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By guest-blogger Andrew Chaney, Founder & Managing Director of Aware Environmental Ltd.
When removing stains that have built up over a year or more, the most heavy duty cleaning products can become an attractive option. While it’s fair to say chemicals such as chlorine bleach work well, there are more natural products that clean just as effectively without exposing yourself or your family to dangerous chemicals.
There is no doubt that price, performance and added value have always dominated the mindsets of consumers in the cleaning products category, but there’s no excuse for overlooking green credentials and allowing harsh chemicals into homes.
Whether it’s the impact it has on your family’s health or the wellbeing of the environment, it’s important to be aware of some of the most common areas around the house where chemicals are found in cleaners and air freshening products.
Bathroom: Some of the harshest chemical cleaners are found in the bathroom. Hydrochloric and sulphuric acids, or bleach, are strong corrosives that can irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.These products are often used when it’s too late, when mould attaches itself to calcium build-up. Avoid the need for harsh chemicals by regular use of eco responsible cleaners to remove calcium build up.
Laundry: The ingredients in common washing powders can trigger allergic reactions among adult and child allergy sufferers, as well as cause environmental damage. Skin irritation is often provoked by optical brighteners, which attach to clothes to make them appear ‘cleaner and brighter’, and synthetic fragrances, particularly those derived from petrochemicals. Phosphorus chemicals in common washing powders also feed blue-green algae in our waterways.
Drains: People don’t realise they have a drain problem until blockages causing unflattering odours occur. Then they go and buy chemical laden products to blast them clear. These products use sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, and have in some cases caused alkaline skin burns. Drain cleaning is something that should be done periodically throughout the year relying on the natural abilities of natural drain cleaners to break down organic build up. Holidays and long weekends are the perfect times to use drain cleaners so its time in the system is optimised.
Air Freshening: Most air freshening products on the market are about 2/3 aerosol propellant and typically include formaldehyde, a known carcinogen linked to allergic reaction, and many contain chemicals that can trigger asthma symptoms. To avoid bringing these intoxicating air fresheners into homes, look out for pump-spray bottles that contain natural oils rather than synthetic fragrances.
With consumers increasingly aware of the impact of products on allergies and overall health and wellbeing the challenge is identifying products that avoid using harsh chemicals.
Research from environmental group Planet Ark last year indicated that consumers were hungry for information to help them make better environmental choices but they were also sceptical about many environmentally friendly claims.
Eco-labels by independent accreditors are a good place to start as they help consumers identify products that are better for the environment and better for health. They put brands to the ultimate test and hold them accountable for their ‘green or eco-responsible’ claims.
Most voluntary eco-labelling programs like Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), Planet Ark, Australian Certified Organics and National Asthma Council Australia’s Sensitive Choice have multiple criteria and a life-cycle approach to assessing products, which means a product’s entire life-cycle from cradle-to-grave is audited including everything from the manufacturing process to ingredients and materials used.
Eco-labels help consumers identify products that have been put through strict scrutiny to ensure they are the best alternative. If customers identify products with these labels, not only do they know they are making a good environmental choice but they are also avoiding bringing harmful products into the home.
Andrew Chaney launched Orange Power in 1999, and has gone on to establish Orange Power, Aware and Actizyme as the leading Australian made ethical cleaning and air freshening products available in supermarkets.