The holidays are filled with fun activities like parties, gift-wrapping and, of course, decorating your home. If you're hosting get-togethers, you may focus on getting your abode tidy and ready for guests.
But, how can you create a healthy home, not just a "neat" one this time of year?
According to Ron and Lisa Beres, Certified Green Building Professionals, doing so is especially important if you're one of the 40 million Americans who suffers from indoor and outdoor allergies.
For instance, you need to choose your Christmas or other holiday tree wisely.
You may be wondering, "in what way?"
First, cutting down trees is not good for the environment, at all. But, in addition to that, many people don't realize that evergreen trees can harbor mold, pollen and other airborne irritants that trigger seasonal allergies.
Alternately, artificial trees aren't the answer, either. These trees are often made from PVC (poly-vinyl chloride, which is a non-renewable petroleum by-product), and they can also contain lead and cadmium.
This can be especially dangerous for kids and pets, who might chew on or ingest part of the tree. When you store artificial trees, they can harbor mold and dust, so every time you pull them out, all of that gets stirred up and released into the air you breathe.
So, what can you do if you want to have a tree for the holidays?
One solution if you don't have allergies is a company called Living Christmas Tree. This company will rent you a tree that's potted and even deliver it to your home and pick it up once the holidays are over. The tree stays planted the entire time.
If you DO have allergies, there is another company called Possibilitree, which offers trees made of 100 percent wood. These trees come in all different sizes and are a great natural alternative to live and artificial trees. They are a perfect solution for allergy sufferers.
Ornaments can also pose a threat, by containing things like imported metal (lead) or being derived from PVCs. Try to go back to old-fashioned ornaments made of wood, glass, or fabric. To prevent ornaments from stirring up mold and dust, wipe them with a microfiber cloth and store them in air-tight bags.
Americans generate more waste during this season than any other time throughout the year, so when buying wrapping paper for your gifts, try to choose varieties that are made from recyclable materials and have soy ink instead of metallics or other heavy metals. A company called Wrapsacks makes a traceable, reusable cloth bag that can be tracked online once you've given it to the recipient. It's a fun way to see where your gift bag ends up.
For your holiday lights, choose LED lights, which can cut 90 percent of your electric bill costs. These lights are perfect for kids, because they never get hot. Overall, they are a safer, more energy efficient option.
If you're purchasing candles, avoid paraffin-based candles, which are derived from petroleum. You'll also want to steer clear of those that contain fragrances and dyes. Make sure you're choosing candles that are soy-based, vegetable-based or made from bee's wax. Avoid scented candles as well, unless the scent is made from 100 percent essential oils (e.g., peppermint, cinnamon).
Want some more tips for creating a healthy, non-toxic home for the holiday? Tune in as Ron and Lisa give you the complete lowdown.