After participating in the Real Food Challenge that Kay turned me on to, I decided to see how else I could remove toxic chemicals from my life. The next area where I feel chemicals are most prominent is cleaning supplies. The other day I glanced at a bottle of surface cleaner and saw this:
I love the part that says “OTHER INGREDIENTS : 99.916%”
That could be water, or that could be incredibly toxic chemicals the company is not mandated to list because they are “inactive”.
JUST HOW TOXIC
After doing some research online I found this great website by the Environmental Working Group. They have a section where you can research different products, and the site will list the ingredients in them and what horrible side effects they have.
Take the typical bottle of Original Tide Detergent. There are concerns over its effects on the respiratory system and skin. More importantly though, chemicals in it have been linked to developmental and reproductive issues as well as cancer, and the amount for this product is high:
After doing some research on safer and greener household products I came across Seventh Generation. Their products are mostly plant based and much less toxic in the event that its chemicals get into a person’s body. I started to compare their liquid detergents (which received D ratings) and their powder detergents (which received A ratings). Eventually I settled on one of the safest and easiest kinds of detergent in my opinion, the Detergent Packs. Seventh Generation’s received an A rating whereas Tide’s packs (or pods as they call them) received an F rating and where pretty high in cancer-causing chemicals.
LOWERING THE PRICE
As with many products, from food to household cleaners, the healthier it is sometimes the higher the price tag. (Not saying it’s not worth it!) Luckily I’ve found a way to lower its costs. I’m ordering a bulk package of it on Amazon, and signing up for their subscription service (once every 6 months, or however often you chose). By doing that it’s lowering the cost from $29.98 to $28.48. Then, if you subscribe to 5 or more items you’ll get 15% off the total which lowers it even more to $25.48.
When you compare the price of one load with Tide Detergent Pods (with subscription and 15% discount) at .21 cents, and then one with Seventh Generations packs (with subscription and discount) at .25 cents, it’s not that bad, especially considering the healthier and safer aspect of it all. If you do one load of laundry a week that’s like spending just $2.08 more a year (or $4.16 if you do two) to remove unsafe chemicals.
(I also don’t understand why anyone would not want to use packs, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t start using them sooner!)
In looking at the liquid dish detergent prices:
Six 25 once bottles for $15.25 (2.54 per bottle)
Five 25 once bottles for $15.21 (3.04 per bottle)
It’s 50 cents more per bottle. Usage obviously varies by household but I’d imagine 12 bottles a year is a bit overkill for a single person, and maybe average for someone with a family. But still, I’ll add an extra $6.00 more to my yearly bill to be using a safer detergent. Here, Seventh Generation’s powder received an A rating, but since I do my dishes by hand I’m using their liquid detergent which received a C rating. (Dawn sells detergents ranking from C to F.)
There are two brands listed in EWG’s guide that received an A rating because they are better for the environment, but:
1) They aren’t listed on Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service.
2) The reviews aren’t great.
3) They actually are slightly more harmful in the reproductive and cancerous categories.
And lastly, regarding the cleaning wipes:
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes
320 wipes = $26.47 (.08 cents a wipe)
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
225 wipes = $12.27 (.05 cents a wipe)
Lysol Power & Free Multi-Purpose Cleaning Wipes
105 wipes = $20.20 (.19 cents a wipe)
I’m not sure how many wipes I’ll be using. I currently use a spray with a paper towel, but based on my current subscription of two bulk deliveries a year, we’re talking about an extra $19.20 to $121.60 a year here if I were to receive the same amount of wipes amongst three brands. A pretty high cost. EWG’s results are surprising to me:
- Clorox received a D rating and the only concern was asthma/respiratory related. Problem here is there is no data on developmental and reproductive toxicity, as well as cancer. That’s a big risk. I’m surprised at this rating.
- Lysol received a B rating on a specific kind of wipe, the “Power & Free Multi-Purpose” version, where concerns are asthma/respiratory and skin related.
- Seventh Generation received a D rating due too all of the above plus some minor concerns over a few cancerous chemicals in the product. Not cool. Seventh Generation explains EWG’s not-so-great ratings of certain products on their blog.
I looked at products that received an A rating and they aren’t sold on Amazon in bulk, such as Whole Foods “Mission” organic spray cleaner. The Lysol ones are too expensive in this case. Sucks. I’m going with Seventh Generation on this one unless the Lysol ones come down in price.
So I’ve discovered that by spending an extra $27.28 a year I’ll be using safer laundry detergent, dish washing liquid, and disinfecting wipes. (Only $8.08 if you drop the wipes.) I’d also like to note that you can change Amazon Subscriptions at any time. Amazon allows you to change the date, skip a shipment, or even cancel after one order. I’m sure I’ll end up with too much of one of these products and end up pushing a shipment back by a little. Not a big deal.
Hopefully over the next few months I will be weeding out as much harmful chemicals as possible in my food and cleaning products. By signing up for bulk shipments of dish soap, cleaning wipes, laundry detergent, garbage bags, and pet supplies twice a year through Amazon, I’ll be using safer cleaning supplies and increasing my annual spending by a mere 27 bucks. Totally worth it!