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Are You An Eco Cleaner or Do You Suffer The Guilt?

January 9, 2013

Eco Friendly Cleaning ProductsAre you using environmentally friendly cleaning products or have you ignored them in favour of cheaper alternatives?

I must admit that when the housekeeping budget got tighter a couple of years ago, along with the named brand ketchup and cereals, most of the Ecover cleaning products were abandoned too. We simply couldn’t afford to pay the extra cents demanded. Or so we thought.

I’d love to say I immediately dug out the baking soda, lemons and essential oils and made bottles full of home-made cleaning solutions (as I had when searching out natural pesticides for the garden) but like several other good intentions, I never did. I meant to google household recipes and where they work best, but never got around to it. It was so much easier to pick up a bottle in the shop. We did manage to stick with the Eco toilet cleaner as we have a septic tank and are extremely cautious about what goes into it and I’ve been using watered down distilled vinegar for many years on my glass and windows so those angles were covered (one-third distilled vinegar to two-thirds water in a spray bottle cleans and shines windows up a treat with little elbow work). However, the surface and bathroom cleaners, the washing liquids and powders have all been hit and miss.

Nevertheless, I have never been happy with the ‘ditch the safe cleaning solutions’ decision. I was saving some money by switching to cheaper cleaning alternatives but in the grand scheme of things, not very much.

Isn’t that the ongoing environmental dilemma for us all too? We want to do our bit, our best to help our ailing planet but when it comes down to it, when the decisions we make affect our time, comfort or wallets do we bail out at the slightest inconvenience or do we dig in our heels and brace ourselves for harder times? Do we make the necessary sacrifices that our planet needs, or do we take the easy way out as I felt I had?

Every time I threw cheap surface cleaners laden with chemicals into the shopping basket it was with reluctance. I knew they weren’t great for my family’s health or for the soakaways that our waste water drains into, but my house needed cleaning so I bought them. The guilt this financial choice had left me with was made a lot easier by the fact that less and less supermarkets have been stocking alternatives so when I did try to search out Eco washing liquid or dishwashing tablets, they were nigh on impossible to find.

I guess I wasn’t alone when I switched to cheaper products either… its simple economics, if there’s no demand the supply will stop. This may not concern us when we make the initial switch, caught up in our own daily dilemmas as we often are, but what happens when we change our minds or decide to switch back and the product or retailer stocking it is no longer there? How many of us consider the long-term impacts of our shopping habits?

An unfortunate and direct result of the budgetary choices we have either been forced or out of choice made, has, as we can all now see, led to many shop closures. On this occasion it ended when the doors closed to an excellent, local, health shop. Aislinn’s not only stocked herbal remedies and wholesome food to suit all dietary habits, they also filled a bottom shelf with every Ecover product an environmentally friendly shopper could dream about. Aislinn’s became my first teaching venue (setting me on the path I’m now travelling), introduced me to some inspirational women and was an enthusiastic supporter of local therapists and suppliers. Many of us were sad to see this once thriving business close down. Why did this happen? Because many people, like me, looked at the short-term savings rather than the bigger picture. I’m sure that several genuinely couldn’t afford to shop there any longer, but surely not everyone?

Stop there for a second and think about that. If we’re not careful the same may happen to other favourite local retail outlets as shoppers think they’re picking up bargains elsewhere (if they check the prices they’re often not). Have you been buying all your garden supplies from low-cost supermarkets or do you still support your local garden centre? I guess you’re reading this blog because you have an interest in gardening – imagine your local area with no garden centre to visit on a bright, spring day… 

The impact of our retail decisions in our homes and high streets is palpable and has happened over a relatively short period of time.

However, we’re only recently becoming genuinely concerned about the noticeable effects our actions are having on our environment. Extreme weather shouldn’t be a surprise – Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace were warning us about global warming almost thirty years ago.

So where is this post going you may wonder (as am I… )

I recently spotted an advert on Facebook for Lilly’s Eco Clean. I first came across Lilly’s at the Irish Green Awards in 2011. I liked their green ethos, that Lilly has tried and tested the products, that the company is Irish and was doing their best to survive and succeed in such a difficult economic time. Lilly’s were advertising an excellent pre-Christmas deal for their Detox kit that could be ordered online and delivered directly to my door. Perfect.

The Facebook post also coincided with another by Wholesome Ireland where Caítríona suggested we thoroughly stocktake before we go shopping to help us budget and prevent wastage.

I love this sign from Jennifer Pugh over at http://www.allposters.co.uk

So I did. Not only did I find that I needed to purchase almost all of the items that were in Lilly’s Detox Box, but I also thought about how often I used and needed to replace each item. Yes it seemed expensive to splash out all that cash in one go on cleaning products yet realistically I would only need to replace a couple of them regularly, the rest would likely last quite a while in my cupboards.

It’s not that I’m a domestic slut, I do run a cloth and hoover around my house on a relatively regular basis. What I am not however, is  an obsessive cleaner – there’s more to life than cleaning, our house is a loved and lived in home, not a showroom.

That said, I’m delighted with Lilly’s products. I love their natural aromas, the fact that they really do work – everything is squeaky clean and sparkles – and the one thing we instantly noticed was that there were no chemical residues or smears on sinks and taps that needed copious amounts of water to rinse free. Each and every one of Lilly’s products have been made with care of the environment in mind, and they wont harm your health and well-being.

Not only that but the washing up liquid can be used to make soap sprays and fungicides in your garden as it’s phosphate free.

So with the Christmas decorations down and spring cleaning on the horizon will eco cleaning guilt be weighing on your mind? Has the recession made you consider your budgetary decisions verses the environmental?

Disclaimer: I have written this post with no bribes, freebies or offers from any cleaning companies. I genuinely love Lilly’s products and want to share the love!