Posted Sep 3, 2011 in GREEN Berets | 0 Comments

Buyer Beware! Being Label Smart Part 2: Household Products

Many of the products you buy, whether they are for cleaning, utilitarian, or aesthetics, can be potentially be harmful to you if you don’t be careful. So here are a few tips to follow when you’re out shopping:

Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

While often more expensive, CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs last years (yes, years) longer than regular incandescent ones, meaning you need to buy them less often. They also save quite a bit of energy, which translates into savings on your energy bill. The issue you need to be aware of though, is that the cheaper CFLs can produce more radiation, and if these bulbs are used to light, say, your office desk, this can affect your health over time. So try to avoid using CFLs that would be located close to your skin or head. And make sure you look on the back of the package to compare the warning labels!

Also beware that CFLs contain mercury and when not disposed of properly or broken accidentally, they become hazardous. Here is more information.

Cleaning Products

Many cleaning products advertise themselves as environmentally friendly, but when examined closely this is absolutely not the case. Additionally these same companies also test out their cleaning products on animals, which is just abhorrent (always try and look for the Leaping Bunny logo, a certification body that ensures non-animal testing). In a past post I gave you readers a recipe for an al-purpose cleaner that you can make yourself -and is actually edible! It’s devoid of any chemicals and safe to use around pets and animals. But, if you insist on buying them from the store here is a list of so-called “dirty” ingredients.

The list contains not only known carcinogens, but also chemicals that are suspected to cause cancer or harm to the environment and our bodies. Here is another interesting article.

If you are interested in making your own cleaners, here is a great website with tons of recipes that will keep your home looking shiny-clean (click here for the PDF file).

Recycled Products

When buying recycled paper products, take care to look for products that have a high post-consumer recycled content. Companies will try and pull a fast one on you by advertising a high PRE-consumer recycled content. The difference between the two is that the former consists of materials already having been consumed and then re-used, while using a minimum amount of virgin paper. The latter consists of industry scraps and waste produced during the manufacturing process, which does create less waste but not as much as post-consumer content and has a much less impact… unfortunately.

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