July 02, 2020 5 min read

Reflections on the Pandemic

Covid-19. We have been in lockdown, quaratine, and isolation for months, but we are still frustratingly faced with a daunting number of cases every day. While we should remain hopeful for the future, it seems necessary to consider the possibility that our current way of life will be affected by the virus until a vaccine is found. 

How has this pandemic changed us? It has caused us to recalculate the present, future of crowds & social gatherings while forcing us to reexamine our preconceived notions of what is possible. An important aspect of this phenomenon has been how the pandemic has affected many professional working spaces- mainly in how it has challenged our notions of what we conceive as "work spaces". With the quarantine in place, many of us now work at home. While this broadens the possibilities of "working spaces", it also blurs the separation between "home" and "work"- ultimately to mean that more time is being spent indoors at home.


Indoor Living / Work Space

Due to efforts to "flatten the curve", we are spending an increasing amount of time indoors including when we work. Covid-19 has necessarily changed the dynamic of living and working spaces for many, with the strict division between the two spaces being increasingly eroded. Because we are spending so much time indoors, we are faced with difficulties many of us have not considered before- one being indoor air quality. 

Forced to stay indoors seemingly without end, it's easy to feel trapped. The air might feel stuffy and stifling. You may be getting frequent heachaches. What you may not know is that some of this may have to do with your air quality! A large chunk of our everyday household products contain toxins and many of our homes are not built for effective air circulation. As such, there is an ever increasing need to invigorate and freshen up our indoor spaces to accomodate our growing reliance on our indoor air and environment.  This can be easily remedied by introducing some key plants known for their air-purifying qualities to your home. This guide is here to help you purify your air for a clearer mind and to help improve your professional & personal space and life! 


A Guide to a Toxin-Free Indoor Environment

There are many reasons for creating an indoor garden – significant among them is the need to clean the toxins from our homes and offices.  As a consequence of the energy crisis in the 1970’s, today’s homes and offices are built to conserve energy and the outcome has been a lack of air exchange, with the resulting increase of indoor air pollution. The World Health Organization has stated, “there’s probably more damage to human health from indoor pollution than from outdoor pollution.”  Symptoms associated with indoor pollution include allergies, asthma, eye, nose, and throat irritations, fatigue, headache, nervous system disorders, respiratory and sinus congestion.  In today’s society more and more people exhibit these symptoms as a result of staying indoors the majority of the time.

One of the ways we can change this predicament is to become knowledgeable about and responsive to the environment that we live and breathe in.  Foliage plants give us the opportunity to not only provide the calming influences of nature in our homes and workplaces, but also provide us with the oxygen we need to live.  In a study conducted by N.A.S.A., researchers found that plants also clean the air inside our homes, buildings, and offices. The sources of chemical emissions that cause indoor air pollution include: acetone, alcohols; ammonia; benzene; chloroform; formaldehyde; and xylene. 

These chemicals are found in so many of our everyday products and surroundings, including but not limited to: cosmetics, nail polish remover, office correction fluid, pre-printed paper forms, adhesives, carpeting, caulking compounds, ceiling tiles, floor coverings, paints, particleboard, stains, varnishes, cleaning products, electrophotographic printers, microfiche developers, photocopiers, photography supplies, plastics, spot removers, solvents, tobacco smoke, wall coverings, carpet glue, draperies, fabrics, facial tissues, furniture made from preserved wood, gas stoves, grocery bags, paper towels, permanent-press clothing, plywood, upholstery, computer VDU screens, and community water supplies that add chloroform to chlorinated tap water.

As we can see from the list above, it seems almost impossible for us, as individuals, to separate ourselves from every single one of these materials so deeply entrenched in our everyday lives. So instead of setting ourselves up for failure in trying to solve the impossible task of cleansing society entirely from chemicals, let’s take a look at what we as individuals can do in resolving this problem in our indoor spaces. As mentioned previously, foliage plants are one of the most effective answers to this problem and their inclusion in indoor spaces is a solution that can be easily carried out by individuals. Researchers have discovered that the most effective plants are:

  • Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) – removes chemical vapours
  • Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum) – removes chemical vapours
  • Azalea (Rhododendron simsii hybrids) – removes chemical vapours
  • Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’) – the best fern for removing air pollutants
  • Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) – removes chemical vapours
  • Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera ‘Bridgesii’) – removes chemical vapours
  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) – removes chemical vapours
  • Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’) – best of the dracaenas for removing chemical toxins from the indoor environment
  • Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’) – especially effective for the removal of benzene
  • Dracaena (Dracaena marginata) – among the best plants for removing xylene
  • Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’) – especially effective at removing air toxins such as formaldehyde
  • English ivy (Hedera helix) – particularly effective at removing formaldehyde
  • Florist’s mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium) – one of the best flowering or seasonal plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia from the atmosphere
  • Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) – removes chemical vapours
  • Miniature date palm (Phoenix roebelinii) – one of the best palms for removing indoor air pollutants, especially effective for the removal of xylene
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) – excels in the removal of alcohol, acetone, benzene, and formaldehyde
  • Red emerald philodendron (Philodendron erubescens) – one of the best philodendrons for removing indoor air pollutants
  • Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) – good for removing chemical vapours
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’) – effective for removing indoor air pollutants as well as chemical vapours
  • Wax begonia (Begonia semperflorens) – good for removing chemical vapours

(Illustration from @purewow on Instagram, taken with permission)

These are some of the plants known to contribute to healthy air quality in our homes, buildings, and offices.  Some plants may be better suited for certain tasks than others but all these wonderful plants ultimately help clean the air as they beautify our surroundings and add oxygen and humidity to the indoor environment. 

We’re big believers in embodying the talk, so in spirit of this article, we introduced a Peace Lily into our indoor office space which we got from our friends at https://www.plantingtree.com/ . Our home office already feels brighter and fresher!! Head on over to PlantingTree to get yourself an air purifying plant to cleanse your air!!

Help it flourish with Mikrobs, watch the plant thrive, and see your space and life improve. Watch your cabin fever abate, observe your mind become clearer as you breathe in sweet, fresh air. As horticulturist Ken Beattie suggests, “The next plant you buy may save your life.” Happy Growing!


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