Kindness to the planet is kindness to people, and these companies have taken that connection seriously.
The evidence is undeniable that the planet is warming, and the last 100 years of heavy industry have plundered the globe, threatening to upset the delicate balance of an ecosystem that is, as far as we know, entirely unique and nothing short of miraculous.
The feelings of hopelessness and anxiety attached to this knowledge affect us all. And to say it straight, there is nothing as individuals that we can do to singlehandedly reverse the damage. However, collectively, we do have the power to face climate change as a real force, and to make small decisions with our votes and our consuming power that can move the needle, create awareness, and show our children that we care about their health and the health of the planet.
Most of us use products everyday that are detrimental to our water system, to the food chain, an ultimately, to life itself, without even realizing it. Commercial soaps are composed of harsh chemicals that do not break down in the water system, whereas biodegradable surfectants are plant-based, and designed to re-enter the ecology without harming it.
It follows that some of these chemical products on the market contain ingredients that are also toxic to humans and pets, which gives you even more reasons to replace them with kinder, gentler options.
Plus, the growing awareness that big corporations with lack of oversight have poisoned the environment has swung the pendulum in the opposite direction; a more holistic approach to business has emerged where small companies are not only devising more eco-friendly products, they are also creating more worker-friendly and sustainable business models. These businesses also recognize that they are competing with very effective traditional products, so the quality of these environmentally conscious household solutions is very high.
Before we get into some specific products that consistently receive praise from experts, let’s look at some quick rules of thumb when shopping for household products:
Look for “biodegradable” on the label. “Natural” is a grey area, because technically even chemicals are natural. It can be a sneaky way for manufacturers to hide unhealthy ingredients.
Check out the packaging. Anything claiming to be eco should also be packaged in a recycled/recyclable or compostable container. Petrochemicals in conventional packaging also contribute to ecological damage, so eco companies often use alternatives to further reduce their manufacturing footprint and cut down on landfill.
Avoid ammonia, lye, isopropanol, cresol, phenol, and pine oil. All these products when ingested, even by breathing or skin contact, are known to irritate eyes and lungs, corrode tissue, or affect the
circulatory and nervous systems.
Get over the “clean” smell. Detergents and cleansers have cultivated a “fresh” smell– well, that’s chemicals you are smelling. Products that are free of dyes, fragrances, and chemicals are not going to produce that powerful odor, but it doesn’t mean your clothes or dishes are any less clean. Many of these sustainable companies also use plant-based scents like lavender or eucalyptus oils so they smell lovely because it’s
the real thing.
So here are some of the new champions in terms of eco-friendly products that will effectively do the job, and a little background on the companies that create them.
1. Seventh Generation. This company based in Vermont has been refining its products for 25 years, the name drawing from a Native American saying that we must act and plan according to our responsibilities to our families seven
generations in the future.
2. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is a family of products that make your house sparkle, and smell like you live in an enchanted forest. Speaking of family, founder Monica Nassif named her company after her mother, Mrs. Thelma
3. The Honest Company makes bath soap, dishwasher soap, and baby care products like wipes and diapers. Plus, it has great online purchase options that get you more quantity for a very reasonable price.
4. Biokleen is a soap company that stresses no-impact, chemical-free products for a competitive price. Jim Rimer’s business goes back to the 1980s, when as a chemical salesman, he saw the light in terms of the impact of toxins in our homes and workplace. He has been fighting the good fight ever since.
5. If you were to walk by Method products on the shelves, you might mistake them for conventional cleaners. Their modern, brightly colored soaps and personal care offerings are the brainstorm of two college buddies in San Francisco, who created one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S.
All these products score very highly on the Environmental Working Group website, where you can also see a breakdown of each product by active ingredient. So if you or a family member has a particular sensitivity to something, you can easily find some solid recommendations through this non-profit’s site. It also offers a database of personal care products like makeup and sunscreen, so before you before you shop, check out the brands you like and make sure they are conducive to lasting health. Visit the website here: http://www.ewg.org.
Which laundry soap you buy may not save the planet, but it can reduce the risk of sickness, skin irritation, respiratory issues, or other potentially chronic health problems for your family. Anything we can do to lessen our personal impact on the world we live in is still worth doing, for our children’s sake as well as our own.
2. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/healthy_living/hic_Steps_to_Staying_W ell/hic_Household_Chemicals_Chart_Whats_in_my_House