10 Ways To Combat Dust Mites

10 Ways To Combat Dust Mites

Don’t you just hate it when you find unwanted guests in your bed? Eating uninvited on your couch? Then to top it off shitting on everything! RUDE! And then the ‘guest’ looks like your worst nightmare. HELLO DUST MITES! If dust mites have moved in to your home and you haven’t found a polite way to evict them as yet, read on. In this post I share with you my top 10 tips for controlling dust mites in your home. 

These gorgeous creatures (NOT!) can be found in our bed (eeekk!), our sofas, the curtains and in the carpet. It’s enough to keep you awake at night. Well it certainly would be if we could see them. Luckily they are too small to see with the naked eye. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t make their presence known. The World Health Organization (WHO), lists allergies as fourth of the worlds most common chronic illnesses. [1] These little fellas are responsible for a large chunk of the problem. It is the faeces and broken body parts of the mite that is responsible for the runny noses, cough, red and itchy
eyes and the sneezing. They also have strong links to asthma. WHO suggested that dust mite allergies are the leading cause of bronchial asthma in the world.[1] Their stomachs contain digestive enzymes that are present in their poos. It is these enzymes that are responsible for many peoples allergies. [2] They feed off our dead skin cells and that of our pets. [3] And if all that wasn’t enough to make you hate them……..they are relatives of the spider!

 As with all unwanted visitors to your bed they are impossible to get rid of. Unfortunately you can’t call them a taxi, wave them goodbye and thank your lucky stars you got away with it. No this visitor is here to stay. But there are things you can do to keep their numbers in check (did I mention each female lays 60100 eggs in her short life cycle?).

I’m terrified of bugs… if I come across a bug and fail to remove it
I have to sleep in a separate room as I’m paranoid
that I’ll be taken advantage of as I sleep.
Freema Agyeman

10 Tips For Controlling Dust Mites In The Home

1.Control humidity. Dust mites don’t drink water. They absorb it from the air through their armpits (gross right?!). They need a nice humid environment in order to thrive (over 60% humidity). That is why people in Auckland have a high allergy rate as the humidity is on average above 80%. [4] Install dehumidifiers or a ventilation system to help keep the
humidity below 60%.,
2.Our furry and feathered friends unfortunately add to the issue by shedding skin and fur. Dinner for mites. Now I’m never going to give up my fur baby, but it is a consideration especially if you have someone in your house who suffers with respiratory illnesses. At the very least don’t sleep your pets in the bedroom and wash their bedding regularly.
3.Shower before bed. Mites eat our dead skin so showering before going to bed significantly reduces the food available to them. Did I mention there is easily up to a million of the creatures on an old mattress?
4.Remove sheepskin underlays on beds and use a mite resistant mattress cover.
5.Vacuum everything. Curtains, floors, beds and furnishings. Do it thoroughly but only once a week. You want to minimize disturbing what is there. Use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner as it removes much finer particles.
6.Make everyone take their shoes off before entering the house. This helps to reduce dirt and dust in the home and therefore decreases the availability of food for the mites.
7.Wash bedding in hot water once a week and curtains once every 23 months.
8. Stuffed toys can also harbor mites so put in the freezer for a few hours to kill the mites once a month.
9. Dust before vacuuming so the dust has time to settle on the floor. Use a dusting spray and a damp cloth to avoid just moving dust around.
10. Avoid wall to wall carpets. Rugs and hard flooring are better at reducing mite numbers and are easier to clean.

I have a daughter and a husband who both suffer with dust mite allergies. They both have asthma which flares up whenever we have let the cleaning slide. Countless nights we have sat and listened to her cough, often until she vomits. Even the slightest sniffle ends up in a week long period of coughing, wheezing and vomiting. They were my main motivation in changing the way we did things in our home. I decided we were not just going to sit back and let ill health win, but we would fight with everything we had. Dust mites is a huge part of the equation but it is not the only battle. Mold remediation was another. Mold spores are responsible for many respiratory illnesses.

