Why plant-based cleaners should be on your shopping list
5 reasons to make the switch to chemical-free
In partnership with Koala Eco
From food to beauty and personal care products – and right now in Australia, our bushfire smoke-filled air – it sometimes feels like we have very little control over our incidental exposure to toxins and pollutants. However, there are things we can do to minimise our toxic load, especially so when it comes to your home and cleaning.
Currently, there’s no regulation around listing the ingredients that can be used in cleaning products, and no requirement for product testing. Just take a look under your humble kitchen sink, chances are it’s brimming with a cocktail of endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals like Triclosan, Phthalates, Parabens and synthetic fragrance.
Toss in the greenwashing debate – where brands throw around claims of being natural and organic whilst still using chemicals – and it all becomes confusing.
The argument for natural, plant-based cleaning products has never been more appealing, here are our top 5 reasons to choose plant-based cleaners:
They work just as well as their chemical counterparts
Contrary to popular belief, natural cleaning products work just as well, if not better than chemical-laced alternatives. For example, tea tree, lemon or eucalyptus, will kill nasty bacteria while leaving the microbial (or good) bacteria essential for good health behind.
They’re toxin free
There are approximately 40,000 different chemicals permitted for use in consumer products, which makes navigating what’s under your kitchen sink near impossible. Some of the common ones to watch out for (assuming they are listed on the bottle, which – as mentioned above- they aren’t required to do) include: Formaldehyde, 1,4-Dioxane, Borax and Boric acid, Diethylene glycol monomethyl ether, SLS, parabens, PEG, triclosan and phthalates. By choosing plant-based, biodegradable cleaners you are simply removing your daily exposure to these toxins.
You’ll avoid endocrine disruptors (EDCs)
EDCs are chemicals that pop up in food, beauty and personal care products, and most mainstream household cleaning products, often as preservatives. They can play havoc on normal hormone function and have been linked to breast cancer, reproductive issues and low birthweight as well as metabolic and immune function problems. The main culprits for EDCs are phthalates (plasticisers), parabens, triclosan (antibacterial products and some toothpastes) preservatives and fragrance, all of which can be avoided by choosing plant based, natural cleaning alternatives. Although only trace amounts are usually found in products, WHO believes it’s the cumulative exposure that causes health problems, with mothers-to-be and children the most at-risk.
They’re better for the planet
Chemicals found in traditional chemical-based cleaning products aren’t just bad for our health, they cause havoc on the environment too.
Here are the effects of three of the worst offending chemicals on our planet;
- Antibacterials: These bacteria-killing compounds — like triclosan — can not only damage the microbial communities in ecosystems, but can also hinder biological water treatment processes.
- Surfactants: This is what gives your soap, dishwashing detergent and floor cleaners that satisfying lather. The issue for the environment is that they can accumulate in our waterways at levels toxic to animals.
- EDCs: Not only can they impact our reproductive systems, they have the same affect on marine animals including fish in our waterways.
They have fewer irritants
All of the above mentioned chemicals are known irritants and can aggravate asthma in many people and cause outbreaks of dermatitis and eczema. Natural alternatives generally have less harsh fumes and consist of gentler formulations.