We only have one planet and so many things we do affect it. One of the things I do often is cleaning. So it got me thinking – Are Green Cleaning Products Really Safe for the Environment?
Yes, green cleaning products are really safe for the environment. Green cleaning product manufacturers design them to be safe for humans and the environment.
The environment is very important to our existence and survival and includes our waterways, the sky and the air we breathe, the ground, and the animal life that occupies these areas in our environment.
While green cleaning products are safe for the environment, there are some things to look for to make sure you are using the best type of green cleaning product.
But before we discuss them, let’s talk about what a green cleaning product is.
What Is a Green Cleaning Product?
A green cleaning product is a cleaning product that has a reduced impact on human health and the environment. They contain minimal toxic or no toxic ingredients.
In general, green cleaning products include some or all the following attributes:
Reduced Packaging e.g.
- Efficient packaging (e.g., lightweight, reduced volume)
- Recyclable packaging
- Recycled-content packaging
- Refillable bottles
Do Not Use Cleaners That Contain:
- Composed in whole or in significant part, of biological products
- Derived from raw materials such as plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials
Use Products That Have No or Minimal Toxicity and Harsh Chemicals
- Low flammability
- pH closer to neutral
- No potentially harmful chemicals like alkylphenol ethoxylates, a common surfactant ingredient in cleaners
- Degrades relatively quickly in an aquatic aerobic environment
How To Tell if a Cleaning Product Is Green?
The fastest and easiest way to tell if a cleaning product is green is to look for a seal or certification on the product label. The seals or certifications signify testing of the product, and overall the ingredients are better for human health and the environment.
Here are some of the green labels below:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives the Safer Choice label to product manufacturers. The products that carry this certification have safe, high-quality chemical contents and don’t lack performance.
Green Seal is a nonprofit organization that verifies products and services in various industries that meet the highest standards of health and environmental leadership. Once the product or service meets or exceeds the Green Seal rigorous standards, they get the Green Seal.
Natural Household Items
Household items from the list below are natural and non-toxic, making them green and really safe for the environment. These products are normally not intended to be used as cleaning products but definitely can be.
- White Vinegar
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Baking Soda
Do Green Cleaning Products Affect the Environment and Animals?
Green cleaning products affect the environment and animals because they do not harm them. Instead, they preserve and make the environment safer. Natural or non-toxic ingredients save the environment from exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Green cleaning products with biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable bottles and packaging can also save our landfills and waterways from excess waste.
Why Are Green Cleaning Products Really Safe for the Environment?
Green cleaning products are really safe for the environment because they do not add to the pollution of the environment like conventional store-bought cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals.
Chemicals in store-bought cleaning products, when disposed of improperly, can enter the waterways of our environment and cause harm to aquatic creatures.
Various chemical-based air fresheners contain VOCs that don’t only pollute your indoor air but contribute to smog formation outdoors.
Many conventional store-bought cleaning products are not biodegradable, biodegrade slowly, or even biodegrade into more toxic compounds.
Are Green Cleaning Products Better for the Environment?
Yes, green cleaning products are better for the environment than conventional store-bought cleaning products. The major aim of green cleaning products is to reduce the exposure of toxins to people and the environment but there are other ways green cleaning products can benefit the environment. Below are some of them.
The Benefits of Green Cleaning Products for the Environment
- Some green cleaning products use biobased renewable resources. Renewable resources provide a substitute for conventional petroleum-derived products.
- Packaging is made from recyclable packaging or is recyclable: reducing waste and saving space in landfills.
- Some green cleaning product packaging can be reused (e.g. refillable bottles) avoiding having to keep buying more cleaning products that could pollute the environment.
- The green cleaning products that use cold water only (e.g. laundry detergents) help reduce energy consumption and ultimately help preserve the environment.
Are Plant-Based Cleaning Products Better for the Environment?
Yes, plant-based cleaning products are better for the environment. Plants are a biobased renewable resource, and therefore plant-based cleaning products are a form of biobased product. And as mentioned earlier renewable resources are an alternative to conventional petroleum-derived products.
Plant-based cleaning products are derived and made from plants and therefore also contain minimal or no toxins, making them better and safer for the environment than conventional store-bought cleaning products that may contain harsh toxins.
What Cleaning Products Are Harmful to the Environment?
You may have cleaning products in your home that you don’t realize are harmful not only to you but to the environment. Below are some typical conventional house cleaning products that contain VOCs and when used, release VOCs, polluting your home and the outdoor air.
- Air fresheners
- Scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets
- Oven cleaners
- Furniture polish
- Carpet, rug, and upholstery cleaning products
- Dishwashing liquid and dishwasher detergents
Below are some other cleaners that can affect our waterways:
Chlorine bleach is a harsh chemical used in many conventional cleaning products and on its own. When dumped down the drain, it can make its way into our waterways polluting them along with harming the aquatic species that live in them.
Ammonia is another toxic chemical found in some conventional cleaning products, especially glass cleaners. When it is at high levels in waterways, it is toxic and dangerous to aquatic life. High levels of ammonia over time can cause a buildup of toxins and likely death.
Many strong drain cleaners use toxic chemicals to dissolve waste and unclog drains. Due to these harsh chemicals, there can be side effects to them. Most drain cleaners contain hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, or bleach, so they can also pollute our waterways and the soil around them.
So, are green cleaning products really safe for the environment? Yes, as you have just read, they are because they prevent pollution and help save the environment, unlike many of the harsh chemical-based conventional household cleaning products that are causing the environment harm. The overall intent of green cleaning products is to reduce the exposure of toxins to people and the environment.
There are also other benefits of green cleaning products like being made from recyclable packaging, recyclable, reusable, made from bio-based renewable resources, or designed to be used with cold water.
Take note of the household cleaning products that contain VOCs, which can pollute the air indoors and out. Always read the label for instructions on how to use the product, and check if it contains bleach or ammonia, also chemicals that are toxic to the environment.
To learn more about green cleaning and green cleaning products, check out our post, What Everyone Needs To Know About Green House Cleaning.
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