Ever wonder where the water from a load of laundry goes or even what’s in it? If not, it might be something you’d like to consider in the future. A lot of detergents, bleaches and fabric softeners contain synthetic fragrances and chemical whiteners that can threaten the health of your family as well as the environment.
These unnatural substances do not readily biodegrade when released from your home and, as a result, can build up in lakes and streams, disrupting and even poisoning ecosystems. Eventually, substances such as phosphates, chlorine and surfactants find their way into drinking water and fish populations, posing a major threat to human health. According to the EPA, increased exposure to these substances can cause skin and respiratory reactions, or more severe issues like cancer, poisoning and neurological and reproductive problems.
But not to worry, you can make your laundry both family-safe and eco-friendly with just a few easy modifications to your current laundry routine. Try plant-based detergents, made from corn, palm kernel, or coconut oil and non-chlorine bleach, made from sodium percarbonate. Check the label on the container the next time you purchase laundry detergent and steer clear of phosphates, chlorine, and surfactants. Look for products that boast specific qualities like “no phosphates” or “plant-based,” rather than those that use vague terms like “green” or “eco-friendly.”
Though some eco-friendly detergents are be a bit pricey, many can be found at the same price as conventional detergents. Or, replace the store-bought detergents with natural, homemade concoctions. For example, bleach can be replaced with lemon juice or white vinegar for removing stains. A small change can make a load of a difference.
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Did you know that chlorine, a substance commonly used in laundry detergents, can threaten the health of humans and
Chlorine is an extremely harmful and unfortunately popular
substance that can create organochlorines, which are suspected carcinogens, and reproductive, neurological and immune system
toxins. Fumes emitted by chlorine can also damage the earth’s ozone layer.
Did you know that
laundry runoff is a suspected inciter of some cancer-causing substances present in our environment?
EPA has found high levels of dioxins in the San Francisco Bay area and partly blames runoff of laundry for this pollution.
The toxicity of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs is so potent that the minute amount found in fish can have a hazardous effect on
humans that rely on the bay for food. Studies spanning 1994, 1997, and 2000 showed no change in the level of dioxins, but,
with more and more industries becoming environmentally conscious, there is hope that these levels will
Did you know that you can make your own safe and effective laundry
To fight stains, mix borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, or white vinegar with water.
You can also add a quarter cup of baking soda to a wash cycle to replace fabric softener. By using these natural
substances, even just some of the time, you will be decreasing your output of harmful chemicals and, simultaneously, creating
a healthier environment for your family.
Did you know that companies are not required to disclose the
components of their detergents to consumers?
Even if the ingredients are listed, they are often vague
and use general terms to mask the specific chemicals that they use.
Did you know that phosphates, a common component of detergents, have been banned in many states due to harmful
Phosphates are water-softening minerals that are added to detergents to enhance stain
removal. Not only can they cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, they are also extremely detrimental to the
environment. Once they reach waterways, phosphates can bring about the growth of algal blooms that deplete the available
oxygen in the water, killing off other aquatic life. Most mainstream manufactures have stopped using phosphates, but stay
on the safe side and check labels!
1.Greene, Alan. Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007.