“Multi-talented” is not usually how you would describe your houseplant.
It just sits there on your counter with basic needs – a little water and sunshine, and that plant is happier than a kid with a cupcake.
But that leafy green is busy at work…sucking - sucking all the toxic crap out of the air of your home that you shouldn’t be breathing. Yes, you have toxins in your air. And in your water, your cosmetics, your food – you know this.
Indoor air is two to five times more toxic than the air outdoors, and we spend 90 percent of our time there. And no shit that household products – that are designed to clean up your space – actually make it a filthy place to live. In fact, more than 100 chemicals commonly found in homes have been linked to allergies, birth defects, skin reactions, headaches, depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue and cancer. The EPA estimates that 50 percent of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by indoor air quality.
Breathe easy, ladies. Thanks to studies performed by organizations like NASA, we’re finding out that houseplants counteract that off-gassing and help rebalance the internal humidity in your home.
Scientists were out to solve a growing problem known as Sick Building Syndrome, which occurs when high concentrations of toxins build up inside a space with little or no ventilation, resulting in people getting sick.
The report stated, “If man is to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.” Read: plants.
The three worst pollutants in your home that plants obliterate best are formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. Take a tip from Alan Berman, author of ”Your Naturally Healthy Home,” and have a plant for every 10 square yards of floor space. This adds up to two to three plants for the average 25-square-foot living room with 8- to 10-foot ceilings.
But before you turn your home into a marijuana farm, only a handful of plants are credited with really getting the job done. Here are some of the leading crap suckers:
Bamboo palm or Reed palm
Dwarf date palm
Gerbera daisy or Barberton daisy
Golden pothos or Devil’s Ivy
Mass cane/Corn plant
Pot Mum or Florist’s Chrysanthemum
Snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue
Many of these guys are descendants of tropical rainforest varieties so they’re used to less sunlight and have a high rate of photosynthesis. Do some research on your plant to ensure the best plan for proper care. However, try to find a nice balance between light and ventilation. Note that, like a cold day at the beach, they don’t particularly like sitting in a draft.
Julie Foreman Hayes, Contributing Writer
Julie is the co-author of Green My Parents, a sustainability manual for kids, a team member for green business giant Opportunity Green and a writer and marketing consultant for all things healthy, wealthy and sustainable at Funnygreen.com. She is a Los Angeles native and is working daily on becoming a better vegetarian.