Do you use eco-friendly cleaning products? | The Tylt
Do you use eco-friendly cleaning products?
Environmental-consciousness touches every part of life, including the way you clean. According to Blue and Green Tomorrow, a site that aims to help readers learn how to invest, travel and shop responsibly, many cleaning products contain toxic chemicals harmful to people, plants and animals:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes many of these chemicals as “volatile organic compounds,” which can be harmful in different ways. These chemicals include phosphorous (which constitutes about 30 to 40 percent of dishwasher detergents), nitrogen, and ammonia.
As Blue and Green Tomorrow's Larry Alton explains, when these cleaning products are used on or near sinks, they are then washed down the drain and head to waste water treatment facilities. Here, the majority—but not all—of the contaminants are removed. Alton continues:
...over time, [the contaminants] can build up to have a substantial and negative effect on the wildlife. Some compounds actually accelerate plant growth, which can lead to dense vegetation that interferes with animal life and eventually decays in equally massive quantities.
By switching to green cleaning products, you eliminate the risk of chemical residue. Why wouldn't you make the switch?
Although some critics argue eco-friendly cleaning products simply don't do the job as well, others make the case that supporting "eco-friendly" labels isn't the answer. New York Post's Rob Bailey-Millado reports on a study from Frontiers in Psychology, which identifies an interesting conundrum:
“Eco-guilt” from imbalance in the moral environmental account may promote pro-environmental acts, but also acts that are seemingly pro-environmental but in reality more harmful than doing nothing at all. Strategies for handling problems caused by this cognitive insufficiency are discussed.
In other words, the search for eco-friendly cleaning products does not counter-balance other environmentally detrimental behaviors.
“Terms like ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’ encourage the view that objects, behaviors and decisions with these labels are ‘good’ rather than ‘less bad’ for the environment,” writes study co-author Linda Langeborg, also of the University of Gävle. “Calling a hamburger restaurant ‘100 percent climate compensated,’ for example, may deceive people into believing that eating dinner at that restaurant has no environmental burden.”
Transparency on eco-friendly labels, on cleaning products or otherwise, still has a long way to go.