Incorporating a bit of greenery into your home with houseplants can do a whole lot more than brighten your living space. Plants release oxygen into the air and remove carbon dioxide from the environment through the process of photosynthesis. While all houseplants help “clean” the air, some of the most common houseplants are the most efficient when it comes to removing pollutants from indoor air.

A great many common household products and materials used in new construction pollute the air we breathe. While we can smell some products that offend, others put out pollutants that our noses do not recognize. Carpeting from man-made materials, carpet adhesives, laminate flooring, paints, and plastics can be sources of potentially noxious chemicals. Natural air purifiers, houseplants can help remove toxins from the air.

Plants Make A Difference

Several plants, well known to indoor gardeners, do an excellent job of removing a diverse array of pollutants from the air within our homes. Adding easy-to-grow, low-light tolerant houseplants can make the difference between an indoor atmosphere that adversely affects individuals with allergies or sensitivities to one that is clear, clean and healthy to breathe. Do you know that a single efficient houseplant in a 6-inch pot can cleanse the air in an eight by ten foot room? There is no need for your home to look like a jungle when the careful placement of just a few plants of different sizes and in varied locations, can make such a marked improvement in air quality.

Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos, an easy care plant that can tolerate dry spells and thrives on neglect, does an excellent job of removing the pollutants of household cleaners and industrial solvents. The plant does best in a sunny location, but will do fine in a low light situation.

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily with its brilliant green leaves and vigorous growth is an ideal choice for a touch of green in the living room, preferring high, indirect light, moist soil and an even temperature. The stately plant presents whitish flowerlike hoods that are in fact modified leaves, hiding the real flower tucked away inside. The more sunlight the plant receives, the more “hoods” it develops. For best growth, allow the plant to dry out slightly between watering. With proper care, the Peace Lily will grow to 3 to 5 feet tall at maturity, a fine choice to brighten a drab corner of the room. Plants cleanse the air through a process that happens with the plant roots, leaves and flowers. The larger the surface of the leaf and root system, the more pollutants the plant can remove from the surrounding air.

Ivy

All varieties of ivy, especially English Ivy, are efficient at cleansing the air in the home. Presenting tough, glossy, dark green leaves and a vining habit, the hardy English Ivy plant thrives in a nutrient-rich soil in a sunny location. The plant loves moisture in the air, doing well in the kitchen, laundry room or bathroom. Adding houseplants to your home not only makes it more attractive; it makes it cleaner and the air sweeter.

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Leading a minimalistic lifestyle isn’t a modern trend. Simple living dates back to various religious and spiritual traditions of the Orient. In the mid 1900s, minimalism found its way into the world of art and music, with artists creating sparse paintings and writing simple songs with few instruments.

In the United States many of us are constantly surrounded by excess. We have endless options at the grocery store, channels on television, and apps in the App Store. All of this can be overwhelming, and as a result some people are choosing to live a simpler life. Here are some ways to take that simplicity to your home.

Why make your home more minimalistic?

It’s nice to own things you like. It’s fun to shop for them, too. So why should you aim for less? There are a number of measurable benefits associated with simple living. Sometimes we get so caught up in the process of acquiring things that we forget to stop and wonder why we want those things in the first place. Here are some of the more pronounced benefits:

  • Reduce stress. Do you put in extra hours at work to support your lifestyle? Do you lack sleep, or wish you got to spend more time with your family or just relaxing alone? Minimalism can help with all of these by cutting back on unnecessary expenses.
  • Less cleaning. Owning fewer things means having fewer things to clean and clean around. All of that time cleaning adds up.
  • A more relaxing space. Cluttered rooms are not very inviting. It’s hard to feel relaxed or be productive in them.

Ways to make your home more minimal

Which parts of your home you want to be more minimal is up to you. If you want to create a minimalist haven in your home office, maybe that’s the only room you need to alter. However, there are some shared traits that minimal rooms have in common.

  • Clear surfaces. Many of us have developed a tendency to cover every surface in our home with stuff. Floors, countertops, and desks can all quickly become cluttered. Take a look around your home and ask yourself if those items are adding any value to the room.
  • Use storage smartly. One natural extension and benefit of minimalism is that you’ll need less storage because you’ll have less things. That enables you to use the storage you do have wisely. Keep things you aren’t using stored out of sight to create a more open atmosphere.
  • Get rid of extra furniture. It’s easy to find yourself with too much furniture in your living room. People have a tendency of buying new chairs or benches and putting the old ones somewhere else in their house. The same is true for pillows, tables, and so on. When you buy new furniture, sell or donate the old items to get them out of the way.
  • Simplify your wardrobe. This is the most difficult for many people. It’s hard to give away clothes because you have the nagging thought that you might want to wear them again some day. Open up your closet and think about your wardrobe. Are there items that don’t go well with your other clothes or that you hardly ever wear? Do you have multiple things you only need one or two of (bathing suits, belts, etc.)? Simplifying your wardrobe is a great exercise in simplifying the rest of your life.
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On average each person living in the Unites States uses around 90 gallons per day. That’s a lot of water. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have easy accessible clean water, however, it is also something we easily take for granted. Using less water in our day to day lives not only means a smaller water bill each month and preservation of water, it leads to less energy usage as well .

