I will admit when I fell into this zero-waste journey, I was not very environmentally conscious or an ethical consumer. I cared, but not enough to pick up someone else rubbish or pay triple for a ‘green cleaner’.
I was just a DIY’er by nature and I wanted the option to make all my products myself, so the research began. As I educated myself in true OCD style, my eyes opened so wide you could no longer see my face!! There were many things that came out of this that is changing my life, and hopefully with this knowledge will change yours.
1) BUYING WATER
As I researched the ingredients in most liquid detergents and cleaners, Aqua was a common and obvious one. Then we I considered patents and the chemical formulas for some products; this was up to 70% of the product. I was paying for chemical enhanced water.
2) CONVENIENCE CHEMICALS
Honestly, I am not a fan of the words ‘chemical free’ – I think there is a need for them in some cases, like saving lives!!! Some chemicals are very dangerous, but so is Eucalyptus Oil? It’s the man-made chemicals that have been created for convenience as opposed to necessity that really bothers me. Imagine a whole lab dedicated to making your whites whiter with new improved formulas – when children are dying from contaminated water.
3)TOXICITY & ENVIRONMENT
To make our lives easier, we have inadvertently shortened it. The impact of some of these crazy morphed chemicals wrapped in plastic are wreaking havoc to us and the environment. Carcinogenic, hormone altering, skin disfiguring and water killing are just some of the results.
Please look hard at the ingredients in ALL of your cleaners (including Eco-cleaners) and don’t purely rely on the EWG rating (they are slowly losing credibility with me). If it’s a detergent, then it contains synthetic ingredients, end of story.
4) WHERE DOES IT COME FROM
This is the part most people don’t consider, and I can understand why!! Its hard work, confusing and there is a moment when you think you must go run into the bush and live like a caveman to avoid everything!!
Let me just give you one example, Bicarb Soda. Wonderful, environmentally friendly product used for generations. Did you know over 90% of what you buy is man made through a Solvay process using an Ammonia Brine, which ends up being released into our waterways? In this case the production of the Bicarb outweighs the green effect of using the Bicarb.
The other option is natural mining of deposits, yes this too has an eco-footprint, and there are different ways to mine that are better than others. But compared to the above it’s a far more environmentally friendly option. Solution mining is where water is pumped into the salt bed to dissolve to salt, then the brine is brought to the surface and separated, some companies then re-use the water. One deposit alone in the US can supply the worlds demand for 1000 years, in saying that, it still is a precious earth mineral, and we should treat it with that respect.
5) THE PACKAGING
Having this small business, I can tell you packaging is a big cost. It costs me a lot more to package my products in biodegradable earth bags than in a plastic bag. In some cases, 10 times more, but for me I chose sustainability over money. I can do this, because I am a small home-based business, large corporations that are owned by shareholders are just entities, they don’t have blood and a heart pumping it, how can they care?
But as the ‘consumer’ refuses the plastic, the corporations will have to change to accommodate that, but do remember they are doing it because they will lose money if they don’t.
Which brings me to final thoughts, on shopping ethically. I worked for major Banks for close to 20 years and I was so tired of money. Being a driver for so many people, enslaving themselves in a debt trap was thought to be a requirement to achieve our dreams. Now I am not saying don’t borrow and don’t buy a house – I am just saying do it well within your means. When I started to see a large deal of first home buyer using the equity or a gift from parents to deck out their homes with $100k furniture, I started to get very concerned.
This is when it really sunk in, we are a world of unethical consumers – having been trained and brainwashed from young ages that we must have the best house on the street, with the top appliances and designer clothing. We perhaps can't help what we have become as a race, but we do have the ability to change it.
It’s not all DOOM & GLOOM!! Making the change to a more ethical, minimalists, clean and green lifestyle has physically and mentally improved my life and the life of my family. It has also led me to my ‘tribe’ of like-minded REAL people just like YOU.