HGTV.ca Editorial Team
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:50 PM EST
According to Health Canada, the average Canadian household uses up anywhere from 20 to 40 litres of toxic cleaning products each year. Globally, we spend more than $168 billion annually on cleaning supplies. Individually, we're surpassing the $600 mark.
Meanwhile, the Cancer Research Society notes that 12.6 percent of us will have a strong reaction to small amounts of chemical substances used in most cleaning products. If you haven't personally experienced any severe allergic reaction, don't think you're in the green zone yet.
The Environmental Working Group conducted a study that found the average human body carries at least 210 of the 75,000 chemicals registered with the group - including 50 carcinogens and more than 60 substances that pose hazards to our reproductive and nervous systems. That's not entirely surprising when you consider that we spend 90 percent of our time indoors.
And after all that, the ends don't even justify the means. According to Bio-Vert.com, a study of 240 US households found that the levels of microbials remaining from disinfectant cleaners were no lower than those left from non-disinfectant cleaners.
No wonder the average person calls in sick 7.7 days in a year, according to the ISSA. David Suzuki would shudder. Donald Trump would fire you.
And The Worst Offenders Are…
The five most toxic offenders in the home, as explained on KeepingHouse.ca, are:
Carpet cleaners, which may contain carcinogens that can harm the kidney
Chlorine bleach, the most frequent cause of household poisoning
Dishwashing liquid, the most frequent cause of child poisoning
Oven cleaners, as they may contain benzene - harmful when inhaled and potentially fatal if swallowed
Toilet cleaners, which may contain chlorine and hydrochloric acid fumes that can escape a container even when closed
5 Ways to Make Your Own Green Cleaning Supplies (And Save Money!)
Carpet - So your carpet looks like the inside of a dog kennel. First, vacuum. Then, vacuum again. Mix 1/4 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of borax, and a 1/4 cup of vinegar and apply to your carpet. Let it sit for several hours and dry - then steam (sans chemicals) or vacuum again. You could also use club soda on spills you spot right away - the carbonation lifts the stain and the salt prevents it from leaving its mark.
All-purpose - Instead of using chlorine bleach, try combining the powers of lemon juice with those of tea tree oil. Both have been praised for thousands of years as the original disinfecting warriors. Try mixing 2 cups of water with 1/2 of lemon juice and 30 drops of tea tree oil for a cleaner disinfectant that, thanks to the lemon juice, also whitens.
Dishwasher - Most dishwashing liquid labels boast the ability to cut grease - but baking soda, white vinegar, and essential oils were doing it first. Try combining a few drops of essential oils with 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 of lemon juice for a home-made dishwashing liquid. You can boil the solution in a crusted or burnt pan, let cool, and then scrub away the grit with baking soda (expect a reaction!).
Oven - Oven cleaners just need a tough agent that can cut grease, deodorize, and disinfect. Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of water and about 30 drops of essential oils for a greener way to clean that thing you cook your food in.
Toilet - Cleaning your toilet the green way is an easy one - simply sprinkle the bowl with baking soda and drizzle with vinegar. Let it sit for a half hour and then scrub away with your toilet brush.
A Penny Saved is a Planet Saved
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, you're likely spending about $1,500 annually on cleaning supplies if you live in a household with an income higher than $150,000. If you're renting, you're spending about $374. If you're under the age of 25, you could be spending about $309. If you're 55 or older, you're probably spending about $825.
In any case, it's money down the literal and figurative drain. It's money that could be better spent on green cleaning products - or cash investments, mutual funds, bonds, stocks, etc.
The decision to go green can indeed provide you with an impressive return. That's why Adobe Systems invested $650,000 into making two of its San Jose locations greener in 2001 - and saw a $725,000 savings as a result by 2007.
Besides, green is so your colour.
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