Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Green your indoor air! #NLAM #landarch

Many of us spend so much of our day indoors - especially in the winter time.  It is obvious that the air indoors is not as "fresh" as outdoors but do you know that there are many chemicals and toxins that prevent us from getting really fresh air indoors?  Synthetic materials release many volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)  into the air - chloroform, ammonia, acetone and formaldehyde, just to name a few. These toxins are found in almost every item in the home from furniture and carpet to cleaning solvents.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five threats to public health.  On their website, the EPA also states: Children are more susceptible to air pollution because they breathe a greater volume of air relative to their body weight. To make matters worse, schools tend to be at a higher risk of poor indoor air quality because they can have 4 times the occupants as a regular office building for the same amount of floor space and generally less maintenance making air quality in schools an area of a particular concern.

Poor indoor air quality can lead to or contribute to a host of problems including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, sinus congestion, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma.  If you already suffer from any of those symptoms, entering or residing in a room with poor air quality can cause you to become more sensitive to allergens, dust, and VOCs.  Learn more about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) at the EPA's website: 

So...What do we do to control or reduce indoor air pollution and improve air quality?  Grow Plants!

Plants remove air-born toxins through tiny openings in their leaves called stomata as they absorb carbon dioxide then release oxygen in a process called photosynthesis.   Plants also emit water vapor that creates a pumping action to pull contaminated air down around a plant’s roots, where it is also converted into food for the plant.  This was studied in the late 1980s by NASA, lead by Dr. Bill Wolverton, and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) when they researched to find ways to purify the air for extended stays in orbiting space stations. The conclusions of the study not surprising proved that the plants did clean the air but what was groundbreaking was that the plants also were greatly successful in reducing the high levels of toxins found in closed environments (sealed buildings) - the study showed that many houseplants remove harmful elements such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air. Formaldehyde is used in many building materials including particle board and foam insulations and can be found in furniture, carpet and drapes. Additionally, many cleaning products contain this chemical. Benzene is a common solvent found in oils and paints. Trichloroethylene is used in paints, adhesives, inks, and varnishes.

The advantage that houseplants have over other plants is that they are adapted to tropical areas where they grow beneath dense tropical canopies and must survive in areas of low light. These plants are thus ultra-efficient at capturing light, which also means that they must be very efficient in processing the gasses necessary for photosynthesis. Because of this fact, they have greater potential to absorb other gases, including potentially harmful ones.   Dr. Bill Wolverton highlights the NASA / ALCA study as well as the best plants for removing toxins in his book, "How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office". 
I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the study and want to learn more about the cleaning abilities of houseplants.

Bamboo Palm
Based upon Wolverton's book, here are the TOP 10 plants most effective in removing: Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Carbon Monoxide from the air:

Bamboo Palm - Chamaedorea Seifritzii
Chinese Evergreen - Aglaonema Modestum
English Ivy Hedera Helix
Gerbera Daisy Gerbera Jamesonii
Janet Craig - Dracaena "Janet Craig"
Marginata - Dracaena Marginata
Mass cane/Corn Plant - Dracaena Massangeana
Mother-in-Law's Tongue - Sansevieria Laurentii
Pot Mum - Chrysantheium morifolium
Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum

Warneckii - Dracaena "Warneckii"

These plants are all pretty common and can be found at your local florist or plant store.
Wolverton recommends having two or three plants in 8- or 10-inch pots for every 100 square feet of floor space to successfully remove toxins and provide enough fresh air for living comfortably.  I will highlight several plants in the coming weeks along with my own experience with these plants.
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The added benefits of Valentine's Day flowers

Flowers that clean the air and warm the heart!

Giving flowers on Valentine's day is a long held tradition as a token of love, friendship and thankfulness and Roses are the most common flower given on this holiday.  But there are 2 other flowering plants that deserve more attention as a true sign that you really care - about the air you breathe.... 

