment. Make sure you have a solid plan of all the elements for implementation of a biophilic design. Do your research and contact professional gardeners and landscapers, they can help you quite a lot.

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Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

Biophilic design has become very important in our modern way of life. It represents our connection to nature, as well as helps us feel better and more focused. All of the tips from this short guide can help you understand what biophilic design can do for you. Whether you’re a business owner, employee, or homeowner, there are loads of benefits for you in a biophilic design. It’s only up to you to find the best way to try it out for yourself.

How to Create a Healthy Organic Bedroom

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Photo via Pixabay

Getting enough quality sleep can not only eliminate those nasty bags under your eyes, but also improve your overall physical and mental health. However, even after knowing all the benefits of a good night’s sleep, we still tend to neglect our Zs. So, today, it’s time to set our priorities straight and turn our bedrooms into healthy and organic spaces perfect for relaxation and sleep.

Remove the Carpets

In order to create an organic and healthy space, you must start from the bottom. Remove your old carpets that are not just ugly and worn-out, but also serve as a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty critters like dust mites and germs. Replace your carpets with natural and hypoallergenic cork, natural wood flooring or recycled linoleum. These materials are easy to clean and don’t provide a home for allergens. For some warmth, use small area rugs you can regularly wash.

Opt for Organic Bedding

We spend almost a third of our lives in bed, so making it comfortable and healthy is the least we can do. Replacing bedding made of artificial and treated materials with all-natural and organic bedding will do miracles for your well-being and comfort during sleep. You can also opt for pillows made of natural and untreated cotton and natural latex. There are also buckwheat hull pillows that offer great neck support and wool ones with moisture-wicking properties perfect for hot climates.

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Photo via Pixabay

Replace Your Old Mattress

Another way to make your bedroom more organic and healthy is to get rid of your old mattress. This might be a costly investment, but when you consider the number of chemicals used in the production of old-fashioned mattresses and all the allergens contained in them, you’ll see the importance of this step. The best and healthiest option is to choose a natural latex mattress that offers great back support and is naturally anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and resistant to dust mites. Just make sure your pick carries a Good Environmental Choice label which makes it safer for you and the environment.

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Photo via Pixabay

Boost Your Air Quality

The best way to make the air in your bedroom cleaner and fresher is to invest in an air purifier, preferably one with HEPA filtration. These filters can eliminate almost all particles larger than 2 microns from the air and provide you with a clean and allergen-free bedroom, which is crucial for good sleep, especially for people with allergies. Additionally, if you have mold or mildew issues, make sure to take care of it with bleach or call the pros to expertly remove it.

Eliminate VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are gases emitted from certain solids or liquids that can be found in an average bedroom and can have various health consequences. Longer exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, nausea, skin, eye and throat irritation, fatigue and many other unpleasant health issues. VOCs are usually present in paints, sealants, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants and adhesives, all of which can be found in your place of sleep. However, today, there are many alternatives you can use that contain low or zero VOCs. There are zero-VOC paints, upholstery that uses no adhesives, and homemade organic cleaners all of which have the same aesthetic or cleaning effect but without all the air pollution.

Welcome Nature

If you want to have a truly organic bedroom, what better way to achieve that than with greenery. Plants help create a relaxing vibe, clean out the air and serve as a pop of color! Additionally, they are cheap and most indoor types require very little maintenance. For instance, succulents and snake plants need minimal space to thrive.

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Photo via Pixabay

Candles and Essential Oils

In order to create a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere in your bedroom, the smell should never be neglected. Some scents have a very beneficial effect on human mood and sleep cycle, which is especially great for those that have trouble sleeping. However, make sure to avoid using traditional air fresheners or big box stores. Handmade soy candles and natural essential oils from your local producer are always a better and healthier choice for your organic bedroom.  

A bedroom that follows these tips will not only be healthy and safe, but have a much better general vibe that will simply invite you to jump into your bed and get some quality sleep.

Declutter Your Closet Once and for All by Taking on These Personal Projects

With spring just around the corner, this is the perfect time to declutter and minimize. Instead of just cleaning, let’s focus on getting rid of items that are taking up physical and mental space. Sometimes, when we clean, we literally just move things from one corner of the room to other so that we can get the dust, but what if we actually remove things so that we can reclaim space, time and money. I understand that letting things go can be tough, so over at The Do Something Project, I like to challenge my readers to run short self-experiments or mini projects to see what’s really needed to make you happy.

Let’s start with clothing. There’s a statistic floating around that we really only wear 20% of our clothes. For some, this is probably true. We spend a good amount of time figuring out what to wear in the morning, cleaning up that one chair in the bedroom with all of the clothes and figuring out how to fit everything into the closet. All of this costs time, money and mental energy. Here are a few challenges for you to take on to start minimizing your closet.

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Photo by Tu Tu on Unsplash

Project333

Project333 is the minimalist fashion challenge started by Courtney Carver. It invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. Essentially, you pick out the 33 items to start with and box up the rest. With this personal project, you have to strategically choose your items as you want to be wearing clothes that you love, clothes that don’t look dated, clothes that fit and clothes that can be carried throughout a season or two.

10x10 Challenge

If 3 months is too long for you, try out the 10x10 Challenge where you select 10 items to be worn for 10 days. It’s a little shorter and you won’t have to contend with needing to wear your clothes for multiple seasons, but you have to be strategic so that you can re-purpose different clothes for different occasions. This is where you need to get creative with your closet and this is where you also will start realizing that you may already have a capsule wardrobe of classic, key pieces that you can count on.

Inside Out or Reverse Hanger Technique

This last project doesn’t require you to limit your wardrobe, but it does require you to do what I call “data collection.” Essentially, each time you use an item and put it back in your closet, put it inside our or reverse the hanger. After a week or two, see how much of your closet is inside out. From there, take a look at the clothes that weren’t touched:

• If the tags stills exist, return or re-sell the item. Sometimes we buy things for that initial euphoric feeling of scoring a deal, but after that wanes, we may not even like what we bought which is why the tag is still on there. If this is the case, let go of the item and get your money back. Most stores will accept items as long as tags are intact. You may not get the full amount or cash back, but it’s better than completely wasting that money.

• If the item needs some TLC. These could be clothes that you love but missing a button, clothes that needs to be ironed, clothes that needs to be hemmed, etc. Place them in a pile and determine if you are willing to do the work yourself. If you absolutely can’t sew, then it’s time to bring these to someone who can. If you have lots of things that need to be hand washed or ironed, set aside time and do them all at once.

• If the item doesn’t fit, we have to be honest with ourselves. If we are working towards losing that weight, then that’s great, but if we are not, let’s move on. One thing to keep in mind too that if we working to lose that weight, our future selves might not want these old clothes. Let’s not weigh down our present self with having to hold these in case our someday self wants them. Chances are they won’t.

If you do any of these projects and finding yourself really being challenged, share them with your social media community. Ask for feedback, help or advice. All of these projects are only a few days or a few months, but sometimes that’s all it takes to take on new habits, gain a new perspective and learn something new. When you really think about it, a few weeks is a drop in a bucket. By going through these self-imposed personal projects, you have the opportunity to try what works for you. You are also forcing yourself into situations that you may not be comfortable with and in many cases those situations are where the magic happens. The sooner you can reclaim your time, money and space for yourself, the better off you will be. In other posts, we will cover other areas of our lives to minimize.


Catherine Agopcan is a writer who loves to take on projects and educate others on how consumption affects their bottom line using the tenets of minimalism, sustainability and personal finance. Read more of her work at The Do Something Project and Sisters for Fi.