There are a multitude of ways to take of the planet we call home. You can trade your traffic-filled commute for a more eco-friendly and heart-healthy bike ride. You can bring a reusable grocery bag to your next raid on Trader Joe’s. You can even dig through the pile of trash to make sure every scrap of orange peel makes it safely into the compost bin. While these efforts towards sustainability are admirable and should be adopted on a national scale, the unfortunate reality is that if you are still using traditional cleaning products, you may not be doing enough. Switching to more environmentally friendly cleaning products helps you avoid potential health risks, save money, and mitigate damage to the environment by reducing chemical emissions and plastic waste. (Who wouldn’t want that?) No one intentionally brings harmful products into their households but colorful labels and name brands can be deceiving. The American Lung Association (ALA) reports, “ Some products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can irritate the eyes or throat, or cause headaches and other health problems, including cancer” (ALA, 2020). Swapping out your old aerosol sprays and detergents for “green” or natural alternatives can help keep your family protected from exposure to harsh chemicals. More sustainable products like olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, etc. are naturally occurring, which means they are safer to use on every-day surfaces. While safety is always the first and foremost concern when choosing products, it doesn’t hurt to save a couple of bucks as well. Sara Snow, the author of ” Sara Snow’s Fresh Living,” recommends switching to greener products because they are more affordable and equally as effective at cleaning. Snow says, “[natural substances] can do the trick for pennies on the dollar, compared to buying conventional cleaning products” (Sara Snow, 2009). The Push Towards Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Products
Green Ways to Clean Your Home: Arguments for Health and Wellness
The house is a home not only to humans but also to pathogens that dwell unseen in floors, on walls, in ceilings, and even in the very air that we breathe. In fact, as far back as 2004, Sundell had pointed out that indoor air plays a major role in the start and spread of human deaths and disorders. Indeed, since most air intake happens at home, “most illnesses related to environmental exposures stem from indoor air exposure” (p.51). Due to this alarming pervasiveness, home cleaning practices continue to be a significant focus in academia, science, folkways, manufacturing, trade, and industry.
House-cleaning, that never-ending routine caused by the intersect of human lifestyles and enclosed habitations, has morphed from a mere household chore into movements on child health (Largo, Borgialli, Wisinski, Wahl, and Priem, 2011) and safety (Nickmilder, Carbonnelle and Bernard, 2007; Roberts and Dickey, 1995; Roberts, Wallace, Camann, Dickey, Gilbert, Lewis, and Takaro, 2009), comfort (Potter, 2011; Bushman and Bushman, 1988), the health of women (Le Moual, Varraso, Siroux, Dumas, Nadif, Pin, and Kauffmann, 2012; Matulonga, Rava, Siroux, Bernard, Dumas, Pin, and Le Moual, 2016), of the elderly (Tsai, Chi, Lee, and Chou, 2007; Warmer, 2000) as well as of those who clean houses (Earnest, 2013).
At the same time, green home-cleaning concepts permeated disparate areas such as ecology (Ouimette, 2011), environmental health (Holt, 2012), and even the entire planet (Butlin, 1989; Grosvenor, 2003; Kocsis, 2010; Logan, 1997). As a result, many home-cleaning trades and industries are now keeping up with “eco-friendly cleaning products” and “sustainable manufacturing practices” (The Good Trade, 2020). GREEN WAYS TO CLEAN YOUR HOME 3
Indeed, even as more home-cleaning products are waving from the green bandwagon, (Nautiyal, 2013; Mascarenhas-Swan, 2009), the debate rages. While home-cleaning businesses and product manufacturers claim ISO certification (Sinha and Verma, 2013) and the use of environmentally safe systems and processes (Cornelisse?Vermaat, van Ophem, Antonides, and van den Brink, 2013; Larson, Lin, Gomez-Pichardo and Della-Latta, 2004), many others continue to argue about lip-service buzzwords, band-aid solutions (Le Moual, et al, 2012; Tsai, et al 2007; Matulonga, et al, 2016), and complete fabrications (Cornelisse?Vermaat, et al, 2013; Larson, et al 2004; Siracusa, De Blay, Folletti, Moscato, Olivieri, Quirce, and Zock, 2013).
These discussions also include products such as floor cleaners (Sinha, 2013); pesticides (McCauley, Michaels, Rothlein, Muniz, Lasarev, and Ebbert, 2003); and air fresheners (Nazaroff and Weschler, 2004). At the same time, there is increased concern about agents such as dust mites (Sheikh, Hurwitz, and Shehata 2007); head lice (Perlman, 2004); bedbugs (Potter, 2011); household mold (Reynolds et al, 2012); house dust (Roberts et al, 2009); and lead (Lioy et al, 1998; Feingold 2004), to mention a few.
Also discussed are specific house cleaning practices such as “using water, plastic bags, and disposable tableware” (Zhao, Gao, Wu, Wang, and Zhu, 2014). According to Zhao et al, the use of water here refers to the second use of the same water for “washing vegetables, house cleaning, and gardening” (Ibid).
This analysis of each side of the debate moves to present the most environmentally-friendly home-cleaning strategies (Leopold, 1965; Reynolds, Boone, Bright, and Gerba, 2012; Feingold and Anderson, 2004; Lioy, Yiin, Adgate, Weisel, and Rhoads, 1998) in the following paragraphs. GREEN WAYS TO CLEAN YOUR HOME 4
Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Product Market Continues to Grow as Financial Barrier Lowers for Businesses and Consumers
Climate change is still an important issue around the globe today, and people must take part in reducing it. All aspects of daily life continue to be influenced by the growing need to slow the rate of climate change. For example, common household products, such as detergents, are always being improved for more environmentally sustainable options (Balet, 2012). This includes the cleaning products consumers and businesses use to clean their homes or sanitize buildings. The consumer Populus will continue to shift towards environmentally-friendly cleaning products as the financial barrier for them lowers. Previous complaints about green cleaning products were mainly about the high price tags for solutions deemed ineffective, but the continuous advancements in technology, decreasing production costs, and increasing market size have made a bright future for environmentally-friendly cleaning products. The trend for using environmentally-friendly products continues to grow across the world.
As mentioned, the view over two decades ago was, “Environmental costs are skyrocketing at most companies, with little chance of economic payback insight” (Clarke et al., 1994). The financial initiative for companies to start using environmental products, or becoming environmentally-sustainable themselves, was not beneficial. Consumers and businesses also found products deemed environmentally friendly were not effective at their job (Clarke et al., 1994). Cleaning solutions today use higher quality compounds that are still environmentally friendly, and also more effective (Sani, 2017)
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