If you’re looking for a simple way to purge your home of harmful toxins and products that put an unnecessary strain on the planet, start in the laundry room. Laundry detergent has a reputation for being packed with — and packed in — ingredients that aren’t great for our homes or the environment. But it’s easy to swap to a safer, eco-friendlier alternative, such as laundry soap sheets, to help clean up chore day.
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Is Laundry Detergent Toxic?
The toxicity of your laundry detergent depends on the brand and formula you choose. Unfortunately, many detergents aren’t quite as clean as you might expect. For example, the detergent in single-use laundry pods is highly concentrated and very toxic. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that even a small amount of detergent could cause breathing problems, eye irritation and even death if it reaches a child’s mouth or eyes.
Here are some other safety factors to consider about laundry detergent and the reasons why you should switch to eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets.
- The Ingredients Problem — Many of the toxins found within standard laundry detergents are considered harmful to the Earth and its inhabitants. Additives such as parabens, phosphates, phthalates, bleach and dyes can cause irritation and illness to humans and animals. Each of these ingredients is problematic in its own way, but phthalates in particular pose a great risk to humans. These hormone-disrupting ingredients can impact the reproductive system and have even been linked to cancer.
- The Pollution Problem — In addition to being a threat to our families and pets, the less-than-pleasant ingredients in traditional detergents pose a risk to our planet. Harsh chemicals wind up polluting our waterways and impacting animal and plant life in oceans, rivers, streams and soil. Phosphates — an ingredient commonly added to detergent to help soften hard water — contribute to toxic algae blooms and deprive water of oxygen, which leads to the death of aquatic plants and animals. On top of that, many detergents contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic fumes, which lead to higher levels of air pollution.
- The Packaging Problem — Let’s talk about the plastic jug in the room — packaging. Often, laundry detergent is packed in colorful, high-density jugs. While these bottles may be great at holding the viscous liquid, they’re especially stubborn in the landfill and can take hundreds of years to degrade. Think you’re taking a step in the right direction by switching to pods? Unfortunately, those may be even worse. In fact, one study showed that up to 75 percent of the plastic from detergent pods ends up in the environment. If you want to reduce your impact, buy laundry soap packaged in renewable, biodegradable materials, such as paper or cardboard.
- The Ethics Problem — As you’ve just learned, regular laundry soap is filled with nasty chemicals that can hurt all life forms. But one thing you may not have considered is that typical detergent brands often test their products on animals. It is possible to find cruelty-free laundry soap, though! Always look for the Leaping Bunny logo on your favorite products to ensure that they aren’t tested on animals.
- The Allergen Problem — Because of the harmful additives in many laundry products, it’s not unusual for users to experience skin irritation and rashes. The colors, dyes, fragrances and preservatives are common allergens that can cause contact dermatitis and other skin issues, especially among little ones and those with sensitive skin. Typically, eco-friendly laundry soaps are made with less irritating ingredients, so they tend to be safer for the whole family.
Aim for Less Harm
Your goal as a responsible consumer and Earth inhabitant is to be kind to the planet and all of its occupants. While there’s no way to completely reduce your carbon footprint or make zero impact, your consciousness can contribute less harm, suffering and waste. The fact that you’re already thinking about your impact on the planet shows that you’re taking a step in the right direction! Earth Breeze is here to help you take steps that make an even bigger impact.