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Mar 05, 2012 | Jeanie Sablatura

Austin Church Offers Greener Options for Your Home

The Environmental Guild of St. David’s, Austin, hosted an environmental awareness event at the Austin Energy five-star-rated home of Catherine Lee Doar.  Michele Hallahan, President and Senior Sustainability Consultant of Eco-Logic, Certification Auditor at Green Seal, and the City of Austin Office of Sustainability’s new Senior Business Process Control Consultant, presented information on toxins in the home, including cleaning products, foods, and personal care products.


Hallahan explained how most people are exposed to more pollution indoors than outdoors, especially since most urbanites spend almost all of their time indoors. She outlined the wide array of toxins and a variety of methods for lowering exposure to adults, children and pets. Common household toxins include chlorine and ammonia in cleaning products, phthalates in soft plastics, parabens in personal care products, formaldehyde in furniture, and a variety of chemicals in air fresheners, pesticides, and herbicides. Exposure to these toxins can cause or exacerbate allergies and asthma along with other serious health problems.


One simple way to improve indoor air quality as well as make your home smell fresh and clean without artificial air fresheners, Hallahan stated, is to open your windows and let your house breathe. As for switching to healthier products, she noted that merely throwing away all of the supplies currently in use might overwhelm some homeowners. Hallahan provided several recipes for cleaning supplies made from common household items such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. After the presentation, Doar led the group through her Bouldin Creek home, highlighting the resource-efficient and low-toxin features, such as a heat pump water heater, induction cooktop, raised-panel metal roof, and no-added-urea-formaldehyde cabinets, while Hallahan noted the least and most toxic products in the kitchen, baths, and laundry room.  


St. David’s is near the end of its pursuit of environmental certification in the GreenFaith Certification Program for houses of worship. The two-year certification process involves not only greening the worship facilities and operations, but educating parishioners and participating with the greater Austin community on projects related to issues such as stewardship of the earth’s resources and environmental justice. Certification with GreenFaith is just the beginning of the parish’s journey toward sustainability, regeneration, and wiser care of Earth.