Spring cleaning

If you’re like me, you’re intentions are good. It’s just that, well… life gets in the way of being 100% focussed.

That’s why I was wryly amused by a dear friend of mine’s comment about her will.

She said she didn’t need or want a big wake or even a quiet get-together. What she wanted, she said with a twinkle in her eye, was for everyone to buy a supply of environmentally friendly cleansers for their home. And, of course, to commit to using them in her memory.

Typical, I thought. So typical of this woman who I met while riding a camel in Rajasthan, India. Everything about Carole is different. Everything about this woman challenges boundaries, tests your deepest philosophies of life.

I reflected on the spring cleaning I should be doing. And, I reflected upon what I’d be using as a cleanser.

Perhaps like you, I have some “nasties” lurking beneath my kitchen sink.

So, when my friend Carole confided this to me, I thought to myself, “What am I waiting for? I should test some cleansers and find some that suit my requirements.”

I did that a couple of weeks ago while in Ottawa. I went to Arbour Environmental Shoppe (800 Bank Street, 567-3168) and asked what I ought to buy, and got excellent informed and personal service.

Since then, I’ve been testing my purchases and find them to do just as thorough a job as the phosphate-free Sunlight liquid laundry detergent I’ve used for ages. Same with the dishwashing liquid and the bleach substitute, which is a peroxide derivative.

Product literature notes, “Our Liquid Bleach is created from hydrogen peroxide, one of the most environmentally safe chemicals on the market. It works by releasing oxygen, performing both a bleaching and disinfecting process, converting itself into simple water once the process is complete.”

All the cleansers are from a 35-year-old, all-Canadian company called Nature Clean based in Toronto (www.franktross.com, ftross1@resonet.com).

Many other products are available from this company. Personal care products include herbal shampoos and conditioners, face and body bar soap as well as liquid soap.

Beyond merely selling safe products, Nature Clean makes sense in various other ways.

With over a million accidental poisonings occurring in North America, over 60% involve children under six years of age. The company prides itself on it’s non-toxic products that are child-safe.

Environmental allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. Nature Clean uses no “perfumes, dyes, formaldehyde preservative, enzymes, optical brighteners, ammonia or any other ingredient commonly known to cause allergic reactions.”

The products are not tested on animals, nor do they contain animal ingredients or byproducts as raw materials.

Products are 99% biodegradeable within 28 days, depending upon the product itself. “Based on the testing of various ingredients in OECD (the European standard) testing for biodegradability. Because our soaps and surfactants are vegetable based, they break down into simple sugars used up by micro organisms. We avoid petroleum based ingredients because these are non renewable resources that are difficult to biodegrade and are often harmful to aquatic life.”

Because we live in the country it is doubly important that our cleansers be safe for the septic system. Nature Clean does not use corrosive chemicals which kill the organisms that work to process waste.

Most Nature Clean packaging is derived from recycled post-consumer plastic such as milk and water bottles. These are converted into the new bottle which itself can be recycled. In fact, at Arbour they go one step further. The bottle I bought can simply be returned and refilled at the shop. Convenient? Sensible? Yes!

Labelling is all what is called “full disclosure.” This means the manufacturer holds no secrets. This is a guarantee from the producer to us, the consumer.

When you think about it, why doesn’t every manufacturer abide by these rules?

Of course, Nature Clean is not the only manufacturer of environmentally sensitive products. Look on your grocery shop’s shelves for these and other products such as those which are endorsed by the ECP (Environmental Choice Products. I purchased a cleanser “developed for chemically-sensitive individuals, friendly for children, pets and the environment.” The product, called Cogent Universal Cleaner, makes many of the same claims as does Nature Clean.

To find out more about it and Cogent Environmental Solutions Ltd. (a Caledonia, Ontario company) go to www.ECOgent.ca or call 877-994-9908.

Feeling as if you ought to jump on the bandwagon and explore some environmentally friendly cleaning solutions this spring? Grab some hot water, some vinegar, and cut some rags from that old T-shirt. Recycle, recycle, recycle… And, if you want to purchase some cleansers, why not give these a whirl?


Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer who telecommutes from her Quyon farmhouse.