Best Holiday Houseplant

The Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), takes its name from a small island in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand. It’s notably effective in removing many common indoor air pollutants.


Although the Norfolk Island Pine is a beautiful year-round indoor plant, this small conifer is often used as a Christmas tree. Be gentle with the decorations as it has fragile branches, so take it easy with heavier ornaments.

The Norfolk Island Pine is an easy-care indoor plant that doesn’t like to be too hot, preferring temperatures in the 16-24°C (60-75°F) range, and likes basking in full sun to semi-shade. It doesn’t like being overwatered, but if the air is very dry, misting it with room-temperature water or adding a humidifier will make it happier.

This lovely evergreen grows slowly, adding just one new tier of branches per growing season, to a height of 91-183 cm (3-6 ft.) indoors. Outdoors, the Norfolk Island Pine can grow up to 61 metres (200 ft.) in height.

Norfolk Island Pines can live as long as 150 years in their natural habitat. With the proper care, an indoor Norfolk will provide many years of joy – and will help make the air in your home or office easier to breathe.

We wish you a joyous holiday season and a Shiny New Year!

Best Houseplants to Purify the Air – 4

Philodendron is a large genus of flowering plants in the Araceae family. The two most effective air-purifying Philodendrons are the Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’) and the Elephant Ear Philodendron (Philodendron domesticum).

The Heartleaf Philodendron, often used in hanging baskets or trained to climb, is easy to grow and can tolerate a wide range of conditions. This native of Mexico and Central America adds oxygen to the air and filters out toxins such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene.

The Elephant Ear Philodendron is a very low-maintenance houseplant that can easily survive in just about any place in a room — and they even respond well to artificial light. This Philodendron is not a climber and has large, broad, heart-shaped leaves as well as the same air-cleansing qualities as its cousin.

Please note that Philodendrons are poisonous to cats and dogs.

Posted on Categories Green Living

Best Houseplants to Purify the Air – 3

Broad Leaf Lady Palm 

The Broad Leaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa), a native of Taiwan and China is one of the most popular houseplants in the world; it’s been used as an indoor plant in Japan for over 500 years, and is widely known as one of the easiest plants to grow.

Unlike other household plants that produce only oxygen, the Broad Leaf Lady Palm will remove common household toxins such as ammonia, formaldehyde, xylene and carbon monoxide, making the air safer and cleaner to breathe.

This graceful and elegant palm does best in bright, indirect sunlight and will tolerate a wide range of temperatures (-6 – 37ºC). The soil should be kept uniformly moist, but not left in standing water, as sogginess will rot the plant’s root system.


Devil’s Ivy 

Devil’s Ivy or Golden Pathos (Epipremnum aureumt) is a popular, attractive houseplant with small, green, heart-shaped leaves and variegated white and yellow accents. Often sold as a decorative hanging plant, it prefers to live near a bright window out of direct sunlight in moist, peaty soil.

This native of the Solomon Islands is not only easy to care for, but has the added benefit of being extremely efficient at cleaning household air pollutants, such as xylene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

A word of caution, this plant is toxic when ingested, especially for pets. Seek immediate veterinary assistance if you suspect your pet has consumed any part of this plant.

Best Houseplants to Purify the Air – 2

Florist’s Chrysanthemum

Florist’s Chrysanthemum, also known as Florist’s Daisy and Hardy Garden Mum (chrysanthemum moriflium), is a beautiful perennial plant that’s often found in homes and offices for its long-lasting and various coloured blooms. This houseplant needs a medium amount of water and flourishes in direct sunlight.

Those lovely flowers not only brighten up a room, but they also help clean the air of many common chemicals found indoors, including formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, benzene, toluene and trichloroethylene.

While they’re beneficial and beautiful to have around, a word of caution: they are poisonous to animals and can make cats and dogs very sick if ingested. If your pet has consumed any part of this plant, call a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Flamingo Lily

Flamingo Lily (Anthurium andraeanum) is a beautiful flowering plant that is an excellent houseplant for removing air-borne toxins commonly found indoors. Their large, dark leaves suck up ammonia, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene.

These plants are durable and fairly easy to grow as houseplants and will thrive for years if cared for properly — they can even last for a year or two in the most adverse conditions.

