I believe that most people are well intentioned towards their health and the environment, but there is a disconnect between their intentions and their actions. For example, while 84 percent of consumers are interested in eco-friendly cleaners, only 31 percent have bought one in the last 12 months. Vegetable-based cleaners are less than one percent of the $11 billion U.S. market for the cleaning supplies. Why is this? There are some good reasons.
How disconnected are you? Here is a list of the most common disconnects regarding non-toxic cleaning, and ways to reconnect to your intentions:
1. Disconnect: Non-toxic cleaners don’t work
Connect: Around Earth Day 1990, every newspaper in the country (or so it seemed) offered recipes for non-toxic cleaning using the basics we all have in our kitchen cupboards, such as baking soda and vinegar, and the recipe for windows was invariably just plain vinegar and water with the option of drying the windows with old newspapers.
People by the thousands tried this and swore off cleaning with homemade recipes for good because the formula left streaks on their windows.
Unfortunately, the commercial products they had used for so many years had left a wax buildup and vinegar alone wouldn’t do the job of removing the residue. Adding a dab of dish soap to the vinegar and water would have removed the buildup.
There are many stories like this.
Challenges/Solutions The key solution is finding good sources of information about nontoxic cleaning. Care2 has thousands of tried-and-true non-toxic cleaning formulas in the Healthy & Green Living Non-Toxic Cleaning category. A good source for product information is The Green Guide.
2. Disconnect: Non-toxic cleaning is more work, it takes more time
Connect: It doesn’t take more time or elbow grease to accomplish most cleaning tasks with non-toxic choices. What is different is the way time is spent. For example, one non-toxic cleaning formula may require that you let the mineral (such as borax) set overnight in the toilet bowl. It won’t take more time to use the brush in the bowl to clean it out the next day, and it might take less time to get the bowl completely clean.
Challenges/Solutions Having good non-toxic cleaning know-how. Your education takes about 15 minutes to accomplish by researching the types of cleaners you like to use in the Healthy & Green Living Non-Toxic Cleaning category. Begin with 5 Basics for Non-Toxic Cleaning.
3. Disconnect: Non-toxic cleaning costs more
Connect:Mixing and matching some nontoxic formulas with “green” products is the way to go and it is cheaper than buying all green or all conventional products. Make your own window cleaner, soft scrub, and all purpose cleaners, and buy a good ready-made green laundry detergent. For an ounce-for-ounce comparison, check here.
Challenges/SolutionsLook for cheap, effective nontoxic cleaning formulas in Care2′s Healthy & Green Living Non-Toxic Cleaning category.
4. Disconnect: The government protects our health by testing cleaning products.
Connect:This isn’t true. There are thousands of untested chemicals on the market that have not been adequately tested. To look up specific chemicals and their testing record visit www.scorecard.org.
Challenges/SolutionsThere is one part of a product label that can help you, and that is to look for the signal words such as “Harmful if swallowed.” I recommend nothing stronger than a “Caution.”
By Annie B. Bond