I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the things that go down our drains and into water. I realized that I was a horrible offender in many ways, especially with respect to cleaning products. Comet, Windex, Toilet Duck, Comet, Mr. Clean, Lysol and Comet. I was really big on the Comet.
While these products make our living spaces sparkle, we can’t call them ‘clean’. When we wash away dirt, the dirt and the products don’t dissapear… they just wash ‘away’. Once down the drain they travel into the general water supply, poisoning animals, soil and ourselves. “Out of sight, out of mind” cannot continue to be our collective mantra.
To remedy my wrongdoings, I set out to find a cleaner cleaning regime. These products work JUST AS WELL as their toxic counterparts, so I highly reccommend giving them a try.
Baking Soda — Use in place of my old-time fav, Comet. Sinks, toilets, tubs, cupboards… you name it, baking soda will clean it. It is even a great addition to laundry washes, as it is a mild abrasive good for getting dirt out of clothes. I sometimes add it to my toothpaste to get a gleaming smile, but use it sparingly and gently here, as it is not such a gentle abrasive on tooth enamel. President’s Choice ‘Green’ brand has an ‘environmentally-friendly’ baking soda… I’m not exaactly sure what is un-friendly about other baking sodas, but I like to buy the ‘Green’ brand to err on the side of caution.
Vinegar — Use in place of all spray / liquid cleaners. It is especially a great replacement for Windex. You get the same streak-free shine with approximately the same amount of work (it might take a little extra elbow grease to get the streaks gone, but isn’t Mother Nature worth it?). I use vinegar on EVERYTHING, including laundry. In the wash, it helps get clothes so fresh and so clean.
Active Oxygen Bleach — Use in place of ordinary bleach, which is full of harmful chemicals. President’s Choice ‘Green’ has an active oxygen bleach, which is what I usually buy. Active oxygen bleach releases oxygen to loosen stains. Again, good in laundry.
By trying out these products, not only you be reducing harm to the Earth, you will be helping yourself and your family. Cleaning with toxic products puts everyone in your household in contact with the chemicals in the products. Also, disinfecting products that kill “99.9% of germs” or some ridiculous amount like that are harmful to immune systems. Disinfectants don’t discriminate between good and bad germs, and we need to have some germs so that when harmful germs come along our immune systems are well practiced! Combatting germs on a regular basis is training for the body, so Moms: you are not doing your kids ANY favours by spraying that Lysol all over your kids’ bicycle handlebars.
With respect to the old products, I have thus far simply left them in my cupboard. I suspect that throwing them in the garbage (so they go to a landfill rather than into the water) is the best we will be able to do with the products we’ve already purchased and opened. If anyone has any better ideas for disposal to offer, I am very interested in hearing about them.