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Eco-Friendly Alternatives For Bath And Laundry

Every day, People must maintain certain habits in order to function. Regarding the home, this may include washing your hands, cleaning your home, or doing a few loads of laundry. These tasks cannot be done solely by ourselves, however. We must rely on various products to give us a helping hand to maintain this functionality. As we continue using them daily, they melt into the background of items we take for granted.

When we stop and consider what is necessary to produce these items, and how they affect us and our environment, it becomes clear that the price we pay for convenience can be steep. It is simple to grab what's on the shelves of your local store to use in your home, but the unsustainable and unhealthy nature of its production may lead you to wonder where you can find alternatives. Luckily, there is an abundance of eco-friendly products and brands that appeal to healthier living.


Clean bath, Clean body

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that the supply of toilet paper is not infinite. Put simply, toilet paper runs out, and sometimes buying more isn’t an option. Studies done on the environmental impact of toilet paper usage suggest that buying more shouldn’t be the primary choice. The average American will use roughly 633 miles of toilet paper in their lifetime, and 141 rolls in a year. To produce a single roll of toilet paper, 12-37 gallons of water, and 1.5 pounds of wood are required. To meet the U.S. demand for toilet paper alone, 31 million trees must be sacrificed annually. These numbers don’t account for other countries such as China, which tops the charts at 47 million trees. Comparatively, the ⅛ gallon of water needed to clean and flush with a bidet has a significantly lower environmental impact.

The bidet does a better job of keeping our nether regions clean than toilet paper. A common argument is that you wouldn’t forgo washing feces off your hands, so why shouldn’t the same rules apply to your derriere? Toilet paper is not only unsanitary, but it’s also abrasive. For people who frequently over-wipe, the continued use of toilet paper threatens to damage sensitive tissue, while bidets help to soothe irritated skin. While the price range for a Bidet can be expensive for the more high-end models, there are more affordable options as well. Since using a bidet significantly decreases, or eliminates entirely your need for toilet paper, the money saved from being spent on toilet paper proves to offset the initial cost.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Washing your hands with soap and brushing your teeth with toothpaste are staple bathroom habits for maintaining personal hygiene. When you gaze upon the cases that house these products, you may find the ingredients list uncomfortably long and confusing, and the plastic overly familiar. How many aisles full of toothpaste and soap containers have you walked down? How many bottles and tubes have you used and discarded? These considerations bring to light how disconnected the standard of consumption promotes us to live.

Using bar soap or Refillable soap containers, and zero waste toothpaste cuts out the plastic middle-man while also giving you the option to have containers that fit your interior design. With eco-friendly soaps, in particular, there are a variety of options to choose from, such as using a concentrated tablet or paste from which you can make large quantities of soap. Similarly, with toothpaste that doesn’t use plastic, toothpaste tabs and powders allow you to use them to their fullest extent so you can skip struggling to finesse the last drops of paste from a tube. When you switch plastic for reusable or biodegradable materials, you are actively contributing to a circular economy that moves to eliminate the standard of large-scale waste and prevent more plastics from entering landfills, oceans, and your body.

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Factory-made toothpaste and soaps often found in advertisements and stores can contain a multitude of harmful ingredients, which could be easily replaced with naturally derived ingredients that serve the same purpose. Commonly found in soaps, toothpaste, and skin care products are chemicals such as Sodium lauryl sulfate, Phthalates, Triclosan, Triclocarban, and more. Triclosan and triclocarban in particular are biocides typically found in personal care items and are one of the top 10 aquatic pollutants found in the U.S. In addition to this, although they are an ingredient found in soaps, they do not provide any additional sanitizing benefits when compared to soaps that don’t utilize this ingredient. It does, however, act as a thyroid disruptor, worsen colonic inflammation, and increase the risk for antibiotic resistance, as it promotes the abundance of antibiotic-resistant proteobacteria, especially when using toothpaste containing triclosan. Vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainable personal care companies are a prime example that these harmful ingredients and practices are not only unnecessary but provide the planet and individuals more harm than good.


What A Load Of Dirty Laundry!

