Quick Tips To Improve Your Home Office Experience, Part 1: Clean Air
Aktualisiert: 26. Aug. 2021
How To Turn Your Working Place At Home To A Heavenly Oasis Of Bliss
Quick Tips To Improve Your Home Office Experience:
Part 1: Clean Air
This article belongs to a series of articles in which I would like to dedicate myself to the question about how to improve our life at home and how to transform our living space to a more inspiring place.
Based on my own experience and research, I would like to cover one topic per article to guide you to a more enriching living and working experience at home.
Here I also go in more detail what is needed to achieve a clean space and how to get fresh air, since it’s the most essential foundation which needs to be set, ideally before further steps for improvement can be taken.
Let's begin with the simple fact that for most of us our home is the place where we spend the most of our time.
This becomes more evident, since the COVID-19 pandemics has all spread around the world.
Risk reducing measurements like higher hygienic standards, home office and social distancing became part of our every day lives.
So to cope with this whole challenging situation, one recommendable step is to make yourself a better and inspiring place at home to counter fatigue and stress.
For this I am of the opinion that it’s absolutely crucial, that at first the air you are breathing at home is clean and free from harmful chemical substances.
In this particular article I would like to go into the question what home office means for us nowadays and then further explain step by step the simple steps one can take to transform our homes to a better working and living environment.
1.1: Why it is important and good to have clean air at home
As I have explained before the first element we should consider is the most important but most of the time also the most disregarded one: It’s the air we all breathe.
Therefore I dedicate this article to the improvement of the indoor air quality since air is the most vital and subtle element which surrounds us.
To transform our home to a more livable place, we should at first begin to transform this element to the better, since it’s one of the most important and fundamental elements which makes life possible, because without air we simply cannot live or exist.
Also it’s not only important to simply have air available but what matters is not only where it comes from but much more important is how the quality of it is.
So to begin with my explanation, let us begin to see how we live and work nowadays and what working at home means with all its implications.
1.2: What Home Office means and how it changed how we work and live
Nowadays, at the present time with the presence of the global pandemic, more and more employees from many companies, are transitioning to do their work at home. For safety reasons and to protect employees from the Corona Virus and to reduce the possibility of new infections with the virus, employees are consequently sent to home office. The best known companies which took those measurements at first are big players of the IT industry like Apple, Facebook and Google.
But even many smaller and mid-sized companies are making this step towards sending their employees to home.
With this extraordinary situation given by the pandemic, this seems to be the new status quo on how work is getting done and at the moment it’s the situation we need to become accustomed to.
But what does home office mean exactly, how does it change our lives?
To begin to form an answer to this question, I would like to tell you about my actual life situation in short, so that you have a better impression of what all this means.
When I first began to do my office work at home, I began to realize how much it changed my way to work and live. When you ask why: First and in short I think it‘s because of the simple fact that you hardly go out of your house anymore.
For example you don’t need to commute to your office in the morning, also because of this you save about an hour per day. It’s that one hour commuting time to arrive at your working place and also getting back to home after your work is done.
The time which we need to commute is approximately about an hour or more, or maybe less, of course depending on where you live and how far the distance to your office is.
Therefore we save about 1 hour on a daily basis. So what do we do with this one hour saved per day?
The fact that you hardly have to go out of your house is quite convenient in my opinion but also a sad fact. Since you hardly leave your home except the absolutely necessary things, to protect yourself and your beloved ones from the virus one spends the time mostly at home.
Especially if you or others in the same household belong to a risk group, one restrains to go out except for the absolutely necessary things like buying groceries and to have a small walk to keep oneself fit.
I think it’s a widely accepted fact that it’s more clever to stay at home in times like these.
Some of us get a little bit lazy, others try to get out of their homes to go i. e. jogging as much as possible to stay fit.
There seems to be a lot of different ways to cope with this new normal situation, but when you are enclosed at home or you do spent much more time at home than you are usually accustomed to, one begins to see the own home with other eyes.
After a week or so after the exit lock had come in effect in Austria in spring 2020, I realized that I got to notice some areas and details of the furniture and rooms in my home more consciously since I am at home nearly 24 hours per day and I am surrounded by my home’s walls. So what happened?
In my case it was like this: First I realized that some of the furnitures should be send to repair/be exchanged/in the worst case should be disposed.
It got apparent that some small details at home like the color of the walls should be painted in a more fresh color.
