If you read my last post you’ll have seen my thoughts on buying unnecessary stuff and the damage this does to our souls, wallets, and the planet. This post has 5 specific suggestions for how we can either just stop using chemicals we don’t need (but have been convinced by colourful adverts we do), or at least replace them with cheaper, better, and healthier alternatives.
I’ve used internet sources for UK averages and worked out that if you follow all these tips you’ll save an average of £624 a year!
Suggestion 1: Stop using toxic cleaning products
My mind, like most people’s, was warped so much by advertising, I thought that I needed 18 different types of chemicals for different cleaning jobs around the house. Anything less than the most toxic and harsh chemical laden brand would have me scrubbing until my fingers bled, and mean I was at constant risk from catching a disease as I hadn’t killed every single germ in existence.
Not only is this complete tosh but it’s actually really harmful for our health. I know that historically, thinking this way would mean you’re a bit flaky or bonkers or something, but the truth will always out eventually. Because this generation is in the advantageous position of being able to share information with each other online and not solely rely on the manipulation of advertising and bias of mainstream media, this kind of thinking is becoming widely accepted. Not only that but there are many scientific studies to back this up.
There are studies that show the particles from cleaning products leave a toxic dust around our house which harms our children’s development in a myriad of ways and can cause health problems ranging from cancer to fertility issues. Maybe you saw the story in The Independent recently; that regular use of cleaning products could be as bad as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
A doctoral student who led the study at the University of Bergen said: “The take home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs. These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfibre cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes.”
I found a great article on the science behind microfiber and how even average cloths have fibres smaller than most bacteria so it removes them. (http://www.explainthatstuff.com/microfibercloths.html). I’ve also made up my own spray with white wine vinegar and lavender oil which are naturally antibacterial and work perfectly for everyday cleaning jobs, and I’ve started using bicarbonate of soda for tougher jobs like the stains in the sink and the loo.
So next time you’re in the supermarket, instead of reaching for 18 colourful and pricey toxic bottles, pick up some microfiber cloths and head for the checkout, you’ll leave feeling a lot lighter on your feet and heavier in your wallet.
Suggestion 2: Stop rubbing toxic chemicals into your skin
OK so this one is mainly for the ladies but guys do it too and it’s something we’re all completely sucked in to without thinking about it. At least I know I was. Every time there was a new ad on TV or in mag for the latest development in lab technology that would make my skin look more youthful and/or radiant I was all over it. They lured me in ever time with promises of successful ‘clinical trials’ and fancy made up scientific (ish) words.
In reality it’s all BS, none of it made any real difference, it cost me a fortune and did more harm than good. In a Guardian article, senior policy strategist for the nonprofit Breast Cancer Fund, Nancy Buermeyer says; “We don’t know enough about (consumer) chemicals on any front and certainly not about how they impact women because we haven’t spent the time or energy to look at it,”
Personally I’ve started making my own skin cream now using Shea Butter and essential oils that are great for anti-aging and moisturising, as well as getting rid of marks and blemishes. It might sound like a chore but it’s actually really quick and easy and there are tonnes of recipes online that cater for all types of skin. It feels amazing putting it on and I’ve never had so many compliments on my skin. Failing making it I’m sure there are plenty of natural alternatives you can buy if you just do a quick internet search. As a rule of thumb, I’d say that if you don’t know what most of the list of ingredients are because they’re weird sounding chemicals, give it a miss!
Suggestion 3: Stop buying car windscreen washer
I seriously wonder how I ever got conned into that one. When I was buying it up until about 2 years ago, I was choking on the fumes every time I sprayed it, not to mention it’s about 8 quid a pop every couple of months!
Now I just use water with maybe a tiny squirt of washing up liquid or splash of white wine vinegar, does the job perfectly and it’s free (or there abouts)!
If you’re thinking that the toxic blue fluid has anti-freeze so you need it, well for the 360ish days of the year where the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing in the UK, I wouldn’t worry about it. On the few days when it does you could top it up with some of that really cheap supermarkets own brand vodka (as this doesn’t freeze until it drops to -24), you know the kind that you wonder who the hell drinks it as the flavour must resemble something closer to paint stripper surely?!
Suggestion 4: Stop buying chemical air freshener
I’ve never really used them myself and after doing just 5 minutes’ investigation to the chemicals that get squirted out of them, all I can say thank god for that. Each sickly sweet puff of fragrance in most household brands is a cocktail of carcinogenic poison.
If that’s not enough to make you never buy one again then it’s probably not worth pointing out that you’ll also save money and improve the quality of the air we all breathe if you open windows instead. Or even better opt for a natural version such as a nice smelling plant (mint etc.) which looks loads better, purifies your home and creates no waste in production or disposal. No brainer.
Suggestion 5: Stop using weed killer and Insect repellent in the garden
I doused all my weeds about 3 weeks ago with white wine vinegar, no sign of regrowth. So I’m quids in and not exposing myself or my garden to highly toxic chemicals.
I’m about to start growing my own food for the first time, partly as an act of defiance and partly because it’s bloody difficult to buy affordable food that hasn’t been saturated with pesticides. Putting toxic chemicals into your body via your food on a daily basis can’t be good can it? Obviously not. So I’m going to avoid spaying it on my food in the garden and use natural insect repellents instead. There’s a tonne of different recipes/options for this, just internet search them.
Swapping out harmful chemicals for more natural solutions has loads of benefits so just in case you’re not convinced yet to actually do it, I’ve put my ‘Lean thinking’ hat on to list a few…
- It’s MUCH cheaper
- Less time and effort shopping for them, transporting and storing them
- Better for your health as not breathing/rubbing them in
- Better for your family’s health when they don’t come into contact with them
- Better for your natural surroundings when not being washed down the drain and into the sea
- Better for the planet when not being produced and transported to shops
- Less effort for you as avoids the chore of recycling/taking out the rubbish
- Better for the environment as less plastic waste
Sources and extra reading:
Yearly savings calculations and links to sources:
Cleaning products = £10 pm (£2.4 per week ave spend in UK – £12 for 24 microfiber cloths on amazon, – £12.80 for 4 x 5 litre white wine vinegar on Amazon – £14 for 5kg bicarbonate of soda on Amazon) = £81.20 total pa
Air freshener = £3 pm (approximation based on plug in varieties) = £36 total pa
Windscreen washer = £4 pm (approximation based on average cost of £8 pm every 2 months. £48 pa – £15 pa for 1litre Tesco’s own vodka) = £33 total pa
Skin screams = £53.87 spend on face – £13.10 on makeup pm = £40.77 (£489.24 pa for ave UK woman – £50 pa to make your own) = £439 total pa
Weed killer and insect repellent = £12 for 3 litres of weed killer from Wilkinsons, £14 + £9 pa for 2 x slug killer and 1 x miracle grow bug clear on Amazon) = £35 total pa