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20 Houseplants to Clear Toxins From Your Home

20 Houseplants to Clear Toxins From Your Home


Bringing a bit of nature into your home does more than brighten the atmosphere. Introducing houseplants into various rooms in the house can help reduce the chance of getting seasonal sicknesses such as the common cold, remove airborne contaminants (volatile organic compounds [or VOCs]), reduce the chance of headaches, lift your mood, decrease your blood pressure, reduce allergies, improve sleep and much more.

The 20 plants listed below are specifically known for their air purifying properties.  And while an open window may feel like all the fresh air you need, did you know that everything from toilet paper to common household cleaners can contain chemicals and release toxins like formaldehyde? Or that VOCs like benzene can be released into the air by everything from the paint on your walls, to the printed material found in your home?

So why not breathe a bit easier and enjoy the beauty of a new houseplant at the same time!

(All plants listed will clear CO2 and may clear more VOCs than noted.)


1. Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures): Clears formaldehyde and other VOCs.

2. Ficus alii (Ficus maeleilandii alii): Good general air purifier.

3. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): Clears benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.

4. Lady Palm (Rhapis Excelsa): Good general air purifier.

5. Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’): Clears formaldehyde.


6. Aloe: Clears formaldehyde and benzene.

7. Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis): Clears formaldehyde.

8. Dwarf/Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii): Clears formaldehyde and xylene.

9. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum ‘Deborah’): Clears air pollutants and toxins.

10. Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium): Clears benzene.


11. Gerber daisy (Gerbera jamesonii): Clears trichloroethylene and benzene.

12. Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata): Clears xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

13. Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina): Clears formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene

14. English ivy (Hedera helix): Clears airborne fecal-matter particles.

15. Azalea (Rhododendron simsii): Clears formaldehyde.


16. Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium): Clears formaldehyde and many other air pollutants.

17. Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’): Clears pollutants such as those associated with varnishes and oils.

18. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis): Clears formaldehyde.

19. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii): Clears benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

20. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum): Clears formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, toluene and xylene.

By Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


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The Benefits of Organic vs Conventional Food

The Benefits of Organic vs Conventional Food



The debate between organic and conventionally produced food continues, and a  new infographic (below) produced by gives more statistics to consider. The creators  focused on the  unhealthiest conventional foods, what meat looks like from both  a  grain-fed and  a grass-fed cow, and the nutrient differences between   organically and conventionally grown products.

Researchers have conducted many studies on whether organic foods are  more  nutritious than conventionally grown foods, and the results are  varied,  depending on what study you go by. This infographic states that  they have one  quarter more nutrients than nonorganic. One of the most  well-known and  frequently cited study, done by Stanford University  scientists, looked at over  forty years of data comparing the two types  of food, and concluded that organic  foods are no more nutritious nor  more likely to be contaminated. However, critics of that research say organic is still superior,  as  it excludes antibiotics and artificial growth hormones, high  fructose corn  syrup, artificial sweeteners and dyes, pesticides, and  sewage sludge from being  present.

An interesting thing to note is the three countries that eat the most   organic foods. Per capita, they are Denmark, Switzerland and Austria.  According  to the CIA World Factbook, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria  are all in the top  25 percent ranking of countries with the highest life  expectancies, with all  three ahead of the United States. In a 2012  study by Bloomberg, Switzerland  ranked as the fourth healthiest country in the world. These could be  coincidences, of course, but lend more credence to the benefits of buying  organic.

Perhaps the most surprising section of the infographic is when it  states  what are the best foods to buy organic. Beef and milk make the  list, as the  controversy over antibiotics and artificial growth hormones like rBGH being added to them are  well known. But did you realize that  conventionally produced celery, popcorn  and tomato sauce contain very  high amounts of chemicals and pesticides? Or  that, just as important as  the quality of food you buy, is the type of cookware  you prepare it  with? The makers of the graphic recommend you buy “organic  cookware,”  meaning avoid plastic, aluminum, and Teflon “nonstick” coated  cookware  in the kitchen. Instead, sites like say you can   safely use cast iron, stainless steel, glass and stoneware cooking pots  and  pans for all your culinary needs.

