BY DR LYDIA THURTON
A clean household is a source of pride for Caribbean people across the islands. No matter how large or small your dwelling, taking pride in a clean home is universal. Increasingly there are concerns that our cleaning products are harming the environment, our immune systems and hormonal health. Before the antibacterial and scent filled product craze we managed to sanitize and refresh our homes without the use of these harsh chemicals. I encourage you to consider the product choices in your home. If we all make small changes to improve the environment and our health it accumulates. Also, as the demand for green cleaning products goes up, prices go down.
Castile soap is an all-purpose olive oil based soap that has been in use since the 11th century. Unscented with no harsh chemicals or preservatives you can clean everything from your baby to your bathtub with this gentle cleanser. Available in health food stores in bars or liquid, it is easy to find and use. There are over eighteen uses for this soap. Give it a try!
A diffuser is a device that heats water to the point where essential oil particles can be released into the air. Using natural essential oils means that you are not exposed to air freshener phthalates (hormone disrupting) or formaldehyde which is just downright toxic to the human body. Diffusers cost about $50 and will last for years and years. Buy a range of essential oils and you can have your home smelling fresh without harming your lungs. We actually don’t know what chemicals make up any given fragrance. Companies are not obligated to inform customers beyond just listing “fragrance” on the label.
I’ve switched to a natural laundry detergent and while my clothes don’t’ smell like a “spring breeze” they are fresh and clean never the less. The detergents in most laundry soaps are petroleum products. Petroleum products are a major detriment to our environment. Again unknown fragrances are present. Even the term fragrance-free can be meaningless as there are no standardized regulations. Landry soap manufacturers have started adding optical brighteners which make your clothes appear whiter than they really are. These are not biodegradable and accumulate in the environment. Environmentally friendly laundry soaps are easy to find in any health food store or many big retailers.
Replace ammonia based window and glass cleaners like Windex with a few tablespoon of lemon juice, rubbing alcohol or witch hazel in water. Use old newspaper to wipe down glass surfaces, avoid wasting paper towels.
The first step is to have a look at cleaners in your home. I think you’ll find switching to green cleaners helps you breathe easier and feel good that you are helping create a cleaner, environmentally healthy planet.