When talking about air pollution, the first image that pops into our mind is the one of a traffic jam, with a million cars stuck among one another, surrounded by a threatening black cloud…and who knows, perhaps even some honking sounds in the background.

We often forget that the factors we must take into consideration when addressing the issue of air pollution are multiple. In fact, threatening our air is not just car traffic. Yes, it is obviously one of the main factors, but it’s not the only one: detergents, cleaning products and cosmetics in general are exactly on the same level as cars (if not higher) in terms of air pollution. How is this possible?

University of Boulder’s research (Colorado)

University of Boulder. Colorado, air pollution research photo by Wikimedia Commons
University of Boulder. Colorado, photo by Wikimedia Commons

The analysis conducted in the area of Los Angeles by Colorado Boulder’ scientists revealed that chemical domestic products which contains compounds derived from petroleum, like normal detergents and cosmetics, are now as dangerous as vehicles in terms of air pollution. This is because, while transport slowly become cleaner and more eco-friendly, other sources of pollution become more relevant and sometimes even more damaging for the environment than motor vehicles.

Brian McDonald, researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder’s CIRES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies), and his colleagues focused on VOC emissions (Volatile Organic Compounds). These compounds are formed by hydrocarbons in the form of gas or particulate matter and include substances such as: benzene and alcohol, which are usually contained in many products we use at home.

When we use nail polish, deodorants, degreasers, solvents, pesticides, detergents and cosmetics, these polluting substances spread in the air and dust, causing damage to the environment but also to our personal health.

How can we overcome this problem?

Air pollution: detergents and soaps pollute as much as cars
Ph. by Elaine Smith, via flickr

Even though the study was conducted on air pollution in LA, the situation is no different in the rest of the US and in the world in general: this issue is indeed largely widespread, and still, we don’t talk about it. We just keep using loads of products for our house and ourselves, which are extremely harmful to the air we breathe and we don’t even notice. In the past the biggest amount of VOC emissions came from fuel sources and just a little percentage from these products. Nowadays it looks more like an even one-on-one situation.

Both development and restrictive measures have been imposed on transportation as regards air pollution: cars are actually becoming greener, thanks to the improvement and refinement of combustion engines, which reduce pollutants’ emissions. The same cannot be said about domestic products, which are not subject to regulations and are often underestimated.

Nevertheless, while scientists will try to replace these toxic substances, there are some little things you can do in the meantime in order to reduce air pollution caused by chemical products.

As all of you know, Ecobnb cares about the well-being of the planet and for this reason, we’ve decided to share with you 5 green tips to avoid an excessive air contamination:

5 green tips you can follow in your house or B&B to reduce air pollution

1. Use natural and eco-soaps

Fight air pollution with green products, detergents, Photo by James Cousins via Unsplash
Photo by James Cousins via Unsplash

When you want to buy body or hair products, remeber to check the labels and read the ingredients, as well as make sure you put an extra attention to the Ecolabel tag. You might discover that taking care of yourself by using eco-sustainable products might be even more satisfying and make you feel closer to your body and to the nature.

2. Clean up with natural products

From lemons you can get natural cleaning products
From lemons you can get natural cleaning products, photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Not only for yourself, but also for your house, it is always better to choose natural and biological products. You won’t believe this, but sometimes you just need some vinegar or lemon to clean up the most stubborn stains, or citrus peels, to create your own natural products at zero cost, which will help you clean the house and make it smell good at the same time.

Here you can find an article that will propose 10 ideas to reuse orange and citrus peels in a clever and green way!

3. Create your own detergents

Ph. by Kristina Balic, via unsplash
Homemade soaps, ph. by Kristina Balic, via unsplash

If you enjoy DIY (Do It Yourself), you can also decide to make your own ecological detergents, inventing and prsonalising your recipes. In this article you can find 10 DIY recipes to create your detergents and choose the ones which most suit you and your house!

4. On holiday, choose an accommodation that uses green products

Travelling and finding a green accommodation is just as important as living a green life at home, photo by Sonja Guina via Unsplash
Travelling and finding a green accommodation is just as important as living a green life at home, photo by Sonja Guina via Unsplash

On holiday, as well as at home, it’s important to think green: for this reason, it’s better if you choose tourist facilities which follow eco-sustainability criteria, which also include the use of natural and ecological cleaning products. In fact, it is always good to keep healthy habits even when you’re not at home and most of all, it is important to favour people like us who respect and take care of the environment.

If you want to learn more about how to spend your vacation far away from poisonous cleaning products, we suggest reading this article!

5. Avoid spending too much on products for your house

Avoid spending too much on products for your house
Ph. by Sabri Tuzcu, via unsplash

Wheter by nature or culture, human beings are bound to think that they absolutely need to own everything and possibly in abundance. Unfortunately, that goes for every kind of product, even the ones we use in our house. We quite often find ourselves at the supermarket thinking we need a different detergent for each piece of furniture or household appliance, when really, the most appropriate solution would be using less specific chemical products and more natural ones. By doing so, you will save money but  above all, you will avoid useless damage to the nature and the air we breathe.

As with everything, the important thing is to start with baby steps, so that more and more people will slowly realise how much our daily actions actually count, actions we sometimes don’t even notice, actions that can actually have a great influence of the environment we live in. And after all, who knows, one day we might even live in a slightly greener world and not with the remorse of making it sick, but rather with the knowledge of helping it heal.

Cover picture by Petter Rudwall via Unsplash

If you liked this article, see also:

Zero Waste Hotels: best practices in Italy

Eco tips: 5 small actions to save the planet

Author: Margherita Potrich

Born in Rovereto, Margherita studies Modern Languages for tourism and business mediation at the University of Trento – Literature and Philosophy Department. The knowledge and use of English in a work environment is her main objective; thanks to Ecobnb she had the chance to combine languages with the emerging topic of sustainable tourism.
More posts by Margherita Potrich →

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