Many cleaning products in our homes are known to cause respiratory irritation. They also are made of synthetic chemicals which trigger an immune response. Overhauling the way in which we clean our home and ourselves has been another step we have taken towards achieving health in our home. The results are speaking for themselves and we will never go back to using commercial products again. We are slowly winning the battle and my wee girl has so far been asthma free despite the odd sniffle in the past few months. For us that is a victory.

If you know of someone who would benefit from learning to combat dust mites in their home then please do share this post with them.

I would love to hear your tips and tricks for kicking Dust Mites to the curb. Or if you have any pearls of wisdom on how you are tackling allergies in your home. Please leave a comment below.

References

  1. alhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_dust_mite

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_dust_mite

  3. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=20276

  4. http://www.allergy.org.nz/A-Z+Allergies/Dust+mite+allergy.html

  5. http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/dust-mite-allergy.html

  6. http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/311dusmi.pdf

The ultimate guide to cleaning your shower curtain naturally without Bleach

The ultimate guide to cleaning your shower curtain naturally without Bleach

Restore the life into your shower curtain naturally and banish the mould without bleach.

 

Our bathrooms are the perfect environment for mould growth. Mould loves warm. moist places and will feed off any organic material. It appears to have a particular liking for my shower curtain. Traditionally I would have tackled the problem with a bucket full of bleach. However I was determined to find an alternative, natural cleaning solution.  In this post I will discuss why I avoid using bleach. I will share with you the best shower curtain cleaning recipe I have ever come across. Learn how to clean not only shower curtains but all your whites, restore their shine naturally and easily. The results will astound you!

 

I love a long, hot and relaxing shower. Most Mum’s would agree that a steamy, hot bath or shower is one of life’s true luxuries. It is often the only time in the day that I am truly alone so the shower is one of my favourite places. Unfortunately the shower was also harbouring my dirty little secret. My shower curtain. When I bought it it was a beautiful white, but now was dingy, grey and mouldy. It is really hard to relax and feel even remotely clean surrounded by such filth. My dilemma? How to get the shower curtain clean without bleach? I’m pretty sure baking soda and vinegar was not going to solve this cleaning issue. I know I shouldn’t have let it get so bad but in my defense the main reason I had left it for so long was that I simply couldn’t find an alternative to bleach to use. 

 

Bleach was one of the first chemical cleaners I dropped from my cleaning regime. I hated the way it smelt. The fumes made me feel slightly nauseated. Plus my husband is allergic to it. When I looked at all the ways that I traditionally used bleach in our home, I easily found more natural alternatives that did just as good a job, I simply couldn’t see a place for it anymore and tossed it out. That is until the shower curtain. I love a good challenge and I was not going to back down to the bleach!

Bleach is used extensively in many household cleaners and as chlorine bleach liquid. It is an effective disinfectant, whitener and stain remover. However, bleach is also a highly corrosive substance. It is well documented to irritate the respiratory system. I know I always felt the need to cough while using it. One study has also linked it’s use to increased respiratory illnesses in children. [1] Have you noticed how slippery your skin feels if you touch bleach? That is because the bleach is reacting with the fats and oils on your skin and dissolving tissue! [2] Bleach is particularly dangerous if mixed with many other substances. For example mixing bleach with an acid causes the emission of toxic chlorine gas. Bleach mixed with dish soap will create dangerous mustard gas. Chemical warfare anyone? [3] If ingested bleach can cause permanent damage to the mouth and esophagus. [4] The use of chlorine has also been linked to breast cancer. [4, 5]

I have no regrets not having this toxic substance in my home and especially around my children. Unfortunately the stuff works! It does whiten and brighten fabrics. Luckily I am one stubborn lady and was determined to win the battle with the bleach. After a lot of research, trial and error, and very nearly the purchase of a new shower curtain I had sweet victory.