It’s important to do your research when choosing whether or not to  buy  organic. There are many factors involved in choosing produce and  meats, and  different products have different risks and possible health  benefits associated  with buying it organic or conventionally grown.

Eating organic saves us money in the long run because we offset all of the healthcare costs


by Sarah Shultz for Diets in Review


Big Organic Garden Delivers Georgia’s Best Fruits & Veggies

Big Organic Garden Delivers Georgia’s Best Fruits & Veggies


How I wish every city had a fresh, local, and in-season produce delivery  service! Maybe once the word of Big Organic Garden in Georgia spreads we’ll all  be happily awaiting our own fruit and veggie delivery.

The owners of Big Organic Garden are able to source produce from farms across  their state of Georgia and the southeast to offer their customers the freshest  in-season options they can. Big Organic Garden promotes local and in-season produce to support local industry and provide  optimal health, as studies point to benefits of eating from your own local  harvests. Also, by providing in-season options, this cuts down on the carbon footprint that shipping of  out-of-season produce causes.

The customers of Big Organic Garden can choose a box size and price every  week. The boxes are somewhat specified by the customer from their website, but  all contain an assortment of fruits and vegetables. A small box is $20, medium  is $37, and a large will cost $50. If not for yourself, this sounds like an  awesome holiday gift idea!

An example of what you might find in the $50 large box includes 4 Braeburn  apples, 4 Honeycrisp apples, 2 avocados, 2.5 bunches of bananas, 5 oranges, 5  lemons, 1.5 heads of broccoli, 1 head of cauliflower, 2 bunches of collard  greens, 1 bunch of spinach, as well as squash and tomatoes.

All of the products are organic and most are local. Obviously the avocados  are not local, but they only bring in a few items from out of the area and they  are always certified organic. The company offers a few pick-up locations  throughout the week, but they also offer delivery. Big Organic Garden encourages  customers to leave a cooler with ice packs on their porch so the produce can  stay fresh.

What a wonderful idea this is. It’s not too different than CSAs  that are already wildly popular, but it extends the range of who can include and  receive produce. As I wrestle with trying to do the best for my own family and  the earth we live on, it’s hard to compete with the store that’s just minutes  from my home. And furthermore, I can eat strawberries in the winter if I shop in  the store that knows no seasons. But truly, I want to do what’s right. Hopefully  more companies like Big Organic Garden will sprout up all over the country very  soon.

By Lacy J. Hansen for

14 Ways to Keep Cool in Your Home Without Air Conditioning

14 Ways to Keep Cool in Your Home Without Air Conditioning

Here in the South, the weather has definitely taken a turn toward the  sweltering.  There have been some unseasonably warm days already, with highs in  the 90s, and the temptation to flick the switch on that A/C unit to “on” is very strong. Before using  the air conditioner, consider this: home cooling accounts for 5 percent of the energy we consume in the U.S.  each year. That’s about 140 million tons of CO2 emissions annually! Here are  some ways to fight that urge by keeping your house cooler naturally.

1.  Keep the shades drawn during the day. When sunlight  streams through the windows, it creates a miniature greenhouse effect in your  home.

Related: Cool Curtains: Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly

2.  Reflect the heat. If you do want to open the windows,  consider investing in some reflective window film to help keep the heat outside where  you want it to be.

3.  Let the cool evening air in. If temperatures are on the  chilly side after the sun goes down, crack a few windows open to let a breeze  come through and cool the house.  Just be sure to close them before the  temperature starts to rise again!

4.  Insulate! You want to keep cool air inside, so grab that  caulk gun and seal off anywhere that air might be escaping.  A handy draft dodger can help seal up those tricky leaks at the  bottoms of doors and windows.

5.  Get rid of incandescent lights. Not only do those  suckers use more energy, they generate a lot more heat than CFL or LED light bulbs.

6.  Make sure your ceiling fans are running counter  clockwise. Most modern fans will have a little switch on the side to  reverse their direction.  You want the fan to go clockwise in winter to push  warm air down and reverse it in the summer to circulate cool air.

