Finding environmentally-friendly cleaning products can be incredibly confusing from the glut of “green” advertising, especially around products often used in the home. However, third party certifications usually indicate that a product’s self-claimed sustainable promotions are trustworthy. Green Seal, Safer Choice, EcoLogo, and Design for the Environment are some of the most well-known certifications that you can look for when purchasing cleaning products. This website lists some brands that fall under these certifications, answers general questions about green cleaning, and provides some DIY recipes for cleaners. The EPA also has a search engine for products that are certified through Safer Choice.
There’s a lot of controversy about the environmental and safety hazards of sponges, especially those labeled as “antibacterial.” Here are the main problems:
- Traditional sponges are typically made of plastic that is not biodegradable. As we throw away these sponges on a regular basis, they add to the landfill waste that cannot be broken down.
- Sponges also present concern for human health, as their moist, porous environment makes a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria.
- Antibacterial agents are sometimes manufactured into sponges, but they’re often strong chemicals, and their effects on humans are still debated. One of the most common antibacterial agents, triclosan, has also proved toxic to some aquatic life.
If you do use a sponge, try finding one made of cellulose, which will break down in the landfill. To sanitize your sponge so you don’t have to throw it out as frequently, you can microwave it for about a minute or wash it in the dishwasher. This article lists some recommended brands of “green” sponges. The best option, though, would be to use a completely reusable material, such as a dishwashing cloth or brush. With a cloth, you can also wash it with a load of laundry to help remove any accumulated bacteria.