The spring High Point Market, the world’s largest furnishings industry trade show, is just around the corner. Over 75,000 people attend the twice yearly event, visiting over 2000 exhibitors to see thousands of products. This year, we’ve designated six Wellness Within Your Walls friends and Ambassadors as official WWYW Wellness Spotters. As they travel through the market, they’ll be on the lookout for new and unique furnishings, interiors and products that promote home wellness and lead to a healthier home. If you’re attending High Point, look for the Wellness Spotter signs that will identify chosen products. Not going? Don’t worry, just check back here—we’ll be sharing all their finds for you to discover.
We wanted to spend the next few days introducing you to our Wellness Spotters. First up, Kathy Browning and Carrie Smith
Kathy G. Browning
Design Consultants / Owner-Designer
Where you live: Virginia Beach, VA
Describe your personal design aesthetic in 3-5 words: Memorable, Personable, Affordable
Why are you passionate about wellness and health in the interior environment? I believe we have a responsibility as designers to use our resources more efficiently while creating healthier and more energy-efficient homes.
Wellness Within Your Walls / Business Development
Where you live: Phoenix. AZ
Describe your personal design aesthetic in 3-5 words: Classic with a twist
Why are you passionate about wellness and health in the interior environment? WWYW allows you to give the best gift of all to your family and loved ones-the gift of a healthy environment.
The SCAD Lecture Series in Midtown Atlanta hosted WWYW founder Jillian Pritchard Cooke last week at SCAD Show for the presentation “Starting the Dialogue: Stand up to Toxins.”
Jillian (2nd from left) presented to an audience of students, with visiting guests from the media, art, real estate and medical communities, and was joined by (from left to right) Liset Robinson from the SCAD Interior Design Department, Jillian, Bonnie Casamassima of Southface, and Christine Leuthold of C Insight Group.
Each presenter brought their own unique experience and perspective to the evening
Bonnie Casamassima of Southface shared her experience with holistic approaches to design and emphasized the importance of proper air flow when building and designing homes. Liset Robinson, an Interior Design faculty member at SCAD, discussed how evidence-based design, with its emphasis on both current research and individual needs, is just as important as esthetics in good design and how it creates always-changing recommendations. And Christine Leuthold shared her beliefs how authentic behavior from the heart and “doing good” are valuable components of getting to the core of branding and differentiation.
Christine also tied together how changes in both reducing toxins in the environment and a solid brand platform don’t happen overnight. Instead, for both, a solid foundation with deliberate consciousness toward making wise choices, then careful tending, is the key toward success.
We loved how the insights from different perspectives on design all combined to emphasize how important it is to think about wellness when designing a interior, and also powerfully represented the mission of WWYW—by working together and emphasizing the role of dialogue and education, we can all improve our interiors, our businesses, and our lives.
And we’re thrilled that we’ll have many more opportunities to educate future designers since WWYW will be part of the interior design curriculum at SCAD starting this spring. The dialogue continues!
The pollen floats into your house leaving a green coating, the bright spring sun illuminates the dust in every corner, and your snow boots have marked the carpet by your front door.
Its definitely time for spring cleaning!
We’ve got a secret cleaning tool to share with you that not only cleans without using any toxic chemicals, but cleans more effectively—a steam cleaner.
Ok, it’s not really secret, but we’re surprised how few people know about such a versatile and effective tool, and we’re happy to spread the word.
Keeping as many toxic chemicals as you can out of your home is the best first step toward a healthier interior environment. Since cleaning supplies are a top source of chemicals, we all struggle with what products to use that are less toxic. But what if you didn’t have to use any cleaning products at all, and could still get a clean home with improved air quality?
Today’s vapor steam cleaners turn water (only water!) into a fairly dry steam that penetrates and loosens dirt from almost any surface, from hardwood floors to tile to upholstery, yet leaves no or very little moisture behind. You might need to wipe or vacuum after, but that’s it. And the heat in the steam disinfects and sanitizes, so is effective in killing dust mites, e-coli, mold, and even bed bugs.
The cleaners come in a huge variety of prices and sizes and are widely available, so it’s worth doing some research and thinking about how you’ll use it.
