When trying to lighten your ecological footprint, shine a light in your cleaning cupboard! You probably have some products in there that are questionable and some that are downright toxic. Their fumes can cause negative health impacts, and environmental issues when washed down drains or incorrectly disposed in landfills.
According to environmental defence, “Some of Canada’s most popular cleaning products contain harsh chemicals and fragrance ingredients that can harm you and your family’s health. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs for short, are a common type of air pollutant. VOCs are a broad category of chemicals, some of which are linked to asthma and other health conditions, including cancer. A key concern with VOCs is that some of them can react with other pollutants present in the air, and form other contaminants that are even more toxic.”
To read more about issues in Canada with mislabelling of toxic ingredients, check out this environmental defence article:
The good news is that making your home a clean, safe, and earth-friendly oasis is an easy three step process!
1. Identify and source non-toxic cleaning products. Bonus points for making your own and keeping in reusable containers or purchasing refills from a package-free market. This saves money too! All you need is baking soda, vinegar, vegetable oil, and lemon juice. Makes sense – if it’s safe enough to eat, it’s probably safe to clean with.
2. Dispose of non-ecological products aka Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) safely. Consult your municipality’s website. In Toronto, HHW must be taken to a Drop-Off Depot and is free to dispose of. See the HHW webpage to identify these products. For example, NONE of these products can go in landfill or recycling: ammonia-based cleaners, abrasive powders, bleach, drain cleaners, floor and furniture polish, metal and oven cleaner, disinfectants, glass and mirror cleaner, rug and upholstery cleaner, silver polish.
3. Use sparingly and appropriately. Cleanliness might be next to godliness, but clean enough is a better metric!
Below are some resources to help you clean up your act.
1. Check out The Nerdy Farm Wife’s blog for great recipes and tips on making your own cleaning products, or download her Natural Cleaning Recipes Cheat Sheet
* Bulk Barn carries many ingredients that can be used in homemade cleaning products such as essential oils. They also offer a reusable container program for bulk items like baking soda. And Seniors (65+) and Students save 10% every Wednesday!
2. Look for package-free stores which offer refills of natural cleaning products. If you know of more stores, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll update the blog!
* Urban Bulk and Refill - products include 12% cleaning vinegar and Castille soap
3. Advocate to eliminate toxic chemicals from products. Write to your MP about Bill S-5, the CEPA reform bill currently being considered by the Senate that includes a legislated commitment to require labelling of hazardous ingredients. You can do this through environmental defence.