Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cleaning Without Chemicals: Recipes for a Toxic-Free Home

The following is an excerpt from Your Green Abode: A Practical Guide to a Sustainable Home by Tara Rae Miner (Skipstone, 2010).

It used to be that we kept our homes clean by using whatever was at hand. A little baking soda from the cupboard mixed with elbow grease took out caked-on crud. Soap was soap, and it served more than one purpose, whether that was to clean your hands or the dishes. Sugar ants were best prevented by putting the sugar away.

But then things were made easier for us. A swift spray of a sickly sweet-smelling substance would kill those ants in a flash. A thick squirt of whitish goo gave the table a lustrous shine in just minutes. Grainy antiseptic scouring powder cut through the scum in the tub with little effort. Thank goodness for chemicals. At least that's what folks were told and sold and eventually wholeheartedly believed.

The rapid growth of the chemical industry after World War II changed housekeeping forever and not necessarily for the better. Chemists whose previous employment was manufacturing weapons realized that similar concoctions could be used to fight agricultural pests and improve consumer products.

Since the fifties, some 75,000 chemicals have been introduced into our world. Three hundred of those can now be found within our bodies, even in the bodies of newborn babies who inherit synthetic chemicals from their mothers. All those cleaning products and pesticides in the cupboard are more than evidence of a wellkept home. They are a toxic testimony of the chemicals that we willingly bring into our lives in the name of cleanliness.


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