by Ingrid Justick:
Vol. 26, No. 5
Green cleaning means using products that do not pollute our indoor air with toxic chemicals, release irritating fumes which affect our health. Green cleaning means keeping toxic chemicals out of our streams and groundwater. Green cleaning products should come in recyclable packaging, or be made with recycled materials. For example: Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps use only certified organic plant oils and the refillable bottles are made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. Seventh Generation and Shaklee companies provide complete ingredient lists on their products.
When you are shopping for cleaning products, look out for the general term “fragrance,” a catch-word for synthetic perfumes that use toxic asthma-provoking phthalates as a dispersing agent. Tests by the Center for Disease Control have shown that phthalates collect in the body causing common allergies. Check that labels specify plant essential oils rather than fragrance.
SOME NON-TOXIC CLEANING RECIPES: Clean your sink with baking soda. Salt mixed with flour is a good scrubber for pots and pans. To clean your over or roasting pans, mix one part baking soda and one part borax with water. To make a thick paste add a little vinegar, coat the surface and let stand overnight, then rinse. White vinegar, full strength, cleans mold, bathroom tiles, grout stains, glass and mirrors. Diluted it is a good wood floor cleaner.
EXPLAINING GREEN CLAIMS ON PRODUCT LABELS:
Biodegradable: this unregulated term is meaningful only if it specifies the amount of time it takes for the product to decompose, as most substances will eventually biodegrade over time given the right condition, such as sunlight.
Nontoxic: there is no official definition or third-party verification for this claim.
Organic: household cleaning products are not regulated by the Organic Foods Production Act, but some ingredients, such as plant oils, can be labeled certified organic.
CLEANING PRODUCT INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
Ammonia: extremely irritating to respiratory passages when inhaled; can harm skin on contact.
Chlorine Bleach: an all-purpose whitening agent, can irritate the lungs and eyes, and in waterways can become toxic organochlorines.
Phosphates: soften water for detergents, but contribute to algae blooms in our waterways, which can kill off fish populations.
Sodium Hydroxide: found in drain, metal and oven cleaners, is extremely irritating to eyes, nose and throat, and can burn those tissues on contact.
Sodium Laurel Sulfate: a common sudsing agent, can penetrate the skin and cause contact dermatitis.
Antibacterial cleansers: containing triclosan, may be contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs.
Your home is part of the environment; keep it pollution free.
Cleaning products are a personal choice, but for our health and the
health of our Earth, let our choice be truly green cleaning.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. – Chief Seattle
For environmentally friendly information call: 732-922-2935