One we love is the Polti Vaporetto GO Steam Cleaner, pictures above. It’s portable, is a fairly low price ($169.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond) and comes with ten attachments so it can clean a wide variety of household surfaces.
We’re so excited to announce that we’re joining forces with The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). WWYW will be part of the curriculum of SCAD’s interior design program, which has been named top undergraduate and graduate interior design program by DesignIntelligence for the fifth consecutive year. To kick off the partnership, we’re proud to be taking part in SCAD’s Building Arts lecture series next week. WWYW founder Jillian Pritchard Cooke will be speaking on “Starting a Dialogue: Stand Up Against Toxins” on April 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 at SCADshow, 173 14th street in Atlanta. The event is free and open to the public, so if you’re in Atlanta, please join us!
Things are active at the National Association of Home Builders’ 2017 New American Home and the 2017 Great American Remodel, both currently under construction by Phil Kean Design Group in Orlando. Earlier this month, as part of our participation in the projects, we were thrilled to host our first Wellness Within Your Walls Preferred Vendor Forum and share what we know with some the best manufacturers of home building products around.
Over the two-day event, held with the help of the Greater Orlando Builders Association, vendors of products that will be included in the 2017 New American Homes learned more about the WWYW standard. Attendees, including representatives from a wide range of manufacturers, the design/build team for the 2018 New American Home, and special guests Tucker Bernard of NAHB and Susan Inglis of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, took part in the entire four part WWYW course as well as numerous networking and discussion opportunities. The support we got was tremendous and discussion was insightful, productive and showed a real connection over the issues of toxins.
We love sharing how making interiors healthier during the design/build process can be affordable, achievable and accountable. As we predicted, many of the attendees realized that their current products and goals already aligned with the WWYW standard, and everyone was intrigued and enthusiastically planning their next steps for joining the movement for healthier interiors.
It’s always tremendously exciting for us to watch the growing dialogue take shape when our partners realize that we’re all in this together, and we embrace every opportunity we have to join forces with all the different parties in the design/build process.
To our attendees, thanks so much for coming and for your engaged participation and feedback. We’re so looking forward to working with you!
Interested in attending a future forum or want more information? Give us a call at 404-736-9157 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this month, WWYW founder Jillian Prichard Cooke joined other environmentally-focused Atlanta
women to celebrate Women’s History Month with a fabulous luncheon event organized by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Jillian joined Jennifer Hanky, president and CEO of Heathy Green Schools and Lisa Wise, founder of re:loom project and executive director of Initiative for Affordable Housing, in a panel discussion titled “There is Beauty in Sustainability,” moderated by Hartsfield-Jackson’s Senior Sustainability Planner Liza Milagro.
Jillian reports being amazed by the tons of great questions and active dialogue. Once again we were reminded how high the demand is for information on healthy interiors and how much the WWYW message resonates in the larger community. We’ve got a busy spring, with several opportunities to meet with us and learn more. Stay tuned!
We’ve got an important update on our blog post about Lumber Liquidators. Last month, the CDC released a report (then updated it several weeks later when it was determined that they goofed on their math) detailing the risks of the formaldehyde emitted by Chinese-made laminate flooring mislabelled and illegally sold by Lumber Liquidators.
The CDC’s report puts the risk of cancer caused by the flooring at six to 30 cases per 100,000 people exposed and recommends that the customers who have the flooring take steps to reduce exposure to the substance. Other effects of the toxin in the home are increased respiratory and asthma symptoms. While we knew the flooring was toxic and dangerous to buyers’ health after last years’ 60 Minutes segment, the report puts concrete figures on the risk.
Lumber Liquidators is no longer selling the flooring and says on their website that they’ve “formalized our expectations regarding supplier labor and health and safety policies.” In addition, they are providing indoor air quality testing to qualified customers and say they “will conduct an in-depth evaluation of air quality and potential formaldehyde sources for any customer whose results are inconclusive or above established thresholds. “
Even though testing the air quality is not the same as actually testing for formaldehyde in the flooring, it is one way to determine what toxins and at what level are in your home, so we highly recommend starting there. While you’re waiting to hear the results, what should you do? Ventilating with open windows and fans, staying out of the room where the flooring is, and keeping humidity levels low are important steps. Toxin levels will go down over time, and the more ventilation, the faster that off-gassing will occur. While we can’t say exactly when, according to many experts the risk should be much lower after 1 to 2 years.
