Cleaning Green in Toronto

Cleaning Green on Earth Day in Toronto

Happy Earth Day everyone! With the growing concern for our environment, and the persuasion of some highly influential public figures, "going green" is foremost in many people's minds. Today is a good day to starting acting on those little flickers of conscience you keep having.

One of the ways you can do your part is to adjust your spring-cleaning routine. We've all heard of the chemical scare concerning the bisphenol-A content in our water containers, baby bottles, etc. But what about the chemicals under your sink? Many of the traditional cleaning solutions contain high levels of toxins, which contribute to the declining health of our planet (think run-off into our water systems, aerosols, petroleum-based products, etc.).

The next obvious question to ask is how these products affect our own health. Chronic asthma and other respiratory problems can escalate when aggravated by household chemicals. Same goes for skin conditions reactant to air borne chemicals. And the fumes! The fumes do much more than making an oven scrub a "flying good time".

But there are measures that can be taken. With the advent of the green revolution, many eco-friendly companies have released some new solutions. When you're shopping for cleaners, be sure to read the ingredients. Things like formaldehyde, silica, NTA (nitrilotriacetic acid), NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate), ethylene glycol, chlorine, phosphates and EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) should be avoided. As if the names of these agents aren't scary enough.

One of the companies in Toronto that's focused their energy on providing green cleaning solutions is Inc. They provide all sorts of human, pet and environment friendly products, from BioSource Green Bin Deodorizers, to Himalayan Soapnuts, to Eco Mist Value Kits containing everything you need to keep your house green and sparkly clean.

I spoke with a friend who recently purchased a condo, and much to her dismay, it required a major cleaning before she could move in. Adrianna chose to clean it as green as possible. She ventured out to a store called Planet Organic up in Vaughn (there's also a store in Port Credit). Planet Organic specializes in top-quality organic foods, toiletry items and green cleaning solutions, with highly knowledgeable staff there to help you choose the right product for your needs. This level of service comes at a price, though. On the other end of the financial scale, Adrianna found some useful products in the green section of her local Loblaws, as well as at Costco.

I asked her about the price of the products she bought, and she informed me that most of the cleaners she picked up were comparable in price to the traditional ones. Except for laundry detergent. She paid close to $15 for a 50-load bottle of Nature Clean detergent, whereas the same-size bottle of Tide is closer to $9. You win some, you lose some.

She also mentioned the merits of Home Hardware's Natura brand products. Their reusable cleaning cloth and wood floor cleaner does just as good a job as the regular petroleum-based floor cleaners, and pleasantly smelled like green tea, instead of an over-powering fake lemon or pine scent.

I can't finish writing this post without mentioning the possibilities of good old vinegar and elbow grease. Many of the stains, soils, and general dirtiness of our homes can be taken care with a cup of white vinegar and a bit of scrub action. Your "Safe Cleaning Kit" (as devised by the ToxicSmart program from The Georgia Straight Alliance out in BC) will contain easily acquired items like baking soda, liquid soap, steel wool, vegetable oil, washing soda and white vinegar. The GSA has provided a greatly informative .PDF with recipes for non-toxic cleaning solutions, as well as recommendations for store-bought green cleaners (such as those made by Seventh Generation). They also suggest tips like washing in cold water, and air drying our clothes (which is now fully legal, bah)!

To find a whole whack load of green companies operating in Toronto, check out the Green Enterprise Toronto website. This is a virtual mecca for all things green in our city. We're right in the middle of a seemingly endless struggle to reverse the affects of our consumerist, convenience-driven lives. We've got the momentum going now, though, and I think it'll only get easier as the message spreads. I'm doing my part by writing this article (among other things, of course). What are some of things you've been doing to greenify you lifestyle?

Photo by blogTO Flickrite christopher.woo

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