“I feel more confident than ever that the power to save the planet rests with the individual consumer.”
~ Denis Hayes, Founder of the Earth Day Network, Coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970
Your dishes are piled high, your room is a mess, and the mirror in your bathroom is covered in toothpaste. Sigh, the time to clean has come! But before you reach for the conventional cleaning products lurking in your cabinet, take a second to think about what’s inside of them. Like the products you use on your body and the food you eat, conventional cleaning products are laden with unhealthy chemicals. Cleaning may not be fun, but it’s even worse when the ingredients in your products leave harmful chemical residue in place of dirt and grime. If you want a truly clean space, it’s time to green your cleaning routine.
Conventional cleaning products include a plethora of chemicals that harm the environment. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), like ammonia, evaporate and contribute to indoor air pollution, as well as outdoor smog. When we wash ingredients like nitrogen and phosphorous down the drain, they flood waterways with unregulated levels of chemical nutrients, which cause unnatural plant growth, deplete the oxygen in the water supply, kill fish, and lead to birth defects in aquatic wildlife. Those same chemicals – which are unsafe even in very low doses – often make their way into our bodies. This is not only through drinking water, but also by inhaling them while we use them. Individually, these chemicals are linked to respiratory problems, reproductive harm, cancer, and other serious health issues.
Fortunately, many companies make safe and effective soaps and cleaning products. In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an entire database of information about these companies and products. When companies are transparent about ingredients and business practices, you can clean with confidence while protecting human and environmental health. Check out Women’s Voices for the Earth’s Deep Clean Report to learn about the effect of chemicals used in everyday cleaning products and how you can avoid them.
It’s also very simple (and economical) to make your own cleaning products from common household items like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and organic essential oils. Check out the Bronner Mom blog and the TG Clean Pinterest board to find some great DIY recipes, that work! There are plenty of non-toxic, biodegradable, and effective cleaning products for you to use, so now the hardest part of cleaning is actually doing it!
Remember on Day 9 you learned that no government agency was making sure your personal care products were safe – Well, this is the same issue with our cleaning products. Unfortunately, there is no transparency in the cleaning product industry! Companies are not required to list ingredients on labels, so we wind up exposing ourselves to largely undisclosed toxins. As consumers, we must be informed in order to make healthy choices and demand that companies make human and environmental health a top priority.
Want to learn how to decode labels? EWG has you covered!
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More than 80,000 chemicals are unregulated by the federal government, including most of those in common household cleaning products. Chances are that your conventional cleaning products contain substances which, when inhaled or absorbed through the skin, cause serious health problems.
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Bathrooms get grimy quickly, especially when shared with roommates or even a whole dorm floor. Using safe cleaning products is especially important in spaces that need to be cleaned often.
Upload a PDF Document with your responses, photos, and a full report on how your DIY process went. Include a screenshot of your social media post. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address and school.