The Impact of Cleaning Products and How to Clean Sustainably?
Cleaning is an essential part of our routines. We not only do it to keep things nice and tidy but instead to keep dust, allergens and infectious agents away which is crucial to maintaining a healthy indoor environment.
So, even if you think that cleaning is boring, keeping your home and workplace clean is going to help you feel more comfortable, healthy and active, as well as staying safe. Guess what? There is a but..
Dust, allergens and infectious agents are not the only elements in your home that could harm your health or make you feel unwell. Many of the commercial cleaning products can contain chemicals associated with eye, skin, or respiratory irritation, or other human health issues. This is because they often contain concentrated compounds that are classified as dangerous to both people and the planet.
Because it is essential that to carry on cleaning around ourselves we are going to find out how to clean in a sustainable and safe way for both our planet and our health.
The environmental impact of cleaning products.
Common Cleaning products have a serious negative impact in our most immediate environment, not just 1000km away from us but in the nature closer to us. There are different ways in which the cleaning products most sold nowadays are harming our planet:
1. Packaging of Cleaning Products
Most cleaning products out there, the ones that we have always seen been used to degrease kitchens, disinfect bathrooms and to clean floors and surfaces, come packaged in plastic bottles.
The problem is not the plastic bottle itself, but the fact that they are designed to be used one time and then chucked in the trash. If that wasn't enough, those bottles are not made using recycled materials and often their different parts are hard to recycle, ending up polluting the natural environment and using non-renewable resources to produce more.
It is not coincidence that 2 of the 10 worst plastic polluters in the world in 2020 were as well 2 of the largest companies producing and selling cleaning products with over 30 home cleaning product brands under their control.
2. Chemicals in Cleaning Products
In recent years health and safety organisations have paid close attention to the ingredients that make up cleaning products at home and how this could be related to many of health issues that humans experience. Although a lot has been regulated and limits have been put on the percentage of potentially harmful chemicals that can go into products for human use, we still find questionable that we are exposed every day to chemicals that have been scientifically proved to correlate with severe and permanent health conditions.
To name a few:
- Triclosan (TCS): An Anti-microbial chemical used in households as anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent found in soaps, detergents and other disinfectants. 96% of the time this chemical ends up disappearing through the drains and due to not been possible to remove it completely in waste water treatment system, it never fully disappears affecting both the environment, marine life and our health. Has been found to correlate with cancer and immense developmental issues in vertebrate species.
- Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach): One of the most common cleaning products used in homes due to its anti-microbial properties is actually very harmful to both to people and the planet. Sodium Hypochlorite goes to wastewater without been possible to fully filter it and tends to form carcinogens compounds that can be absorbed by organisms and enter the food chain.
- Ammonium Hydroxide (Ammonia): Commonly used in household cleaning products like floor cleaners and glass cleaners as a disinfectant. It is serious air pollutant that has severe implications for biodiversity because of toxic implications to plants, which are a food source for many organisms.
- Phosphates: Commonly used as a detergent in many of the cleaning products we find in every household. It has been linked to eutrophication (leading to excessive growth of algae) which absorbs all the oxygen in the water. Due to lack of oxygen all marine life from plants to marine animals die. Eutrophication is a serious environmental risk that can pose serious difficulties for marine life to survive in the future.
Sustainable alternatives to cleaning products
After looking into the environmental and health implications of cleaning products, we may be left to think that then cleaning is not possible in a sustainable way. That is far from the reality, cleaning sustainably not only is possible, but it is better for our planet, for our health and it can be just as effective with the right products from brand committed to the planet and the people.
We suggest buying products with recyclable packaging, refillable bottles and concentrated formulas which not only reduce the use of plastic and other materials, but save CO2e emissions from transport, production and recycling.
In terms of chemicals, there are effective alternative cleaning chemicals that can be used without harming the environment and life on earth. Choosing products with a low VOC content, biodegradable and those that utilize renewable resources will make cleaning sustainably and safely as easy as using the harmful prooducts for our planet and our health that we have been using in recent decades.
Sustainable Cleaning Products that are good to the planet
There are products that are made with the environment and health in mind, all the way from design to production. Brands committed to the planet that have as their main mission bringing to market effective products that help lead sustainable lifestyles, like Ocean Saver or TrueEarth.
- Ocean Saver cleaning products, are concentrated, plant based, non toxic cleaning refills that transform to a liquid cleaner when added to water. Not only are they harmless to the environment and to life on earth, they reduce CO2e emissions since what is being transported are the cleaning concentrate instead of the entire bottle of cleaning products, of which 95% is water. With Ocean Saver you just add it to a empty bottle that you have from old cleaning products, fill it up with water, shake it and is ready to use.
- TrueEarth Detergent, laundry detergent strips that will save you from unnecessary weight and space when shopping by avoiding a bulky detergents that come packed in plastic bottles, which are unnecessary for the planet. These ultra-concentrated strips get completely dissolved without leaving a trace on the planet. They are vegan and hypoallergenic so they are perfect for sensitive skins. Not only this convenient eco detergent is safe to go into the drains and waterways, but also reduces CO2e emissions from transport, production and recycling.
For those that like to make their own homemade cleaning products and have the time to prepare them, we got your back too. The following base ingredients together with a few natural things from home like vinegar, lemon, etc you will be able to make natural and planet friendly cleaning solutions that will reduce your impact and help you have a sustainable home.
Now you have the knowledge, the solutions and the power to implement this little change that makes a big difference to our planet and for the health of life on earth. Make sure to teach and share what you learn along the way, because together we are the solution!
Join us at @weterrazero to share the good vibes!