7.  Drink icy beverages. This one seems like a no-brainer,  but it still bears mentioning.  What better way to beat the heat than to cool  your body from the inside out?

8.  Dress appropriately. Loose-fitting, light clothing goes  a long way toward keeping you cool.  It’s time to bust out those organic cotton shorts and tank tops!

9.  Grab a towel. A towel soaked in cold water is a great  way to cool down.  Apply it to your neck, wrists, and forehead for some relief  during the hottest part of the day.

10. Avoid the stove and oven. Both of these will add  unnecessary heat to the house.  Instead, fire up that outdoor grill or whip up a salad or sandwich.   Your rice cooker, slow cooker, and pressure cooker are other alternatives to  heating up the house with the stove or oven.

11. Try a buckwheat pillow. If the heat is preventing you  from sleeping, switching to a buckwheat pillow can make a big difference, since  buckwheat doesn’t hold on to your body heat like conventional pillows do.

12. Learn from your pets. How does your cat cope with the  hottest part of the day? She snoozes!  If you can squeeze in an afternoon nap,  go for it.

13. Chill out. Turn on your table fan and stick a frozen  bottle of water in front of it to get some cold air circulating.

14. Plant a tree. If you can, plant trees on the side of  your house that gets the most sun.  The extra shade will protect your home from  the sun’s rays.

By Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a green blogger and independent crafter with a passion  for vintage fabrics. She runs a crafty business, Glue  and Glitter, where her mission is to use existing materials in products that  help folks reduce their impact without sacrificing style! She specializes in  aprons and custom  lunch bags. Like this article? You can follow  Becky on Twitter or find  her on Facebook!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by olivander

5 Things to Do With Bad Wine

5 Things to Do With Bad Wine

Old wine, old wine. Hmm . . . well, it’s not a problem I often come  across,  to be perfectly honest. We’re pretty fond of spiky beverages,  ‘round these  parts. (Some of our neighbors here in Portland even send  their plumbers home with a bottle of wine.)

But  okay, I suppose it happens every now and again. A lonely bottle of   Chardonnay gets pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten. Or a  post-party  Merlot gets left open, left out, for far too long to consider  salvageable.  These things happen to even the most dedicated of drinkers.

Then of course, there’s just the tragic occasion when a bottle, brand new and  freshly poured, simply . . . stinks. Much like electrical work, winemaking is an exact science. Sometimes  things just don’t come together.

Ah well. All’s not lost, my friends. As long as your wine isn’t growing fur  or smelling  like something long since dead, you still have options. Here are a few  ideas:

1. Cook with It.

Contrary  to popular belief (sorry Julia Child), it’s actually okay to cook  with  less-than-stellar wine. Blind taste tests have shown that as long as   you’re boiling, braising, or otherwise reducing the liquid, the quality  of the  wine isn’t so important. So add it to a slow-simmered stew or a  from-scratch  pasta sauce. Try an on-it’s-way-to-vinegar white for  cooking down onions or  mushrooms. Don’t worry – no one will be any the  wiser.

2. Bathe In It.

Yes, really!  It’s called vinotherapy and it’s a great way to make use of a  bottle  you opened but didn’t care for. Celebrities such as Teri Hatcher pour a   glass of red wine into the bath each day. The treatment is purported to  soften  the skin, as well as firming it up and adding elasticity. The  magic is  apparently in the resveratrol, a compound found in wine that’s a  powerful  antioxidant. And whether a wine bath really works or not, it  sure does sound  like a way to get some “me time” in the bathroom!

3. Make Artisan Red Wine Vinegar.

Red  wine vinegar comes in two main types: that stuff you buy at the store,   and the stuff that’s really amazing. Want to get your hands on the  amazing  kind? Then make it yourself!  It is a perfect project for wine  that’s already started to sour. It’s  actually very easy and man, the taste is  just incomparable.

