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Going Green This Spring 

Cleaning up your home improvement list

Spring is officially here, and many are eager for warmer temps and melting snow. Along with the anticipation of seeing green grass again, the change of seasons commences the time for cleaning and home maintenance or improvements. If you're prepping your house to get it ready to be sold—or simply doing some necessary maintenance or updates, we have some Earth-friendly ideas to consider.

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Whether taking on the job yourself or hiring a professional to hammer it out, homeowners are faced with choosing materials for the project. It's important to note not only how effective or costly the materials are, but also how environmentally responsible they are. Generally, traditional building materials contain high quantities of Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. It's crucial to consider interior air quality when choosing materials since this is the place where people will be spending a large amount of time. To put it plainly, the less time we spend exposed to and breathing in harmful chemicals, the better.

The possibilities for interior upgrades are numerous. Painting and updating flooring are some of the most common—also covering the majority of surface areas in a home. With paint, there are many low- or no-VOC options with minimal cost difference, along with a comparable quality and noticeable health benefits. These paints are also preferable to work with because of lack of smell and their ease of cleaning.

New or renewed flooring also comes with many options. Refinishing current hardwood flooring with a safe finish is the most sustainable route because it involves reworking materials already in place. Other great choices include low-VOC laminate, sustainable hardwood with an Earth-friendly finish, cork or tile. If you prefer a vinyl-like performance for kitchen, bath and laundry areas, consider Marmoleum or a natural linoleum product. When replacing carpet, choose a natural fiber whenever possible, and consider requesting environmentally healthy carpet padding and adhesives.

The importance of using healthy and sustainable products isn't limited to the interior of a home; it can also extend to outdoor projects. If you're painting your house or staining a deck or fence, a low-VOC exterior paint or water-based stains are the healthiest options. Substitutes to a traditional wooden deck could be a paver patio or alternative decking material such as Trex, which uses recycled plastic materials to produce a low-maintenance product. If purchasing wood products, try to find sustainably harvested lumber, recycled or reclaimed materials. Look for supplies at the local online marketplaces or stop by Habitat for Humanity ReStores (located in Bend, La Pine, Madras, Redmond and Sisters), chock-full of recycled materials for home updates. If you don't find the perfect item you'll at least gain new inspiration for your spring project list.

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