PRESS / LINDA MASON HUNTER



TINY HOUSE

"Tiny House Big Idea"
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Ben Lochard
HOME FEATURE OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016


OUT AND ABOUT

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My Hometown

The Des Moines Register, Oct. 11, 2008

 

 

My Vancouver

DSM magazine, September/October 2016

TRAVEL: The Insiders Guide, “Worldly and Wild,” pages 42-44


GREEN CLEAN

 

"Morning news"

Global TV, Vancouver, BC, April 17, 2009

 
 

"Today on Studio 4"

Shaw TV, Vancouver, BC., April 18, 2009

 

 
 

EPIC Interview

Supreme Master Satellite TV, Vancouver, BC, April 20, 2009


CREATING a SAFE & HEALTHY HOME

"Home again, naturally"

Des Moines Register, December 2005

Linda Mason Hunter knows how to get rid of pollutants and chemicals to make your home a safer environment. She has a new book out on the subject.

BY ERIN CRAWFORD
REGISTER STAFF WRITER

What's missing from Linda Mason Hunter's Waveland Park neighborhood foursquare house?

Carpet, harsh cleaning chemicals, pressed wood furniture and plastic (nearly all of it).

What exists?

Two water filters. Plaster walls. All-natural cleaning products and a rubber bed shipped from a company in California.

The reasons for these choices are outlined in "Creating a Safe & Healthy Home," Hunter's new book on "household health." It's a guide to outfitting your home with human-friendly materials plus advice on maintaining your yard in a healthy manner. It includes a reference to the good, not-so-good and flat-out-harmful stuff found in a typical home.

She does this for reasons environmental and personal. Her solutions usually benefit both.

"Our houses should be regenerative places," she said. "They shouldn't draw our energy away. They should be safe and healthy. So many of our houses aren't."

Studies have shown the air inside a home is often far more dangerous than the air outside. Hunter was concerned about the links she was seeing in research between the stuff we bring into our house, the pesticides and chemicals such materials harbor, and increased risk of disease, migraines and who knows what else. She has spent decades researching more healthful materials and approaches to home maintenance and building.

"I'm not perfect," she said of her own home. "There are things in here that aren't green."

Not perfect but always improving. Hunter has worked slowly and steadily. Healthy isn't just a matter of certain materials, it's the relaxation provided by the basement sauna, the extra light that floods the dining room from a small addition that was added.

She is happy in her home as it is now, and that is key.
"I always stress you need to find your own comfort level," she said. "It's a process, a series of steps and you don't have to do it all at once."


She instructs readers to begin this way: "Start by controlling the number of synthetic chemicals you bring into your house. Look for safer alternatives.

"Make compromises if you must. Remember, when it comes to harsh polluting chemicals, the lower the concentration, the lower the risk."

The only cleaning products in Hunter's cupboard are borax, Superwashing Soda, baking soda, vinegar, Bi-U-Kleen Automatic Dishwashing Powder, an oxygen bleach cleanser and Castille soap.

She helped pioneer the concept of a healthful home, discovering the issue as editor of Better Homes and Gardens Remodeling Ideas magazine. After moving to Rodale's New Shelter magazine in 1986, Hunter began writing a column on the subject.

However, she felt unable to explore the burgeoning issue to the depth it deserved. So in 1989, she wrote one of the first guides to improving the home environment. That was how "The Healthy Home: An Attic-To-Basement Guide to Toxin-Free Living" came about. The book was labeled a " 'Whole Earth Catalog' for the home" by The New York Times.

That book took the country by storm, launching Hunter into national expert status in print and on TV. She has continued to work on her own home, making each room healthier, project by project.


She has found new materials and new ways to clean. In two recent books, she again gave readers an outline on how to make their homes and lives healthier.

"Creating a Safe & Healthy Home" is something of an update of her first book but streamlined a bit, with full-color pictures and added sections on healthy remodeling and finding a health-conscious contractor. It is both a how-to guide and a reference work. She has added a pesticide chapter on how to deal with pests "in a more enlightened manner."

"When you have your house sprayed, it can be extremely harmful to your health," she said.

The book also contains a guide to choosing a builder. She's also participating in the Center on Sustainable Communities (COSC), a local coalition to educate and train green builders and designers and connect them with interested home owners. It will officially launch Feb. 23.

Hunter's other book was co-authored with Mikki Halpin, "Green Clean," a friendly little book as appealing in its design as in its cheap and simple ways to get nasty chemicals out of your cleaning bucket.

 

SAFE SOLUTIONS

Hunter's motto on home health is to offer solutions for every dilemma. Here are some of the ways she's applied her principles to improve the environmental quality of her own home:

Water

The drinking water in Hunter's home is double filtered, through activated carbon and reverse osmosis filters. This reduces the need for bottled water, saving money and packaging. Many homeowners filter drinking water, but Hunter said it's just as important to remove any chlorine from water you shower in. The steam from a hot shower will contain chlorine if the water does.

Furniture

Hunter avoids pressed wood. In fact, she prefers antique pieces that don't fall into any of the chemical pitfalls of new materials. The glues frequently used in materials such as pressed wood and plywood often contain volatile organic compounds, which can have a negative effect on health.

Bedding

A natural rubber mattress is one of the more unusual solutions Hunter has found. Cushioning in mattresses and sofas often contains polyurethane foam and chemicals such as "fire retardants, dyes, pesticides, glues and fabric treatments, all of which offgas into the air." When it was time to replace her traditional mattress, Hunter didn't want to have to worry about what she would be deep-breathing for eight hours a night. Instead, she purchased the rubber mattress from a California company. No box springs needed. Pleasantly firm, the mattress has so little bounce that she and her husband rarely disturb one another while sleeping.
 

Building Materials

Everything from drywall to countertops can contain harmful chemicals that release into the air, including VOCs and formaldehyde. Hunter tries to avoid such stuff, choosing Fireslate, a man-made concrete substance for her countertops. But, even if a material is made with undesirable compounds, it can often be sealed with special paint that protects against fumes.

Plastic

Hunter has adopted a rather exceptional goal: Ridding her home of plastic. It's a path slicker than wet ice and she doesn't keep everything out. Plastic emits plasticizers, and the more flexible the material, the more they can emit these chemicals, which Hunter writes may harm the reproductive system. Instead, she uses Pyrex storage containers, rather than plastic bags or containers. Much of her food is transferred out of plastic bags and into glass containers. And what about sliced bread, the largest expanse of plastic bags in the grocery store? Hunter buys her bread daily, unsliced, from a neighborhood bakery, and just leaves it out cut side down.

It's not a goal everyone would commit themselves to, but such improvements are like decorating. Everyone has their own style.
 

Flooring

Not everyone would give up their carpet, but Hunter's floors have been stripped of it. Hunter writes that carpet contains approximately 120 chemicals. "The pad is typically foamed plastic or styrene-butadiene rubber - both petroleum products that offgas for months." In her kitchen, Hunter recently installed Marmoleum, a product created from linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, jute and limestone. Underneath, cork was laid, which gives the floor a soft feel. In other rooms, she has ceramic tile, slate, and wood.

Copyright (c) The Des Moines Register. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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