A Cradle to Grave Look at Green Cleaning

green cleaning products
Photo by Anton

Performing a full life cycle analysis of any product can take months of research, thousands of dollars, and still prove to be only a well-educated guess. Traditional cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals. Many of these products are manufactured in large plants, extensively packaged, and then shipped across the country.  These are usually priced at a premium. Considering their cost to the environment and health, insight is gained toward their real burden.

Luckily, it doesn’t take months of work to see the savings gleaned from green cleaning. Common green cleaning products include ordinary white vinegar, baking and washing sodas, and sodium percarbonate. These products are all readily available and inexpensive. Unlike traditional cleaning products, they are easier to manufacture, and a little usually goes a long way. While they do also require transportation and packaging, the similarities end there, as they don’t release toxic volatile chemical compounds.

These harmful compounds, often referred to as VOCs can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, asthmatic symptoms, and irritation. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to their effects, but everyone is familiar with the nauseous feeling that arises when working with particularly strong cleaning products.

Another venue for savings with green products is re-usability. That paper towel roll is seemingly large… until you start to use it. Microfiber cloths last a few years and are inexpensive. They may seem like ordinary towels, but they hold far more liquid, collect instead of push dirt, and are easy to clean. True, nothing lasts forever, but unlike environmentally taxing and often improperly disposed household cleaners, most green cleaning products are biodegradable. Others are so reusable that they take up a minute fraction of landfill space as compared to their throwaway alternatives.

Feel better about yourself, protect your children, AND make your housework easier? These sound like bold claims and they are, but they’re backed by results. While it is true that conventional solvents might facilitate some particularly messy cleanups, always be sure to discriminate wisely. Before your next trip to the store, be sure to remember their dangers as well as their steep environmental and monetary costs.

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