Up until now, I have been focusing on things that directly affect health; dust and chemicals from air fresheners are respiratory irritants that result in specific symptoms. However, there is another culprit that was contributing to the headaches, nausea, and stuffiness: clutter.
Clutter can be described as all the stuff that accumulates in our homes because of either negligence or sentimental attachment. Far from adding quality to our lives, clutter actually robs us of our time, our space, our finances our peace of mind, and yes -- our health. When you cannot find your keys because they are lost in a jumble of stuff, you waste time searching for them. If articles of clothing are jammed in overstuffed closets, they become frayed and worn more quickly. Or we may end up buying even more clothing because we cannot easily see what we already have. Studies have shown that people in cluttered environments report higher levels of stress and a more difficult time concentrating on mental tasks. Plus, excessive clutter makes cleaning up the environment that much harder.
One of the basic principles on the home organization website FlyLady states "You cannot clean clutter." In other words, any attempt to clean up or green up your indoor environment will ultimately be unsuccessful until you reduce the amount of unnecessary items in that environment.
Clutter not only acts as a place for dust to accumulate, but also may block physical access to high accumulation areas for dust, such as clothing piles or drapes. Furthermore, the clutter itself often leaches out VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air, which can contribute health problems.
So it's official; my next mission for greening up the indoors is de-cluttering!