With spring in the air and Earth Day approaching, those looking to add an eco-friendly edge to the annual spring-cleaning ritual can turn to a wide range of sources on- and off-line: bp.com will help you reduce your carbon footprint; organicgardening.com shows how to plant a pesticide-free garden; treehugger.com celebrates sustainable design. One of the newest resources is The Healthy Home Workbook ($24.95) by Kimberly Rider, which offers a room-by-room checklist of ways to rid your home of common allergens and toxins.
BATHROOM Conventional bathroom cleansers contain ammonia and chlorine, which can be dangerous in confined or unventilated spaces. Use nontoxic products whenever possible. Or make your own: baking soda and vinegar proves a surprisingly effective toilet-bowl cleanser.
LIVING ROOM The glue, paints, varnishes and waxes used in conventional furniture can release the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that affect indoor air quality. Look for organic or certified chemical-free sofa.
KITCHEN Energy-efficient appliances are kinder to both the environment and, in the long run, the wallet. To avoid noxious fumes, make sure your gas range is properly installed and vented. Clean stove tops and microwaves with nontoxic cleansers that won't release fumes when heated. Carefully clean countertops where food will be prepared.
BEDROOM Conventional sheets are often treated with formaldehyde to get a wrinkle-free finish. For a chemical-free slumber, look for natural or organic bedding. Faribault Mills, for example, offers hypoallergenic Ingeo bedding that is made from corn-based fibers.
THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE Paint can contribute to poor indoor-air quality long after it dries. Petroleum-based paints are a source of VOCs. Look for low- or zero-VOC paints or old-fashioned milk paints when trying to add some color to your house. Full-spectrum lightbulbs simulate natural daylight and last longer than conventional bulbs.
OUTSIDE Overhangs or vegetation near windows provides shade and reduces summer heat, winter cold and energy costs. Planting native shrubs or other vegetation instead of lawns saves water and reduces the need for pesticides. Gray-water systems recycle water from baths and washing machines for outdoor uses.