Is It Really Eco Friendly? Jun 02, 2013

Imagine going into your nearby supermarket to purchase a simple laundry detergent. It is safe to say that you will see a huge variety of different kinds. For the past half-decade, almost all companies seem to be obsessed with the terms 'Eco', 'Eco-Friendly', Natural, Biodegradable, Green...and the list goes on and on! But what if I told you that these could be traps made by companies luring you to buy their product?  

Did you know that there is no official guideline that can say whether a product is 'green' or 'natural'? Lead, is natural, but of course you would not want that in your detergent! Thanks to that, companies can use these 'not-so-truthful' words for their products. So, the next time you go out to buy a new cleaning product, you might want to look carefully for extra information of the product. What makes a product ecological? It has a label from an ecological protection company, or agency.

Before we determine whether eco-cleaning products are better, we need to know what characteristics and ingredients that non-eco cleaning products have to make it destructive for the environment. According to the outline of the 'Design for Environment' label, a product is not considered eco, if it contains certain ingredients.

 1. NPEs/ APEs (Nonylphenol Ethoxylates/ Alkylphenol Ethoxylates) are substances that are added to a product to cut through grease, and is mostly found in dish soap and shampoos. Large amounts of these substances were detected in the worlds streams and rivers. It is especially dangerous because it is toxic to many aquatic organisms, causing dangerous bioaccumulation in their bodies. It is hard to get rid of these substances in our waterways because it is very strong and high in concentration. Also, once these chemicals are left to 'bio-degrade', it forms into a stronger and more toxic substance.The toxicity of APEs found in most non-eco cleaning products promote reverse reproductive dysfunction, which may greatly decrease the population of these animals that are exposed to the substance.

 n 2006, the UN Environment Program, reported finding 146 dead zones in the world's oceans, where living organisms could not be supported because of the toxic chemicals concentrated into the water. These toxic chemicals depletes oxygen levels, which causes 'algae blooms', a type of 'slime' that suffocates the marine organisms.

 Unfortunately, it is not only the marine animals that are suffering because of these chemicals that we release into our oceans. An important thing to consider is that other animals on land are also being affected, because of what they consume from lakes and rivers.

    2. Phthalates are found in the actual containers of the cleaning products. These chemicals drain into waterways and eventually oceans and rivers, and will travel up the food chain. These toxins are fat soluble, and therefore, is very dangerous when it bioaccumulates in an animal.

 3. Ammonia, which is a natural occurrence in the environment, is found in non-eco cleaning products. In these products, the toxicity of the ammonia is increased by 5-10%, making it dangerous. In fact, 188 million pounds of ammonia was found in the water systems between a span of 4 years. When there is too much ammonia being released, it is hard for the Nitrogen-Fixing, and Nitrifying Bacteria to keep up with the large amount being released. Another problem, is that promotes high levels of acid in soils, therefore, it makes it much more harder for plants in forests and crops in farms to grow.

 Now that you have learned about the negatives to using non-eco products, it may be clear why companies are stressing the idea and concept of 'ecological'. But there may be just one negative of using eco-cleaning products. They may be hard to find (certified label), and they may be expensive. Nevertheless, these 'negatives' should not be something that stops you from saving our environment!

The next time you step into a store to buy a new laundry detergent, remember that there are far more benefits of the eco- certified cleaning products than meets the eye. Without a doubt, when you use a certified eco-cleaning product, it will help to sustain the environment, because it does not contain harmful ingredients, like other non-ecological products. Eco-cleaning products is not only healthy for your home, but it also reduces the cost of expensive and dangerous chemicals, keeps our waters clean, and does not affect animals through bio accumulation and other diseases. Although different types of cleaning products could be a small part of our lives, using eco-friendly products makes a BIG difference to our world.

By: Monica Lee 

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