Greening up your living space can mean many different things. It could start simply enough with recycling bins and conservation efforts (cutting down on the usage of water and electricity in your home). You might even opt for non-VOC paints, reclaimed wood flooring and cabinets, the addition of mirrors to maximize natural light, and furniture and accessories made by eco-friendly manufacturers. If you’re really keen to create the optimum green home, you could even pay to install solar panels and put in a system to filter gray water for your landscape. The point is that there are tons of ways to go green when it comes to your home. But you may have overlooked one of the most obvious; the addition of plants and flowers to your space.
There are plenty of reasons to include these living, breathing decorations in your interior design, not the least of which is that potted plants are eminently eco-friendly. Consider, for a moment, the alternative: artificial plants. While they are certainly easier to care for (no watering or trimming required), they are a synthetic product, which means that they are likely tied to the waste and pollution that often results from mass manufacturing. Whether they are plastic or silk (or some other fabric), they no doubt require chemical processes that are somewhat less than acceptable to anyone on the path of environmental conservation. Live plants, on the other hand, are better for the health of the planet, and your own health and wellness, to boot.
For years, study after study has shown that natural beauty provides for a calm and relaxing atmosphere, which makes plants a great addition to your personal retreat. Flowers are not just pretty ornamentation for your décor; they have also been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and boost your mood. In short, they make you happy. But they can do more than balance your mental state. They also do wonders for your physical health. According to NASA, which has done several studies on the effects of house plants in enclosed environments, adding greenery to your space not only adds oxygen and reduces carbon dioxide (which could help you to feel more energized and alert); it also helps to remove toxins from the air.
In particular, certain plants have the ability to drastically reduce VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are released by paint and plastics, as well as toxic chemicals that are common in many households, such as cleaning solvents, exhaust fumes, and smoke from tobacco products. You may be surprised to learn that these compounds can linger for years after they are introduced to the environment, long after you can actually perceive them with your sense of smell. But NASA has proven that plants help to reduce these toxins by nearly 90%. Common indoor species of the ficus or palm variety (amongst others) offer some of the best options.
And don’t forget that they look pretty nice, too. So don’t hesitate to include some everyday greenery in your home and hit up your local New York or London florist once in a while to add some flowers to the mix. You’ll create a beautiful interior space that is good for your health (both mental and physical) and the health of the planet.