Nobody likes a dirty workspace, but the chemicals splashed onto counters, mirrors and walls often leave a toxic residue that can cause more damage than the grime you clean off. Half of our lives are spent indoors. Who wants to spend that time inhaling unpronounceable chemical ingredients that float through the air?
According to California’s Green Initiative (a government funded directive) “Each year about six out of every 100 professional janitors are injured by the chemicals in the products that they use. Burns to the eyes and skin are the most common injuries, followed closely by breathing toxic fumes. Repeated long-term exposure may cause chronic illnesses or allergic reactions to workers who are exposed to chemicals regularly.”
The toxic fumes aren’t the only problem. Millions of mop heads, dirty sponges, soaps and bleach mixtures end up in the trash or flow to our rivers and even our crops!. The Green California website continues to explain that “Californians [not unlike everyone else in the world] wash tons of liquid cleaners down the drain, which may eventually flow into our rivers and ocean, or end up on agricultural land. For example, researchers found that approximately 75 percent of the antibacterial hand soap ingredient, triclocarban, persists during wastewater treatment and accumulates in municipal sludge, which later is used as fertilizer for crops”.
(Photo: Seventh Generation, Inc.)
Companies like Seventh Generation and Tuway provide alternative cleaning methods to reduce environmental damage and product costs.
Seventh Generation offers an impressive assortment of cleaning products made without bleach or fragrances and with more delicate detergents. The company also warns that many items claimed to be “fragrance free” actually use yet another chemical to MASK a scent that would be quite obvious without this masking agent.
With nothing to hide, Seventh Generation discloses all of their ingredients which are made with natural oils, botanical extracts and of course the occasional dash of hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate (still a far cry from the immense list of chemicals in traditional cleaners).
Tuway, on the other hand, focuses on the cloth cleaning materials such as sponges and mops. Their microfiber mops last three times longer than conventional mops (made from the floppy synthetic and cotton blended yarn that tends to fall apart so easily). Tuway’s microfiber has tiny cross-sections on every fiber which lift and trap moisture and bacteria with seven times the absorption rate of traditional mops. Microfiber mops reduce the amount of bacteria in the area by 99%, which is substantial when compared to the 30% absorbed by regular mops. All this reduces mop costs, water usage, chemical costs and labor.
There are options to clean house without having to sacrifice air quality. Contrary to popular belief, harsh chemicals aren’t always necessary to get things clean.
(On a side note, there are a few plants homeowners can put in their homes to help remove contaminants from the air such as spider plants, English ivy, potted mums and Peace lilies. )