Skip to content

Say Goodbye to Microbeads

I remember the first time I washed up using soap which had microbeads, it almost felt like I was cleaning myself with sandpaper. While I’m sure there are many people out there who love the little pieces of plastic added to certain soaps to help with exfoliation, I was never really a fan. Apparently, people concerned with keeping our waterways safe and free from contaminants aren’t fans either. As you’ll read in this article from Seventh Generation, those tiny pieces of plastic, while maybe good for your skin, can be harmful to the aquatic life, that mistakes it for food, which live in our rivers and lakes. So, say goodbye to microbeads, and say hello to cleaner, safer waterways.

Keep Microbeads Out of Our Waterways

Thanks to new laws, exfoliating microbeads—tiny grains of plastic in soaps and toothpaste that can’t be screened out of wastewater, and now pollute lakes and rivers—are on their way out, but maybe not soon enough for waterways throughout the continent.

Most water treatment plants in the country aren’t equipped to filter out objects at the tiny scale of plastic microbeads. For years, that exfoliating plastic grit from face and body soaps, toothpastes, and more flowed down the drain, right through treatment plants and into lakes, rivers and bays. The organization 5 Gyres found concentrations of up to 600,000 microbeads per square kilometer in samples taken from the Great Lakes.

The plastics don’t degrade—they accumulate. Small wildlife may mistake these bits for food, but they can’t digest the plastic. Mussels and other filter feeders—organisms that act as kidneys for bodies of water—get clogged with microbeads, which can remain in their guts for as long 48 days. The plastics that make up microbeads also attract poisons in the water, including diluted polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS) and DDT. Microbeads accumulate these toxins and concentrate them at levels up to one million times the level in the water around them.

Further up the food chain, larger animals that eat small fish and invertebrates may inadvertently consume an indigestible meal of microbeads. They ingest all the attached toxins and accumulate all the plastics in their own guts, too. The plastic doesn’t go away.

In early June, Illinois became the first state in the country to formally ban microbeads. Several other states have bans in the works, but individual state bans may not be necessary. A nationwide ban may pave the way to phase out microbeads altogether. Major manufacturers that produce microbead products have agreed to cooperate with the bans, and some will voluntarily eliminate microbeads even without a ban.

Unfortunately, between the bans and manufacturers’ phase-out timelines, microbead products will still be available until at least 2017, and as late as 2019 in some places. That’s another 3-5 years of toxic accumulation in the Great Lakes, and in rivers and bays all over the country. Fortunately, no one has to buy microbead products. Avoid body care products that list polyethylene and polypropylene in the ingredients, as these are the primary plastics used to make microbeads. Even better news, exfoliation is as close (and free) as your own kitchen.

Salt and sugar each offer their own properties for skin care, while being much more gentle on skin than harsh microbeads. Mix two parts salt or sugar with one part oil of your choice— try one of our Boosts, or olive and coconut oils both work well. Use handfuls to scrub your face and body, and wash away the residue with your daily cleanser. (Bathtubs may get slippery if you use the scrub in the shower, so take care getting out!)

For now, there’s no way to scrub these plastics from our waterways. But we can keep more from flowing in, starting with our own sinks.



And, The Worst Cleaning Products for Your Home Are……..

blog-toxicMost people now realize that many traditional cleaners come with a bit of a risk do to certain chemicals they may contain. Despite this knowledge, many people continue to purchase some of these cleaners, maybe thinking that perhaps they aren’t as bad as people say. I personally try to use only natural or “green” cleaning supplies in my home, but I understand that some people prefer traditional cleaners for certain jobs. However, if you are using any of the products on this list to clean your home, you may want to reconsider.

The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, is a non-profit who focuses on public health and the environment. The EWG, put together a list of some of the most harmful cleaning products you can use in your home. Below is a few of the products on that list which you should avoid, along with a brief description of some the dangers of these products.

1. “2000 Flushes” and ” X-14″ toilet cleaners- These chlorine cleaning discs can be harmful if they come in contact with your hands or face, and can be fatal if swallowed.

2. “Glade” and “Air Wick” air fresheners- Both of these air fresheners can be extremely harmful, or even fatal, if inhaled improperly.

3. “Ajax, Fab Ultra, Dynamo” liquid laundry detergents- All of these detergents contain formaldehyde, which can cause allergies and even asthma.

4.”Tarn-X” tarnish remover- This product contains the chemical thiourea. Prolonged or repeated exposure to this chemical may cause reproductive or fetal effects.

