Monday, May 14, 2007

my journey in eco-friendly cleaning

Do you want to clean green?

About twenty years ago I first became aware of the "green" movement as it grew popular in the media. I was young (twenty) and cared about my planet. I became interested in sustainable living, and over the course of several years I did a lot of reading and a lot of experimenting on my own - with everything from diet to cleaning, reducing, reusing and recycling, and consumer practices.

In that time I found some great resources that have become my "bibles" for sustainable living and eco-friendly cleaning. I've listed some of them below.

Debra Lynn Dadd is one of my all-time favorite eco-friendly authors. I read a book of hers called Non-toxic, Natural, and Earthwise which changed the way I looked at consumer products. I believe it's now out of print, but it's worth getting used if you can find it. She explains the hazards and alternatives for all sorts of household products, breaking them down by the categories "natural," (i.e. found in nature) "non-toxic," (i.e. not hazardous to human health) and "earthwise" (i.e. sustainable in their manufacture or use).

Dadd has revised and updated her most recent book, Home Safe Home, which also explains the hazards of and healthy alternatives for household products. I highly recommend it as well.

Dadd used to write a column for the magazine Natural Home, which is a great resource if you're interested in greening your home. I've subscribed to it for several years, and keep all my back issues. The magazine offers articles and news tips on topics that include green renovation and home building, eco-friendly cleaning, green gardening and green decorating.

My other favorite book on eco-friendly cleaning is Annie Berthold-Bond's Clean and Green. Her book is full of wonderful recipes for eco-friendly home cleansers, and I still use some of her favorites in my own cleaning.

I started using eco-friendly products because I was concerned about the health and environmental effects of modern commercial cleansers. I would use a popular spray tub-and-tile cleanser and wonder why my breathing felt so congested afterwards. The strong perfumes and odours of many commercial cleansers left me with migraine headaches, nausea and dizziness. I got contact dermatitis from using commercial cleansers without gloves.

When I first started eco-friendly cleaning in my own home, I was pretty clueless. I read that borax was a good cleanser, so I'd sprinkle some on a sponge and try and scrub a toilet with it. After a lot of trial and error I realized that some eco-friendly cleansers work better than others, and many of them don't act at all like the modern commercial cleansers we consumers are used to.

When I started my cleaning business there was never any doubt that I would use eco-friendly cleaning techniques and products. I was exposed to the cleansers eight hours a day, five days a week, and I refused to do anything that I feared might endanger my health. The few times I gave in and used a product that a client preferred, I always regretted it. In the end I used eco-friendlier products and techniques exclusively, and was much happier for it.

Switching from regular commercial cleansers to eco-friendlier alternatives can seem like a daunting task, which is why I've created this blog. I want to encourage people to try different things, and see how much better they feel afterwards. Like me, I'm sure you'll never want to go back.

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