Why Non-Toxic & Green Cleaning Matters
by: Kathleen Scott
Our homes are supposed to be a safe haven, the place that you’re able to relax and let your guard down a little. The funny thing is though that when you become a parent and bring that precious little being home for the very first time, you are acutely aware of all of the hazards in every room. You second guess your every move and begin doing funny things like reading the backs of bottles for the ingredients. But do you even know what you’re even looking for? Do you know which ingredients are “no-no’s” and which are “OK”? I sure didn’t, that’s when the panic ensued and the research began.
Our skin is the very largest organ of the body and yet we often don’t treat it as such. One out of every thirteen women and one out of every twenty-three men are exposed to known carcinogens (cancer causing toxins) every day. If that number sounds insanely high, that’s because it is! According to the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot mandate that cleaning companies prove that all the ingredients are safe unless they have reason to believe that they are in fact unsafe. That means that our cleaning products are “safe until proven toxic”.
Not only that, but these toxins are actually silently affecting more areas of our lives than we think. Issues stemming from this toxicity have not expanded to infertility, stunted development , asthma and cancer. Our fertility rates are at an all time low within the last 20 years due to synthetic chemicals that disrupt our endocrine system by mimicking our reproductive hormones.
To avoid bringing all that Ick into your home, I highly suggest downloading the Think Dirty App. In this app you can search up or scan the barcode of an item: household, hygiene, makeup ect. The result will give you a breakdown of that item into categories of good, bad and ugly. It will also tell you all the names every chemical noted is allowed to be listed under, what it is commonly used for, the health implications and the sources of research. That is an incredible first step in the right direction.
When my daughter was born we used Johnson & Johnson Lavender Bedtime lotion on her every night. We thought it was soothing and it smelled so good! And of course we thought it was safe because who on earth would make products for babies that aren’t safe? Recently Johnson & Johnson had to pay $110.5 million settlement because their baby powder causes ovarian cancer. When you search the lotion I mentioned earlier in the Think Dirty app, you will see it receives a red score of 8. This is a terrible score and here are just a few reason why:
And this is where the major panicking began. We began to reevaluate all areas of our home and the cleaning supplies came next! The underside of most peoples bathroom and kitchen sinks are often an explosion of cleaning products.
- Toilet bowl scrub
- Grout cleaner
- Soap scum remover
- Window and Mirror cleaner
- Stainless steel cleaner
- Hardwood floor cleaner
- Surface cleaner
- Dish Soap
- Dishwasher detergent
- Laundry detergent
The list goes on! But as you begin to pursue a low waste lifestyle, you become addicted to living minimally. Not only are these many cleaning products bulky to store but many cleaners contain ingredients that are horrible for your health. Here are several chemicals that are in most household cleaners that you should avoid and why:
- Diethylene Glycol - a solvent banned in Canada
- Ethanolamine - breaks down nitrogen to form carcinogens
- Sodium Borate- banned in Canada. respiratory / skin irritation, possibly damaging to fertility
- Ammonium Sulfate Lauryl -is a fragrance that is a known carcinogen
- Sodium Hypochlorite -is an oxidizing agent that is known to cause skin and respiratory irritation as well as organ system toxicity
- Methylisothiazolinone -antimicrobial that causes major irritation to eyes and skin
- Laureth -is a surfactant which is a possible carcinogen
That’s a lot of crazy to be on the lookout for so it might be helpful to have alternatives that are low waste, toxin free and totally safe for every member of your family. This way you can get your kiddos involved in the cleaning as well! Interestingly enough, when you begin to cut waste out of your routine, the toxins often go with and often you begin saving money to boot! So when seeking to become a zero waste, toxin free home, you really only need about 5 items:
1. Baking Soda
excellent for scrubbing, deodorizing and oxidation when combined with vinegar.
good deodorizer, cleaner and oxidation when combined with baking soda.
3. Castile Soap
castile soap comes in both bar and liquid form. It’s a great base for cleaning products and can even be used on it’s own.
4. Essential Oils
If you are planning to begin or want to add to your zero waste-toxin free lifestyle, essential oils are the next thing you need to invest in. They are essentially the lifeblood of the plant that helps to protect it from disease. Because they function within the plant similarly to our blood within our own bodies, they can work alongside our bodies natural systems to support them. Not only that but they can be used for very effective cleaning. The effects are truly incredible! I refuse to use the store bought essential oils because they only have to have a 5% concentration to be labeled “pure” which means you aren’t getting quality and it will be full of synthetic fillers that can cause more harm than good. I choose to use Young Living for many good reasons, and you can find out why on my blog.
There are many amazing zero waste and biodegradable options for cleaning tools. I make a biodegradable and compostable sponges in my shop as well as cleaning cloths. The best rule of thumb when gathering your tools is to use ones made with materials that are composable, recyclable and biodegradable such as: plant materials, wood, fabric and metal.
All cleaning tools eventually need to be replaced but when you choose and eco friendly option, you ensure that the item will return to the earth. Choosing a plastic option may be cheaper but most plastics are not biodegradable and are filled with synthetic chemicals that are damaging you and the environment.
Here are some of my favorite cleaning tools:
- cloth wipes
- compostable sponge
- loofah (compostable)
- wooden scrub brush
- metal scouring pad
- natural loofah
Follow me, for many simple green cleaning solutions like this one that I love using in my home:
If want to grab starter kit with Young Livings 12 most versatile oils, do so here and you’ll get 24% off for life on all their eco- friendly products.