Earth-friendly Cleaners

Earth Day 1990 was a big turning point in the environmental movement. It got a lot of media coverage, people started thinking about what they could do to save the planet, and producers of earth-friendly products started to go mainstream. It was a bittersweet moment for me, because I had just shut down an environmental magazine I had been producing in Montreal—I ran out of money and energy in Nov. 1989, months before the Earth Day boom.
One of the reasons I ran out of energy was that I was experiencing Multiple Chemical Sensitivities—the same chemicals poisoning the air, water and soil of our planet were poisoning me. (They’re poisoning you too, your body just handles it better than mine in the short term.)
That year I clearly saw the connection between my health and man-made chemicals. To get stronger I started eating only organic food, used baking soda and white vinegar to clean the house, and switched to all-natural body products.
Twenty years later, I feel everyone must be doing these things too. Yet my husband tells me they’re not. And I’ve noticed if I go to a mainstream supermarket the aisles of cleaners instantly make me cranky and headachy. The cleaners are still toxic.
I am glad to be celebrating Earth Day 2010 feeling better than I was in 1990. To keep the toxins out of my body, I still use earth-friendly cleaners and body-care products, and still eat organic food (see my blog in the banner)—all of which is easier than it was twenty years ago.
There are many earth-friendly products out there—I select the ones I use based on local availability and lack of fragrance. You might be using different but equally safe products. If, however, you are using harmful ones, consider trying something new next time you’re shopping. Anything you touch or inhale affects your body. Make sure it’s safe.
I shop at Granny’s Pantry near my office (Arroyo at California in Pasadena). Most of these products will be available at your local independent health food store. If not, check out your local hardware store and department store. Earth-friendly products are creeping in all over. Just remember: if it doesn’t list the ingredients, you can’t be assured it’s earth-friendly, no matter what the marketing claims.
Most of the cleaners are coconut based not petroleum-based. (Did you know your detergents are made from petroleum? Switching to coconut-based will reduce the need for oil production.)
Dishwashing liquid: Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid—coconut based Dishwasher tablets: Ecover
Scouring powder: Bon Ami (although sometimes I just use baking soda)
Spray cleaner: Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus—orange oil and plant surfactants—good in the kitchen and bathroom
Laundry detergent: Planet Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent—coconut oil based, certified biodegradable
Toilet bowl cleaner: Ecover—ecological toilet bowl cleaner (cleans, decalcifies, freshens and sanitizes)
Window and Mirror Cleaner: a yellow cloth by Vileda that needs no cleaner, just water (I forget where I found this, I’ve had it for years)
Floor Cleaner: wood floors—Mystic Mop dust mop with no water or cleaner; bathroom and kitchen—Mystic Mop floor mop with water.
Wood furniture: dust with old t-shirt and Wood Care Polish from Cost Plus (contains no wax or silicon)
For occasional heavy cleaning I use a steam cleaner.
I especially avoid applying chemicals to my skin, because they are directly absorbed into my body.
These are the bodycare products currently in my home:
Soap: Dr. Bronner’s bar soap
Shampoo: Aubrey Organics (vegan, no animal testing, no sodium lauryl sulfate, petrochemicals, no gmo, biodegradable)
Conditioner: Aubrey Organics, Desert Essence
Toothpaste: Tom’s of Maine fluoride-free (although it does have sodium lauryl sulfate)
Deodorant: Kiss My Face Obsessively Natural Active Enzyme Deodorant (no parabens or aluminum)
Skin care: I make my own—that’s a long story for another day
Cotton balls: Organic Essentials quilted cotton rounds (made in Canada from organic cotton)
Q-tips: Organic Essentials biodegradable organic cotton swabs
Pads: NatraCare natural ultra-pads with organic cotton cover (chlorine and perfume free—they also make organic cotton tampons)
Sun Block: Alba Botanica chemical-free sunscreen
It’s not hard to be kind to your body and the planet. Don’t listen to the advertising, just read the ingredients. And shop at your local health food store. Your planet will thank you. And so will your body.

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