by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
“Eco-friendly” is a term used to describe things that are good for nature, to preserve this beautiful earth. Recycling and conservation (of trees and energy) are cornerstone ideas and actions when it comes to eco-friendly efforts.
But what about the impact of toxic chemicals that are found in everyday products? They too are affecting our world—harming aquatic life, the animal kingdom, and humans as well.
You might be gazing out the window pondering this thought. And looking right past one of the many products that typically are made from harmful chemicals: window treatments.
Standard window treatments—like shades, blinds, and drapes—are often made from synthetic materials, including vinyl (also called polyvinyl chloride or PVC), polyester, rayon and nylon. These materials are made from chemicals such as phthalates, chlorine, formaldehyde, pesticides and PFCs. (1) And they are in the VOC and solvent chemical families, which are included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs).
Hazardous Air Pollutants. HAPs can get into soil or water (surface water), and can be absorbed by plants and animals. They can affect the health of animals, similar to humans, including the possibility of cancer, neurological, reproductive, developmental, respiratory and other health conditions. (2)
VOCs. VOCs may cause short-term effects—like headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, fatigue, loss of coordination, allergic skin reactions, nausea, memory impairment; and long-term effects—like cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. (3)
Solvents. Solvents may be linked to asthma, cancer, damage to kidneys, liver, lungs, nervous system, development system, reproductive system, mental illness, depression, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, feeling drunk or “high”, lack of coordination, headache, nausea, stomach pains, skin rashes, cracking or bleeding skin, chest tightness, shortness of breath and irritation of eyes, nose and throat. (4)
When choosing window treatments, consider buying products that are better for the environment and human health. Below are a few eco-friendly window treatments that are healthier for people too!
Wood blinds and shutters. When considering window treatments made from wood, check the type of wood and type of finish (paint, stain, finish) that is used. Hardwood, or wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), are typically eco-friendly and healthier options. The FSC certification involves review (and certification) of the wood product's impact on the environment (in terms of protection of water, old-growth forest, natural forest cover, and highly hazardous chemicals). (5) Look for finishes—like paint, stain, or sealants—that are zero- or low-VOC.
Drapes and Sheers. Adorn windows with drapes or sheers that are made of natural materials—like linen, cotton, organic cotton, and silk. Consider drapes that are colored with non or less toxic dyes, and are free of finishes. Also, avoid drapes and sheers that are labeled “stain resistant.” “water resistant,” or “wrinkle free.”
Vine and Twig. Straight from nature, vine and twig window treatments decorate windows but are not typically used for creating privacy like other window treatment options. Sometimes do-it-yourselfers will make vine and twig window treatments themselves. Make sure that the materials used do not contain fungus, mold, or chemicals like pesticides.
When choosing window treatments, consider their impact on the environment and human health.
Choosing eco-friendly products that are made with fewer chemicals is a win-win for all. You’ll be helping the environment and people at the same time!
(3) Tox Town - VOCs
In 2020, we're deconstructing our home, habits, and things to reconstruct a practical nontoxic and healing lifestyle. We're bringing consciousness to unconscious choices.