Is your mom a clean freak, too? The kind of mother that cleans the kitchen while she is cooking? Or tells you to clean your room before the maid service comes? (Honestly, does that make any sense at all?)
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you understand as well as I do that cleaning products are a big part of everyday life. And, in turn, they can have a huge impact on your health and your carbon footprint.
Consider some of these statistics:
- The average American consumer uses about 30 pounds of laundry detergent a year.
- A typical household consumes 40 lbs. of toxic cleaning products each year.
- According to the EPA, the air inside a typical household is two to five times more polluted than the air outside (directly linked to cleaning products and pesticides).
- In a U.S. Geological Survey, 69 percent of U.S. stream water samples contained detergent metabolites and 66 percent contained disinfectants.
- Over 100 cleaning product chemicals have been linked to allergies, birth defects, depression and asthma, among other ailments.
How ironic is all that? The products we use to make our lives cleaner are actually polluting our earth and our bodies.
Toxins – The list of toxic chemicals is almost too embarrassing to print. The phosphates in detergents, for example, cause algae blooms through a process called eutrophication, which leads to large scale fish kills and contaminates our drinking water.
Other toxic chemicals include sodium hypochlorite found in chlorine bleach, and carcinogens and sulfuric acid in drain cleaners. For more information on some of the hazardous products found in common household cleaners, check out HealthyHouseInstitute.com.
I realize this all sounds pretty scary, and I’m not trying to pull one of those shock-factor tactics to get people to think green. The bad news is the facts are real; the good news is the solutions are easy.
Commercial Greener Alternatives – Companies like Clorox have developed earth-friendly cleaning supplies as an alternative to the chemically-packed products we’ve grown accustomed to. They offer products ranging from laundry detergents to bathroom cleaners, with prices competitive to the original formulas.
Homemade – For all you really hardcore environmentalists, consider homemade options. For example, to clean your toilet or sink, drizzle with vinegar or lemon juice, sprinkle on baking soda and let sit for 10 minutes. An added benefit – vinegar and baking soda are pretty darn cheap. The recent Green Blizzard article Green Cleaning Products gives you more information on how to mix your own cleaners. Easy, inexpensive, convenient and effective – not a bad alternative.
You can find more innovative, earth- and people-friendly cleaning concoctions at Inhabitots.com.
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