Updated: Sep 1, 2020
At Mary and Jarvis we decided to clean your home with sustainable agents. The benefits are manifolds for you, for our staff and for our planet’s health. We took a look at their performance, health and environmental benefits for you to understand the reason we work at most as possible with natural and or eco-label solutions.
At then end, it is all about going for the mindful choice to improve even by 1% but in everything we do.
Most if not all clients we visited during our First Rendez-Vous meeting have a dedicated cleaner agent for each room or surface of their home. The truth is, not all products are really useful and toxic-free. Aside from to be in a operation room, we hardly need the use of wiping out 99,99% of bacteria from our home with harsh chemicals.
Some commercial products are still eco-friendly and effective.
For example, present since 1978, in Germany The Blue Angel label has been helping customers’ choice by recognising and awarding products with high standards across the combined environmentally, health and performance categories. The process is reviewed every 3 to 4 years to ensure highest compliances.
Are natural options as effective?
Yes and No. Natural products are naturally milder and will not dissolve the grimed spot as fast as its toxic counterparts. Let’s say that most commercial cleaners go for the fast and furious: too harsh, too quickly. But natural options offer a safe, non-costly and still effective option. The best natural non-toxic choices are baking soda, white vinegar and liquid soap to do the deeds.
Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a deodoriser and a mild abrasive, good for cleaning sinks, bathtubs and counter.
White distilled vinegar (5% acetic acid) is a powerful deodoriser and a cleaning rinse to get rid of grease, grime and dissolves mineral and soap deposits. It can be too strong for some types of cleaning, in which case it has to be diluted with water.
Liquid Soap (Castile/vegetable-oil based/glycerin) is a dirt remover. It does so by dissolving the oils that bind the dirt to the objects. In their manufacturing, they are more eco friendly with fewer ingredients and are biodegradable in the environment.
Cleaning agents used at home can affect our health. It would cause fragments to lie in the air and enter our lungs for dramatic health effects when repeated.
Perhaps have you already yourself experienced irritated eyes or throat while using your glass and or bath cleaners. Unfortunately, those uses can go as far as to cause headaches and other health problems, including cancer. Some products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as phosphorus (which constitutes about 30 to 40 percent of dishwasher detergents), nitrogen. Other harmful ingredients include ammonia and bleach.
Past studies link exposure to chemicals from cleaning supplies to occupational asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Among them a study conducted over a time of 20 years by researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway found that using cleaning products on a recurring basis could be as harmful as smoking 20 cigarettes per day.
The study looked at lung function in 6,230 participants in 22 different locations across the globe. The participants answered questions about the frequency they used cleaning agents and they had their lung abilities measured over several period in time.
When one uses those harsh chemicals for cleaning the toilets, sinks, bathtub, floor and so on, the dirt and chemicals are ultimately rinsed down the drain. The water then heads to waste water treatment facilities, where it gets cleared before making its way back to rivers and lakes. However, not 100% of these chemical products are removed. Over time, as a compounded effect and just like a bad habit, it can build up to result in a negative effect, especially on the vegetation and wildlife.
Almost all commercial cleaning products are packaged with the intention to be disposable. Though the plastics used in most products are technically recyclable, many people simply throw the products away when they’re empty and not always in the correct bin. Moreover, plastic cannot be indefinitely recycled, from once to six-seven times at best. Since plastic is not biodegradable, it occupies landfills indefinitely, and accumulates in mass quantities over a period of years. For example, your first plastic toothbrush is most likely still alive somewhere. However, most manufacturers at least have made an effort to make their plastic containers made of recycled plastics and newcomers are creating tablets with natural ingredients, which dissolve in water and packaged in paper.
It is definitely not their primary downside but VOCs can also have their negative impact on ground-level ozone levels. Once again, repeated in large frequency and quantities, they can contribute to global climate change.
Like most of the products we buy, especially if bought from a multinational brand, chances are that they have been manufactured many kilometers away from your store to keep cost as low as possible. They then had to travel a long way to reach their final destination on the shelves. Common commercial shipping methods all use fossil fuels that have a measurable impact on the environment.
Labels to watch for:
The EU ecolabel has been around since 1992, and take into account the sustainability of the whole life-cycle of the product: from raw material extraction, to production, distribution and disposal.
Institute of Medicine, Division of Health Promotion, Indoor Air and Disease Prevention. Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2000. Kanchongkittiphon W, et al. Indoor Environmental Exposures of Asthma: An Update to the 2000 Review by the Institute of Medicine. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2015; 123: 6-20.
Nazaroff WW, Weschler CJ. Cleaning Products and Air Fresheners: Exposure to Primary and Secondary Air Pollutants. Atmospheric Environment. 38, 2004: 2841-65
American Thoracic Society. "Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2018.
Blue and Green Tomorrow, Larry Halton: How exactly cleaning supplies affect environment, , 9 November 2017, https://blueandgreentomorrow.com/environment/how-exactly-cleaning-supplies-affect-environment/
Clean House, Clean Planet, Clean your House for Pennies a Day, the safe nontoxic way, Karen Logan, Pocket Books, 1997