Also during the first weeks of the lockdown in Austria, I realized that I was getting lazy and tired. In short I suffered from mental and physical fatigue, which was a side effect of the inertia which built up in my mind and body since I hardly left my house.
I felt the immediate need to bring fresh energy to my home. After spending a lot of time at home, I had a strong feeling that I needed new energy, some new inspiration, just something fresh and new, which was the opposite of what I felt, because what I felt was exhaustion and inertia, and that experience was somehow new to me, but in a tiring way.
So I began to make some research on the net, how to make my living space a more inspiring and lively one.
1.3: Einstein, Feng Shui and New Energy for Your Home
At this point we should pose the question, what new energy, fresh air, disposing of unnecessary items and empty spaces have in common?
In fact they are interrelated, it’s like this quotation:
New Energy=Fresh Air=Dispose unnecessary things=Empty Spaces
Like Einstein once said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
This fact has relevance in our efforts to make our home a more inspiring place because things like furniture and other objects we have been accumulating during our life time are somehow like habits that manifested to physical objects. What we accumulate or collect in our home also how/where we place them tells and reflects a lot about our personal preference and our personality.
So you decided to make a change in how you live? The first thing is to get rid of things you thought you needed but in fact you don‘t need!
The famous female Japanese author Marie Kondo, expert in decluttering, recommends to look first at what you have collected. The quintessence of her method is to look at what objects you possess, then to be clear if it has been often used or not, also you should feel it if the object feels good or bad if you hold it in your hands.
If it’s something which you have hardly used, like a second pair of old shoes, and if you have no emotional tie to them, it‘s time to throw them out of the window. Or better simply dispose them. :-)
In letting things go or in disposing them, you create new space, new possibilities and new energies. It‘s a fact, please try it and see it yourself.
Letting things go is like death, but in a positive and necessary way. Through death new things can happen. Old things are replaced through new more lively things, like nature does every day.
It seems like a contradiction, but through death, life can happen.
Look for example at your skin cells. Each day a lot of them is shed away, those dead skin cells are replaced through new cells. If that wouldn’t happen, your skin would not be able to repair if any injury should occur, also this cyclic process guarantees the health of the skin, which is the biggest organ of the human body. The same applies to blood cells, trees and leaves. Everything in nature, is a balance and exchange of life and death.
So in a life affirming way, if we take tarot cards as example, in which the death card symbolizes a major change, transition or transformation in one‘s life, it shows that death is naturally necessary in life.
Maybe you have also heard of Feng Shui, which is the Chinese art of arranging objects, buildings space and life to achieve harmony with the universe.
I wouldn‘t go that far because at first we just want to make our living rooms a bit better than it is. The principle of Feng Shui is mentioned here in short because I would like to point out that according to Feng Shui, the ancient theories of the geomantics, there is a small order and a larger scale of it.
The wonderful idea and hopefully fact is that we, our homes, the buildings, rooms and objects in it, which are the small structures are in direct relationship with the infinite structures of the cosmos.
So you are eager or interested in discovering this?
Then: First dispose all things you don‘t need, to make new space for new energies and thoughts.
This article is about clean air. So first of all get rid of all things which smell bad, or items that are made out of materials that are contraproductive to achieve our goal, therefore items which may be harmful for your health. I am going to go deeper and more specific on this topic in a second.
So getting back to my research, the first thing I noticed when I compared my home to the beautiful interiors of other designer homes, which are displayed in magazines and websites which are specialized in interior decoration was, that my home was massively lacking in plants, because I simply had no plants, nothing… zero!
The reason for this is that I am allergic to dust mites and pollen, since I was a young child, and the doctors recommended me to have no plants in my room since the increase of humidity through the plants would result in the increase of the growth of mites.
Since I have bought a vacuum cleaner with good HEPA filters a few years ago, there seems to be no issue at all regarding dust mites and pollen, so I wanted to give a new chance to the idea with plants in my home.
On the same time I also began to realize that some rooms smelled awfully after some artificial chemicals, despite the fact that I hardly entered or used those rooms which doors were of course closed.
That became apparent especially and always when I got home from my vacation in the past. This artificial smell, which can be hardly described in words, was very persistent and whatever I tried it came back again and so it was still present.
So I needed to look for a way how to get the air at home better permanently or in the long run. But how do I achieve that I asked myself?
Before taking further steps to improve my home, first the root cause of this problem had to be found and eliminated.
Soon I began to realize that the lack in plants in my rooms and also the bad smell which resided in my room were coherent problems and they needed to be solved both.