Here are some ways to save water, and energy, around the house:

Upgrade – When it comes time to replace your old toilet look for a new one that is a low-flow model with a WaterSense label. This will ensure that each time you flush you consume less water without even thinking about it.

Instant-gratification – Installing a recirculating water pump in your home will save on energy in a big way. Recirculating pumps create warm water the instant you turn the handle which means less time waiting for the water to heat up and less unused water running down the drain.

Easy does it – Installing a low-flow shower head to your bath is another great way to limit how much water is used without even thinking about it. You can save up to 15 gallons of water per 10 minutes in the shower.

Cool it – By washing laundry in cold water, you will not only prolong the life and color of your clothes, you will also be saving on energy. In fact, around 90 percent of the energy used during a wash cycle is from heating up the water. Make the switch, literally and figuratively, and the impact will be huge.

Reuse – Most clothes are still clean after a first wearing. By getting more uses out of a garment before washing it you will prolong the lifespan of that item and use less water over time. Shirts can be worn a couple of times before washing while pants and sweaters can be worn up to five times before adding them to your next load. Speaking of, when you do wash your clothes ensure that you do a full load to further preserve water and energy with each cycle.

Switch to off – The faucet that is. There are plenty of day to day scenarios in which we leave the water running when we really don’t need it. When brushing your teeth and while soaping up when washing hands be sure to turn off the water. Fill up the sink with water when washing dishes instead of leaving the faucet running. When rinsing fruits and vegetable fill up a bowl to wash them in instead of passing them through running water. Instead of running water till it is cold keep a filled (reusable) bottle in the fridge which will be chilled and waiting for you when you need a drink.

By establishing more water conscious habits you not only save yourself some money each month but you also preserve water and energy and therefore shrink your impact on the environment. And with most of these habits being so easy and free to implement, you can’t lose!

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Your pets adore you, rushing to greet  you as soon as you walk through the door. They’re cuddly, cute and incredibly affectionate. The way that your pets respond to you can blind you to bad habits that your pets engage in, habits that damage your property value.

What about those nasty pet hairs?

After several months, we can get used to the smell, allergens and pests that our pets bring indoors, allowing hard odors and contaminants to fester in our furniture and especially in carpet fibers. Buyers with allergies pick up the scent of pet hairs and turn away. Other home buyers may request that their realtor not show them houses where pets live.

But, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have options. To reduce pet dander, preventing pet hairs and scents from getting embedded in your home, regularly wash and brush your pet’s hair. Feed your pet a healthy, protein rich diet. Use flea repellants as needed and keep veterinary appointments. To keep furniture and rugs free of pet hair, pick up stray hairs as soon as you spot them. The longer pet hair is left on the floor and on furniture, the deeper it can sink into carpet and furniture fibers.

Hardware stores have plastic covers that you can place on furniture which is another solution to reducing pet hairs. When you vacuum, use vacuum extensions to clean furniture fibers. Consider using pet carpet shampoos for a deep clean.

Training yields lots of rewards

If your pet isn’t properly trained, you could deal with more challenges. For example, your cat or dog might go to the bathroom behind decorative plants, the sofa or a chair that’s placed in a room corner. When dogs and cats feel anxious, they could chew on furniture or claw at the bottom of doors. Some pets have clawed holes into carpet as they anxiously tried to work their way inside a room or out of the house.

Outside your house, pets may regularly splash mud and dirt along your home’s bottom trim, creating hard to remove stains. Get in the habit of washing your house, especially areas where pets linger, to keep the curb appeal of your home at peak levels.

Pets could also dig holes in the yard, a natural instinctive habit for dogs. Let these poor pet habits go and you could end up needing to re-sod your entire back yard several years later. Hunger, smelling scents under the ground and hearing sounds are some reasons why dogs dig.

Workarounds include taking your four-legged pets to the vet to ensure that their diet is adequate and taking pets for walks and runs. Exercise can help eliminate the buildup of stress in your pet. To prevent pets from digging holes in the yard, you could also place large rocks near base of the fence and place chicken wire under the ground near the fence.

Reward your pet for positive behaviors. Massage can help to calm an anxious pet. So too can relaxing yourself and speaking in a calm voice to your pet. Monitor the results. Taking action now could save you hours of washing and scrubbing or a hefty professional cleaning bill to get your house in good condition should you decide to move.

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