I've been trying to, over the years, remove harsh chemicals out of my house for the green principal, but also because I have a kid and a ton of pets that would appreciate the concern for their health, if only animals could talk.
The simplest question overall is and should be, "Why would I want to put this hazardous shite in my body?" And being the head of household, my health and being able to work is crucial to protecting my family and my furry, feathery, and fishie friends. Plus I do most of the shopping.
So what to do? Research. And what do you do with your findings? Buy or make the less hazardous, more natural alternative cleaners, personal hygiene and home improvement products. Then what? Pass it on!
We as women who make our lives more green, choose to take a stand against the homemaker stereotype of buying whatever has the best commercial or coupon, and show our purchase power to the Proctor & Gambles of the world. Purchase power is just that, power. And the big companies listen when their sales are down, so lets see where this knowledge of going green takes us and hopefully we will find it improves our own healthy habits, while giving less money to corporations who are already rich.
Here are a few notes from my research that you can find simple and inexpensive alternatives to:
1. GLASS CLEANERS: We all love spotless, no-streak glass and mirrors but something called Butyl Cellosolve is a synthetic solvent and is a known neurotoxin (can cause brain damage), can also cause eye, nose, throat and lung tissue irritation. Bottom line: It's a shitty chemical that we can easily replace with this simple, NATURAL GLASS CLEANER RECIPE:
- 1 part vinegar
- 2 parts water
Easy enough, right? Just make sure to buy a vat of vinegar because it can be used for a ton of other cleaning tasks.
2. OVEN & DRAIN CLEANERS: Also known as lye or Sodium Hydroxide, it is a toxic chemical and...well, there's not much more I feel the need to say except THIS SHIT IS TOXIC! There's a reason why it will melt the 4 year old crust of food and oil that's caked inside your oven, because it will also melt your cat. But seriously, it has been known to blind animals with minimal exposure.
OVEN CLEANER RECIPE: Create a paste with these ingredients, slather on and leave overnight. Wipe with damp cloth.
- 3/4 cup of baking soda
- 1/4 cup of salt
- 1/4 cup of water
3. ANTI-BACTERIAL LOTIONS are for suckers: These purse-sized squeezie bottles of clear goo contain pesticides that may be contributing to the rise in bacteria that is resistant to our general hygiene practices. What was wrong with soap and water anyway? Nothing. I guess the big corps have been praying on our fear of germs. So what's the anti-bacterial alternative?
SOAP & WATER. Avoid using anything else for washing your hands unless you are stuck in an area without clean water like a camping trip. In the far future we will be able to eradicate bacteria with a laser gun, but for now stick to the tried and true.
- SLSF/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate: found in body washes, shampoos, is toxic to humans & is a suspected carcinogen
- DEA & TEA: Diethananolamines & Triethanolamines are a) synthetic, b) carcinogenic, c) skin & eye irritants and d) are slow to biodegrade. Found in cleaners, dish washing liquids detergents, stain removers and other hygiene products.
- FRAGRANCE: Causes allergic reactions and irritation, plus companies in the US don't have to say what's in the "fragrance" ingredients, making it suspicious and unpredictable. Found in pretty much every kind of household product, but mostly I see these in cheap shampoos, body washes and pretty much every product in Bath & Bodyworks.
These practices take effort to change, so if you don't have the time to stand and read labels in the store like all the slow-pokes at Whole Foods, then you might want to start with getting the no frills, they-are-what-they-are products at the store.
Your shopping list of natural ingredients for green cleaning:
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Tea tree oil and/or lavender oil
- Castile soap (ex: Dr. Bronner's)
So if you or a friend uses some products that have the chemicals I mentioned, yet feel "just fine" then please think about all the stuff you/they pour down the drain and gets into your recycled water. Because when you go to a restaurant, fast food place or the mall, they are not using fancy filtered water for their ice cube machine, they are using whatever comes through the faucet. So the more we use these products, the more it gets into our water, soil and our air, making an unpredictable combination of who-knows-what-chemicals that ends up in our food. Just saying.
Hopefully you're reading this because you want to find out how to be more green and healthy so kudos to you. This is by no means a complete list, it only scratches the surface so I encourage you to research more as you uncover these, and I expect to see a gallon of vinegar under your sink by weeks end ;)