A picture speaks a thousand words

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I hesitated in showing this to you as I am so ashamed of the before photo. But I am sure I am not the only one out there with a similar dirty little secret lurking in their bathroom. There is still a little mould staining around the hem but otherwise it has all but disappeared. The bottom of shower curtains are a really hard place to completely get dry and therefore mould loves to grow there. It is also a really difficult place to clean effectively as the hem is often folded over several times and stitched in place. What I will do next time is cut the hem off when I first buy the curtain. I’m sure the rough edge will look better than a mouldy hem line. This mixture and technique also works really well to whiten whites and I have used it to restore some white towels that had been in storage for a year or two. If you are only using the mixture to whiten and not to kill mould then leave out the clove oil.

Natural Bleach Alternative

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup washing soda (crystals or soda ash powder)
  • 1/4 cup borax
  • 1 Tablespoon dishwash liquid (I use liquid coconut oil soap)
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove oil

Half fill a bucket with the hottest water you can put your hands into. Add all the ingredients and mix to dissolve. Add your shower curtain and leave to soak for at least 4 hours. Wash in the machine with your usual laundry detergent and add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the rinse compartment.

I have found this recipe to be incredibly effective. In the past when I would have used bleach the mould used to grow back within a week or two. I have found that the clove oil in this recipe actually stops the growth of mould and it is not growing back like it used to. So while it may have taken me an extra couple of minutes to make as opposed to opening a bottle of bleach, in the long term it is saving me time.

If you know of someone, who like me has a dirty little secret lurking in their bathroom, please share this post with them. If you have your own natural alternatives to using bleach I would love to hear them, let me know by leaving a comment below. Even better, if you have before and after photos like me post them for us all to see on Instagram using #greencleanrockingit

Changing to a natural cleaning regime should not mean compromising on quality and great results. My personal experience is actually the opposite. My natural, ‘Green’ recipes are out performing their commercial cousins time and again. Check out my Battle of the Laundry post to see how my Liquid Laundry Soap outperformed all others here.Want more great recipes like this one and to learn how to clean your entire house using only natural products? Want to know how to tackle mould remediation and pest control without toxic synthetic chemicals? I have all the answers you need and probably a few you had not even thought of in my downloadable Home Transformation Natural Cleaning Guides. If you want more information then click on the image below.

HTC intro cover

References

  1. http://www.detergentsandsoaps.com/soaps-detergents.html

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detergent

  3. http://www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com/hormone-disruptors/

  4. http://www.ask.com/home-garden/chemical-differences-between-detergents-soaps-9ace3fb6560455e3

  5. http://www.explainthatstuff.com/detergents.html

DIY Reusable Food Wraps

DIY Reusable Food Wraps

Make your own reusable food wraps and ditch the plastic.

 

I love anything that can be used more than once. It just feels wrong to me to use a piece of cling film, a paper towel or a wet wipe a single time and then toss it in the trash. In this post i’m going to show you how to make these ridiculously easy, cheap, seriously funky and environmentally friendly reusable food wraps. They make a fantastic gift for those ladies in your life who are hard to shop for as well.

 

We all have too much plastic in our lives. Sure it serves its purpose and does feature in appropriate places throughout my home. As a family we are trying to reduce the amount of plastic that we bring into, use and that leaves our home. I slowly want to replace the plastic storage containers with glass equivalents. Use cloth shopping bags. Then there are these cute food wraps.

 

Some information to know about reusable food wraps:

  • These are made from cotton and Beeswax which makes them biodegradable.
  • They can be used for a year before you need to reapply the wax.
  • They are great for wrapping dry items such as sandwiches, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
  • Can be molded into shape with just the warmth of your hands. Do not put onto hot items or you will melt the wax.
  • They are somewhat water resistant but it is not recommended to use on items with high moisture content.
  • These reusable food wraps should not be washed in hot water therefore do not use for items such as meat.
  • Wash in cold water with a little soap.

 

20160506_110336

Materials: 

  • Food Grade Bees Wax
  • Pinking shears
  • Grater
  • 100% Cotton fabric
  • Clean old paintbrush or pastry brush
  • Oven tray
  • Aluminum foil

 

Method:

 

Step 1

 

20160506_111728

 

Using pinking shears (prevents fraying), cut the fabric to the size you desire. You can do squares, rectangles and circles to fit your plates and bowls.

 

Step 2

20160506_111744

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil

Step 3

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Grate the bees wax evenly over the fabric on top of the baking sheet. Place in a preheated oven at 100 degrees Celsius. (220 degrees F). Leave for 5 – 10 minutes or until the wax has fully melted.

Step 4

20160506_113021

Brush the melted bees wax evenly over the wrap.

*Note; you will want a brush designated to this job as the bristles will become hard once the wax cools. You can soften then again for future wax jobs by placing in the oven for a few minutes. I also have a grater just for this project as the wax is hard to get off).

Step 5

20160506_113858

Hang up to dry

  Viola your own DIY reusable food wraps!

 

20160506_11435220160506_114108

5 Reasons to change your cleaning regime to a natural one.

5 Reasons to change your cleaning regime to a natural one.

The last decade has seen a huge shift in how a lot of us approach life. More and more people are seeking out a simpler lifestyle. We are planting vegetable gardens again. Our diets are changing with more of a focus placed on whole foods. People are exploring Eastern medicines. Yoga and meditation have become mainstream and not just the domain of dolphin hugging hippies. Being ‘Green’ has become trendy. Many of us are taking the plunge and changing how our homes function. Making our own cleaning and personal care products. But why? What are the tangible rewards of going Green?

 

 

I feel more confident than ever that the power to save the planet rests with the individual consumer. – Denis Hayes

Five Benefits of Changing to a Natural Cleaning Regime

 

  • Time: Kermit the Frog was wrong when he said “It’s not easy being green”. One of the great advantages of adopting a more natural approach to cleaning is that you often have the ingredients already in your cupboards. No more having to rush out to the supermarket to buy Jiff or Handy Andy when you want to clean the bathroom and you realize you’ve just run out. You notice that the dishwasher is full but you have run out of tablets. In five minutes you can have a whole tray of dishwasher tablets curing on the bench. Most DIY cleaning products are super quick to make. You could make a whole batch of cleaners in less time than it takes to run up to the shops.

 

  • Money:Making your own cleaning products is often cheaper than buying the commercial equivalent. Meaning you have more cash in your back pocket. An example of this in practice is Laundry Liquid. My Coconut Laundry Liquid (find recipe here) cost me $8.16 to make and gives me typically 30 washes. In my local grocery store a 1 L bottle of liquid laundry detergent costs between $7 – $9.50 but will only yield 16 -18 washes per bottle. Spray and Wipe will usually set you back $5-$6. When I make my own multi-purpose spray it costs me about 50 cents leaving me enough money spare for a latte.

 

  • Health:Commercial cleaning products generally consist of synthetic chemicals. A little research will very quickly show you that many of these chemicals have detrimental effects on our health. Health impacts include such ailments as skin disorders, respiratory aggravation, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity and in some cases cancer. Unless we are taking stringent safety precautions and wearing the appropriate safety clothing when using these products we are risking our health. Then there is the issue of residual chemicals present on surfaces that we prepare food on, bath in or wash our clothes or dishes. We are therefore absorbing or ingesting traces of these chemicals all the time. We are often aware of the acute effects of product expose. Like slight burning of the throat from bleach fumes. Dry hands from washing dishes. Nausea and headaches from oven cleaner. We are less aware of the long term or chronic exposure over a lifetime of use. Adopting a natural approach to your cleaning regime ensures you can have a sparking clean home without putting your health at risk.

 

  • Environment: It is not only our health that is at risk when we choose to use commercial cleaning products. The health of the environment is affected too. All cleaning products eventually find their way down the drain and into the waterways. Many of the synthetic chemicals contained within commercial cleaning products are toxic to marine life. Many contain phosphates which cause an overgrowth of algae which, when it dies causes a decrease of available oxygen. Many synthetic chemicals are made using petrochemicals which are a non renewable resource. The packaging is often not recyclable which then ends up in landfill. There are a lot of resources used in the manufacture, packaging, shipping and storing of these products. All parts of the chain have their own environmental impact. However making your own cleaning products eliminates most of these issues. They are all made out of organic materials, making them biodegradable. They are safe to use with septic tanks. All containers are reusable so nothing goes into landfill.

 

  • Customization: We are all different. We like different things. We want our consumables to work in specific ways that suit our needs. What is available commercially is a one-size-fits-all. But what I want out of a product is not necessarily what is important to you. The beauty of a natural cleaning regime is that by making your own products you can customize to your individual needs. Once you understand the raw ingredients and how they work, you can create many different products to do any job you can think of. Essential oils are a large part of any natural cleaning regime. They have wonderful cleaning properties but also health benefits too. Lemon oil is a natural wood polish, a wonderful degreaser and is antibacterial. Those are all desirable cleaning attributes. Lemon oil is also a mood enhancer. Helps to lower blood pressure. Great for anxiety. Helps boost immunity. Plus much more. By adding lemon oil to your cleaning products will not only give you great cleaning power but you get the added health benefits too. The same can definitely not be said for commercial cleaning products. Another example is using peppermint oil in the water you use to clean your floors. Not only will your floors get clean but the peppermint smell is a great deterrent to mice. It is easy to customize your clean if you are in control of the ingredients.

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For more information like this and inspiration on natural, simple and sustainable living sign up to my newsletter. Click on the picture above to subscribe and receive a free copy of my natural stain removal guide as a thank you.

 

There are so many benefits to changing your cleaning regime to be more simple, natural and sustainable. Please feel free to share this post if you know someone who would be interested to know more about cleaning the natural way.

As always,

Live Well, Be Well

Sarah xx

DIY Carpet Deoderizer

DIY Carpet Deoderizer

What happens when your baby goes peepee on the carpet and it gets covered up by a cushion? You do not want to find out!

Unfortunately for me at least this has happened. The result is a horrid smell in the carpet that normal cleaning methods just do not budge. Let me share with you how to get rid of nasty smells out of carpets and other soft furnishings safely, cheaply and easily using only two ingredients. You are going to want to Pin this one.

 

Kids are experts at creating all sorts of messes. My three can take a perfectly clean and tidy room and in less than 30 seconds make it look like it has been ransacked by buglers. Everything that should be in a drawer or cupboard is now strewn across the floor. The cushions for the sofas are similarly discarded onto the ground. Toys, bits of paper and food can be found everywhere you look. It is a constant battle to make them clean up after themselves. By the end of some days I just cannot face the half hour of threatening, negotiating, assisting and ultimately doing it myself that it takes to restore the room back to some sense of order. I know, I hear you all saying that I am not teaching them to clean up after themselves. Most days I do but there are days here and there where I just don’t have the energy.

At the time of these ‘I just can’t take it today’ moments all I can think of is some peace and quiet. A wee glass of something ‘adult’. Sitting on the sofa watching something mindless on the television. So I cave. The mess gets left out and I fool myself into thinking I will sort it out first thing in the morning. But if I’m totally honest, i know it will still be there tomorrow night when it is time to start the threatening, negotiating, assisting and ultimately doing it myself all over again.

It was the middle of summer and the kids, as per usual are running about the house naked. The baby had taken off her nappy, I think she must have been copying the ‘big’ kids. Although the weather was beautiful the kids had been playing inside all day and the lounge was a mess. By the time bath and bedtime rolled around I was too hot and bothered to face the clean up. We got the kids to bed and then spent the evening outside to avoid looking at the carnage. The following day I kept noticing a peculiar smell lingering in the lounge but couldn’t place it. It wasn’t until we did the late afternoon clean up before dinner that I found it. Under one of the couch cushions. A very smelly, damp patch on the carpet. Uh oh, I remember the baby looking oh so cute running along behind her siblings with her nappy off. The resulting smell on my carpet was not so cute.

Stage one in all cleaning in our house is to take to the offending stain, dirt or mess with water. Then we try soap. Non of these worked. The stain was gone but the smell of urine remained. I admit I was tempted to duck out to the supermarket and buy one of the fabric freshener sprays or carpet cleaners. I couldn’t bring myself to do that though as we have turned our back on commercial cleaning products as a family for good reason. I did not want to spray or sprinkle toxic cleaning chemicals all over the carpet that my children roll around on.

Then I remembered my go to product for absorbing smells. Baking Soda. I use this wonder powder in my fridge to absorb bad smells and it does an amazing job. Why not use it on the carpet in a similar way. Because urine is such a potent smell I also wanted to add something to the baking soda that would smell nice. Here’s what I did:

In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup Baking Soda and 15 drops of peppermint oil. Mix well to ensure that the oil is well dispersed. Sprinkle over your carpet, sofas or other soft furnishings. Gently rub in and leave for half an hour. Vacuum up and viola no more nasty smells!

It worked! The carpet was saved for another day. Although it did encourage me to make sure that the kids always cleaned up their mess at the end of the day. I know that one day, probably soon, I will be overcome by the ‘I just can’t face it’ moment and something else will be discovered lurking under a couch cushion. At least now I know what to do straight away. What tips do you have for cleaning or freshening your carpets? Would love to hear. Leave me a message in the comments below.

If you know of anyone else who suffers from  ‘I just can’t face it’ moments and will one day face unbearable carpet smells, please share this post with them. Of just Pin it for yourself. When you have kids this recipe is bound to come in handy.

 

 

How to know if your ‘Green’ products are good for you or the environment.

How to know if your ‘Green’ products are good for you or the environment.

How ‘Green’ are your Green Products?

 

 

In this post we investigate whether the claims made on the packaging of our Eco products are true. I look into one of the Green products I had in my cupboard and whether it was as environmentally friendly as the marketing implies. I discuss the only way in which I believe we can truly know that the products we are using are safe for both the environment and for us as consumers. 

 

 

Times are changing. There is a definite shift in what we buy, how we buy it and who we buy it from. Consumers today want to know where their food is coming from. We want to know we are buying meat that was reared humanly. We want eggs that are sourced from chickens that are free ranging. We want products that protect the environment. We are suckers for anything ‘Green’ or ‘Eco’ Consumers are speaking and the manufacturers are listening. The availability and range of ‘Green’ products and services has exploded over the past decade. Being Green has become big business. Ecostore, one of New Zealand’s largest producers of environmentally friendly products has stores all over the world and made sales of around $30 Million in 2012. [1]

 

Is what we are buying everything it claims to be? Through my own research as part of my personal journey towards a more natural lifestyle, I have been disappointed by the amount of misleading advertising. For years I purchased Eco friendly or Green products over mainstream ones, usually at a higher price, believing that I was doing something good for both myself and the environment. I admit I was swayed by the claims on the packaging. ‘Earth Friendly’. ‘Caring for the Environment’. ‘No Nasty Chemicals’. None of these claims however are substantiated. In fact one well known Eco brand, Earthwise, was found in 2012 to have dishwasher powder with a dangerously high PH. [2] There are little to no regulations when it comes to marketing something as Environmentally friendly. To make matters worse companies are not required to disclose all ingredients in their product unless they are above a certain concentration and therefore considered hazardous. So much for making informed choices. We are often left then trusting the claims offered to us on the packaging. Can we really trust these claims or is it just clever marketing? Both Ecostore and Earthwise in New Zealand were cautioned by the Commerce Commission in relation to misleading consumers. One of the companies packaging made claims that it’s products contained ‘no toxic petrochemicals’ and ‘no nasty chemicals’. It was found that in fact petrochemicals were used in their manufacture. [3]

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So who are we to believe? I have always advocated people doing their own research and then making informed decisions. However even when there are ingredients are listed on the packaging or you manage to find them online, you need a degree in chemistry to make sense of them. Some of the ingredients which may sound scary, such as Ethyl Alcohol and Acetic acid, are actually nothing to worry about. Ethyl alcohol is just fermented sugars and yeast. Acetic acid is the organic chemical that gives vinegar it’s sour taste. Where as the ingredients Yellow 5 or Fragrance seem familiar to us, no alarm bells ringing. When in fact, tartrazine, the yellow dye found in many personal care products, has strong links to many allergic reactions especially in asthmatics.[4] It also has ties to anxiety, migraines and thyroid cancer. [5] Synthetic perfumes are known endocrine disruptors (interfere with the body’s hormone system). [6] It is almost impossible for the average person to make sense of it all.

                                        

The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.

Bruce Feirstein

 

Generally all cleaning products find their way down our drains and into our waterways. Making sure that the products we are using are not only safe for ourselves but for the environment is important to many people. You could be forgiven for assuming that buying Green or Eco friendly products would ensure environmental safety. Especially when directly under the product manufacturers name are statements like, ‘caring for your world’. Unfortunately again this isn’t always the case. Many of these products contain petrochemicals which is a non renewable resource. Many are sold in packaging that is not biodegradable and therefore end up in landfill. Some contain ingredients like sodium lauryl sulphate, (SLS), which is found in many ‘natural’ shampoos. It not only has unwanted effects for humans, it is considered an environmental toxin. [7]

 

The plant based bubble bath I used to buy for my children, is from a leading Eco brand. It has claims of caring for the environment and even has a cute picture of a turtle on the front. The ingredient listed second after water is Cocamidopropyl Betaine. This is a plant based surfactant that is derived from coconuts. It is added to the bubble bath to improve its foaming action. Sounds harmless enough. Dig a little deeper and there appears to be some links with allergic skin reactions. Still no major alarm bells, allergic skin reactions can occur with exposure to pretty much anything. In fact it is not that easy to find any damaging information on the side effects to humans especially long term. However it is not all good news. One of the reasons that there is little information is because there hasn’t been extensive research into its long term effects. For ‘natural’ manufacturers Cocamidopropyl Betaine has largely replaced Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) as the surfactant of choice. A decade ago SLS was the surfactant everybody used. It is only recently that it has fallen out of favor as we discover more about its effects on humans and the environment. It can still be found in plenty of products, even those considered to be Green. The issue I have with Cocamidopropyl Betaine is the environmental impact on fish and algae. Considering it is contained within products that are designed to be washed away, its effects on fish and algae are unacceptable. Its acute toxicity to marine life are in fact three times worse than that of SLS. [8,9] Not sure the turtle on the front of the packaging would approve!

 

 

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? ~ Robert Redford

 

It is clear that there is a lot of conflicting and confusing information around what is considered ‘Green’ in the cleaning and personal care market. Add in some clever marketing which plays on imagery and words to drive home the message of clean, green, safe and natural and it really gets confusing. Some of the products on the market are great and do what they say but it is hard to see beyond all the smoke and mirrors to find them. So what is the solution? You want to do your bit and use products that are safe for your family and the planet. The only way you can know for certain what you are using is safe, environmentally friendly and does everything it promises is to make your own. You then have control over every ingredient. You can tailor it to suit your personal needs. You can have certainty that you are doing something good for your health and that of the environment.

 

If you know someone who uses ‘Green’ products and you think would benefit from reading this post, please feel free to share.