I love using big life events as an excuse to, you know, force even more change. So when I found out I landed my dream apartment, I decided to use it as an opportunity to kick-start some personal 2019 goals I had already procrastinated on. At the top of my list? Create a healthy hideaway where I could retreat from my busy life in New York City and find some real peace and calm, fostering a more minimalist space (I’m currently halfway through a Marie Kondo–inspired “stuff” cleanse), forming healthy habits in the kitchen, and embracing sustainable and eco-friendly practices throughout. But to officially begin my quest for a healthier home, I looked to my bedroom. Keep reading for five easy swaps that made my space immediately feel healthier.
1. Switch Up Your Daily Routines
Living in a big, dirty city has turned me into a bit of a germaphobe. As a result, I’ve developed a handful of habits in an attempt to create a cleaner, healthier home environment. For starters, I wash my hands after being on the subway and I never get into bed wearing my clothes from the day, but there are two bad habits I haven’t quite been able to break: wearing my shoes in the house and bringing my electronics into my bed. So yeah, this “swap” is a bit more of a habit switch, but it certainly counts.
This means taking my shoes off when I walk through the door (and you, too—so wear matching socks if you plan to visit) and ditching electronics before crawling in bed. No room for extra germs or harmful blue lights in this healthy home. I’m swapping late-night scrolling for a good book before bed, my phone alarm for an analog clock, and dirty shoes for cozy slippers.
My old ways: No parents, no rules.
My new approach: No shoes or electronics in the bedroom.
2. Live With Even More Greenery
My old bedroom got no natural light, but my new bedroom gets plenty. Let it be known that I love nothing more than waking up to a warm sunrise streaming through my big windows, but that’s not what I’m most excited about. I’m a plant lady (with 40 and counting in my apartment). The major pro in my new bedroom is getting to add more air-purifying plants to a space I spend a lot of time in.
My go-to local plant shop is The Sill, so I reached out to see which plant deserved the top spot on my bedside table. Erin Marino, director of marketing, suggested adding a snake plant to my bedside table for three reasons. First, they’re hard to kill. Second, they filter toxins out of your air. But the third reason is the one I found most interesting:
“Snake plants have a modified form of photosynthesis. In order to preserve water, the plant opens its pores exclusively at night. Since photosynthesis happens during the day with daylight, the snake plant stores the carbon dioxide it acquires at night for use during the day. Then it releases oxygen (one of the end products of photosynthesis) at night when the pores open,” says Marino. “This is pretty awesome because the majority of common houseplants do the opposite, so the snake plant is releasing oxygen into your bedroom while you’re sleeping.”
My old ways: Dust-collecting tchotchkes.
My new approach: Air-purifying plants.
3. Get Sustainable Investment Pieces
I had my old mattress for a few years and I can now admit I had been sleeping poorly for too long. We all know committing to good sleep starts with the perfect mattress. I considered comfort, cost, and convenience as factors when browsing potential companies to purchase from, but when I found Avocado, I realized I was overlooking part of the puzzle.
As someone who’s focused on purchasing sustainable products and creating a healthy home, I hadn’t considered what materials mattresses are actually made from and how they impact the earth and my own health (yes, I went into a bit of a spiral).
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of why Avocado’s nontoxic and eco-conscious mattresses are so great, you need to know that writing about this bed is making me mad that I’m not physically laying down in it right now. The mattresses score a 100% in terms of comfort, cost, and convenience. They’re made in the USA with all Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)–certified wool and cotton—even the latex is natural, making the mattress totally nontoxic. Buzzy, right? Nontoxic here means the mattress is as healthy, natural, and chemical-free as possible—aka they left out all the bad stuff. The mattresses include no poly or memory foams, no chemical flame retardants, and no chemical adhesives. Avocado mattresses are even GREENGUARD Gold certified for low emissions, meaning they’re scientifically proven to meet some of the world’s most rigorous, third-party emissions standards for chemical exposure and pollutants. This includes volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are the bad particles that can make their way into your air through paint and other household products, that my fancy air purifier (more on that later) picks up. Eco-conscious is another term you’ve probably been hearing a lot lately, and I found out that Avocado strives to lower its carbon footprint in every step of its process, working with the earth (not against it) to give you a comfy mattress at an affordable price.
It’s also time to admit that this failed vegan (I couldn’t give up mac’n’cheese!) sleeps on a vegan mattress. Though I’m still working on eating vegan, I am thoroughly enjoying sleeping vegan each night. The only difference between the Avocado Green Mattress and their new, vegan mattress is that it’s made from GOTS-certified cotton, not wool. I also added the pillow-top option for an additional 2-inches of comfort and let me tell you, laying my head on my pillow (also from Avocado) never felt so good.
Read more about Avocado’s process and promise.
My old ways: Chemical-laden mattress.
My new approach: Green-focused Avocado mattress.
4. Add Eco-Friendly Accents
You may or may not have already realized that you sleep on your mattress, but you sleep on top of your sheets, so those also need to be healthy. Luckily, companies are starting to jump on the healthy sheet bandwagon.
Don’t be intimidated by all the terms floating around. Calling your sheets “organic”—much like organic fruits and veggies—just means they’re not treated with chemicals. I try to eat local, organic produce and use natural skincare and beauty products, so the same rules should apply to the place I snuggle into for eight hours a night, right?
Some companies, like Authenticity 50, offer sheets that are formaldehyde-free but are also made from 100% Supima cotton grown in America. Aizome, a Japanese company born from an IndieGoGo, sell sheets with “no gross stuff”, aka no polyester, no heavy metals, no micro-plastics, and no formaldehyde. They’re also dyed with natural indigo and made from GOTS-certified cotton (the same as what Avocado’s mattresses are stuffed with). Coyuchi also makes sheets with GOTS-certified cotton and dyes, and its sheets are also fair trade. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that you have options, and it’s simply about identifying what’s important to you. If you’re worried about price, don’t be. Even Target has GOTS-certified sheets under $50.
My old ways: Wrinkle-free, formaldehyde-treated sheets.
My new approach: Calm and chemical-free sleep.
5. Bring in Smart (and Clean-Lined) Home Tech
As a social media editor, I could definitely be more tech savvy. So recently, I’ve been making an effort to embrace more home electronics. One product I didn’t expect to become obsessed with is my air purifier. I purchased it on sale late last year after my mom repeatedly checked in about the air quality of my home. Pollution is as real inside your home as it is outside (with some chemicals even hiding in your home decor).
I invested in a Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link that tracks your air quality throughout the day and gives you ratings—good, fair, poor, and very poor—along with the current temperature, humidity, and suggestions on what setting to run your machine on. It’s safe to say that I’m enjoying the upgrade from a regular fan to an air-purifying, -heating, and -cooling smart device. Bonus: It also acts as a sound machine on fan mode, which is calming and helps me fall asleep. I think this is what they call a win-win-win.
My old ways: Your average fan.
My new approach: A smart three-in-one air purifier.
Feeling healthier already? Me too. Swapping sounds easy because it is. Whether you’re ditching old habits or making the switch to a greener lifestyle, make sure to always donate or recycle items you no longer need in your household. There are local resources at every turn, so all you have to do is spend one minute typing your question into the device you’re reading this article on. Good luck!