1. Use eco detergents. Conventional brands are made with ingredients that aren't good for you, your clothes, or aquatic ecosystems. Look for info on the product that says it is biodegradable and phosphate-free, and made from plant | vegetable-based ingredients (instead of petroleum-based). Synthetic chemicals in cleaning products can pollute the environment, jeopardizing the health of our ecosystems. Look for products that avoid artificial brighteners and artificial fragrance, or make your own.
- Whole Foods Market has the first cleaning standard in the country to protect human health and the environment. Check it out http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/eco-scale/ 2. Opt for Fragrance Free. Look for cleaners, laundry detergents, and personal care products labeled "fragrance free" Warning: "unscented" does not mean fragrance-free! Synthetic fragrance can be made up hundreds of chemicals, all of which are kept secret from consumers. Common fragrance chemicals include phthalates (reproductive and developmental harm) and synthetic musks (break down the body’s defenses against other toxic exposures, linked to increased risk of breast cancer).
3. Ditch the bleach. Chlorine can irritate the nose, throat and skin. Try using a cup of white vinegar added to wash to keep fabrics bright or chlorine-free bleach as a greener alternative. You can also use lemon juice and hot water or hang whites to dry in the sun will make them brighter.
4. Look for labels. No legal requirements exist for ingredient labeling on household cleaning products. As a result, consumers have limited access to information about which products contain chemicals ingredients they may wish to avoid. Buy only from companies that list all product ingredients on the package.
5. Fabric softeners can be replaced by a cup of white vinegar added to the washer during the rinse cycle. Vinegar naturally balances the pH of soap, leaving your clothes soft and free of chemical residue.
6. No more dryer sheets. Conventional dryer sheets are full of cancer-causing chemicals and neurotoxins such as toluene and styrene. They also break down organic fibers, shortening the life of your fabrics. Option: toss a sachet of dried organic lavender in the dryer for a healthy, sweet scent.
7. Wash sparingly. Wear your clothes more than once before tossing them in the dirty pile as a first step in greening your laundry habits. The United Nations Environment Program crunched the numbers and discovered that you can consume up to five times less energy by wearing your jeans at least three times, washing them in cold water, and skipping the dryer or the iron.
8. Do It Yourself (DIY). Homemade cleaning products can be as effective as store bought ones, but they are cheaper, completely non-toxic and minimize packaging waste.
9. Clean the air. Plants are great for ridding your room of air-borne toxins—plants are natural air filters. The five plants that top the indoor clean air list are: peace lily, bamboo palm, English ivy, mums, and gerbera daisies, all of which are both easy to find and easy to care for, so even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still have a green room.
10. Open Windows. Air inside the home has been found to have five times more toxic chemical concentrations than outdoor air. CLEAN GREEN! And open windows and enjoy the great outdoors a little more.
11. Avoid anti-bacterial hand soap with triclosan listed on the label. Reduce your use of disinfectant products. Triclosan is a hormone disruptor that builds up in our bodies, and it’s been found in blood and breast milk. Studies show that it’s actually no more effective at removing germs or preventing illness that plain soap and water.
12. Take off your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in oils and chemicals from the street outside. Use a door mat to catch dirt at the door. Shoes can track in toxic chemicals like lawn pesticides, coal tar from a driveway, etc.
13. Dry Clean Green. Perchloroethylene: A colorless liquid used for dry cleaning. It is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a 2A carcinogen. It not only damages the central nervous system, but is also a soil contaminant. Support “Green” Dry Cleaners.
Articles, Books, Videos
“Super Natural Home” (Rodale Books) by Beth Greer
"Non Toxic Housecleaning” (Chelsea Green Guides) by Amy Kolb Noyes
"The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning" (Storey Publishing) by Karyn Siegel-Maier
"Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life" (Harper Collins) by Sophie Uliano
"Green Goes with Everything: Simple Steps to a Healthier Life and a Cleaner Planet" (Atria Books) by Sloan Barnett
"Squeaky Green: The Method Guide to Detoxifying your Home" (Chronicle Books) by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry
"Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home" (Melcher Media) by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin
"Green Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck
"The Joy of Green Cleaning" by Lindsey Reichert