A lot of things we think are eco friendly really aren’t. Wooden furniture seems too natural to be environmentally hazardous, but if it’s from rainforest lumber, it’s probably contributing to deforestation, and if it has any particleboard components, its resin will exude formaldehyde for at least a decade. More deceptively, though, are the companies that market themselves as green-ish but really have no positive environmental impact. It’s fine and economical to buy concentrated cleaners, but just because a detergent comes in a green, natural-looking box doesn’t mean it should get counted among eco friendly home products. That classification isn’t always obvious. Sometimes, you have to study the label before you can be sure you’re buying something that’s good for the earth. Knowing that’s easier said than done, we’ve identified a few of the main ingredients that will never be found in eco friendly home products.
- Phosphates have been a staple in detergents for decades, but they’re one of the most environmentally hazardous ingredients for local water systems.
- Phthalates are nothing more than synthetic scents, and though they’re common, they can pose serious health risks, so opt for fragrance free products instead.
- Chlorine bleach doesn’t just kill bacteria and fungi; it can cause major permanent respiratory damage.
- Glycol ethers get used as solvents in a lot of cleaners, but they’re toxic chemicals that become irritants to most people.
- Ammonia is, like chlorine bleach, a cleaning staple, but it’s also one of the most dangerous chemicals in the home, corrosive even to the touch.
- Antibacterials do kill 99.9% of bacteria like they promise, but people forget that some of those are good bacteria that the skin and home needs; using hot water and regular soap, instead, will work just as effectively and much more environmentally.