I have always been into sustainability and have been passionate about the environment but it has been hard to stick to. I work as an interior designer and its hard to not get swept away with beautiful fabrics or wallpapers, buying expensive furniture or accessories. But over the last few years I have spent a lot of time working on my diet and exercise regime to make sure I look after my health, I believe it is important to look after ourselves and to take responsibility for that for our health and well being.
So how to our homes play a role and why do we need to ‘clean up’ our homes? Recently I was at a supplier and they were eager to show me a new product they wanted to start supplying. It was a LVT (Luxury vinyl tiles) click flooring system, now there are loads of brands out there and I have used a few over the years and have come to find particular brands that I like so I didn’t take much notice. Until that was, when they pointed out that many LVT flooring brands sell products that are carcinogenic. At first i didn’t quite believe it, when meeting reps they always talk about the sustainability of a product, how could they be dangerous to our health? I did a bit of research and low and behold, LVT flooring can not only be carcinogenic, but it can be one of the worst sources in our homes!!
So it got me thinking, what if the designs we spend months searching Pinterest and planning to make our home ‘insta worthy’ were contributing towards bad health? As well as the health of the planet? Are we filling out homes making them less of a retreat from the outside world, but a place that could be making us ill!?
Working within the commercial sector of interior design, I have come across all sorts of initiatives to provide ‘healthy buildings’ like the WELL Building challenge. ‘Each WELL Building Standard feature is designed to address issues that impact the health, comfort or knowledge of occupants.’ But how can we achieve something similar within our homes, and on top of that, on a budget?
VOC’s – The main offender in our home are something called VOC (volatile organic compounds) These are gases that are given off but products within our home, such as carpet, paint and even our beloved candles! But what do they do to our health? Well,depending on how much exposure and sensitivity they can cause shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue. But long term exposure can cause liver damage and even cancer. Now don’t get me wrong i’m not saying that individually these will cause you to get cancer but take some time to think about how much time you spend within your home, think about all the items surrounding you. All those items combined is what will cause the issues. And then when we leave the house, we are still exposed! When you go to the shop, when you go to the gym, all the environments we have created will include the VOC’s so its important to remember there is very little escape.
I will go into each item in more detail over the next few posts but an overview of the items in the home that include VOC’s are:
Carpet -Actually carpets are one of the worst offenders!
Paint- This is quite a commonly known one due to the brands like Farrow and Ball and Little Greene making a point of being Eco friendly.
Fabrics – Used on our upholstery and curtains.
Accessories – Such as candles!
This is a learning curve for me too, so I intend to spend the next few months researching and sharing with you the best product alternatives that wont impact our health (or at least as much)