Updated: Oct 13, 2021
Well, while “green cleaning” might seem like a no-brainer, it’s actually different than most people believe. Many think that if a product on a shelf reads “All Natural!” or “Environmentally Friendly” it is. They believe that the manufacturer is presenting a quality product that you can trust. More often than not…
It’s not “Natural”
With respect to how cleaning product manufacturers and advertisers use this term; no, it’s not. Simply put, if you can’t find the cleaning product (or the ingredients within) in nature, it’s not natural. No matter what the label says.
Without getting too complex here (and this can go pretty deep), there are other terms that you should know about: “regulated”, it's counterpart “unregulated”, and “proprietary formula”. Regulated ingredients and products are just that, regulated… mostly. The federal government is the overseeing entity that does the policing but, obviously, things slip through the cracks and there are loopholes that are amply taken advantage of. So, it may appear to follow the rules, but alas…
The Green Guides are a part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) sets of rules and were originally drafted in 1992(!), due to demand from consumers for environmentally friendly, or ‘green’, products. These rules are supposedly for marketers to avoid making claims that mislead buyers. The guides specify:
1) general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims
2) how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and
3) how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
Read #3 again…see that word “qualify”? Yeah…that. That’s why when they use the word “natural” (which has not been officially defined by law) on or about their products, they can slide on through with some not so natural shit.
Which brings me to the 2nd term…”proprietary formula”. Seriously, I could make your eyes roll back in your head trying to explain this one. I will try to make it super easy: this is their get-out-of-jail-free card that they can “qualify” with to avoid FTC fines. It means that they are protecting a scent or recipe or other company secret that they don’t want competitors to get, so they can put whatever they want into the mixture and call it “natural”. “Fragrance” on any product falls into this category. Lastly, cleaning products are not required to list their ingredients, so…to hell with the FTC, right?
This is quite the rabbit-hole so I will stop there.
I’m also a research freak.
That’s why *I’m* here! <Assumes Superman stance with cape flying>
Yes, yes…I started with bleach and multiple froo-froo scented cleaning products. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.
I was cleaning full-time to support myself and my daughter. After my diagnosis, of course I was scared and wanted to figure if I was doing anything that possibly caused my cancer. I spent many, many hours in front of my computer. I researched EV.ER.Y.THING.
From a professional standpoint, I wanted to know about the chemicals in the products I generally used, whether I brought them to work, or my clients required specific ones. I looked up each ingredient and found their Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which is how companies publish their own research on the components of their products. (This is another huge rabbit hole that I will address at a later time)
The funny thing about research is that you often learn more than your original goal.
Aside from realizing that household cleaning product manufacturers (even the “green” ones) utilize that gargantuan FTC “loophole”, there is this little tidbit about “exposure”. As a cleaner, my exposure to the chemicals (not) listed in these products was 900% more (I think I figured that out right) than the average homeowner. My skin, my lungs, my nose, and eyes. All day, 5-6 days a week.
So, of course I was like “HELL no!” and began to look for alternative products. Another thing I found was that words like “green” and “non-toxic” were subject to interpretation as well.
“Green”, like the word “natural”, is defined pretty loosely. According to thelawdictionary.org the term “green” means:
“Having attributes or objectives environmentally positive.”
Clear as mud, right? And the Oxford Dictionary® defines non-toxic as:
“Not poisonous or toxic”
The rub here is that even some non-toxic things, in large enough quantities, can be toxic. For example, if you drink too much water (hyperhydration), it can kill you. That, by the way, is rare but it can happen. You get the picture.
My Raison d’Etre
It took me a long time to embrace this gift of cleaning I have. It's certainly not glamorous and it comes with a heavy stigma. Crazy as you may find me to be, I still love it and after 30 years, people continue to hire me. So, I’m doing something right, right?
After getting 3 separate cancer diagnoses (I’m fine now, btw! 😊), and now with the pandemic and Climate Crisis hitting critical points, I know that ‘cleaning’ is a hidden hazard. We’re cleaning right? It’s not like we’re spewing crap into the air like the evil oil and gas industry, right?
We’re putting it in the water and the ground and the air. Do you ever wonder where your toilet bowl cleaner goes once you flush it? The one with bleach and fragrance and blue dye? How about that fabric softener that gets slathered all over your clothes in the washing machine?
You know when you dissolve a spoon of sugar into your coffee or tea, you can’t get it back out, right? Yeah…
The good news is I’m here to teach you how to get stuff clean without chemicals. Most of that, believe it or not, is in how you do it, not what you spray or squirt on things to make them clean again. I teach the professional approach so that it’s as clean as you want it, fast and complete. What I teach is easier than what you're currently doing.
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to be a Green Cleaning Freak too!