5. “Spic And Span” surface cleaner- This multi purpose cleaner contains nonylphenol ethoxylate, which can disrupt the hormone system and is harmful to aquatic life and the environment. In fact, products which contain this chemical are not allowed to be sold in the European Union.

6. “Scrubbing Bubbles” bathroom cleaner- If you thought the little smiling cleaning bubbles were cute, think again. This product contains a high percentage of DEGBE, which can cause irritation and inflammation of the lungs.

These are just a few examples of how potentially dangerous some of these chemically-laden traditional cleaners can be.


Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Lime 

Is Your Medicine Cabinet Green?

As people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of green cleaning products, reusable products, and just the overall protection of the environment, there may be one place we haven’t looked…….the medicine cabinet. As it turns out, some of the products in that medicine cabinet may in fact be harmful to the environment as well as yourself. To be honest, I never really even thought about it until I saw this little piece from our friends at Seventh Generation.

What’s Lurking in Your Medicine Cabinet?

Chances are you’re very careful about the products you use to clean your home. You know all about VOCs and phosphates and a host of other ingredients. But when was the last time you inventoried the contents of your medicine cabinet?

We challenged our own employees to take a hard look at some of the personal care products they use every day.  With the help of the SkinDeep and GoodGuide sites they were able to look up ingredients and ratings and encouraged to swap out anything of concern for a similar item with a better rating.

It wasn’t long before our “Stuff that used to be in my medicine cabinet” box began to fill with everything from lipstick to body lotion with a tag attached explaining why the product was switched and which alternative product that was chosen.

You can take the challenge yourself! Just identify the 4 or 5 products you use most and look them up on SkinDeep or GoodGuide to see what the overall rating, and the ingredients are. Looking at the ingredients in detail sometimes involves scrolling down to the bottom of the page. If you’re concerned with any of the results you find, whenever possible change the products out for more alternatives with a better rating that you feel are healthier for you.

Enjoy your new products and let us know what you discovered.


How Dangerous Can Traditional Cleaners Be?

BLOG-TOXICMany people are aware of the harm traditional cleaners can have on the environment, they may not be as aware of the negative effects they can have on people. A few years ago in Memphis, Tennessee, a woman accidentally blew up her car when she lit a cigarette. The reason for the explosion? Fumes from the cleaning products she had in the trunk of her car ignited when she lit her cigarette. The explosion blew out her car windows and caused first and second degree burns.

Now, I’m not saying that if you used traditional cleaners that you’re going to blow yourself up, but it is just another example of how dangerous the chemicals in cleaning products can be. Besides the rare, (yet real), possibility of chemical cleaners exploding, they also cause harm to people in other ways. Some chemicals in cleaning products have been linked to things such as asthma, skin irritations, and some long term effects like brain damage and even cancer.

Being aware and knowledgeable of the materials you bring into your home is the first step towards protecting yourself and your family from any potential harm that may come from the chemicals in cleaning products. Be sure to read the labels of any cleaning product you bring into your home. Look for words like, “Warning” or “Caution”, they actually tell you a lot about the product, just by which words they use on the label. Here is a list of words you may see on a label, and what they mean.

“Caution”- This means that the product is slightly toxic.

“Warning”- This usually means that the product may be flammable and fairly toxic.

“Danger”- This means that the product may harm your skin if touched or your throat and stomach if ingested. It also means the product may be very flammable.

“Poison”- This means that the product is highly toxic, meaning it won’t take much to cause serious damage or even death.

So, be sure to read the label of any product you bring into your home carefully before you use it. Of course, to avoid having to worry about some of these dangerous products being in your home, you can always make the transition form traditional cleaners to green cleaners. Green cleaners are the better choice for the safety of your family and the environment.


Are Biodgradable Cleaners Really “Green” Cleaners?

Many people believe that “biodegradable” cleaners are automatically “green” cleaners. While this may often be true, there are exceptions to the rule. In this article from The Cleanest Image, you are given an example of where this is not always the case. The article focuses on a personal experience with one particular biodegradable cleaner which certainly does not appear to fall in line with what I think to be “green”.

Are Biodegradable Cleaners Green Cleaners? Are They Safe?


Biodegradable Cleaners can be green but with caution

Biodegradable Green Cleaning Chemicals

Biodegradable is, by definition, made of substances that will decay relatively quickly as a result of bacteria breaking them down into elements such as carbon that are naturally recycled. Leaving little impact on the environment as a result.