Flamingo Lily plants should be thoroughly watered regularly, allowing the soil to dry only slightly before watering again. They should only receive indirect sunlight, never full sunlight, and enjoy a draft-free, humid environment.

Best Houseplants to Purify the Air

Indoor air pollution didn’t become a significant health issue until the late 1980s. Due to the energy shortages of the 1970s, people began to insulate their homes and offices to conserve energy and lower their heating and cooling costs, and new building construction techniques became especially energy-efficient. Prior to that, buildings tended to be drafty – so much so, that there was sufficient air circulation even with doors and windows closed.

NASA conducted research in the late 1980s on the air-filtering effects of common houseplants and concluded that they are extremely effective at reducing indoor air pollution. The researchers found that certain houseplants were able to remove as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants within a 24-hour period. Not only do the plants remove carbon monoxide (which people and animals exhale) replacing it with pure oxygen, but they also have the remarkable ability to remove toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air.

Below is a partial list of beneficial plants that filter out harmful compounds from indoor environments.


Snake Plant

The Snake Plant, or Mother-in-law’s Tongue (sansveieria trifasciata), is an ideal indoor plant due to its superb air-purifying abilities. It’s one of the best at filtering out formaldehyde, which is common in toilet paper, tissues and cleaning products.

Snake Plants don’t need a lot of light or water and are very easy to care for.

Interestingly, this plant absorbs carbon monoxide and releases oxygen at night (most plants do the opposite). So having a couple of Snake Plants in the bedroom will give you a slight oxygen boost and help you awaken feeling refreshed.


Peace Lily

The Peace Lily (spathiphyllum) only needs a shady place and weekly watering to survive and to flower occasionally. It’s a hardy and forgiving plant and will let you know when it’s thirsty — just look for the telltale droop.

The Peace Lily topped NASA’s list for its ability to remove all three of the most common Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs – formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It’s also effective against toluene and xylene.

This plant does its best work in bathrooms and other damp areas.


English Ivy

English Ivy (hedera helix) is a popular potted household plant, but isn’t much appreciated by gardeners. It’s been called an aggressive invader in forested and open areas, threatening other vegetation by taking over and choking off native species. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem when potted and grown indoors. English Ivy does best in moist soil and prefers at least four hours of direct sunlight each day.

Studies have shown that English Ivy reduces airborne fecal-matter particles and is good at filtering out formaldehyde, which is found in household cleaning products.

Posted on Categories Green Living

Get Out to These Green Events and Festivities in the GTA this Summer

If you’re an Allcare customer, chances are that you care about making your indoor workplace environment clean with the help of our eco-friendly cleaning services. The summer, however, is a great time to enjoy the outdoor environment and reduce your impact on it, as well as “green” other aspects of your life.

In this post, we suggest some of the events in the Greater Toronto Area that will help you enjoy a green lifestyle.

1. Celebrate the Environment at the Live Green Toronto Festival

Yonge-Dundas Square, Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Live Green Toronto Festival is Toronto’s largest celebration of all things green. Saturday, On July 21, 2012, Yonge-Dundas Square will host hundreds of green products and services, live music, local foods, buskers and more.

It will also feature Swapsity’s Book Movie Music Eco-Swap, which lets people swap their pre-loved books, DVDs, CDs, Blu-rays and records.

Also feel free to shop the Green Street Market from 11 am to 8 pm, where dozens of green exhibitors will line Yonge St. from Dundas Ave. to Queen St.

2. Pick up Some Plants and Gardening Tips at the Evergreen Garden Market

Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Avenue

The Evergreen Garden Market is a retail garden centre that helps visitors bring nature into their backyard or balcony. Through experts and demonstration gardens, you’ll learn how to make your garden “truly green” with native plants, and organic and heritage food plants, as well as non-native plants that offer important environmental benefits.

It’s open Monday–Friday: 10am–6pm; Saturday: 8am–5pm; Sunday: 10am–5pm; and Holidays: 11am–4pm.

3. Visit One of the GTA’s Many Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ Markets give shoppers in the GTA have access to some of nature’s best produce. Plus, they can feel secure in the knowledge that the food is fresh, and safe to eat. It’s the next best thing to harvesting it yourself.

