Why Refill with Green Cleaning Products?
Welcome to my first blog of 2023. I am hoping to make this a regular (at least monthly) occurrence. So if you have any topics you’d like to know more about I’m open to suggestions. So what does “Green Cleaning” even mean? Generally, the term ‘green cleaning’ is used to refer to cleaning products that have lower toxicity chemicals in them that are safer for human health and the natural environment, in particular our water ways.
The most damaging chemicals found in common household cleaning products are.
- Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are often used to make fragrances last longer in cleaning products. These chemicals have been linked to a variety of health problems, including reproductive and developmental issues in humans and animals. The most common cleaning products that contain phthalates are all purpose cleaning sprays and wipes, dishwashing soaps and detergents, Laundry liquids and fabric softeners, air fresheners sprays and plug ins and carpet cleaning sprays and powders.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): These chemicals are often used in cleaning products as a foaming agent. They can be irritating to the skin and eyes, and has been linked to a variety of health problems. They are commonly found in all-purpose cleaning sprays and wipes, dishwashing soaps and detergents, laundry liquids, fabric softeners, bathroom cleaners, air fresheners and carpet cleaning sprays and powders.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a preservative and disinfectant often used in cleaning products. It is a known carcinogen and can also cause skin irritation and respiratory problems. It is commonly found in air fresheners, fabric softeners, disinfectants, carpet cleaners and all-purpose cleaners.
- Ammonia: Ammonia is often used in cleaning products as a degreaser and disinfectant. It can be irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system and can be particularly harmful to people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Ammonia is commonly found in glass cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners including toilet bowl cleaners, and oven cleaners.
- Chlorine: Chlorine is a disinfectant often found in cleaning products, particularly those used in the bathroom or for cleaning surfaces. It can be irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system and can also be harmful if ingested. Chlorine is commonly found in bleach, disinfectants, toilet bowl cleaners and pool and spa chemicals.
- Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical often found in cleaning products. It has been linked to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and may also have negative effects on hormone function. Triclosan is primarily found in hand soaps, dishwashing liquids, all-purpose cleaners and toothpastes.
Now the tricky part as a consumer is trying to tell which products truly are low tox and which are ‘Green Washed’ pretenders.
In Australia, cleaning products are required to be labelled with information about their potential hazards and safety instructions under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations. However, there is currently no legal requirement for cleaning products to list their full ingredients on the label!
This is because cleaning products are classified as "industrial chemicals" under the Australian industrial chemical laws, and the information about the ingredients is considered confidential or proprietary business information. Manufacturers therefore are not required to disclose the full list of ingredients on the label or in any other public documents.
At Here and There Makers we do not stock any cleaning products that do not disclose their full ingredients list and we will always display that information on our bulk tubs and on our website, so you know exactly what you are using around your loved ones and releasing into our waterways.
All that is great but why would you go to the trouble of going to a refill store instead of just getting what you need from the supermarket? Well apart from the knowledge that you can be assured the products at HTM are genuinely quality effective low toxicity, the biggest reason is to reduce packaging waste.
Our world is being overrun with waste and specifically plastic waste. Reusing and refilling your cleaning products is the environmentally friendly option because it reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. By reusing the same container over and over again, you are reducing the amount of plastic or other materials that you would otherwise dispose of after each use.
Most cleaning product containers are made of plastic and for sensible reasons, plastic is durable and lots of people don’t like using glass in tiled areas like bathrooms and kitchens due to the risk of breakages especially if you have children. Unfortunately, that durability also means plastic is a non-biodegradable material that can take hundreds of years to decompose. Only a minute quantity of plastics currently gets recycled, so large amounts of plastics end up in landfills, oceans, or other natural areas damaging the eco systems we all depend on.
The production of cleaning product containers requires the use of natural resources such as oil and gas. When these resources are extracted and processed, they create significant environmental impacts, including air and water pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change. Many plastic cleaning product containers contain harmful chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates, that can leach into the environment harming wildlife and ecosystems.
The manufacturing, transportation, and disposal of cleaning product containers uses significant amounts of energy. This energy consumption contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which are a major contributor to climate change.
Overall, the environmental damage caused by cleaning product containers is significant. Reusing and refilling containers can help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, conserve natural resources, and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Some people may say that refilling can save you money and can be more convenient but this is not my honest experience (and I run a refill store). Also, buying ready made low tox cleaning products can be more expensive compared with mass produced cheapest quality supermarket cleaning products (think Home Brands).
Grabbing what is ready on the shelf as you cruise past with your trolley in the supermarket aisle as opposed to finding time to go to a separate store that is not open extended trading hours while remembering to bring back your containers and then have to wait while your products fill doesn’t quite fit my idea of convenient either.
“Wow great sell Michelle”, you may be thinking, but wait - there are absolutely some big advantages to going to your local refill store, especially our humble refill store.
Customer service, we are always happy to help you and can do the refilling process for you while you have a browse or leave your containers with us and go do another errand.
Staff knowledge, our staff are always happy to share their knowledge and tips on the best products for any specific cleaning job.
Our container return / deposit scheme, to help with convenience and reduce waste we offer almost all our product in returnable jars or bottles. You can bring back your empties and exchange for a prepacked product off the shelf and have the cost of the container discounted or refunded of your purchase.
We always have plenty of free jars and bottles available for reuse if you don’t want one of ours or forget your own.
When you shop regularly at a small business like HTM you become part of a community of like mined caring people, we get to know you and you get to know us and that is good for community in so many ways, but that could be a whole other blog post!
DIYing your cleaning products with the many ingredients we sell can save dollars and give you a sense of control over what chemicals you and your loved ones are exposed to daily. Our staff are always happy to help direct you to sources of great recipes or you might want to attend one of our DIY Green Cleaning Workshops to learn all the in’s and out’s from me and take hope delicious smelling samples of cleaning products plus recipe sheets to try out at home. Our next workshop is on Saturday the 25th of March from 1.00pm-3.00pm.
Make a difference, it is easy to feel like the little bits we do in our daily lives to be kinder to our planet don’t actually make any difference in the big scheme of things. But it does, it sends a message to our friends and neighbours about our values, it sends a message to the big corporations about what we will consume and what we won’t and it inches us closer to a tipping point where prioritising the health of our planet and its people comes ahead of profit at any cost. Whoa got a little preachy there oops, soz not soz 😉.
Hope I've offered some useful information and inspiration. I’d love any feedback, comments or questions you may have.
(click the image below to check out our online refill range)