If it turns out that formaldehyde is off-gassing into the room, you may b want to consider replacing the flooring, especially if it’s a room you need to use often or if you have small children. Lumber Liquidators isn’t saying exactly what they’ll do once their evaluation finds formaldehyde fumes in a customer’s home.
The fallout for Lumber Liquidators has been devastating. The release of the CDC report pushed their stock price even lower (it’s down nearly 80% over the past year), sales have fallen, and the company faces a number of lawsuits.
At WWYW we hope that other home furnishing companies have learned several valuable lessons from Lumber Liquidators mistakes: that they need to be proactive in their sourcing and that saving money in the short term isn’t worth the long term costs. Most important lesson? That consumers care about what goes into their home.
“Are You a Toxic Waste Disposal Site?” asks noted columnist Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column earlier this month.
The answer? Yes. We all are.
As we teach in our four part WWYW course, over 200 chemicals not naturally occurring in humans have been identified in our blood, including in the umbilical cords of newborn babies.
This means that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, while serving as a wake up call, is really just one story of many. Not only are many additional communities struggling with even higher rates of lead poisoning (mostly from old lead paint still in buildings or in the soil), but thanks to all the other chemicals that have traveled from our environment into our bodies, humans are now born essentially already polluted and at risk for major health problems, from cancer to brain damage to autism to nerve damage. And we now understand that children are by far at the greatest risk. As Kristof points out, “A vast amount of recent research shows that brain development at the beginning of life affects physical and mental health decades later.”
Kristof goes on to discuss the role the chemical companies and the government play in letting the status quo continue, “Chemicals companies, by spending vast sums on lobbying—$100,000 per member of Congress last year—block serious oversight. Almost none of the chemicals in products we use daily have been tested for safety.” Congress has been stalled for years on updating the woefully inadequate Toxic Substances Control Act, passed way back 1976 and still the current law.
Kristof’s column is a clear and concise overview of the problem and we encourage you to read the whole column here.
But Kristoff goes beyond summarizing. He issues a resounding call for what he terms a public health revolution. He compares today’s issues with the London of 1854, when a doctor figured out that a water pump was causing cholera. Despite the water company battling against his assertions, the doctor won and stopped use of the pump, and “this revelation led to the germ theory of disease and to investments in sanitation and clean water. Millions of lives were saved. “
To us, this story serves as a valuable reminder of several truths: Not just the power of one man, not just that we can’t always blindly trust companies and governments, but something that we all occasionally need to be reminded of. Positive change can and does happen.
We’re thrilled to see these issues discussed by such a powerful and persuasive public figure, and join in on his forceful call for a public health revolution that begins with protecting children from harmful chemical exposure.
Recognize this guy? Thanks to our role in the 2017 New American Home, not only we were able to meet with the NAHB Leading Suppliers Council but we got to hang out with the Pink Panther. Best of all, while this company mascot has been around a long time, we’re thrilled to report that his corporate parent, Owens Corning, is staying current with consumer demand to develop and offer products that are not only energy efficient, but also less toxic.
A prime example—the Pro Pink Blown-In Insulation—recommended to us by 2017 New American Home Builder Phil Kean. This insulation boasts great energy efficiency—offering the same R-value as spray foam insulation since it fills all the cracks and crevices in a wall or ceiling cavity without the leaks of traditional batts. But we love that it does so without the toxic chemicals and fumes that spray foam insulation add to the environment. A bonus—it’s recommended for reducing noise transmission. The end result? A quiet, less toxic, and energy efficient home.
We’re back from last week’s NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas! It was a fantastic trip— we saw some truly amazing products that contribute to healthier interiors and met some fabulous people who are now WWYW friends. Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing what we discovered and highlighting some trends and products in future blog posts.