For the first part in my series I will be focusing on household cleaning products. This is where I started as I personally feel that this is where the most damage is done. If you stop to think about it, the chemicals in every day cleaning products are harsh and extremely bad for you – they can be the cause of allergies, skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer.
It is important to make use of natural or eco-friendly cleaning products for a number of reasons:
1. Your entire family gets into contact with it every single day – Let’s take a normal scenario in my home. Mikayla often drops food off her plate and onto the kitchen counter, and she will proceed to pop that into her mouth or lick the jam off the kitchen table – because she is a toddler (and I will be honest, I do it too when no-one is watching). Children are particularly vulnerable as their vital organs are still developing, any damage can be long lasting. They are smaller in size than adults and their developing organs are at greater risk of being affected by toxins. They also have a reduced ability to eliminate toxins from their developing bodies. You prepare food on these surfaces, your skin constantly gets into contact with it. These chemicals do not just dissapear – it absorbs into your skin, your food, it is in the air you breathe, its on the dishes you eat out of, the glasses you drink water from, it is in your oven where you cook your family’s meals, it is on the clothes you wear, it is in your bath tub, it is on the tiles you walk barefoot across, it is everywhere. The more you think about it and let the realization set in, the scarier it becomes. We use a wide array of scents, soaps, detergents, bleaching agents, softeners, scourers, polishes, and specialized cleaners for bathrooms, glass, drains, and ovens to keep our homes sparkling and sweet-smelling… but while the chemicals in cleaners foam, bleach, and disinfect to make our dishes, bathtubs and countertops gleaming and germ-free, many also contribute to indoor air pollution, are poisonous if ingested, and can be harmful if inhaled or touched. In fact, some cleaners are among the most toxic products found in the home.
2. When you drain the water you used to wash your dishes in, your washing machine, etc. these chemicals get pumped back into the earth, into the soil. When using natural or eco-friendly products you can use that water on your plants instead of wasting it and it will have no negative effect on the soil it gets pumped into. After bubbly cleaning liquids disappear down our drains, they are treated along with sewage and other waste water at municipal treatment plants, then discharged into nearby waterways. Most ingredients in chemical cleaners break down into harmless substances during treatment or soon afterward. Others, however, do not, threatening water quality or fish and other wildlife as well as plants.
3. Health problems – Ingredients with high acute toxicity include chlorine bleach and ammonia, which produce fumes that are highly irritating to the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. These products should not be used by people with asthma or lung and heart problems. Fragrances added to many cleaners (most notably laundry detergents and fabric softeners) may cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headaches, sneezing, and watery eyes in sensitive individuals or allergy and asthma sufferers. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic. Unfortunately, because the chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren’t required to list their ingredients but merely label them as containing “fragrance“.
It does not always work out cheaper, but these companies are still small… There is so much potential.
So let’s get started…. Continue reading