When it’s laundry day and there are many loads to be washed, what laundry essentials do you reach for? Do you prefer pods, powder, or liquid detergent? Fabric softener, perhaps? And when those clothes reach the dryer, do you pop in a dryer sheet for some extra fragrance? This combination of cleaning habits may result in a warm load of laundry that smells fresh and feels soft. However, if you aren’t observant of what products you use to attain these results, these habits may also contribute to the destruction of natural habitats and resources, as well as your own health. It’s important to understand why this is, and what you can do to contribute to a healthier standard of living. In most popular laundry detergent brands, there is a vast quantity of microplastics, phosphates, toxic synthetic surfactants, and other harmful chemicals that can cause harm ranging from mild to severe. These can slowly contaminate the water supply, and the air that is vented from your machines. In the U.S. there is no law that requires companies to disclose the full ingredients list for their scented laundry products. Companies can simply state that there is fragrance in the product, but the particular components in the mixture may be excluded. This provides a loophole that allows for the continued use of chemicals that are known to be destructive. In a study done on fragranced consumer goods such as hand soap, dryer sheets, and air freshener, the results showed that over 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were emitted, averaging out at 17 VOCs emitted per product. These products contained hazardous carcinogenic air pollutants such as Formaldehyde and Methylene Chloride, which, according to the U.S. environmental protection agency, are not safe at any level of exposure. In the same study, a survey was conducted where people reported numerous adverse health effects from exposure to these emissions such as respiratory and skin problems, migraine headaches, as well as cognitive and neurological issues. When constantly exposed to harsh compounds, the effects it has on one’s health can pile up and extend into lethal territory, a place no one should venture for the sake of laundry.


Fresh Alternatives For Cleaner Laundry

Before exploring the alternatives to standard laundry essentials, we must first make the distinction between laundry detergents and soaps. Both detergent and soap are surfactants, which are agents that are both hydrophilic and hydrophobic which dislodge dirt and oil and keep it suspended in water. Detergents are synthetic surfactants that are composed of bleach, fragrances, dyes, optical brighteners, enzymes, and more. Soaps are natural surfactants that are primarily made of fat or oil and an alkali. Detergents have a wider range of usability than soaps, however, due to their synthetic nature, are often non-biodegradable, require more water to rinse out of clothes than soap, and may leave a residue on the fabric that causes irritation. However, soaps are less effective in certain conditions and are known for forming scum when used in hard water. Since soap is naturally derived, using it is preferable when you consider how your consumption of it impacts the environment and your health. A great benefit is that it washes out entirely, so there is little concern for irritating residue clinging to your clothes, and chemicals that are damaging to your personal health. Despite this, there can still be an excess of unnecessary chemicals found in many brands for both of these laundry products, including brands that falsely promote themselves as “eco-friendly”, or “Green”. Luckily there are non-toxic, environmentally friendly options for both products. When seeking them out, additives to avoid when seeking out healthier alternatives are:

  • PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate/ Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLS/ SLES), Phosphates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Ammonium sulfate
  • Dioxane (1,4 Dioxane/ Diethylene Dioxide/ Diethylene Ether)
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (Nonoxynol, NPEs)
  • Dichlorobenzene (P-Dichlorobenzene/ Benzene)
  • Benzyl Acetate
  • Optical brighteners

Another popular laundry essential is dryer sheets, a great alternative to which is wool dryer balls. As aforementioned, dryer sheets were one of the big offenders that were studied when it came to harmful dryer vent emissions. The mechanics of working with wool balls is essentially the same, just toss a few in with your next dryer load, and let the wool work its magic. As the wool balls are tossed around the dryer’s interior, they intermingle with the clothes, opening up spaces and preventing pockets of moisture from forming, which in turn decreases the drying time and lowers CO2 emissions. Wool balls also are great at eliminating static and are fully compostable. For those of us who appreciate nice aromas on our clothes, just add a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto them to get your desired scent. Who said you can’t have nice things without detrimental effects?


Despite the constant exposure to convenient but unhealthy home essentials, there is an abundance of options that you can utilize without requiring your health or Earth’s in exchange. When health and sustainability are put at the forefront of your values in regards to consuming products of all types, you’ll find that the benefits of caring outweigh the benefits of convenience.

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