I have a lot to say about cleaning; bear with me.
I made the switch over to green cleaning supplies a few years ago, admittedly without really understanding why it was important. I didn’t really care; I trusted the marketeers and revamped my cleaning cabinet to non-nefarious shades of green and white and orange. Back then I also shopped mostly at Whole Foods and they don’t sell anything else, a forced switch which fit with my color-coded consumption track.
“I can’t afford it”
Since I no longer have a full-time job (and commensurate salary), I decided to take a closer look at cleaning supplies. I’ve come to realize that saving money doesn’t necessarily mean buying inexpensive products.
A few weeks ago my neighbor and I were chatting while I was spraying aphids off my tomato plants with a dishsoap and water mixture. She asked me (in reference to my dishsoap), “You use that organic stuff, right? Mine’s just regular; we can’t really afford that fancy stuff.”
In the quest to save money, making the switch back to the majority of the synthetically-derived, toxic and considerably cheaper products was never an option. (I’ve since come to understand why I use non-toxic cleaning supplies.) Instead, I turned to vinegar, baking soda and borax to cut costs in the cleaning supply aisle. I buy only a few pre-made cleaning supplies now-a-days including laundry detergent, dishsoap, and a thyme oil-derived disinfectant spray (with the same disinfecting capabilities as chlorine bleach, but without the toxins).
Cleaning supplies should be considered along the same lines as the food you buy. If you’re buying mostly organic foods but then spraying EPA-registered-pesticides all over your house (which linger for periods much longer than food in your system), you’re probably not doing yourself any favors.
“Do eco-friendly cleaners really work?”
The hype surrounding these more expensive versions of cleaning supplies is not really “organic” and natural ingredients, because they do actually contain chemicals, the key is how and when these chemicals break down when released back into nature (i.e. washed down your drains). Products clean things primarily because of things called surfactants, or surface-active agents. They contain polarized ions that both attract and repel water molecules, loosening and suspending dirt and germs until they’re washed away from clothes, counters, floors and dishes. Green cleaners contain surfactants too, but rather than featuring petroleum-based surfactants, they’re derived from plants (and they break down faster and have a lesser impact on ecosystems).
Seventh Generation is a company on the right track; they should be the norm, not the exception in modern industry. Their values remain consistent at all levels of the chain (including algae and plankton), and their CEO goes by Chief Inspired Protagonist (rather than CEO) and writes books on corporate social responsibility. These folks make it easy for people to make the switch. I also have a slight crush on The Science Man; he answers all kinds of questions about green and DIY cleaning supplies in a non-advertisement kind of way, plus he cites his sources.
I’m hosting this giveaway to spur you into action. I believe in this company (I asked them if I could host this giveaway) and I believe in you to make better choices. Switch to better products for you, for the environment, for future generations who will inevitably want to drink water.
Seventh Generation isn’t the only great brand out there, and please do feel free to explore your options. Honestly, you really don’t need any of these products to actually clean your house. I’m writing a couple chapters into my book with effective DIY options for you to explore at your leisure.
Asking someone to go cold turkey on cleaning supplies is a little unreasonable. Even when you’re on the vinegar wagon, you’ll still want to buy laundry detergent and dishsoap at the very least. Think of the rest of the eco-friendly cleaners featured here as training wheels for your DIY cleaning supplies adventures and know that this company is doing good things in the world.
It’s important for me to know that the cleaners I buy are safe for anyone in my house, including the kids I don’t have yet and the hairy orange pets (who will inhale or ingest the majority of toxic chemicals you use regularly since much of it settles in dust on the floor). Exercise your ability to choose.
Without further ado…One lucky person will receive all of the following full-sized cleaning products:
Seventh Generation Healthy Home Starter Kit
- All-Purpose Cleaner - Free and Clear
- Glass Cleaner - Free and Clear
- Shower Cleaner - Green Mandarin and Leaf (this one uses hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching agent, so those of you who remember my recent obsession with hydrogen peroxide and mildew removal will like this one, though, I must say, a borax paste left on overnight did as much, maybe more bleaching than this product)
- Toilet Cleaner - Emerald Cypress and Fir
- Tub & Tile Bathroom Cleaner - Emerald Cypress and Fir
- Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner
- Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner
- Disinfecting Wipes - 35 ct.
- One Roll Natural Paper Towels
- Seventh Gen Recycled, Reusable Grocery Bag
Enter by August 19, 2010 at midnight by leaving a comment below answering one or both of the following questions:
Why is greening your cleaning supplies cabinet important to you?
What is your fave DIY cleaning supplies trick?
Please don’t forget to include your email address in the slot on the comment form or I won’t be able to let you know you won!
Congratulations to Susan from Iowa! I really loved her response, “I live in Iowa, a very agricultural state and am surrounded by pesticides, insecticides, and other chemicals going into our water. I am a geologist and worry about what this is doing to our environment. Green cleaning products are my small way of not contributing to the problem.”