Some articles that I found in the web explained that different harmful chemicals are exuded from carpets, glues used in wallpapers, furnitures which are not made out of solid wood but those made out of cheap chipboard, and some synthetic materials which can be found in artificial textiles and foam upholstery are able to continuously exude harmful chemicals into the air.
After identifying the problem, I found a rather radical but simple solution.
It was obvious that I had to dispose all materials and objects that were capable of exuding those chemicals.
I got rid of the root cause after getting rid of unnecessary property, which were the furnitures made out of chipboard, and all the other unnecessary things which I accumulated through the years, that were made from smelly synthetic materials, like gymnastic balls and so on.
That means: The first step to improve the air quality is to consciously get rid of everything which smells or things from which you know that they are made of materials which are not good for you.
So first I got rid of all old furnitures and items at home, which were made of chipboard, that contained glues made of harmful artificial chemical components.
Tabula rasa! :-)
After taking this radical step of getting rid of all of those items, I really realized that I felt better immediately and that they were the cause of so many allergies and health problems I had. If I should ever buy new items for my home in the near future, I am going to consciously choose and I would always prefer to buy natural materials over artificial ones, because this step alone made a big difference in my life quality.
By the way this phenomenon in which residents become sick in their one houses is known as the ,,Sick Building Syndrome’’. In my case, the exuded chemicals seem to have induced irritations in my mucous membranes which made me more sensitive to allergic reactions, especially in the pollen season.
If you heard of the sick-building-syndrome the very first time in this article, I would really suggest you to google it and to make some research if you are suffering from allergies at home or in general, since it can be the cause of it.
Also if you don’t feel or don’t accept it, unfortunately it is a fact that chemicals and artificial chemicals indeed have an effect on our hormones and hormones influence our thoughts and our life energy, therefore it influences our health.
We should be conscious of our body because it is a very sensitive biological machine, which very subtly reacts to changes in our environment, also when we don’t notice it immediately or when we are not conscious of it.
That’s why our body is also the most complex machine we know of.
But what now, after getting rid of all the waste, should I simply go and buy some plants to start decorating my home?
1.4: Plants with Air Purifying Properties
After I had made further research in the net about clean air and indoor plants, I found that there are special plants with air purifying properties according to a study from NASA, which is of course scientifically proven.
Those plants would consume all the bad chemicals and smells through their root systems. Also they bind and change them into harmless chemicals and the end product that the plants evaporate is clean air! It sounds too good to be true, I thought, or maybe it’s hoax I thought.
But why should I buy plants, is it not sufficient to open the windows to get fresh air?
Unfortunately and obviously it is not that simple if you are living in a city, because the air in the city is contaminated with exhaust and particulate matter/fine dust that are exuded from cars and factories, and when inhaled they can harm your health.
The bigger the city the more worse the contamination is normally.
It’s also a scientific fact that plants are our most important source of oxygen, because they simply produce it.
The best and purest air is said to come out of plants as byproduct of the result of photosynthesis. Plants like the trees in our yards, everything is breathing, trees are said to be the green lungs of our planet which are providing us with oxygen. Unfortunately also the trees which are burnt down in the Amazonas area, are providing the whole world with this vital gas, but this sadly is an other story.
So after getting rid of all chipboard made items and so on, it was time to give it a try. (with ,,it’’ I mean the plants).
Since I didn’t know how to take care of plants or where it’s best to buy them, I made further research on the internet.
There are systems that work with electricity and HEPA filters. Unfortunately they do produce noise, also they need electricity, which means they need a power cord. I wanted to avoid power cords because they are unnecessary if they can be avoided.
In my opinion cords contribute to the complexity at home, also they make things look more complicated than they are, they distract visually, in short they are a step backwards to our goal to reach simplicity.
Very often they tend to be unpractical, because extension cables and systems to hide them under a wall or so are needed additionally and all the clutter is making it difficult when you do vacuuming and cleaning your house.
Also HEPA filters need to be exchanged regularly which end up in follow-up costs that in fact is therefore not advantageous neither economically nor ecologically.
Again, our approach here is to try to keep things as simple as possible. :-)
There are indeed systems from other companies that use the plant’s air purifying properties but they only work in conjunction with an electrical fan which again makes noise and needs a power cord.
1.5: Meet Airy Bio Filters
After looking further through the web I finally found a solution, that needed no filters and no electrical power.
It happened that I found a german based company named Airy.
What they do is: They have dedicated themselves in making bio-filters to clean the air from harmful substances. Also they achieved to build a system without the need of the use of replaceable filters and without the need of electricity.