Plan on taking a trip to one of these weekend farmers’ markets:

Junction Farmers’ Market
Green P Lot, 385 Pacific Avenue, Toronto
The Junction Farmers’ Market features products and produce all made from locally-sourced ingredients.
Open Saturdays, 9 am to 12 pm (June 2 to October 13, 2012)

Leslieville Farmers’ Market
Jonathan Ashbridge Park, Queen St. E. at Woodward Ave. (near Coxwell)
The Leslieville Farmers’ Market wants to enable people to buy food directly from producers, and know their farmer by name.
Open Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm (June 3 to October 28, 2012)

St. Lawrence North Farmers’ Market
92 Front Street East (at Jarvis)
Named the world’s best food market by National Geographic in April 2012, St. Lawrence Market is open all year and features a lively quilt work of more than 120 specialty vendors.
Saturdays, 5 am – 5 pm

Liberty Village Farmers’ Market
At the corner of Liberty St and Atlantic Ave, Toronto
The Liberty Village Farmers’ Market brings to market food from certified local farmers who selling what they grow.
Open Sundays, 9 am – 2 pm (June 3 to October 31, 2012)

For more farmers’ markets in the GTA, check out the Toronto Farmers’ Market Network list for 2012.

We hope this post gives you some ideas of some green activities to do around the GTA. If you have an event or an activity to share, please let us know in the comments!

Clean Building = Productivity

Building related illnesses affect many Canadian workers. Many experience respiratory complaints, asthma, and allergies. This causes lost work times and poor productivity in employees.

Improving indoor air quality fights building related illnesses and saves organizations money.

Providing a clean and safe workplace encourages employees to maintain their premises. Intern, this too saves the organization money.

It also encourages employee moral and is a good representation of your company to your customers.

Spring Cleaning

With spring around the corner, it’s time to start preparing.

It’s around this time of the year that the snow has finished and is melting away. Your building has taken a beating because of the salt and dirt being tracked in.

It is very important to start scheduling that spring cleaning now!

The following are services we provide to get your building back up to beautiful.

Carpet Steam Cleaning: It is important to remove all the salt and stains to your carpet to extend its life expectancy.

Stripping and Waxing of Floors: Salt fades the shine on floors and damages the floor finish.

Window Cleaning: We offer both interior and exterior of windows

Painting: Rejuvenate the appearance of your office and improve employee moral.

Light Fixture Cleaning: In the fall, flies and bugs hibernate into offices and end up in your light fixtures near the heat. These can be vacuumed and washed.

Call us today to schedule your spring cleaning!

10 Steps to Greening Your Workplace


  1. Use Electricity Wisely:
    • Turn off all computers, printers, photocopiers and other office equipment which not need to be left on, at the end of the workday.
    • Set your computers to sleep mode after 15 minutes no usage.
    • When leaving a room for more than a few minutes, turn off your office lights.
    • Change light bulbs to energy efficient compact fluorescents.
  2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:
    • Recycle office paper, cans, bottles, etc.
    • Reuse the back of paper for notes, print double sided, don’t use plastic or foam cups, use real cups.
  3. Use environmentally friendly office products:
    • On average, they may cost up to 5% more, but reduce the amount of waste and pollution.
    • Try 100% recycled paper, refillable ink cartridges, non-toxic highlighters or markers etc.
  4. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products:
    • Encourage and ensure your janitorial company is using environmentally friendly eco logo certified cleaning products.
  5. Make Eco Friendly food choices:
    • Encourage locally grown foods.  Encourage your cafeteria to do the same.  When ordering lunches, choose local restaurants.
  6. Telecommuting:
    • Encourage working from home (where possible)
    • Reduces pollution levels and increases performance and time availability.
  7. Transportation:
    • Encourage carpooling amongst employees where possible.  Encourage transit, biking or walking.
  8. Try to reduce Printing material where possible:
    • Read items on screen and print only when necessary.  Use 100% recycled content paper products.  Discuss using recycled paper for promotional material and business cards.  Invoice electronically.
  9. Institute a casual dress code:
    • Not having to wear hot suits in the summer can reduce the amount of cooling required in the workplace (and make a happier workplace).
  10. Buy fair trade, organic coffee and teas:
    • Providing coffee and tea to employees may reduce the need to drive to the local donut shop.  Encourage them to use their own mugs instead of paper or Styrofoam cups.