The claim “biodegradable” is being associated with environmentally friendly, or green cleaning products. In many cases they can be synonymous, but there are a lot exceptions. Many things that are biodegradable and natural and plant based and earth friendly and “green” are not friendly to our own personal environments. In the world of cleaning and green cleaning, several come to mind.

d’Limonene is one of the first I think of. Back when I first started cleaning, we had a product that we called Sewer Sweet. It may have actually been called that but I never knew for sure because the label was always eaten off by the product. It had a very strong orange smell and was really greasy when you got it on your hands. (We rarely used gloves of any kind back then unless it was cold.) It would cause our skin to tingle and if it was spilled on the ground, it would be slippery and was extremely difficult to wash away.  It would be poured from a 5 gallon metal container into a drinking cup to then be carried to a stinky storm or floor drain. If we made it to the drain before the cup dissolved, it would then be poured down the drain, giving the area a fragrance of orange for a few hours until the foul odors returned. I know now it was a completely natural product called d’Limonene, which is oil that is extracted from the peal of citrus fruit.

Although  d’Limonene is a solvent that is much safer than most other chemical solvents and is much less toxic than compounds like mineral spirits but is classified as a skin irritant. It is biodegradable, but due to its low flash point, it must be treated as hazardous waste for disposal. It is also currently regulated by the E.P.A. as a VOC.  d’Limonene is an environmentally preferable product (EPP) when used as is or as part of an EPP formulation but has many precautions to follow when using it.

Using d-limonene can cause polymers to swell. Many plastic materials can be damaged by its use. This includes equipment seals made of rubber or Neoprene, which are the materials used in many types of cleaning equipment and tools. It can also damage many surfaces that are plastic based or polymer coated. (ie: floor finish, sealed stone and poly based fabrics)

It is suggested that when working with d-limonene, solvent-resistant gloves should be worn as well as eye protection. It will deplete the natural oils in your skin and will irritate your skin and can cause sever damage to your eyes if not flushed immediately.

There is no question that biodegradable cleaners in general are a better choice and with the evolution of technology, there are very effective products available that can give you good cleaning results. Be cautious though. Be sure to read the label and material safety data sheet before using any chemical product. Don’t let a biodegradable claim be your only factor when selecting products. Safety first. Results second. And if those two check out, then the product will almost always comply with green cleaning standards.

Chemicals and Skin – Not a Pleasant Reaction

Petroleum distillates, ammonia, sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid. What do these chemicals have in common? Not only do they have tongue twisting names, all of these chemicals, and more, are serious skin harming substances. Common ingredients in many household cleaners, these chemicals can do major damage if they come into contact with skin, and can cause chemical burns and rashes (not to mention a host of respiratory, eye and other bodily irritation).

Most chemical burns in the home occur accidentally, from cleaning, spilling or coming into contact with household cleaners on surfaces unknowingly. Usually on the face, eyes, arms and legs, the exact symptoms of a chemical burn depend on the chemical involved, and a chemical burn or rash will develop in the location where the chemical touched the skin. It may appear simply as a red area on the skin or may blister if more severe. The skin may peel or break out in hives, may feel sore or itch and may become very painful, either immediately or a few hours after the initial exposure.

In addition, chemical burns can be deceiving. Not only can topical skin damage occur, chemicals absorbed through the skin can cause greater damage to internal organs and tissues which are not readily apparent when you first look at the burn.

So how do you protect your skin from exposure to these harsh substances? First and foremost, eliminating them from the home is the best place to start. If you do keep chemicals in the home, storing them in a secure, locked cabinet is advised to prevent accidents and contact with children and pets. Replacing conventional cleaners with non-toxic, safe cleaners is recommended, and choosing eco-friendly and ‘green’ cleaning services instead of conventional is your best bet to reduce exposure to chemicals inside of the home.

If you have experienced a burn, make sure you take care of it immediately. First aid should be given immediately after a chemical burn occurs. All traces of the chemical should be removed from the surface of the skin and any clothing or jewelry that came in contact with the chemical should also be removed. The burned skin should be rinsed in cool water for 15 to 20 minutes.

If the burn is severe, showing signs of blistering or tissue damage, the individual should report to a hospital. At the hospital, the doctor will want to know what caused the burn and what first aid has been applied. The doctor may clean the wound and apply an appropriate neutralizing substance. She may also cover the burn with a protective dressing and apply a topical antibiotic cream to stave off any secondary infections.

Once all immediate danger has passed and you have completed basic first aid, call your doctor to review your injury and the chemical involved to make sure you need no further emergency treatment. Remember – any chemical burn can be a legitimate reason to summon emergency medical help. Always err on the side of safety and call 911 if you don’t know the severity of the injury, medical stability of the person injured, or if you have any concerns about a chemical injury.

Not sure how to treat a chemical burn? WebMD can answer some of your basic questions.