GUEST WRITER - The Dirt with Dani
Attempting Less means bucking the system - the system that doesn't protect consumers from harmful chemicals because of poor testing and regulation. Cleaning and personal care products, unlike food and beverages are not required by federal law to carry a list of ingredients. Between dodging greenwashed marketing ploys and weaving through inflated green prices, manufacturers don't make it easy to be a conscious consumer.
Call me a pessimist but I am a latch-key kid from the 80's so there's that. I just don't trust them. I simplify where I can, cutting out questionable cleaning chemicals but do I have to sacrifice more time and energy to do it? We live in a modern world, yet women still shoulder most of the home cleaning tasks and over half of us are working moms. We don't have the option, nor the resources, to go back and clean like we did 100 years ago.
Synthetic cleaning chemicals were first introduced during WWI, when a shortage of raw materials (animal and vegetable fats and oils) forced chemists to develop a non-soap product from petroleum-derived surfactants, now called “detergents.” Detergent is synthetic soap and the base formula is nearly identical in all of it’s now very commercialized forms. Shampoo, face wash, dishwashing liquid, laundry powder, all-purpose cleaner – it’s all detergent. Technically, your hand soap is hand detergent. That’s not to say that different products aren’t suited for different purposes. Have you ever tried washing your hair with body soap?
What is really needed to get a good clean? What is “clean?”
By definition, cleaning is to leave free from dirt, stains, and marks. In other words, what you can see with the human eye. Disinfecting cleans what you can’t see with the human eye and employs methods to kill viruses. Side note - when a product claims to be a disinfectant, it must also claim which virus or viruses it kills.
Not all surfaces need to be disinfected. The CDC recommends disinfecting when someone is sick or if someone has tested positive for a virus - specifically, areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Maintain the rest of your home hygiene by cleaning regularly to reduce the number of germs and decrease risk of infection from surfaces.
To kill viruses, you need steam or chemicals, but bacteria can be managed in other ways, due to their consistent size. Imagine a microscopic vacuum cleaner sucking up all the microscopic bacteria from your surfaces. That’s exactly how quality microfiber works and it only needs water to do it.
Europe has been quick to the microfiber trend but not the U.S.! We’re too busy cutting down 51,000 trees a day in North America to support our weird obsession with paper towels. We spend nearly as much on paper towels as every other county in the world…combined!
Attempting less means supporting the underdog. My power as a consumer is in my pocket. Where I choose to spend my money sends a message to the greedy corporations cutting corners, depleting natural resources, and manipulating customers. Instead, I look for the small business that I can build a relationship with. Someone who is risking their personal brand for the sake of their product, because really, how much more credibility do you need from someone?