catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 6 :: 2011.03.25 — 2011.04.07


Clean green

I have always had to hold my breath when I walk down the cleaning aisle in the supermarket.  My eyes start to burn and my throat feels raw and my nose becomes stuffy.  I know — I’m sounding like an advertisement for a cold remedy.  Needless to say, in the days before readily available green products without the abundance of artificial scents (to say nothing of other potentially toxic ingredients), I took a deep breath before I rounded the corner to enter the noxious cleaning supply aisle.  I pushed my cart to top speed and grabbed my favorite always-earth-friendly Murphy’s Oil Soap and laundry soap that was free and clear (why did they put the nasty stuff in to begin with, making “free and clear” a specialty item?). 

Nowadays, I own an earth-friendly general store called Love Your Mother in my small town.  When I first started working in the store, I was amazed that I could be around lovely scented products that did not make me ill.  Over the years, because of my intolerance to artificially scented products, I had come to think of myself as the unscented girl without a special fragrance to linger after her.  

I am hardly an expert on all cleaning products, but I’m very excited about the possibilities available to clean one’s body, clothes, home, car and so on in a green manner.  Of course, our foremothers and forefathers used what came naturally, which was, for the most part, healthy.  Somewhere along the line, corporations decided what scents we should have, and that whiter and brighter were better despite what might happen to the environment.  

In my store, I stock a variety of personal care and cleaning supplies.  I have started to carry a whole range of essential oils and have tried to become knowledgeable about simple recipes to encourage my customers to try making some of their own products.  Some folks are excited about the possibilities and have borrowed my copy of The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier.

But there are other folks who have told me that they’re not ready to mix their own products.  For them, I offer green products from a variety of vendors, including but not limited to Earth Friendly Products and Seventh Generation, whose name comes from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy: in our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.  

Most folks are becoming very savvy label readers and I encourage that and am challenged to keep abreast of what is really in the “stuff” we buy.  Many cleaning supplies have petroleum distillate, which is toxic and nonrenewable.  One should look for plant-based ingredients.  Other ingredients to avoid include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), phosphates, formaldehyde and sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach).  

In general, artificial antibacterial products should be avoided as microorganisms are becoming resistant to the agents being used and ever-stronger products are required to do the same job.  Good old-fashioned soap (not detergent) and water and grandma’s elbow grease go a long way toward eliminating the nasty germs out there.  

In addition to noting the ingredients, one can be green and humane in terms of noting if animal testing was done on any product.  Items should be safe for septic systems and all river and marine life and have optimum biodegradability.

One of the best benefits of cleaning green is that one can have a clean conscience as well.  

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