Ok, so you’ve made a promise to yourself and the earth that you’re going to invest in more kind and natural products for your beautiful home. Great! Well done. You’re feeling fabulous. You throw on an eco chic cardie, grab a big eco tote babe, order a grande cappuccino to go and hit the shops. You walk past the confectionary aisle like a mother flippin’ boss and you shoot those chip packets a look that says ‘uh uh hunny, I’m eco friendly shoppin’ today’. You strut past the magazines and hold your head high as you approach the cleaning aisle – ready to fill your tote with safe suds and kind cleaners. You pick up your first candidate – a bottle of detergent in a green and brown bottle (those bland tones mean natural right?), smiling at your choice as the word ‘natural’ is written is kickass font on its label and you flip over the bottle without a care in the world just wanting to confirm the ingredients are ones that you’re familiar with. You stop dead in your tracks.
“Avoid contact with skin and eyes”
“Seek medical advice if consumed”
and what the fudge is ‘diaphhhkhnbvtd5iwnsganacetoxide’?
You put down the bottle, defeated, and walk over to your old faithful (but insanely scary chemically composed) bottle of regular cleaner. Choosing kind products is too hard - you think. I hear ya. I hear ya loud and clear. Thanks to poor regulations and monitoring of various marketing campaigns we are being ‘greenwashed’ on a daily basis and being encouraged to purchase falsely described eco friendly products.
What do we actually need to look for?
Firstly – be wary of health disclaimers such as ‘caution’ ‘danger’ ‘warning’ etc. These labels are indicative of the products’ toxicity. Always look for (and abide by) care instructions such as ‘wear masks and gloves’. How often do we nuddy up to clean the shower – when really we should be donning a Breaking Bad style outfit with half the products that are out there! Next thing to keep your eco eyes peeled for is products that are ‘plant based’ versus ‘petroleum based’. The more products we use that are petroleum based – the faster the depletion of this non renewable resource and the greater our nations’ demand on its importation from other countries. Lastly opt for environmentally friendly packaging. Look for recycled plastic//paper or better yet check out Method’s range of packaged goods using Ocean Plastic!
BTM's Little Black Book of Dirty Bitches (not the kinky kind).
+ Diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) – sudsing agents that react to nitrates and form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogens that penetrate the skin.
+ Butyl Cellosolve (ethylene glycol monobutyl ether) – a nerve damaging chemical that’s easily absorbed by the skin.
+ Ammonia fumes – Can cause respiratory irritation.
+ Sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) – There are uber caustic (cause living tissue to burn) and if these are mixed with any products that contain ammonia or acids – their reaction will create a toxic and lingering fume.
+ Sulphates – These little buggers can trigger respiratory distress in mah fellow asthmatic homies (breathing problems represent!).
+ Phosphoric Acid – This can irritate the lungs as well as burn the eyes, skin and internal organs if ingested. Not fun.
+ Mixing toilet cleaners that contain acids with those containing chlorine (and c’mon people – we have all been there) will form a lung damaging chlorine gas. Eep!
+ Lye and sodium hydroxide – Corrosive agents that can burn skin and eyes.
+ Aerosol sprays – These are easily inhaled into lung tissue.
+ Silica powder – Can be dangerous if inhaled.
+ Chlorine bleach – This can irritate the skin and airways.
+ Petroleum dissolates – Flammable and dangerous if swallowed.
+ Dyes – These can be contaminated by heavy metals (such as arsenic and lead) which can then penetrate the skin and leave residue on all surfaces.
+ Phosphates – These pesky little devils overnutrify rivers and streams. This leads to excessive algae growth, which deprives fish of oxygen.
+ Chlorine (found in dishwasher tablets) – When the chlorinated chemicals mix with the steam of the dishwasher it creates a very dangerous vapour when steam is released by opening the door at the end of a cycle.
+ Alkylephenal Ethoxylates (APEs) – These disrupt our body’s natural hormone regulation.
+ Perchloroethylene – Exposure leads to liver and kidney damage.
So this is what I have been researching, reading and discovering this week. There is just SO much to learn and new research findings being released everyday. The shortlist above is simply a reflection of where I am at in my decision making when choosing products that are safe for me and safe for my darling mother earth.
Our favourite product to use in our house is quite simply boiled water and lemon and some good ole fashioned elbow grease. Add a little vinegar and bicarb soda for those trickier spots and stains. Homemade products are a great economical and environmental alternative to hitting up the shops.
What are some of your favourite Earth friendly home and cleaning tips?
Blessings and lemon stained hands x