This month we are heading into the bedrooms, a space where we start and end our days. You might wonder what there could possibly be for us to turn green here? Turns out there is plenty. Let’s cover it shall we?
This is where we spend the most of our time in the bedroom, and paying attention to the materials we use in it, has a big impact on our health and our planet's. It is one area where going organic is really important. Starting with the mattress, we want to look for natural materials, such as natural latex or plant based memory foam. Choosing natural materials over petroleum based ones prevents petrochemicals from being inhaled and absorbed through your skin. An eco friendly mattress should also be covered in organic cotton, wool, hemp or bamboo. These materials are abundant and highly renewable.
We want to continue our green trend by also sleeping on natural bedding. Choosing wool, hemp, linen, silk or organic cotton is much better for you and our planet, compared to petroleum derived plastic and polyesters. And tests have shown that those who sleep on wool get a deeper and more restful sleep thanks to wool’s ability to regulate body temperature and with moisture away.
These can be big ticket items, and we won't all be able to go out and replace them immediately. But now that we know the difference they make, we can make better choices gradually, when the time comes.
As I mentioned earlier, your mattress and bedding play a big part in the air we breathe because petroleum derived materials release toxic chemicals into the air. The same goes for certain paints and furniture. When choosing furniture for the bedrooms, we recommend shopping second hand first, as any paints and varnish have had plenty of time to off-gas, and reusing is an important part to keeping items out of landfills.
If you do buy new furniture, be sure to choose pieces made with recycled materials and low VOC paints and varnishes. Try to stay clear of furniture made with composite wood which not only have a short lifespan, but also contain toxins such as formaldehyde.
If you are repainting the walls in your bedroom, choose low VOC paint.
It might be tempting to use room sprays and fabric sprays to make your space smell nice, but instead of using aerosols or sprays full of things you can’t pronounce, opt for essential oils instead! Add a diffuser in your bedroom, or add a few drops of your favourite oil to some water in a spray bottle.
And lastly, adding some plants to your bedroom can really help the air quality as plants are known to absorb toxins like ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene. Thank you plants!
While your sleeping habits may not have a direct impact on climate change and our planet, I would argue that aligning with nature also means reconnecting with our natural rhythms.
Our bodies are naturally programmed to follow the rhythm of our seasons. During the winter, it gets darker earlier, and we should adjust our routines accordingly so that we also get more sleep during this colder part of the year.
Spending time in nature will boost feel-good hormones, sunlight and fresh air will both contribute to a healthier sleep. As can keeping your room cool and dark.
Aligning with nature means aligning with ourselves, and that means listening to our body’s cues. During times of stress, we find it hard to sleep because our brains are programmed to solve the cause of stress as soon as possible, so it can switch over to the parasympathetic nervous system which is a healthier place to be.
If you are finding it hard to sleep, spend a little time on self care, whether that is alone time, time connecting to loved ones, exercising or meditating. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need to put things into perspective and find solutions, which in turn will help you settle in for a good sleep.
Try to keep electronics out of the bedroom as much as possible. Not only do they emit electromagnetic radiation, but the lights can also disrupt our sleep patterns.
Nature Aligned Bedroom Action Steps
We of course can't turn all our bedrooms green over night. So let’s use these action steps to inspire us to small changes, and to steer us in the right direction whenever we are ready for bigger changes.
1. When it’s time to invest in a new mattress and bedding, choose natural and organic materials
2. Small changes can improve the quality of air in your bedroom:
a) Add some live plants
b) Choose low VOC paints and furniture made with recycled materials
c) Use essential oils in a diffuser or spray bottle to scent your room naturally
3. When shopping for bedroom furniture, shop secondhand first. If buying new, choose pieces made with recycled materials and natural paint and varnish. Stay away from particleboard
4. Align with your body’s and nature’s rhythm, align with the seasons, take the steps to calm your stress, limit use of electronics just before and during sleep and spend time in nature for a sounder, deeper sleep