Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day {a day late but better than never!}

Yesterday was a busy day in our house, full of life... family... food... friends. I wanted to write an Earth Day blog post but didn't have time.  

I've had more thinking time today, and as it's "Cleaning Day" in our house I thought I'd narrate our journey to natural cleaning products.  I would call them "environmentally friendly", but they're so much more than that!  They're "people friendly", too!

Eight years ago, the first cleaning product change I made was to switch from Fairy Liquid [quintessentially English dish soap brand] to this Ecover product. After a few months, I began to dislike how strong the scent of my laundry liquid and softener was!  With twin baby boys, there was a huge amount of washing going through my machine, and suddenly those highly perfumed products began to smell artificial and cloying.  I started searching for alternatives, and settled on an Ecover laundry product again, the brand that was widely available at the time.  Instead of softener, I added a few tablespoons of cider vinegar to each wash.  I also stopped using bleach and other cleaners, which drastically reduced the number of products in my cupboard.  Ecover all-purpose cleaner, toilet cleaner, and a homemade "all-purpose spray" were the sole substitutes for these discarded mainstream products.  My homemade cleaning spray was and still is a simple mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water, with the addition of tea tree, lavender, patchouli, and lemon essential oils.  After a few years of Ecover, my neighbour Beckie recommended Bio-D, an independent, family-owned cleaning products company.  As with Ecover, I started with the dishwashing liquid first, and progressed to using their products almost exclusively.  

I'm not sure what our house and clothes smell like to those who are accustomed to more perfumed products.  The scent of their laundry detergents, lingering about their clothing, are as strong as perfume to our less-accustomed noses.  They may smell "cleaner", but that's just all the perfumes masking the smells! I'd rather avoid products with synthetic perfumes and dyes and petroleum-derived additives, and anything with virtually non-biodegradable optical brighteners or chlorine bleaches. In addition to the latter two's difficulty in bio-degrading, they are carcinogenic, toxic, and damaging to micro-organisms.

Eco-friendly cleaning, for us, was just the beginning.  We began subscribing to Ethical Consumer seven years ago, and it helped instigate our journey into a more responsible way of using our resources.  This has extended to every area, including the types of clothing, food, and toiletries we buy; where our money is kept; and the products and companies we choose not to support.

If you're even remotely interested in revolutionising the way you clean, celebrate Earth Day by researching it now and making changes!  You'll be surprised at the difference a greener home environment can make.  This article is a great place to start. 

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