Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Green Attack! Improving Indoor Air Quality

peaceThough last week I went over the possibilities in the arena of indoor food growing, the simpler act of keeping plants around can also be beneficial to your health. Plants have the ability to improve indoor air quality, filtering out common volatile organic compounds. So in addition to brightening up your spacious home or shoebox apartment and making you feel closer to nature while inside, plants lend silent support to the cleanliness of each breath you take. Here are some details about certain plants to seek out if all this cleaner air business is sounding good to you.


Aloe helps to clear formaldehyde and benzene from indoor atmospheres, a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more. And as a bonus, the plant contains a gel that can aid in the healing of cuts and burns.

Spider Plant

If you aren’t too freaked out by the name, this plant can improve your indoor environment in multiple ways. In addition to fighting against formaldehyde and benzene, spider plants help filter out carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in leather, rubber, and printing industries.

large_gerber daisiesGerber Daisy (pictured)

If you can find enough light for this bright and beautiful plant, it can work great to remove the trichloroethylene that can come from washing and drying clothes, as well as the benzene that comes with inks.

Snake Plant

The snake plant is exceptionally good at filtering out formaldehyde, which can be found in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and other personal care items. This is the perfect plant to put in a bathroom, being suited for low light and more humid conditions.

Golden Pothos

Another tool to use against formaldehyde, the Golden Pothos is a quick-growing vine that stays green even when in the dark. It’s ideal for a garage, car exhaust being heavy with formaldehyde.


This beautiful plant is a pro at filtering out benzene. It needs lots of light in order to thrive, so you’ll have to have a well-positioned window that catches a good amount of direct sunlight.

Red-edged Dracaena

This plant offers stylist red edges, and can grow quite tall. They also work great for removing xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

Weeping Fig

Though they can be a bit of a downer, these mopey plants can filter out formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Here are some tips for ficus care.

Azalea aza(pictured)

Another formaldehyde fighter, this flowering shrub does best in temperatures around 60 to 65 degrees, so if you have a basement, an Azalea might be the perfect addition.

English Ivy

Quite the stately plant, English ivy can filter out the formaldehyde found in certain cleaning products.

Warneck Dracaena

With a potential height of twelve feet, the Warneck combats pollutants associated with varnishes and oils. Since direct sunlight isn’t necessary to its growth, this is an easier plant to care for inside.

Chinese Evergreen

Another plant that’s relatively easy to care for, the Chinese evergreen will produce blooms and red berries even with a low amount of light. It also filters out a variety of air pollutants, growing more effective at removing toxins as time and exposure continues.

bamBamboo Palm (pictured)

This small palm takes the (polluted) cake as the best plant for filtering out benzene and trichloroethylene. The Bamboo palm thrives in shady indoor spaces and often renders flowers and small berries.

Heart Leaf Philodendron

While this climbing vine plant is dangerous if you have kids or pets around (toxic when eaten), it’s quite effective for removing volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).

Peace Lily (pictured at top)

We saved the best name for last. How cool would it be to be able to say you have a peace lily at your place? It’s pretty easy to care for too, with shade and weekly watering the only requirements for its health and blooming. The peace lily is excellent at removing formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, also combating toluene and xylene.

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