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House plants are seeing a resurgence. They're taking over Instagram feeds and are the subject of millennial trend pieces. Their popularity is with good reason: Aside from looking nice and providing a hobby, the benefits of having greenery throughout the house are extensive. They can act as humidifiers, lessening dry skin and coughs caused by dry air. Some studies have indicated that they can serve as a stress reducer. One of the best effects? Houseplants are known to actually clean the air in your home.

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Pothos ivy was modified with rabbit DNA to clean dangerous household chemicals. Sian Irvine / Getty Images

Scientists at the University of Washington (UW) may have found an unexpected way to tackle persistent indoor air pollution: a common houseplant modified with rabbit DNA.

Researchers wanted to find a way to remove the toxic compounds chloroform and benzene from the home, a UW press release explained. Chloroform enters the air through chlorinated water and benzene comes from gasoline and enters the home through showers, the boiling of hot water and fumes from cars or other vehicles stored in garages attached to the home. Both have been linked to cancer, but not much has been done to try and remove them. Until now.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Yasser Chalid / Moment / Getty Images

By Brian Barth

Do the planet a favor and skip the roses this year.

Trace the path of a rose back from your local florist to the pesticide-drenched greenhouse in South America from whence it likely came, and you will quickly realize that beautiful red bud has had an outsize role in destroying the planet.

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gvl / iStock / Getty Images

By Brian Barth

Old Man Winter limits most of us from gardening year-round. Growing vegetables indoors is impractical without an expensive greenhouse—except for herbs, which grow big enough for a satisfying harvest with minimal space or attention. Pick up a selection in fall before nurseries clear out their stock for winter. And follow these tips to make sure they thrive.

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View Stock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize.

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iStock

By Reynard Loki

A growing body of research proves that simply being around nature can improve human health and happiness. A month-long 2016 study conducted in the UK by the University of Derby and the Wildlife Trusts found that connecting to nature resulted in a "scientifically significant increase" in health and happiness, the BBC reported.

"Nature isn't a miracle cure for diseases," said Lucy McRobert, Nature Matters campaigns manager for the Wildlife Trusts. "But by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result."

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ex.libris / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Andrew Amelinckx

Having a plant or two in your office can really brighten up your space. Studies have found that keeping plants at the office leads to heaps of positive benefits, including increased productivity, better memory retention and reduced stress. But not all of us are born green thumbs.

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Brett Ryder

By Jordan Davidson

We often talk about leaving the world a better place for our children. But our kids are not standing idly by while we wonder how to clean up the mess we've made. Energetic, adept with technology and enthusiastic to create change, kids already have the tools to become stewards of the planet's ecological health. And they are ready to start now.

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Large LED arrays like this are just one grow light option for indoor gardening and plants. nikkytok / Shutterstock.com

By Brian Barth

Indoor growing offers many advantages. The biggest benefits are the most obvious: garden pests can't get at your plants, and you have total control over the weather.

Yet unless you're lucky enough to have a solarium or greenhouse attached to your home, providing sufficient light to your plants will likely be an obstacle (shade-tolerant houseplants excepted). South-facing windows may provide enough light for a tray or two of seedlings, but if you want to grow vegetables, or any other sun-loving plants, to maturity, you're going to need grow lights.

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By Beth Greer

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been studying the effects of plants on air quality for about 20 years and their research confirms: common houseplants are natural air purifiers.

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Live in an apartment or condo and think you can't compost because you don't have a large backyard?

It is possible—and fairly easy—to compost indoors. If properly managed, a compost bin won't attract pests or rodents or smell bad.

Food scraps and yard waste make up 20 percent to 30 percent of what we throw away and are the largest category of municipal solid waste going into  landfills and incinerators, says the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Food scraps in landfills take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In 2011, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only 4 percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting. 

Composting your food scraps keeps these materials out of landfills. At the end of several weeks (and with the help of some red wiggler worms), you will have compost, a rich organic material that can be added to soil to help your houseplants grow, improve your vegetable garden, or make your lawn greener. 

Here is some help on composting indoors from Sustainable America:

 

Visit EcoWatch’s TIPS page for more related news on this topic.