I suggested she start with an easy change: her cleaners. Those things are LOADED with nasty toxic ingredients (that little skull and cross bones isn't there for s**t's and giggles) and nowadays it can be as easy as going to the Superstore or, sigh, Wal-Mart to pick up something safer for you and the environment.
Too easy in fact- companies are catching on that consumers don't exactly want to pickle themselves in a chemical soup, and greenwashing has been rampant. Take, for example, Clorox. "GreenWorks" is marketed as an "eco" option, but the little Clorox symbol at the bottom informs us that we are in fact supporting a company who's main money-maker pollutes our waterways and bodies with nasty chemicals. Also, the ingredient list is conveniently not located on the bottle... A quick check on their website (nicely separate from Clorox's) has a general ingredient list... but nothing specific.
When compared to other companies like Attitude and Seventh Generation that clearly states all their ingredients on their bottles and do not have any known affiliations with traditional, toxic cleaners, GreenWorks isn't my choice. Check out my post here for some details on a couple eco-cleaners :)
Ok, so no surprise that Clorox's "green" company isn't exactly on the up-and-up. But something that did make me pause, turn red and perhaps steam a bit, was Ecover. What's this you say?? But Ecover is supposed to be one of the good guys... right?
Here's my issue. I pay more for eco-products because I value my health and I don't like using vinegar for everything. So I expect to pay for something that is what it claims... non-toxic, no chemicals, actually truly DOES biodegrade and won't make the fish grow three heads. Ecover is a well known company that is viewed as truly "green". I've read their "ingredient" list on their cleaners, looks awesome. They smell nice, they clean fantastically well and have a fancy-pants website.
Speaking of their website, have you checked out the FULL ingredient listing there? Let's review one... like the dishwater tablets that has been popular in the blogosphere lately.
Sodium citrate (salt),
Sodium Carbonate Peroxide (actually, on the Material Safety Data sheet it says Sodium Carbonate peroxyhydrate 15-30%, which when disolved in water releases hydrogen peroxide and sodium ash)
Disodium Disilicate (MSD says it's diodium disilicate- either way, difficult to find and according to this data sheet can cause serious harm to the eyes)
Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
Sodium Poly Asparaginate (wha?? can't find what that is)
Tetra Acetyl Ethylene Diamine (active oxidizing agent that releases hydrogen peroxide during wash)
Iso-Octyl Glucoside (ummm..)
D-glucitol (Sorbitan Tristearate...)
Hydrogenated Rapeseed Oil (finally something I kind of recognize)
Parfum (ACK- Fragrance?? Skin Deep Cosmetic Database rates all ingredients listed as "fragrance" as being sketchy. This ingredient hides cancer causing chemicals among other scary stuff)
Amylase (according to skin deep, a low to moderate hazard)
Subtilisin (same as above for Skin Deep)
Limonene (classified under "fragrance" with Skin Deep (rated 8 for highly hazardous) and according to Wiki has been found to be a skin and respiratory irritant over long term exposure... like cleaning your dishes every day, and although classified as biodegradable due to it's low flashpoint must be treated as a hazardous waste for disposal)
Ok, but say the last bunch (disregarding the Sodium Carbo perox-whatever-hyde that creates peroxide when exposed to water, like in a dishwasher, and is 15-30% of the chemical makeup of the tablets) only constitues 0.1% of the product but they HAVE to list them. In case. Then why does the Material Data Safety Sheet for the tablets state that they are considered a hazardous material with recomendations of avoiding contact with eyes and skin?
That waste of this product is considered chemical waste (13 disposal considerations)??
To avoid release into the environment (6 accidental release measures)? (like draining the water into our water systems?)
I'm just saying... maybe I'm a little anal, but for a "green" product this seems a bit over the top. I happen to adore Attitude cleaners. They are Canadian (WOOT!), are certified EcoLogoM AND Global EcoLabelling Network and here is their ingredient list for their dishwasher powder:
water, xanthum gum, vegetable based surfactants, sodium citrate, sodium carbonate, sodium silicate and essential oils.
Nice. Now if they can keep it simple why can't Ecover?
Making the switch to natural cleaners was my first and most satisfying eco-change but sadly consumers have to wade through the green-poo to truly be informed about what they are buying. Do you have any favourite eco-cleaners that you find work very very well?
Happy weekend everyone! Now to convert Andrew's mom to my ECO WAYS.... (insert evil-ish laugh).