Hocking Hills, OH – Last week's green tip compared the Earth to a giant sponge and our human bodies to little sponges. With an increased use of chemicals worldwide, the environment and human health suffer. The next few weeks' tips will focus on what individuals can do to reduce chemical exposure in and around their homes and businesses. Reducing chemical use where you spend the most time is a terrific step towards preventative health. It also leads to healing the environment, as harmful chemicals don't taint our soil, water and air.
Cleaning is in my blood. As a young girl I enjoyed cleaning at an aunt's, Grandma's and our family home. I paid my way through college. One summer I cleaned new build residences and people's homes. I also worked as a janitor for the entire first floor of an office building. When my parents opened their Bed and Breakfast I helped them clean. For the past eight years I have been cleaning the units at my lodging business.
All of this experience has given me quite a perspective on cleaning. Prior to owning my own lodging business and using all natural and organic cleaning supplies, I used very harsh chemicals, especially when I was a janitor. When you are cleaning your home or business, particularly bathrooms, your head gets in very close contact with the cleaning agents. It's impossible not to ingest the fumes. Being exposed so much made me very sensitive. Each time I would use ordinary cleaning supplies, my nose and throat would burn and I would get a stomachache. I felt terrible. It has taken me many years to detoxify my body from these chemicals and others in the environment. Now that I only use clean, green, all natural cleaning supplies, I feel so much better. I know that my health has improved and my family stays healthy.
When I first started using all natural products years ago, the options were limited. No local stores carried green cleaning products, so I would order in bulk from Gaiam Harmony. Now, green cleaning products are much easier to purchase at the local level and can be found at your local health food store, Co-Op, grocer, and specialty organic/natural food markets such as The Raisin Rack (Westerville, OH) and Whole Foods (Dublin, OH). The brands most commonly found in these stores are: 7th Generation, BioKleen, Borax, Earth Friendly Products, Eco Discoveries, Ecover, Mrs. Meyers, Naturally Clean. Most of these brands carry the following products: non-chlorine bleach, laundry boosters and stain removers, laundry detergents, dish detergent, dishwasher detergent, bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, drain cleaners, disinfectants, bathroom deodorizers, degreasers, mildew removers and lime eaters.
With an open-mind, I try everything in order to compare and find my favorite products. For brands not listed above visit www.gaiam.com (1-800-869-3446) or www.greenpages.org (Green America-formerly Co-op America/1-800-58-green for catalogue).
Some of my all-time favorites:
1. BioKleen laundry detergent: A ten-pound small box does 100 loads (3x's more concentrated) and comes in a cardboard box (easily recycled).
2. Borax natural laundry booster and multi-purpose household cleaner/deordorizer: It's very effective, for diverse purposes and is in a cardboard box (easily recycled). What's really great is that most of our grandparents used this! It's been around for a long time because it works!
3. Super Pine Cleaner: Highly concentrated it lasts a long time, comes in a glass bottle (100% recyclable--the best material), it deodorizes and sanitizes many different surfaces.
4. Citra-Solve all purpose cleaner and degreaser: It's highly concentrated (mix in water). This product really goes a long way.
5. Citrus Magic air freshener: Don't need much and it really lasts, non-aerosol, and the aluminum container is recyclable (aerosol cans are not). (The last three items can be found at www.gaiam.com and/or www.greenpages.org)
The most frequent question I am asked from people who want to try all natural cleaners is, "but, aren't they really expensive?" Here's my answer. While some green cleaners may be more expensive, many equal out or are less expensive because they are concentrated. Being cautious of how much product slips or sprays out saves money (many people over spray). Finally, what is the cost/benefit to your personal health and the health of the environment? I will choose green cleaners any day over new clothing, jewelry and unnecessary household items. Each person must prioritize.
Byline Bio: Gwen Corbett, Bear's Den Cottages
www.bearsdencottages.com, Green Lodging
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