It goes without saying that you want your house, your home, to be as clean as possible. It just feels and looks nicer, safer for your family and it’s inviting to all your guests. Now clean is one thing and using super harsh chemicals is another — what’s the point of cleaning with something that isn’t safe for you to smell, get on your skin or eyes? The point is that there is no point in doing that.
You could do the research and find the least hazardous cleaner but what are we saying — least hazardous, maybe it shouldn’t be hazardous at all. If you’re trying to find a cleanser and the most important thing you’re looking for is that it doesn’t harm you — that’s not a good sign.
Many green products have positive environmental impacts — biodegradability, low toxicity, low volatile organic compound content, reduced packaging and low life cycle energy use. Using these products can reduce exposure, can minimize harmful impacts, improve indoor air quality, and reduce water and ambient air pollution.
Using green cleaners reduces hazard concerns like skin, eye and lung irritation but can help our underwater friends as well. These cleaners reduce toxicity to aquatic species in waters receiving inadequately treated wastes. Other toxic products contain phosphorus or nitrogen which can contribute to excess fertilizer in our rivers, leading to adverse effects on water quality such as overactive algae growth — which is not good for fish.
When buying cleaners, use appropriate handling safeguards, get products with reusable, reduced, or recyclable packaging, which reduces packaging waste and transportation energy — plus buy only what you need.
Read the label because a cleaning product may say ‘natural’, ‘eco-safe’ or ‘environment friendly’ but that doesn’t necessarily mean non-toxic. Chemicals to avoid: chlorine, ammonia, formaldehyde, ketones, phosphates, hydrocarbons, hydrochloric acid, phenols, and artificial fragrances. If the labels say, ‘Warning’, ‘Danger’ or ‘Poison’, choose something else. Look for products containing vegetable and fruit oils and extracts.
The environmental benefits should be very clear: ‘Biodegrades in 3 to 5 days’ is meaningful — ‘Biodegradable’ is not. Third-party seals of approval are one of the best bets right now for deciding which household goods are truly green.
Terms to look for in green products: recyclable packaging, recycled-content in packaging or reduced packaging. Reduced or no added fragrances or dyes except when added for safety purposes. Reduced flammability, reduced or no skin irritants, reduced or no volatile organic compounds and no ozone depleting substances.