As Winter winds down and the days progressively get warmer, the dreaded Spring cleaning season approaches quickly. Beyond finding new sustainable ways to
throw out recycle old junk, it is important to consider the cleaning products and chemicals that are used indoors. Cleaning practices should not compromise health and safety, and raising the social consciousness around the cleaning products we use will not only improve our indoor air quality, but it won’t sell out the environment in the process.
The USGBC‘s LEED (Leadership and Education in Environmental Design) Certification for existing buildings promotes and encourages sustainable, environmentally conscious cleaning products and materials. LEED is a compilation of various codes, standards, suggested certifications, and top-tier regulations on building practices from construction to management and demolition. Two of the specific certification programs that LEED promotes for cleaning products are Green Seal and EcoLogo, or Environmental Choice. These certification programs focus on products and materials that are less toxic to the environment and use resources more efficiently than conventional products. The human and environmental health benefits of each product varies, but a growing awareness on the availability of these cleaning products perpetuates ingenuity.
Now, you may be asking, “what is so awful about conventional cleaning products and chemicals?” Great Question! Aside from high concentrations of VOCs, here are a few other reasons to switch up your cleaning supplies:
1. Labels are often difficult to read and generally misunderstood. Words like “non-toxic” and “natural” can be misleading without a third-party verification. It is important to research these products and be aware of what chemicals are brought indoors.
2. Manufacturers are only required to list the “active disinfectants” or ingredients that are known to be hazardous, which is speculative in itself. Certain ingredients are considered a company privilege and are not always publicly disclosed. Simply because a product makes a claim about sustainability does not guarantee its validity.
3. “Antibacterial” products don’t always protect human health. Sterilizing a home as if it is a hospital may have many adverse and often unintended consequences. Antibacterial products target bad bacteria as well as good bacteria that helps with proper digestion of food, fighting off diseases and viruses, as well as keeping our bodies in a healthy state.
So next time you are shopping for cleaning products, consider your health and your environment. Take a few extra minutes to consider what you spray indoors and how it affects our air and water. Not every product has a sustainable substitute, but making a conscious choice goes a long way.