Book Review: How to Grow Fresh Air

How much of your day do you spend inside?

Chances are, even if you make a conscious effort to spend time outside daily, you still spend the majority of your life inside. (Especially since most of us have the good fortune to sleep inside!)

I used to assume that most air pollutants were outside, but modern research has indicated that “the indoor environment may be as much as ten times more polluted than the outdoor environment.”

Why? Well, nowadays most of our homes are well sealed, allowing less circulation of air. Plus, many modern materials emit chemicals. For example, rugs, adhesives, and paints all emit formaldehyde. Particleboard, varnishes, and photocopiers emit benzene.

This is obviously a problem in homes, but back in the 1970s, scientists were faced with an even greater problem: controlling air quality in space, where there isn’t really much possibility of air circulation!

Do you know what the NASA scientists found? That common houseplants could remove dangerous chemicals and dramatically increase indoor air quality, not only in sealed space chambers, but also in our homes.

(I know it shouldn’t surprise me, but I am constantly amazed at just how wonderfully God designed His creation! Aren’t you?)

After explaining how and why plants improve air quality, How to Grow Fresh Air lists 50 houseplants that have been tested for their ability to purify the air.

Different plants remove different chemicals, some are more efficient than others, and some release oxygen at night, making them great to have in bedrooms. How to Grow Fresh Air rates the houseplants according to how well they remove chemical vapors, how much oxygen they release, and how easy they are to care for.

Each plant receives a beautiful two-page spread (including a full-page color photo), information on what chemicals it removes, when it transpires, and a basic care guide.

They recommend having one indoor plant for every 100 square feet of living space. I’m still working on gathering plants, but am just so excited that something so simple and so beautiful can make the air my family breathes better!

Disclaimer: Though I really enjoyed this book, Dr. Wolverton heads chapter 2 with Genesis 1:1, but then spends the next paragraph talking about how amazingly plants have evolved over 4.5 billion years. Plants amazing and intricate ability to purify the air, inside and out, make me stand in awe of God.

Linked up at Living Green, Healthy 2DayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysNatural Living, & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: the links to products in this post are my referral links.]


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  1. says

    I have all of two house plants for 1800 square feet! according to these calculations then I need 16 more! Wow that is a lot for a brown thumb to take care of! I do like the fact that you said they list how easy they are to care for I would need the easy care ones.

    • anna says

      At least some are better than none, right? 🙂

      I only have about half the recommended amount (and most of them are pretty small shoots) but I’m keeping my eye open for cheap, healthy plants… at least if I don’t pay that much for them, I won’t feel that bad if they die! I’ve got a pretty brown thumb too.

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