More and more people are realising the importance of reducing their carbon footprint and minimising the damage they cause to the environment.
The sea and its marine life are precious; the chemicals discharged through drains and sewer systems can be damaging to the islands.
Many modern allergies, skin and respiratory conditions can be a result of unnatural substances used in the home. Houses sealed for energy efficiency, especially when using air conditioning, may harbour these chemicals, to the detriment of your health.
For a healthy home, and a reduced impact on the environment, a switch to non-chemical based cleaning and laundry products offers a solution.
Many green cleaning products may, at first, appear more expensive than their toxic equivalent, but many green products are highly concentrated, which means less packaging and less fuel for transportation. For a fairer comparison, check the number of washes or total volume when diluted.
Many green products can be found at Cayman supermarkets.
Green products range from dish detergents and laundry products to all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, and stain and odour removers with many in between.
Some of the best brands available are Seventh Generation (seventhgeneration.com), Ecos (ecos.com), Ecover (ecover.com) and Biokleen (biokleenhome.com).
Do not be misled by product names based on words such as green, pure or natural. Reputable brands clearly list ingredients on the labels. Buying Cayman Breeze, a laundry detergent produced by local company Cayman Tropicals, is even better for the environment as the company collects and reuses the bottles (caymantropicals.net).
Buying locally supports the economy and dramatically reduces the energy used to import products.
For the best benefits, look for non-toxic, biodegradable (fast or rapid), zero impact on aquatic life, plant based and safe in septic tanks.
Safe ingredients include plant-based anionic and non-ionic surfactants, plant-based alcohol and fragrances, natural lactic acid, coconut surfactants, whole and natural plant essences and natural oils.
Avoid or limit use
Avoid or limit products containing chlorine, ammonia, butyl, petroleum-based solvents, glycol ether, phosphates, petrochemicals or formaldehyde.
» Chlorine: Chlorine is especially harmful to organisms living in water, which can become toxic organochlorines. In humans, it can irritate the lungs and eyes. lenntech.com
» Ammonia: Exposure to ammonia when spraying cleaning products may be irritating to your skin, eyes, throat and lungs and cause coughing and burns. Some people with asthma may be more sensitive to breathing ammonia than others. Swallowing concentrated solutions of ammonia can cause burns in your mouth, throat and stomach. Splashing ammonia into your eyes can cause burns and even blindness. atsdr.cdc.gov
» Glycol ethers: Acute exposure to high levels of glycol ethers results in narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. Chronic (long-term) exposure to glycol ethers may result in neurological and blood effects, including fatigue, nausea, tremor and anemia. epa.gov
» Petroleum-based solvents/distillates: Short-term exposure can cause temporary eye clouding; longer exposure can damage the nervous system, skin, kidneys and eyes. elc.org.uk
» Formaldehyde: This chemical is a probable human carcinogen. Levels in air as low as 0.1 ppm (0.1 part formaldehyde per million parts of air) can cause watery eyes, a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat, stuffy nose, nausea, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, skin rashes and allergic reactions. elc.org.uk
If you are curious, give the green alternatives a try. You could save a pocketful of money in doctor’s bills and feel much better for it. More importantly, the ocean will thank you and you will have less impact on Cayman’s Mount Trashmore.