By Taylor Romanowski
We all use them, buy them and store them in our houses; they make our kitchen’s sparkle and bathrooms sanitary, but are household cleaning products actually safe? The answer is…negative! Countless common household cleaners are far from safe – they’re bad for our health, the air we breathe and the oceans we swim in. Our environment is hurting but we can help – ditch your usual generic brands and switch to eco-friendly, organic cleaning products. It’s better for the environment, YOUR health and your families – what more could you ask for?
Most universal cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that have serious adverse effects on humans, our households and the environment. It’s a great possibility that chemicals associated with eye, skin or respiratory irritations are sitting in your house right as you’re reading this. Every day, bleaches, detergents and all-purpose cleaners are poured down drains, circulated through ventilation systems and disposed of improperly. Chemicals in these cleaners have tremendous environmental consequences including air and water pollution, ozone depletion, bioaccumulation of toxic substances in plants and animals and endocrine disruption in wildlife, affecting animal’s reproductive ability.
According to Fox News, “In 1960, the U.S. government passed the Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Act, freeing companies from disclosing dangerous ingredients in household products unless harmful side effects appear immediately after improper use.” After more than 50 years, these products are still being produced, and for some surprising reason, most of these chemicals have not been banned from shelves even though their dangers are known.
Chlorine bleach must be labeled “poisonous” if swallowed, but not as “deadly” when dumped down the drain. Yet, deadly is exactly what it is, and that’s not only for our friends swimming in the deep blue sea. We hope everyone already knows not to mix products containing bleach, ammonia, vinegars and other acids – mix bleach with most generic toilet-bowl cleaners and you get the result of chlorine gas. Mix it with ammonia and you’ll get chloramine gases. Both are extremely toxic choking gases made from ingredients sitting right in your house! When exposed to chemical cleaning agents, our risk of developing allergies and cancers increases while our immune system decreases. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “estimated that the fumes produced by common household cleaners were three times more likely to cause cancer than other air pollutants.” Yet, we still buy these products and use them in our homes daily.
The problems are all listed right there on the packaging; all you have to do is read the fine print for the dangers, cautions and warnings. The Environmental Working Group states, “The law establishing U.S. regulation of chemicals was created over three decades ago, and has not been revised since, despite significant advances in our understanding of the impacts of a variety of chemicals to ecological and human health.” We sure don’t want to be using cleaning products containing chemicals that were “OK” three decades ago and we hope you don’t either. Have we convinced you to make the switch? If we have, we have a few tips to share with you when choosing your favorite green brand:
Green Clean Tip #1: Naturally Effective
Read the product label to find eco-friendly ingredients that also effectively get the job done. Instead of buying a product with toxic butyl cellosolve, a chemical commonly found in carpet cleaner and some window cleaners, buy products containing grain alcohol. Rather than buying detergents with petroleum, choose one that includes coconut or other plant oils. When buying soaps and deodorants, choose a brand that uses plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus, rosemary or sage rather than the antifungal agent triclosan.
Green Clean Tip #2: Certify Me Mr. Green
When buying any product, it’s important to read the product labels carefully. Many products will sport a label stating they are “organic,” “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” when in fact this may not be true. Green cleaning companies are held too much higher standards than are required by either federal or state regulations. Buy certified green products; look for the Green Seal label, which certifies that “products not only are non-toxic and non-corrosive, but free from carcinogens (as determined by five different major agencies), mutagens (as determined by the United Nations) and truly biodegradable (as certified by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development).” Other green product certification programs are the Canadian EcoLogo and the EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) Formulator Program.
Green Clean Tip #3: Certified Organic = A Healthy & Happy Home
If you want to go all the way, pick cleaners that are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), meaning the products are radiation and pesticide free, made with sustainable farming practices and the ingredients never mingle with non-organic material at any step along the supply chain. Choosing USDA Certified Organic products is the healthiest and safest choice.
Green Clean Tip #4: Baking Soda, Lemons, Vinegar Oh My!
Another way you can help save Mother Nature – skip buying all together and make your own cleaning products! With simple ingredients such as baking soda, lemon juice and white vinegar you’ll be doing a service to the environment, your health and our sea critter friends without breaking the bank.
So jump on the green bandwagon and invest in toxic-free products that aren’t made up of harsh, harmful chemicals. Taking the green cleaning pledge will help minimize, if not eliminate toxins in our environment, homes and bodies. By living more green our bodies and environment can heal from previous toxin exposures. You have the power to save the planet, take it into your hands to do the right thing… the green thing.