Eco-friendly Ways to Decorate and Improve Your Home

By Linda Williams, a breast cancer survivor and author of several non-fiction books focusing on science and the environment.

So you or a loved one has won the battle with breast cancer. Speaking from experience, the next question is, “What can I do to keep it from coming back?”

Building and construction materials
Actually, there are lots of things you can do in your living space. The one with the biggest impact is to make sure your next home is built by a LEED certified builder with as many sustainable, low impact materials as possible. It’s good for the environment and your health too!

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods.

You can also look for an older home with hardwood floors that have had years to release toxic fumes from construction glues and other materials. (Just make sure lead paint and asbestos are not present.)

If you want sustainable bamboo flooring, choose finishes that are water-based, solvent-free and don’t off-gas toxic chemicals. They may cost a bit more, but you’ll be better off health wise.

Garages are part of a healthy home too. Detached garages keep carbon dioxide (in auto exhaust) out of the home. If your dream home has an attached garage, leave the garage door open for a while after arriving home to allow exhaust fumes to vent away. It’s also better if your bedroom doesn’t share a wall with the garage since you spend so many hours sleeping.

To increase home venting, get your screens repaired or replaced so you can open the windows and exchange some of the stale indoor air for fresh (Skip it if you live in a metropolitan or highly polluted, industrialized area.)

I’m lucky enough to live in a city that is militant about keeping its water pure. Our tap water is divine, but those with poor water quality might consider a water purifier or a filtering pitcher that cleans tap water before you drink it.

Along these same lines, consider using glass for pitchers and storage containers. Plastics exposed to high heat (dishwasher, microwave) release toxic chemicals into their contents. There are a few safe plastics, but you almost have to have a chemistry degree to find them. To be safe, choose glass for around the house and low reacting silicone for carrying a drink.

If you already have a home that is relatively non-toxic, you can keep it that way when painting and decorating. Choose paint with low or zero VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). Your sinuses will applaud you during painting and you’ll avoid toxic paint fumes that can linger for weeks and months.

While you’re at it, choose stimulating colors like yellow or red for kitchen and dining areas to boost appetite. Go with calming grays or blues for the bedroom. Cancer takes advantage of a stressed immune system, so appropriate colors can update your home and boost your mood too.

Cleaning products
Try switching your cleaning products to tried and true DIY home cleaners like vinegar or the growing number of natural products that use enzymes to clean instead of harsh chemicals. You can find these products for everything from dish and laundry soap to kitchen cleaners for eliminate grease and grime.

So you’ve assessed your home environment and tried some of these eco-friendly home ideas. What’s next?

Healthy décor
Healthy décor includes natural products such as cotton bed linens and wool blankets. Organic cotton pillowcases and sheets haven’t been treated with pesticides (while the cotton was growing in the fields) or harsh chemicals (at the manufacturing plant). There is also organic cotton fabric available to make custom curtains, slip covers, and other home items. It’s fun discovering all the home DIY projects possible. (Pinterest has tons.)

Not domestic? The cost of organic linens are dropping as the big box stores pick up the eco-friendly challenge and offer a variety of organic choices.

House plants are great additions to home decor (unless you have plant-eating cats like I do). In 1989, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) published a study that showed how common houseplants such as English ivy, spider plants and philodendrons remove pollutants from indoor air.

Plants are natural air purifiers that boost your health by pulling toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, tricholorethylene and others from the air. If you already have these botanical wonders in your home, you know how they create a natural and relaxing vibe. Definitely a healthy win-win!

So whether you make a few or several changes to your home environment, you can be confident you’re embracing a healthy future.

For more design tips and tricks, head to

Recent Comments

Betsy Farrer on Mastectomy Scar – What You Nee…
Follow Breast Cancer Authority on


  1. Gail Orcutt says:

    It is also very important to check your home for radon. It is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Radon kills approximately 23,000 Americans every year. An inexpensive kit ($15) can be purchased from the American Lung Association by calling 800-383-5992.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: