Many people assume that environmentally friendly products and practices are safe for humans,
but this is not always the case. Some products that do not harm the earth still carry toxicity
warnings, and some practices require a few extra steps to make them safe for the family.
The Problem: Household Cleaners
Household cleaning products may be labelled “green,” ecofriendly,or environmentally friendly
without removing such ingredients as ethylene glycol, profiles and parabens, sodium lauryl
sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate, among other dangerous toxins. These carry a range of
hazardous health effects, from cancer to hypoglycaemia. Some of these products will make your
family or your pets sick from mere inhalation or contact with residue after cleaning.
Look for products that use keywords like free, clear, and pure. Check the toxicity warnings on a
product before assuming it is safe to bring home. If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s website
for a material safety data sheet (MSDS) on the product.Companies that create completely toxinfree
lines include Oxyfresh, Young Living, and Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear line. Tea tree oil products are useful and powerful for cleaning, but they are unsafe for ingestion and may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
The Problem: Energy Efficient Lighting
The new energy efficient light bulbs mandated by Congress can be called good for the
environment because they prevent a large amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and heat
and electrical waste? however, the light bulbs themselves are highly toxic to humans and
potentially to the environment they are supposed to help. The compact fluorescent light bulb
(CFL) contains mercury, a potent neurotoxin you may recognize as being removed from
dentistry as unsafe.
Several solutions exist to the problem of CFLs. You may select more expensive but
longer lasting LED light bulbs, or halogen bulbs, which are very similar to the old incandescent
light bulbs. If you do purchase mercury containing CFLs, then be sure to drop them off at a
recycling plant equipped to handle them.
The Problem: Reusable Shopping Bags
Reusable shopping bags are supposed to be good for everyone. Fewer trees are cut down to
make paper bags. Less plastic escapes into the wild landfills to degrade over a hundred years or
more. Families can spend a token fee once and make use of their reusable bags for work,
recreation, book bags, and groceries.
A recent study casts a shadow across this joyful scenario: eighty-seven
shopping bags were swabbed and tested to stunning results. About half of all bags contained coliform bacteria, eight percent were positive for E. coli? many contained salmonella.
Purchase reusable bags that are washer and/or dryer safe. Set aside laundry time each week or
month, depending on use, to wash them. If meat or dairy products leak in your bags or they were
used to carry sweaty clothes, add a half cup of vinegar or other colorsafe disinfectant.
With a little careful forethought and a healthy dose mistrust of marketing hype, your gas and
electricity costs can be reduced and your life can be both environmentally and family friendly.