Try explain to a 4 year old what chemicals are. It’s tough. “Buddy, don’t touch that, or lick that, or put your hands on that – it is full.of.chemicals“.
I never cared too much about this kinda thing, so have been wracking my brain as to when I made the switch. Maybe it was when I baby-proofed our house when my eldest became more mobile and thought (as I looked at the emergency number for Poison Control on the fridge), ‘hmmm, a vinegar, lemon, bicarb combo seems like a pretty good idea round about now’…
Either way, it has become a bigger and bigger issue to me. I remember my company back in Vancouver wanting to send me home from work one day (when I was pregnant) because the offices next door were being painted and they didn’t want me breathing in the fumes. First world. But something to think about. As we have been renovating recently, I haven’t done a stitch of painting – personal conviction, but still, rather safe than sorry (in my mind anyways).
Let this kick you in the stomach: Did you know that your home may be the most toxic place you encounter each day?
Here’s the problem… (source)
Since the 1950s over 72,000 synthetic chemicals have entered our food supply and homes, and the vast majority of them have never been tested for human safety.
The average person comes in contact with over 6,000 of these chemicals on a regular basis and babies are now born with hundreds of them already in their system (and we wonder why we are seeing such high rates of chronic disease!)
The EPA reported that indoor air can be up to 70 Times MORE toxic than outdoor air. These chemicals are more likely to cause cancer than synthetic chemicals found outdoors.
Cancer rates have doubled in the last half century, but due to chemical exposure, moms who work at home are 54% more likely to get cancer than those who aren’t at home all day.
You would think that following the warning labels on household chemicals would be enough to protect your family, but unfortunately, this is not the case! Many of these chemicals can enter the air of your home, even if they are in tightly sealed containers. On top of that, the Poison Control Center reported that as much as 85% of warning labels on household products did NOT adequately identify the dangers of the products or list proper first aid instructions.
Some of the most common chemicals like formaldehyde, phenol, benzene, toluene, xylene have been found to cause cancer and are often found in indoor air. Other problems like fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and hormone imbalance are also linked to chemical exposure.
Since children consume more water, breathe more air and eat more food proportionate to their body weight than adults, they are MORE at risk from these chemicals.
So WHAT do we do about this?
Should you find the time, inclination and inspiration, you can (dare I say) make your own cleaning products. I’ve played around with a few, but honestly, life has taken over recently and I’ve found it easier to buy them. Here are some homemade options I’ve tried and written about: Fruit and Veggie Wash & Laundry Powder.
There are a gazillion natural cleaning product recipes out there and I do encourage you to find them and try them out – some people swear by them and others are left disappointed, but go for it, and have fun. Unfortunately in South Africa, we do not have access to a wide range of the raw materials often needed to make effective cleaners, and sourcing from overseas can be expensive, but you can keep it as simple as vinegar, lemon and bicarb. Voia la.
I’ve blogged a bit about a couple of my fave natural cleaning product brands, such as nu eco, Better Earth, and Earthsap, and I’ve also written a comparison on natural Dishwashing Liquids here. There are a GOOD number of affordable natural products out there – you just need to find them. And please, please, pleeeeeease read the ingredient labels. I hate to bad-mouth Pick ‘n Pay and Woolies, but their ‘green’ ranges are not nearly as green as you’d like to believe they are. Do your research, and read the labels.
So I’ve delved quite considerably into this, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that this is something we neeeeeed to re-think. And since most of us outsource our home cleaning anyway, we think about it even less. With a baby on the way, I’ve stocked the cupboard (really, with 5L’s and all – nesting!) of natural products so I know our vulnerable, straight from the womb newborn won’t be smacked in the face with no good nonsense.
Please don’t let this overwhelm you. Be inspired by nature, and what it has provided for us. You don’t need to chuck out every scary-looking cleaning product in your laundry cupboard and get on your hands and knees with vinegar and salt. Start with one change. All purpose cleaner? Bathroom cleaner? Laundry powder? …And go from there.
Do you have a favourite natural cleaning brand or homemade recipe? If so, please share! And be INSPIRED!