They are still known to be the only bio-filter system which works without electricity, also it’s noiseless, that aspect was very important for me since I need absolute silence when I sleep, work or play music.
This simple but ingeniously sophisticated bio-filter system is called Airy System.
First I was quite sceptic, since the Airy System promised many amazing things which sounded top good to be true. How should they make this possible?
So here are the facts of the so called Airy Bio-Filter System:
1.) One plant, would be made 3-5 times more efficient with the use of the Airy System box, when compared to having the plant alone without the system.
2.) No electricity, no power cords, absolutely no noise and absolute serenity.
3.) No need for soil just clean substrate optimized to support the absorption of the harmful substances which are in the air. The substrate supports also he nutrition of the plants.
4.) No exchange of costly filters needed, so no follow-up costs.
5.) It is a fully passive system which works 24/7, that means ultra low maintenance for you.
The Airy System consists of 3 Elements:
1.) The Airy System Box which is available in 3 Sizes. (Small/Medium/Large)
2.) The Airy BASE Substrate
3.) The plant (1-3 plants depending on the size of the Airy System Box and the size of plant you choose)
I have chosen to buy the Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata) and the Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata) since they are robust and low in maintenance, which is ideal for persons like me who don’t have any experience in maintaining or caring for plants.
Everything you need to know about the plants and how to care for them is offered through the companies website for free, so you don’t need a green thumb.
The plants I have chosen don‘t need much water and on top of that they are compatible with me because they don’t produce pollen.
You may ask, why you should spend 50 to 100 dollars for a mere plastic box?
If you ask that, the simple answer is: It’s not a mere pot or box, it’s a carefully designed high quality product with a very well thought out functional concept and purpose behind each element.
Each part of the system is ingeniously designed so that they complement each other in purpose, so every aspect of the system is well thought out and has its function.
Here is how it works:
Through the chimney effect, the Airy System Box directs the air from the outside into the the inside of the box directly to the roots of the plants.
The substrate helps growing the plant through providing the plant with the exact amount of nutrients which are water and harmful substances in the air. Those substances get bind also to the substrate. Since the substrate can not be compressed like earth, it becomes an homogenous, permanently stable medium through which air can flow evenly.
That way an optimum balance between stability and air permeability can be guaranteed.
So as you can see, the whole system becomes like a permeable membrane through which harmful chemicals are filtered, that’s what a bio-filter is, which is ingenious because it works without electricity!
According to a representative from Airy with whom I had an interview, the substrate is custom made to fit inside the Airy System, it also doesn’t suffer from fungal attacks like normal soil does.
Pumice, lava and zeolite are part of the substrate, extra large grained to prevent them to falling out of the box. Also zeolites have the function that they release nutrients to the roots of the plant in a controlled manner, only when needed by the plant. Further the substrate regulates the pH value itself. Hyperacidity and oversaturation of the substrate are effectively prevented that way.
The Airy Box itself not only directs the air through the whole system (through box-roots-substrate) it also helps to prevent root rot, because it consists of two parts, an upper part in which the plant and substrate are contained and in a lower part which contains the excess water which has fallen through the upper part. That means that the roots are not fully standing in water, so root rot is also effectively prevented.
Another advantage is: Since the Airy System’s box is a modular system consisting of upper und lower part, despite being made of very impact resistant ABS material, in case if something breaks, the customer service is top notch and happy to help. If something should break, the damaged part alone can be exchanged, without the need to buy the whole Box again.
It just happened once to me that a Box got damaged during transport. After contacting the customer support they immediately send me spare parts for free and the installation is tool free.
But again, somehow it sounds too good to be true maybe? Does it really work?
1.6: Does it really work? My experience with Airy Bio Filters
Sceptic as I was first, I began to buy just two plants for one room, after 3 months I had bought a total of 15-17 plants for all of my rooms at home. So I ended up having 17 plants in my house!
Also I was that much excited about the positive effects they had on me so that I decided to get in touch with the company itself and now in writing this article I was able to get a collaboration with them, but I am going to tell you later about that.
So what has changed for me since I started to use the system?
Actually, everything has changed for me.
What has changed for me after using the Airy System are following aspects:
1.) The most subtle thing that most of us would not realize immediately is the quality of air inside our homes. Also when air is bad in a certain degree, many of us would tend to accept this as a given. But after using the Airy bio-filter, I noticed an immediate positive change of air quality after the first 24 hours. The air feels somehow more soft, like soft water which is not like calcerous water. The air in my rooms feels much more fresh, energetic, silky and lighter.
