We all use cleaning products on a daily basis and probably harbour a whole battalion of various sprays, polishes, unctions, gumptions and miracle powders. But have we ever considered the damage they might do, either to us, wildlife or the environment?
What Are Green Cleaning Products?
Green cleaning products are those which have as little harmful impact as possible on the environment and which are safe for humans, animals, and wildlife.
Why Go Green?
There are many reasons to switch to using green cleaning products but the main one has to be that standard cleaners are full of chemicals which are either very harmful to us or to the environment. They are largely the brainchild of an industry which wants to make money out of us and most cleaning can be done more cheaply, more safely and just as effectively by other means.
What To Look Out For
When choosing a green cleaning product, you need to question whether they will pollute the atmosphere, be harmful to wildlife or humans, how far the products have travelled (air miles) and whether left-over residues can be disposed of safely and packaging can be recycled.
Look At The Ingredients
The lists of chemicals on cleaning products are either very confusing or sometimes not even listed, so it can be difficult to tell what’s in them. But there are some basic rules which should be easy to remember when choosing green alternatives:
Avoid products that say ‘Danger – hazardous to health’, ‘Caution’, ‘Poisonous’, or a similar warning message. This will certainly mean that they contain chemicals which are harmful. The most harmful types of cleaners are drain cleaners, oven cleaners and some solvent-based products such as paint-strippers or metal cleaners.
If a product does not contain a warning, it doesn’t mean that there are no harmful ingredients, but rather that they are considered to be at ‘safe’ levels.
Avoid any products that contain phosphates. Phosphates are minerals which are used to help soften the water and so help the cleaning process to be more effective. However, they can end up in the waste stream where they are hard to remove and contaminate water systems. Here they can act as fertilizers, promoting the growth of algae and thus upsetting the eco-balance of the marine environment.
Ammonia And Bleach
Try not to buy products that contain bleach or ammonia. Many products contain these chemicals and are recognisable by their strong and unpleasant smell. Both chemicals are irritate the airways and are harmful to breathe and should not be used by people with a history of asthma or respiratory problems.
Consider avoiding cleaners containing petroleum. Most detergents are made using a base of petroleum. Although very effective, because oil is a finite resource, products using an organic plant-based surfactant are generally seen as kinder to the environment.
Packaging And Country Of Origin
When selecting your green cleaning product, also look to see if it is biodegradable and whether or not the packaging is recyclable. If it has been made in another country, it will have clocked up a lot of air miles during its transportation, so if possible source products which are local.
Be Kind To The Environment
So next time you need to top up with cleaning products, consider the environment and think about