green cleaning, the great turning and YOU

As you prepare for entertaining over the holidays, here is a recipe I made for a Sage & Lime Vinegar home cleaning spray.  Not only does it work, it smells nice and it is makes a difference.  Below I share some of my thoughts on why this simple act at home can make a difference.  Try it out yourself, give it as a gift, and together we can make a difference.

DIY Sage & Lime Cleaning Spray

Making a difference:

  • During normal use cleaning products are released into the environment through evaporation or rinsing down the drain.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOC) in cleaning products affect indoor air quality and also contribute to smog formation in outdoor air.
  • They present hazard concerns to exposed populations (you, janitors, anyone cleaning) or toxicity to aquatic species in waters receiving inadequately treated wastes.
  • Ingredients containing phosphorus or nitrogen have adverse effects on water quality (by contributing to nutrient-loading in water bodies)

How You Are Helping:

  • Choosing less hazardous products that have positive environmental attributes (e.g., biodegradability, low toxicity, low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, reduced packaging, low life cycle energy use) and taking steps to reduce exposure can minimize harmful impacts to custodial workers and building occupants, improve indoor air quality, and reduce water and ambient air pollution while also ensuring the effectiveness of cleaning in removing biological and other contaminants from the building’s interior.

Does It Really Matter?

In the face of widespread conflict, environmental degradation, and extinction of cultures… something as simple as making your own green-friendly home cleaning product may seem small potatoes. Right?

Hold on, let’s be very careful of this thought process: it is too small, the problem too great to make an impact.  Actually, we are here today because small acts have added up to one great act — large amounts of waste and the damaging of ecosystems with harmful chemicals.

That said, It is equally important to understand the role “guilt” has in preventing us from taking corrective measures.  Guilt immediately creates opposition because it doesn’t feel good.  When someone makes us feel guilty it is natural to go into defense mode – explain why it isn’t our fault.  That’s the thing: it isn’t about guilt or blaming.  It is simply about, ONE by ONE, choosing to take even the smallest steps to give nature a leg back up.

The Great Turning & You

We are in the midst of what Joanna Macy refers to as the “Great Turning” of our time.  Part of our role in this turning is to understand OUR collective power to affect change.  If you, me, 100 of our closest friends, and 50 businesses in our area decided to switch to using green cleaning products just IMAGINE — you would be helping shift, helping influence others.

Yes, it is small.

Yes, it matters.

(Sources: Joanna Macy’s Coming Back to Life, US Environmental Protection Agency [www.epa.govepp/pubs/cleaning], Choose Green Report on General Purpose Cleaners, Green Seal, March 1998; Green Seal Standard and Environmental Evaluation for General-Purpose, Bathroom, and Glass Cleaners Used for Industrial and Institutional Purposes, October 2000; Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment, National Research Council, National Academy Press, 1999)

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