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Health & Balance

The Natural Home: An Insider's Guide

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Natural Fabric Choices

  • Sweetgrass Natural Fibers specializes in towels, robes, and curtains made from hemp; sweetgrassfibers.com.
  • Merida's chemical-free area rugs are handwoven of sea grass, jute, and sisal; meridameridian.com.
  • Made from spongy, soft latex, Nature's Rest Forest Glen mattress repels dust mites and mold; naturesrest.com.
  • Coyuchi's soft organic cotton bedding is free of dyes and chemicals; coyuchiorganic.com.

H 2 0 Filters

Although municipal water supplies must meet stringent quality standards set by the EPA, many homeowners are taking the extra step of filtering their tap water to improve taste, reduce odors, or significantly lower any existing levels of chlorine, lead, and waterborne microorganisms, such as cryptosporidium. Sleek faucet filters, such as Moen's Puretouch (moen.com), use a carbon filter to deliver clear, clean water straight from the tap. Kinetico's Drinking Water Filters 7500 (kinetico.com) is an under-counter reverse-osmosis filtration system that delivers filtered water via a separate countertop tap. Another option is KitchenAid's side-by-side refrigerators with built-in AquaSense Ice & Water Filtration (kitchenaid.com). Convenient on-door dispensers offer easy access to ice and chilled drinking water.

For answers to frequently asked questions about water quality, check out the EPA's informative Website, epa.gov/safewater. The easy-to-navigate site lists common contaminants in drinking water and outlines how to protect drinking water from such contaminants as lead, cryptosporidium, and e-coli. In addition to offering links to state and local sources of water-quality information, the site also lists approved companies offering water-testing kits. To test private wells, which are not regulated by the EPA, contact your state certification officer to obtain a list of certified water-testing labs in your area.

To Learn More

To make simple, natural alternatives for everything from laundry detergent and insect repellent to pet shampoo and shoe polish, check out Better Basics for the Home (Crown; 1999), a compendium of 868 practical formulas for non-toxic cleansers, beauty products, and house-hold supplies. Herbal Homekeeping (Interweave Press; 1999) provides recipes for a host of all-natural household cleansers, all of which are made from every-day ingredients and essential oils. For healthy home products, including water filters, "green" cleaning supplies, energy-smart appliances, and educational books and videos, visit realgoods.com.

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