1 green thing: What about air fresheners?

By Jan Herbert

Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

Another way to be green is to give conventional air fresheners the heave-ho. There are natural ways to make your home smell grand while you avoid some of the toxic products in those store-bought varieties. (Read the labels…some ingredient names are obvious, like formaldehyde, but there are others such as phenol and phthalates that you do not even know what they are!)

Do it more naturally:

Add plants! They freshen the air naturally (they take in carbon dioxide and send out oxygen). Palms (because their leaves are typically broad) work especially well, but things as ordinary as the spider plant will help, too. If your green thumb isn’t too green, palms and the spider plant are fairly goof-proof, and will stand a lot of neglect and still keep giving you oxygen!

If you have a favorite smell, make your own air freshener. All it takes is a spray bottle (you may even already have one you can use after you empty another product out of it), 1/2 cup of water and 30 or 40 drops of your favorite essential oil. Shake the bottle after adding the essential oil to the water, and before each use. Lavender is good, and orange (or any citrus oil) works well, too.

You probably have some great smells in your spice cupboard. Create something to simmer on the stove. Put a spice of your choice (like cloves, cinnamon sticks, mint, lemons or whatever smells good to you) in a small pan with water, and add a lid. Check regularly to make sure it does not boil dry. Do it in a larger pan (with more spice), and this will decrease the dryness in your home at the same time.

To eliminate smells, choose some out-of-the-way spots for small bowls of baking soda or vinegar to help absorb them.

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at JanHerbert@RockfordParkdistrict.org.

From the Feb. 3-9, 2010 issue.

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