The Florist’s mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium) is readily available all year round and did you know it is also proven to help clean the air in your home or office? Potted florist's mums are one of the best flowering or seasonal plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the atmosphere - three chemicals found in every home to some degree.  Mums also help to increase humidity levels in a room especially this time of the year when most homes fall well below the recommended humidity levels of 35-60% because they have a high transpiration rate (the rate at which water evaporates from a plant's leaves).

Mums are also very long lasting - potted mums can bloom continuously for about 6-8 weeks (way longer than your average cut roses that only last for 4-5 days in cool conditions).  Mums are very easy to care for too: just keep them in a cool location in a bright room and keep the soil slightly moist.  They prefer being near bright windows, but keep them out of direct afternoon sun and heaters as the heat will age the blooms quickly.  They will thrive in room temperatures of 60-65 during the day, 45-50 at night but they will do ok in a room slightly warmer.  If it gets too hot, the flowers will wilt and the plant becomes susceptible to mold.  To keep your blooms coming, cut the spent blooms and new buds will appear.
Mums come in a great variety of colors, shapes and styles.  They come in all shades of red, pink and purple as well as yellows, oranges and white.  There are single petal varieties (looking more like daisies) to multi-petal resembling little pom-poms to lacy, fluffy types.

Did you know according to Fung Shui principles, chrysanthemum’s bring laughter and happiness to your home?  Another added bonus to bringing home mums!

Another great potted flowering plant that is extremely effective at removing harmful chemical vapors is the Gerbera Daisy, commonly known as the African Daisy.  The gerbera daisy is on NASA's list of indoor-filtering plants, which can help improve the quality of the air in your home - the are rated as the top flowering plant to remove formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the atmosphere, and they help to increase humidity levels.  These cheerful flowers come in a variety of colors from deep reds to pale pinks, from brilliant orange to soft yellow and white.

Gerbera Daisies are easy to care for - just keep them moist but not soggy and locate them in bright sunlight but away from heat. Cut the spent blooms and new buds will appear soon - a potted Gerbera Daisy can last all winter long!  Put them outdoors in the spring and they just might last even longer!  They prefer indoor temperatures between 60-70 during the day, 45-55 at night.  The biggest culprit of their untimely death is root rot so do not overwater!  Give them a light watering about 1-2 times a week. 

You can also purchase large Gerbera Daisies as cut flowers - they look best simply by themselves (maybe with the addition of some simple greens) and you can go with a single color or mix it up for added cheerfulness.  Remember that cut flowers don't last as long as potted plants, but sometimes a colorful bouquet in a tall slender vase is just the perfect thing for the office or dining room table.  Just a few Gerbera Daisies can go a long way too, since they are larger flowers so if you are in pinch, you can really get more bang for the buck with these beautiful flowers!

Gerbera daisies can mean innocence, purity, and cheerfulness.

So next time you are at the florist, think about purchasing a plant that is not only colorful but really shows that you care with flowers that last long AND purify the air.  Stay tuned... I am doing a very extensive post about plants and clean air soon!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Giveaway Winner! Plus enter more Low Entry giveaways...

Thank you to all who entered the Green Flash Drive Giveaway!  I really appreciate gaining new followers and the continued exposure from those who already follow me.

Our winner is:
Comment #10 - April from Frugally Green Mom

I have notified April by email.  Thanks again for following and look out for more giveaways soon!

I would also like to thank fellow blogger, Tight Wad in Utah for the awesome giveaway linkup - many of my new followers came from that site. Be sure to continue to visit their site for more great giveaways to enter!  

Thanks again and have a great GREEN day!
~ Sprout 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Share Memories and Save 40% this Valentines week

Shutterfly.comDon't miss out on this fantastic deal from Shutterfly - 40% off photobooks until February 16!  Shutterfly makes it so easy to create a beautiful memory book in a snap!  They now have so many styles, colors, backgrounds and embellishments that you can easily create a personalized scrapbook quickly!  Parents, Grandparents, relatives and loved ones LOVE getting photo books - they make the perfect gift any time of the year but with 40% off, now is a great time to share your love this Valentine's Day!  I just created a cute birthday book for my daughter and it shipped very quickly!  I sent one to my Mom as well since she lives so far away.