4. Use It As Dye.

We’ve  all spent our fair share of time trying to remove red wine stains from  tablecloths, so there’s no doubt that the stuff has powerful staying  power.  This is a great project for a bottle that’s gone well past its  prime, since  there’s no ingesting or immersing involved. Wine-dyed  fabrics have a lovely “crafty” quality, much the same as the popular  tea-dyed look. Try it on linens  or comfy cotton, Boho-style garments,  and anything else that you want to endow  with an earthy, natural vibe.

5. Don’t Forget Compost.

For the bottle that’s really, actually gone, don’t worry – you still won’t  have to throw it away. Wine is completely compostable and can even act as a “starter” to give the bacteria in your heap a little “kick-start”.

By Sayward Rebhal, Networx

Using Color to Empower Your Life

Using Color to Empower Your Life

Most of us feel passionately about color. We love some and are repelled by  others. Our tastes also change over time. I remember how passionately I loved  blue as a child and, as an adult I couldn’t get enough of yellows, golds and  earth tones. My most favorite colors now are  Indigo blue combined with  gold and pumpkin-orange. They absolutely make my heart sing and it never ceases  to cheer me up when I see this combination.

The ancient art of Feng Shui acknowledges the profound affect of  color on our  physical, emotional and spiritual well being. Colors are  connected to the five  elements from the natural world; fire, earth,  metal, water and wood. They play  a significant role in balancing and  healing every aspect of our lives. In  paying attention to the colors we  are attracted to, we are tuning into our  body’s natural instincts which can help us come back into alignment.

This is called the Five Elements theory and it is at the foundation  of Feng  Shui and Chinese medicine. These elements have objects, shapes,  seasons, body  organs, chakra’s and colors connected to them, but the color component is often  the most powerful.

The chart below lists the element, what it is about and what colors will  enhance it. Surrounding yourself with colors from the element that you are  working with will strengthen your energy field. You can do so  by wearing more of this color and/or bringing it into your living space. Just  make sure that you don’t overdo the fire or water element in the bedroom which  should always have more of the earth element to promote groundedness and solid  sleep. (See Feng Shui for the Bedro

The Colors of the Five Elements and How to Use them


Fire: when you are working with issues around decisiveness,  assertiveness, motivation and passion, or lack there of, bring fire colors into  your living space and wear some fire colors. Fire Colors: The  entire red spectrum which includes pink, red, orange, coral, purples. Red’s  however can come in many different hues. The ones closer to red will have more  energy, think fuchsia. Those with more blue will be cooler,  such  as purple. Pastel pinks are considered the metal element with a hint of  fire. Wear pink to inspire lightheartedness and romance (Feng Shui for Romance).

Earth: When you are working with fertility issues, being and  feeling more grounded in your life and getting organized. Earth  Colors: Taupe, gold, yellows, medium brown, terracotta and earth tones.  Gold is considered the happiest color on the planet. Think ‘sun‘.

Metal: When  you are working with mental  clarity such  as focusing on a new project at work, studying a new  subject or when you need  some back bone. Metal colors are important  when you feel the need to lighten up  and develop your child-like qualities and/or you are working with children. Metal Colors:  whites and pastels (pink, light green,light  blue, light yellow) and metallics.

Water: When you are  working on developing your  spirituality, practicing mindfulness,  connecting to intuition and learning how  to tune into the synchronicity  of the universe. Water Colors = Black, dark gray, dark and navy blue, dark green, deep  purple and Indigo. Blacks can be overwhelming so don’t overdo them, especially  in the bedroom!

Wood: When you are  working on personal growth, growing or  expanding your business, planting  the seeds for a new project or working with  health and/or family  issues. Wood Colors: medium green and  medium blue, turquoise. Medium blue is the most favorite color and actually  belongs to the wood element, not water. Darker blues  belongs to the water  element.

If you would like more information on how to work with color and the Five  Elements, I am offering my readers a free copy of my Color Five Elements  map (PDF format) like the one shown  above.  Click here for your free copy.

By Erica Sofrina, author of Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western  World.  Erica Sofrina is an Interior Design and Feng Shui specialist and founder of the West Coast Academy of Feng Shui. One of her specialties is  color consultations for home and business.

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