2.) I sleep much better at night, and I wake up energized. For me waking up in the morning was always an issue in the past, but now suddenly it’s so easy to wake up in the morning, because my body feels somehow lighter, and it also seems that my sleep quota goes down.
3.) The humidity in my rooms has increased, which is good for the health. It helped regulating the micro climate of my home so that I now save energy.
4.) I am less prone to headaches, also it gives me fresh inspiration through fresh air.
For all photographers and creatives like me who spend many hours in their darkened rooms in front of meticulously calibrated monitors post while processing images, also for people who are working hard at home, good air is a must to keep a fresh inspired mind, because our brain needs air to work well.
5.) For me the air in my home seems to be so much better now because I now realize more clearly when the air in other buildings are bad, so I got more conscious about the indoor air quality in general.
6.) I can stay focused at my work much longer, and I have better ideas.
7.) I am more often in a good mood and mentally well balanced, also my body feels lighter.
8.) Despite of times when I work hard I hardly suffer from headache or mental fatigue anymore. Also my head doesn‘t feel heavy anymore.
1.7: My conclusion based on my own experience
Would I recommend to try the Airy System?
According to my experience, my answer is a definite yes! If your are curious about this, I would definitely recommend you try it yourself and to feel the positive effects which the system has on you.
If you are looking for a plant why not buy an Airy System instead? When you order it through the website it already contains everything you need to get started, all provided from a single source to make sure that every part is compatible to each other.
Also the plants that have been delivered to me were of a very high quality, definitely not like the plants which you can buy at the supermarket or some other store which are not specialized in air purifying plants. All plants which were delivered have been healthy in perfect condition and carefully packed and free from parasites or insects.
But what to do if I only want to buy the Airy Box, does it work with other existing plants in my rooms also?
The beauty of the system is, that you can use the box and or the substrate alone if you wish that means without the box and with your existing plants and boxes that are not from Airy.
In my case for example, after buying many plants and airy systems from the company, I began to buy only the substrate and started to exchange all the soil from my existing plants to the substrate. There were some plants without air purifying properties and also some of them I decided to planted them into the Airy System Boxes.
The great thing is that you can order the Airy System Box and the substrate separately.
When I applied the substrate to normal plants: After the first 2-3 weeks, the plants which first looked pale, sick and old, began to sprout new roots and leaves, I couldn‘t believe it. See my photos on that.
After this, I realized that all pots I owned were made quite obsolete when compared to the so much advanced Airy System.
Because the big difference between the Airy System and conventional plant pots and boxes is:
Conventional pots and boxes for plants which we all know are a closed system with soil inside. The roots of plants which are confined inside such boxes can not breathe like in an open system like Airy does offer, strictly because all sides and bottom of the box or pot are closed.
In this regard the Airy System offers an unobstructed air circulation to the roots, allowing the roots to breathe, which is made possible by the open design construction of the system.
The openness in the bottom of the Airy System supports the chimney effect and in my opinion this is a much more natural and sophisticated approach which is much more near to the concept of nature in aspect of breathing. The whole system can breathe and with breath filtration and nutrition of the plant can happen through the roots.
If you are still sceptic you can buy and try the substrate alone with existing plants and plant boxes/pots. Soon you will see that it revives your plants, that was what in my case happened.
Of course if you need air purifying qualities, it is best to buy the system with plant, Airy Box and substrate, since each part is concepted to work best and most efficient in this holistically build system.
1.8: A few words about its design
As me being a person who mainly uses Apple products, I can tell you that the design and color of the Airy Systems is especially pleasing to the eyes. As the time of writing this article I noticed that the Colors Snow White and Antique White are a good match to the Silver Color Exterior of Mac Computers. If you should have some Space Gray Colored Apple Products, the Stone Grey or Light Grey might be a good match.
Since we are talking of Apple and Macs, in my personal opinion the Airy Systems are the Bio Filter equivalent to Apple Products in terms of quality, design, reliability and simplicity.
1.9: What do you think?
After you have read this article now, I maybe have succeeded to get you inspired to give this whole idea of improving your home’s air quality a try.
Last but not least, I hope to inspire you with a photography of my home office working place how it is looking now. It was inspired by the idea of having an oasis as my working space.
Thanks for your support and I hope you enjoyed reading. The next topic which follows soon after this article is about the ideal lighting in your home office.
So please have a look! See you soon! :-)