Share the love this week and create your own memory book now!
Take 40% off photo books from with promo code BOOK40. Offer valid 2.9-2.16

PS - don't forget to enter my current giveaway:

American Greetings American Greetings

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Green your Tailgate - it's Superbowl Sunday!

We are very excited for the Super Bowl game tonight here in NYC (go Giants!) and are ready for the festivities in a Green way!  We won't be using paper plates and napkins - this party is stocked with reusable plates and cloth napkins.  And of course, all bottles and cans will be recycled at the end of the game.  For food, we have organic chips and veggies, homemade guacamole, organic/hormone free chicken wings and... local beer!

For more ideas on making your Super Bowl party or tailgate GREEN (no matter what color team you root for), then check out one of my favorite blogs on my favorite "Go Green" website, Practically Green

Oh, and don't forget to enter my current Giveaway... Green your files with a Eco-friendly 8GB Flash Drive!

Thanks and enjoy the Game (and commercials!!!)

*~ Sprout

Friday, February 3, 2012

GIVEAWAY - Green Flash Drive ends 2/12

Going digital is the GREEN way to save, view and share documents.  It saves paper (and trees) and ink as well as reducing paper waste (even if it does get recycled).  You can take going green even further by using a Green flash drive to share and transport your documents with Centon's recyclable DataStick!

Centon's DataStick Green is a cost effective and environmentally friendly flash drive ideal for our planet.


  • Environmentally friendly recyclable aluminum casing
  • Packaging made of 100% recyclable materials
  • 1 Tree is Planted with every purchase through Plant A Tree USA or ChariTREE Foundation (Canada) - as indicated on the packaging.
  • Plug & Play USB flash storage
  • Works with Windows & Mac

Additional Details 

Do the Math!

  • Over 50 years, one tree can equal $31,250 of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control and recycle $37,500 worth of water.
Environmentally Friendly
  • Most USB drives are made from non-environmentally friendly materials. Centon has changed our design from the ground up by using 100% recyclable aluminum and plastic!
Eco-friendly Packaging
  • The insert is made of 100% recycled material such as newspapers, magazines, etc.
  • Clamshell is 100% recyclable 

Would you like to have Greener Docs? Why not win one to try out!

I am giving away 1 Centon DataStick Green 8GB Flash Drive...

How to enter:
Mandatory - You must follow me on GFC (Google Friend Connect) or Networked Blogs - please leave a comment below stating that you do with your email address to contact you if you win.

Giveaway ends Sunday 2/12 at midnight EST.  Winner will be selected by

Extra Entries (each one = 1 entry unless otherwise stated):
  • Follow me on Twitter (@sprout5) - leave a comment with your twitter name
  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment below with your post address (tweet once every 6 hours only - don't want anyone ending up in Twitter Jail!) Sample Tweet:  @sprout5 Green Flash Drive #Giveaway! enter now: ends 2/12 PLS RT
  • Like Sprout's Green Family on Facebook  and leave a comment on this blog... feel free to write on my wall too!
  • Sign up for my email newsletter (on right sidebar) - leave a comment stating you did along with your email address
  • Follow along on Networked Blogs (if you used GFC as your mandatory entry) - leave a comment stating you are with your profile name
  • Follow me on Blog Frog
  • Comment on any other Sprout's Green Family post (see right sidebar for posts and labels lists) and leave a comment telling what you commented on (1 entry per comment)
  • Refer a friend! Have your friend sign up to follow Sprout's Green Family on GFC and leave a comment with your friends GFC name - worth 2 comments!
  • Purchase anything from Sprout's GREEN Store and leave a comment tell what you purchased - worth 6 extra entries!!! (just leave 6 separate comments stating what you purchased and number each one)
Winners will be chosen from the comments and randomly selected using  All comments will be reviewed for compliance and winners will be notified by email.

Disclaimer:  I did not receive any compensation for this giveaway or review of product - this is just me trying to boost my blog by giving away free stuff!  If you have a product you would like me to review and/or have items to giveaway, I am  more than happy to discuss with you - please contact me by email

Thanks much!
~* Sprout